Making the Most from Your Cabin Investment

As we near the end of 2019, we’re reaching that time of year where cabin owners who are thinking about their taxes in the spring make the decision to sell their investment/vacation property. Maybe that’s you. In terms of where the market is at, this is the time if you’re thinking about selling.

In my November blog, I talked about why that is true. Low inventory coupled with a flurry of buyers that hasn’t really slowed down despite the lack of properties to choose from has resulted in a resurgence of new construction. 2020 will be a season of building and property values will start to plateau once the construction projects takes root. So if you’re holding an older cabin, now could be a super good time to take advantage of the cycle and sell it. You can purchase something new for just a little bit more. 

The question we are hearing from our buyers and sellers now is how long until we reach the top of where cabins can cash flow positive? Until about two years ago, we were seeing cabins gross roughly 15 percent, on average, of what they sold for. So this means a cabin that sold for $200,000 was yielding a return of about $30,000 gross rental income. Then you’d have the split with the rental company if you were using one, and pay your expenses from your net income. That amount would vary based on taxes, HOA dues, amenity fees, etc. Now that same $200,000 cabin is likely to sell for $325,000 but with about the same gross rental income. You might be able to negotiate a slightly better split with the rental company, but you’re probably looking at around 10 to 12 percent of the sales price in gross rental income, rather than 15. So it will still provide positive cash flow.  We have also seen gross rental revenue increase in cabins that were upscale, fully outfitted and had amenities like a fire-pit;  therefore it is possible that the reduction is actually an increase for some.

So when will we plateau, or slow down in terms of market prices?  I believe it is likely when the purchase price rises to the point that the revenue only covers costs and no longer makes an income.  Then our properties become attractive to those who desire a true second home. Those in the market will be owners who only want revenue to defer some of the cost, whereas a true investor will look elsewhere for passive income. It will be much like you see at the beach where those who are wealthy and have discretionary excess income purchase a second home for their enjoyment and if rentals defray maintenance cost and HOA dues they’re pleased. 

But right now is a wonderful time to sell high if you bought low and a wonderful time to buy something that will cash flow positive pay for itself and give you a tax write off.  Where else can you stay in your investment and watch the sunset? Not in your stock and bonds!

If you’re thinking about buying a rental cabin as an investment, there’s a win for you, too. What’s important is that you buy sooner rather than later and prepare to hold it even if the market plateaus or enters another downturn. Even in the downturn more than a decade ago, our clients who prospered through it did so by using the rental income to pay the cabin off. Then, they waited until the market was on the upswing before selling. Even in those years when property values were low, rental income didn’t change.  In a downturn we become an even more attractive destination.  Vacationers who were going overseas playing in the Caribbean decided to stay closer to home and to drive to their vacation destination rather than fly. Americans believe in vacationing! It’s very close to mom and apple pie. And since we are within a day’s driving distance to 75% of the population of the United States.

Whenever you can it is always a good move to own the latest, greatest, newest, largest in short to have the best.  And sometimes that means remodeling, refreshing, or just buying new. As time marches on, make sure your investment stays strong and at the top of its potential performance! 

My team and I are always here to answer any questions you may have about our local real estate market. Call us at 865-654-2111! We would love to talk with you! We never mind giving you specific values on your property so you can make informed decisions. 

Sevierville home offers the best of country living!

This spacious four bedroom, three and half bath home located on the Little Pigeon river is in the most desirable of locations: an upscale neighborhood just minutes from shopping and dining, hospital services, and all the local action but still private enough to make you feel like you are so far away from the hustle and bustle of tourist activity! You will love the huge flat backyard ( three-quarters of an acre) that meets the beautiful tree lined river. As you pull up to the front of this property, you can enjoy the luxury of your own curved wraparound driveway. No steep windy roads, but still the best of Smoky Mountain living!

The home’s wonderful open floor plan includes a large master suite on the main level as well as formal dining space and an eat-in kitchen with scenic views. Hardwood flooring and a large gas fireplace complete the main level area. Upstairs are more bedrooms and downstairs you have additional room that can be used as either bedrooms or office space and large media room! With more than 3,600 square feet of living space, there’s plenty of room to relax.

If you’d like to visit the property, call or text us at 865-654-2111. You can also see more details about the home here.

Vacation rental cabins provide great investment opportunity

Our real estate market in the Great Smoky Mountains is known among investors as one of the top 10 places to invest for overnight rentals. Vacation cabins are incredibly popular, and we attract millions of visitors every year. What makes this region such a draw for so many is the variety of offerings. We have the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at our doorstep. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg work to be the absolute best at hosting festivals, parties, and other events. Outside of the holiday festivities which always leave our rental market “sold out,” our local communities play host to car shows, concerts, and all sorts of other activities throughout most of the year. On top of that, our local attractions – Dollywood is well known, but also the museums, go-cart and miniature golf, and many other family-themed local businesses that cater primarily to our visitors – provide plenty of fun and entertainment.

So over the years, the vacation rental cabins have added to the experience of being in the mountains. Our rental companies have worked hard to continually develop the cabin model so that it best accommodates guests’ needs, from everything to including game rooms with pool tables to the eventual construction of indoor swimming pool areas within cabins. The goal has always been to make the cabin as appealing as possible to guests so that it stays booked as many nights of the year as possible.

If you’ve been seriously thinking about buying a vacation rental cabin and have been watching our market these last few months, I’m sure you have noticed the trend of our region as a sellers’ market hasn’t slowed down from a year ago. In an article I wrote a year ago, I shared with you that the number of available cabins on the market had begun to slow. Since then, we’ve seen that number continue to decline while the prices have continued to climb. As the prices have reached a point that is almost in line with the price to build a new cabin, we have seen building begin to make a comeback this year.

The good news in this is that even as the prices rise, the number of tourists visiting our region has risen with it. What’s more, we’ve seen the number of people staying a little further outside Pigeon Forge rise with it. In March, local media were reporting record numbers of visitors in places like Wears Valley, as there are ways into the National Park from that side of the county that have begun to be discovered.

For sellers, the important thing to remember is that as construction continues to ramp up, the window of opportunity to sell your cabin will begin to close. Eventually new construction will be as appealing as buying something existing, so we expect to see prices level off – not drop, but stop climbing as buyers shift to a building focus. For buyers, the important thing to remember is that even though the deals of yesterday are gone, cabins are still a very strong investment option thanks to our thriving tourist industry.

If you are planning to buy or sell a cabin, or build a cabin and would like to more about the current market, my team and I are always here to help! Call or text us at 865-654-2111 and we will be glad to answer any questions you have!

2-bedroom cabin at Covered Bridge can be fantastic rental opportunity

This extremely well maintained two bedroom and two bath cabin in Covered Bridge Resort is our featured “Cabin of the Month” for September. Currently used strictly as a second home, this cabin has never been on a rental program! It is in perfect condition and is located just minutes from all of the attractions of Pigeon Forge.

The great room welcomes you with a beautiful river rock fireplace and open floor plan. The kitchen is found just off of the living area. Including two king size bedrooms, one on the main and the other on the second floor, this more than 1,100 foot cabin is a must-see! Come make this prestigious cabin your second home or rental destination!

To schedule a visit to see this cabin, call us at 865-654-2111.

To learn more about this listing, tap or click here.

Large acreage site could be perfect development opportunity!

This incredible large tract of property located adjacent to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be the perfect development opportunity, if you’re looking for a unique investment. The tract is very close to the Greenbrier entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg, the Rocky Top Sports Center and other major attractions in our region. This nearly 38 acre tract with incredible Mountain views, contains approximately eight acres of pasture, a mountain stream, and some basic road ways already cut in. This tract is ideal for private development, potential cabin development , campground site, equestrian activities. Contact us by phone or text at 865-765-6157, 865-680-5850, or 865-654-2111 to request to see conceptual plans for other developmental ideas. These engineered conceptual drawings offer insight for possible development.

To learn more about this property, tap or click here.

New construction: picking the right lender

Last month, we talked a bit about the re-emergence of building in the Great Smoky Mountains. With the market on the upswing due to so few cabins on the market and a huge demand among buyers, the prices on existing property have steadily climbed to a point not seen since before the downturn. As those prices began to reach the cost of building, new construction is beginning to appeal to buyers.

If you are excited about the possibility of owning your own vacation or rental cabin but can’t find exactly what you are looking for on the market and have the patience to wait out the building process, you may be at a place where building your own cabin is your best option!

As you work out in writing exactly what you are looking for in a cabin and picked the perfect builder to construct your dream cabin on the perfect lot for where you want the cabin to be located,  you’ll also need to be interviewing lenders about their different types of loans. One of the most important things you will need to know is how the project is going to be financed.

If you are very fortunate, you may come across a development project with the design you’re looking for where the builder is being financed by the lender directly. So then you would just buy the property as you would any existing home or cabin once it’s finished. The floor plans are pre-designed and while you may have some say in changes, most of the time it will be built according to the approved specifications.

Another great way to manage the financing of the project is to find the lot that meets all the goals of your floor plans and purchase it ahead of starting the project. If you have the cash to purchase the lot or if you can afford to wait until the lot is paid off, it’s possible the lot can be used as the down payment for the construction project. You just need the design to appraise for enough that the lot will cover the down payment. This is where the expertise of a real estate agent can be invaluable.

Different lenders offer different types of loans, so it’s important to know what your options are with the lender you pick to fund your project. Some will offer construction loans so you may have two closings – one for the construction project and a second for the conversion of the loan into a traditional mortgage. Others will offer a one-time closing.

During the building process, the lender will issue draws. These are payments made to the builder for materials, work performed, etc. As the buyer, you are generally only responsible for the amount borrowed on with each draw and payments you make are interest-only for the duration of the building process. So you can know fairly well ahead of time how much you can expect your payments to be as construction progresses.

If building your own cabin is the path you are considering, we can help you. We have worked with a number of builders on dozens of construction projects and would be glad to share our experience and expertise with you.

Shagbark Resort cabin can be the perfect vacation home

Our featured “Cabin of the Month” for July is a privately located resort cabin offering Smoky Mountain living at its finest! This 3-bedroom, 3-bath vacation home sits atop the mountains in the gated Shagbark Community. With its round-the-clock 24/7 gate, the on-duty guard watches over the only entrance to the community.

Handsome tongue and groove as well as cathedral ceilings designs adorn the interior of this cabin. Its spacious open floor plan offers extra space for all the family and is great for entertaining large groups. Outside, the cabin’s large wrap around decks with covered portions are perfect for relaxing.

Privately located within a gorgeous woods setting, Shagbark Resort is just 12 minutes away from the Pigeon Forge Parkway and 12 minutes from Wears Valley and the back entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park. There is ample opportunity to use the back roads to avoid traffic and make your way around Sevier County to just about anywhere you want to go!

Click here to learn more about this vacation cabin. To schedule a visit to see the cabin, you may text or call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

Quiet Sevierville home is close to all the attractions

For our “House of the Month,” we’ve chosen this newer home located at Landmark Point Garden Villas.

This well maintained Sevierville home could be the perfect open concept floor plan you’re looking to move into! All on one level, this three bedroom, two bathroom home also comes with an enclosed sun room where you can enjoy the comforting natural light and the nature around you! Vaulted ceilings in your spacious living area with a tile fireplace center your great room. The large kitchen comes with stainless appliances, granite counter tops, stunning cherry colored cabinets and room for dining. The home’s private master suite has its own walk-in closet, over-sized whirlpool, and glass door shower. Also, the home’s two-car garage provides the perfect space for parking.

In a developing yet relatively quiet subdivision, this Sevierville home provides low maintenance easy living while still just minutes from shopping, LeConte Medical, Dollywood, and the attractions of Pigeon Forge!

Click here for more information about this home. If you’d like to schedule a visit, call or text me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

Buying in a sellers’ market

sellers marketAround this time last summer, I shared with you that we are living in a sellers’ market in the Great Smoky Mountains. One year later, that fact hasn’t changed. The number of properties available – particularly vacation rental cabins, since that is our primary residential market in this area – has dropped below where it was last year while the number of buyers looking hasn’t. In fact, the interest among potential buyers has continued to increase, which has in turn continued to drive up the prices of available homes. This is great news for your if you own a cabin and are considering selling it, but it has proven to be somewhat frustrating for buyers who find the prices to be a little more than they were planning or who don’t want to make a seemingly impulsive decision and end up either missing out on the cabin they love or just giving up on the idea completely.

However, if you’re in love with the dream of owning a vacation cabin in the Smokies, there’s hope. There are things you can do and ways you can approach the opportunity, even in this market. The three things you want to focus on is making the successful bid, making it make sense with your investment plans, and making sure the decision to make an offer doesn’t feel impulsive (if like many of us that is an area you struggle with).

Study the market ahead of time. We frequently send out listings via email to people based on criteria they provide us weeks, even months, ahead of their plan to visit the area and pick a cabin. Of course, just about everything you look at now will be under contract and/or sold before your trip in the fall. However, the more you know about what’s on the market and what the prices look like before you make the trip, the easier it will be for you to spot exactly what you want when you go inside the home or cabin that will be for sale when you get here. And it won’t feel quite so impulsive when it matches something else you saw weeks ago that you really loved online.

Ask your agent to preview the home. When you live in another state, making a day’s drive on a Tuesday afternoon to see a cabin Wednesday morning before driving home in the afternoon so you can be back at work on Thursday isn’t always the most practical. If you don’t have a way to view the cabin before Friday afternoon, it might be under contract by then. So one of the services we offer our clients who we know are serious about buying a property is to go and check it out for them. We know what they are looking for in a home or cabin and can usually send photos or videos, or give a call while we are at the property walking around. Then, you can make an informed decision about the specific property and if you like it based on your agent’s feedback, be able to go ahead and make an offer following the tips I suggested last year.

Consider building your own home. The other good news is that if you can’t find exactly what you want, or you have time to plan out your vision for owning property in the Smokies is that building is making a comeback because of the shortage of properties for sale. So that is an option you should consider.

If you would like to know more or need help navigating the market, my staff and I would enjoy the opportunity to work with you on your adventure! You can call or text me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111. I can also be reached via email: deborah@deborahkorlin.us

Now is the time to sell!

I’m sure those of you who have been keeping up with my newsletter have heard me say this before: if you have a vacation cabin you’ve been thinking about selling, now is the time. The real estate market in our area has reached a point where buying is about the same price as building. Resort communities such as Sherwood Forest, Starr Crest, and Legacy Mountain that perform the best among rental cabin resorts in our region are selling at prices not seen since before the downturn in 2008. Plus, the number of cabins for sale in our market is incredibly low. So between the lack of inventory and the increased demand among buyers looking for cabins to buy, the prices have significantly increased.

As a result, building is making a comeback. New areas are being developed for cabin construction. As more cabins are built over the next year, the supply will start to level out and we could see sales prices slip just a bit as the demand is met. In the meantime, this could mean a great opportunity for you if you are ready to sell.

Now is the time.

One of the first steps to take in considering selling is to see for yourself what your cabin is worth in today’s market and compare it to the price you paid when you bought it. We can definitely help you with finding those two things out! Just give us a call or send an email or text. I look forward to hearing from you! I can be reached at 865-765-6157 or 865-654-2111, or by email at deborah@deborahkorlin.us.  You will be pleasantly surprised by what you discover. Remember, now is the time.