Building is making a comeback

As we reach a point where listings are scarce, we are entering a new season where building is making a comeback! It is an exciting time, as we have not had much new construction since the downturn more than 10 years ago. Since that time, it’s been cheaper to buy than it has been to build, but these past few months we have seen that trend began to shift. The number of residential properties for sale in our market is the lowest it’s been in quite some time. This has resulted in prices – especially for vacation rental cabins – increasing significantly, finally reaching a point where they are selling for amounts during the peak times in the early 2000s.

The top 3 reasons to choose building over buying

Over the last year, we’ve seen many buyers become discouraged with the market prices, which is understandable. But if owning a vacation cabin is something you’d like to pursue, there are a lot of great reasons to consider building. The best reason to pick building over buying is that you can create your cabin to meet the current trends that make it as profitable as possible. For example, a cabin with an indoor pool will gross significantly more than a cabin without one, and there are options for building a cabin with an indoor pool at a price that makes sense. It doesn’t even have to be a big cabin like it once did as the price for building a 1-2 bedroom cabin is much more in line with where the prices for buying an existing cabin are now. Indoor pools pay for themselves.

Secondly, you can pick your location. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you consider the fact that with so few cabins, the ones in the best locations that are priced correctly will have offers on them even before they are listed due to the high demand, or multiple offers on them within a day or 2 of being listed. But there is an abundance of lots in a variety of places and many of these have fantastic views. So with the number of lots so high, you can almost assuredly find a place that will have the surroundings you want, whether that be a wooded area or one up on top of a mountain where your guests can admire the view.

Third, lenders are providing competitive options for building as it becomes more popular. We’ve had several lenders reach out to us about their construction loan options in the last few months, some of whom have revamped what they’re doing to keep up with the changing market.

If you haven’t found the vacation cabin you are looking for, building may be the best option for you. We’d love to talk with you about how we approach new construction and help you find the perfect lot for your goals!

(Or if you just want to know more about the pros and cons of building, we are here to help with that, too!)

Selling in a sellers’ market can mean increasing your rental income

Many of you who have been keeping up with my monthly articles know that our market here in the Great Smoky Mountains is a sellers’ market, particularly in the area of vacation cabins that provide rental income. A good cabin with strong rental income potential – even when it isn’t already performing at the level that it can be producing – are under contract with a buyer in about a week. In some cases, real estate agents in the Smokies have buyers who are waiting for a cabin that fits their goals even before we get the listing, and so it’s not uncommon these days for a rental vacation cabin to be sold before it’s listed. It’s also not uncommon for a cabin to get multiple offers within a day or two of being listed and then being sold for the “highest and best” offer shortly after.

For those of you who own a cabin and are thinking about selling, this is awesome news! It means you can probably sell the cabin for quite a bit more than what you paid for it if you bought it after the housing market crash nearly 10 years ago. And if you bought it before the crash, I have great news for you, too: our market is reaching the price levels of that time, so you can sell it for what you paid. Just recently, our MLS saw a 2-bedroom cabin listing in Starr Crest for a little over $400,000. I haven’t seen a 2-bedroom cabin of that size around here go for that much since before the market crash in 2008!

Increasing your rental income

If you love your cabin and are blessed by the value its rental income is adding to your budget, maybe it’s time to start thinking about how you can turn that cabin into an even bigger profit. Many of our clients who worked with us during the downturn are now reinvesting their profits from the sale of their cabin into a bigger cabin, or one with better amenities such as an indoor swimming pool, that is opening up the opportunity for them to earn more rental income.

My staff and I would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you about how this works and determine if selling your cabin to buy a newer one is something that would be a great fit for your financial goals.

Call me at 865-765-6157 or Greg at 865-643-2103 and we will be glad to show you how you can increase your rental income.

Mountain home can be the perfect rental investment!

Our featured “Cabin of the Month” for February is this beautiful private mountain homemountain home situated in the heart of Wears Valley! Its gorgeous mountain views from the double back deck and an open spacious floor plan are perfect for entertaining a large group. With its 4 bedrooms each set up as master suites and large game room, this mountain home makes for the perfect overnight rental!
Conveniently located just 15 minutes from Pigeon Forge, this mountain home provides instant access to the newly opened Foothills Parkway addition! Located on easy to drive roads, plenty of privacy, and a mountain view all make this home a dream getaway for you and your guests!
If you’d like to know more about this property, click here.

If you’d like to schedule a showing at this mountain home, call or text me at 865-765-6157 or call or text my support line at 865-654-2111.

Sherwood Forest resort investment cabin offers amazing opportunity

Our featured “Cabin of the Month” is this amazing investment cabin located in Sherwood Forest resort!

Sherwood Forest resort in Pigeon Forge is one of the top rental vacation investment cabinresorts in the Great Smoky Mountains! This 4 bedroom investment cabin comes with its own indoor pool and full theater setup, providing your guests with the very best of amenities needed to make an outstanding rental experience. Indoor pools in rental cabins generally pay for themselves, and cabins that have them can produce significantly more than those that don’t because they continue to attract guests in the cold winter months at the beginning of the year.
This fantastic investment property is only 5 years old and has a low HOA fee.
To learn more about this investment cabin, click here.

To schedule a showing at this investment cabin, call our office at 865-429-2121 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

Solving the appraisal challenge in an increasing market

When buying a home or vacation cabin, one of the most crucial steps in the process if you’re working with a lender is the appraisal. Appraising the value of a property can be one of the most challenging, and probably the most stressful, aspects of the process for buyers. This can be especially true in a market where appraisal values don’t reflect where the market is at in terms of purchase value. As I discussed in last month’s article, this is mostly because lender appraisers are looking at the value of the property in a different way than everyone else, and with a different purpose. The purpose of a lender appraisal is to determine how much the lender can sell the property for in the event of a foreclosure. So even though the buyer is paying for the appraisal, the appraiser making the determination is actually working for the lender.

In our market, as we continue to work with a low number of properties for sale, the sales price of cabins has continued to rapidly increase over the last 12 months. We’ve seen a slower pace on our local residential market, but home values are also increasing. If you as a buyer have an appraisal that comes in under the offer price, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to buy the home. You and your agent have a few different options to help you work out a solution with the seller.

Ways to address the appraisal

The first thing I tell my buyers when the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price is, “Don’t panic.” We look over the appraisal report and re-evaluate our own comparable group of sold listings to see if we’ve missed something about the property. An appraiser can go back as far as 12 months, and is required to first use anything that’s sold within the same subdivision or resort community. The appraiser is limited on what he or she can do to review those sold properties. They rely heavily on MLS and tax records, so when those documents aren’t completely up to date, it can skew the data in a way that might hurt your appraisal.

Once we are certain our offer was appropriate for the market, if we’re comfortable with it we will ask the seller to agree to reduce the price to match the appraisal value. Remember, the lender won’t borrow on more than what the home is determined by the appraiser to be worth, so if the seller won’t lower the price then the next choice will be to see if we can split the difference with the seller or simply agree to pay more out of pocket. So for example, if the purchase price is $200,000 but the appraiser determines the value of the property to be $190,000, then you would have to either get the seller to agree to reduce the price by up to $10,000 or work out how to pay that amount out of your own pocket.

As a last resort, we can try to work with the lender to resolve it, but the truth is it is very hard to get an appraisal value overturned once it has been determined. We absolutely cannot pressure appraisers to price the appraisal value of the property at the amount a buyer offers a seller.

Next month, I’ll share some ways I help sellers to price their property correctly so that the appraisal value meets the expectations correctly. In the meantime, if you have questions about appraisals or anything else regarding the local real estate market, I and my staff are always available!

Sherwood Forest cabin is fantastic rental income producer

If you love the mountains, you will absolutely adore the gorgeous, up in the clouds Smoky Mountain View from this top Sherwood Forest rental income producing cabin.

Centrally located and just 5 minutes from the Pigeon Forge Parkway (10 minutes to Gatlinburg), this cabin has the potential to be an amazing rental income producer. Sherwood Forest Resort is one of this area’s most popular resorts because of its convenient location and beautiful views of the mountains!
This 5 bedroom, almost 1,500 square foot rental cabin is fully outfitted with a full sprinkler system and rental income producing cabinother features, including a private, indoor swimming pool, a lofted game room, and theater room. These amenities will keep this cabin relevant as a superb rental income producer for years to come. The cabin is designed with grizzled tongue and groove throughout, walls of glass, and cathedral ceilings to make this a true mountain home. Handsome granite and honey colored cabinets bring home the Smoky Mountain feel. And of course, the high rental income potential makes this a perfect income generating second home or an investment on auto pilot!

Click here to learn more about this rental income producing cabin.

If you’d like to schedule a visit or have other questions about how to make rental income with this property, call me at 865-765-6157 or 865-654-2111.

Eight bedroom rental is “Cabin of the Month”

eight bedroom rentalOur cabin feature this month is an eight bedroom rental property located in Wears Valley.

You’ll be “Steppin’ on the Clouds” in this gorgeous eight bedroom rental cabin in Wears Valley. This is a fantastic income-building investment, on track to pass $170,000 in gross rental income this year!

With its absolutely magnificent panoramic 180-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains, you and your guests will love relaxing in front of one of the best views of the National Park any rental cabin here has to offer. Enjoy the cabin’s large fire pit or hot tub, or make your way over to the nearby resort at “The Preserve” to go swimming in the pool. Best of all, this cabin is just minutes from the National Park!

You’ll find plenty of activities inside this eight bedroom rental as well, ranging from the cabin’s fully outfitted gaming room with air hockey, foosball, and a pool table (not to mention an arcade game system). The cabin also houses a fantastic huge theater room. The cabin’s design includes handsome tongue-and-groove, gleaming large wood beams, walls of glass, and a stone fireplace centerpiece. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing vacation getaway, and can sleep up to 28 guests.

To learn more about this eight bedroom rental cabin, click here.

If you’d like to schedule a visit to see this eight bedroom rental cabin, contact me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

An update on our changing market

Due to our low number of properties on the market, we have seen prices continually climb on what’s available over the last nine months.

Many of you who follow our monthly newsletter and keep up with the articles we write each month about buying and selling properties in the Great Smoky Mountains region either currently own, or have owned properties, here in the past. Many of you also are in the market for something else to own, either in addition to what you have now or as an “upgrade” to your current vacation/rental cabin. And you’ve probably been keeping up with our articles about how the market has changed. It’s a sellers’ market – not just here, but in a lot of places around the country. The number of homes for sale is down from where it was a year or two ago. So when something new comes on the market, it really doesn’t stick around that long.

It’s true. Many listings in our market have offers within a matter of days if they are priced correctly (especially when they are priced a little under) current market values. My agents and I have had listings that were “under contract” within as few as three days. We frequently tell clients at showings, “This won’t be on the market next week.” It’s just where our market is right now.

So what can you do? Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that the deals of changing marketlast year are gone. If you do stumble upon something that’s brand new to the market and it is priced low, the offers that come in are going to be above asking price. The winning buyer won’t be placing any sort of contingencies on the offer, and you can forget about negotiating back and forth through a series of offers and counter offers. While you’re trying to get a discount on the price, someone else is coming in with a full price – or above asking price – offer that’s going to win. It’s a tough place for a lot of buyers to be, especially ones who have bought in our market in the last few years after the downturn, but it’s important to know that going into any offer you want to submit. Those days are over, at least for the time being.

Secondly, as prices are going up on properties, rental rates are rising along with it at many of the rental companies in our area. Large cabins are not as readily available for purchase as they once were, and so smaller cabins have quickly become the focus. We’ve also seen a significant reduction in sales of cabins in our more popular resorts, such as Sherwood Forest and Legacy Mountain. Where once there were about a dozen or so cabins for sale in each those areas at any given time a year or two ago, today there is half or even less than that.  But the good news is that there are still strong investment properties to purchase that will cash flow positive every month.  We are also building again so new construction may be a really good option for you.  This market is not for the timid.

This year, about a third of the properties I’ve listed have sold at or above asking price. We’ve had some where we ended up with multiple offers, even in places that haven’t traditionally been high demand areas in the past.

When national investors have analyzed the entire United States, Sevier County comes up in the top ten places to invest for overnight rentals. It’s also one of the most beautiful and inexpensive places to retire.  So be a good student of what is available and don’t be shy about an offer on a good property. If you can accept that, you will have a solid investment for years to come, whether it is your personal residence or an overnight cabin or chalet.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about the current market and where we are probably headed – whether you are buying or selling – my staff and I are always here to answer questions.

Finding a Profitable Cabin

Are you looking to own a profitable cabin in the Smokies? Then this article is for you.

When buyers contact me about buying a vacation rental cabin that is at least partially for investment purposes, profitable cabinthe hottest question on their mind is how well a property will do as a rental! They are looking for a profitable cabin, and their focus is right where it needs to be. Finding a property that will perform well on rentals is essential! Sometimes the next thing I hear from them is, “I only want to look at cabins that have a great rental history.”

I love their spirit!  However, as I share at this point in the conversation with them, just because a cabin isn’t currently earning a high dollar amount, doesn’t mean it won’t. As a matter of fact, I usually am most interested in finding them a cabin that someone is making a mistake on because my staff and I are able to analyze the mistake and correct it.

The ability of a cabin to be profitable is based on a variety of criteria. Perhaps the current owners prefer to use the cabin more often than a new owner will. Maybe the cabin doesn’t have the right decor to attract guests. Sometimes it’s not being marketed as competitively as it could be. Once we identify the exact causes of a low rental income report, we can determine whether or not it’s something that can be corrected before we decide if this is the right cabin for you. If you purchase a profitable cabin that is already performing at the top of its potential, you are most likely going to pay the highest price possible. This is not usually how I like my buyers to spend their money. I love to find a cabin that we can purchase, say, for $300,000, then make about $10,000 worth of changes to make it a profitable cabin worth $350,000. And where it was doing a gross rental revenue each year of $40,000 before, now with our changes it is going to reach $60,000. That is the win we are looking for to make it a profitable cabin!

Over the years, I have put together a list of resorts based on discussions with past clients, with rental companies we maintain great relationships with, and from reviewing listings based on how they tend to perform on the rental market. From those discussions and reviews, I am able to keep track of how the rental cabin market is doing overall and which ones are producing the highest levels of income overall for their clients. When it comes to resorts, the ones that generally perform the best on the rental market are located in places that are easily accessible, have great mountain views or pristine Smoky Mountain forest views, are close to shopping and/or tourist attractions, or some combination of the above. While this is not always true for every single cabin, it is a great rule of thumb for our area.  One to two bedroom cabins on rental with the strongest performing resorts will be routinely earning up to $45,000 in gross rental income, while 3 to 4 bedroom cabins in the same locations will be performing around $60,000 on up. Larger cabins will produce $100,000 and above with the right combination of amenities, marketing, and views of the mountains!

Average rental incomes in profitable cabins

The “medium range” resorts tend to do a little more than half what the top-end resorts collect in rental income based on cabin size, number of rooms, and amenities. Meanwhile, 1 to 2 bedroom cabins at the lower end of gross rental amounts will bring in between $18,000 and $30,000 and 3 to 4 bedroom cabins will generally produce between $25,000 and $38,000, on average. With that being said, I do tell prospective buyers not to discount a cabin based on rental history – even if it’s in a lower producing area – until we’ve had a chance to look at why that might be happening. For example, if the cabin is on a high point in the resort and has a great view into the Smokies, it could produce a great deal more than the average for that particular area. Or maybe it’s being used primarily as a vacation destination for the owner during peak season. In that case, the next owner looking at it strictly for investment purposes will do far better with rental income than the current owner has. So it’s an art and not a science, but the performance of cabins can be predicted.

Know the amenities of a profitable cabin

The search for the “perfect” profitable cabin will be an analysis of a group of important characteristics. By the way, we do have a report that just targets those characteristics. It is called “What Makes a Profitable Cabin?” 

Gatlinburg investment property is fantastic opportunity!

Our featured “Cabin of the Month” for June is a great investment property in Gatlinburg!

Measuring nearly 3,000 square feet in all, this investment property’s 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and 2 half baths offer plenty of space for vacationing guests! Located right next to the National Park in Gatlinburg Falls Resort, this cabin is performing extremely well on the vacation rental program!Gatlinburg investment property
It’s open concept floor-plan is perfect for entertaining all of your guests. Equipped with multiple fireplaces, a home theater, and a game room offering a billiards table, air hockey, flat screen and arcade games, the guests at your investment property will never be bored! What’s more, all four bedrooms are set up as their own master suites with fireplaces and a television!
Outside, the cabin offers plenty of space for guests to relax and enjoy the outdoors on any of the three covered porches, either from the comfort of the hot tub on private back porch or while sitting by the fire pit in the back yard.
This investment property is nestled in a prime location with less than a 5 minute drive from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood!
If you have questions about or would like to visit this cabin, call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

You can learn more about this investment property here.