With a focus on main floor living, this beautiful Cedar Falls log home has a open floor plan perfect for family and guests.
To learn more about this Cedar Falls log home, click here.
If you’d like to schedule a visit to this Cedar Falls log home, call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.
For our featured “House of the Month,” we’ve chosen this wood-sided ranch home.
To schedule a visit to see this ranch home in Sky Harbor, call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.
With the shortage of cabins on the market and the high demand to replace them by people who lost their cabin in the wildfires almost a year ago, those of you who dream of having a vacation home in the Smokies are facing some tough competition from buyers with insurance checks in hand. But you can still live your dream if you are willing to make some concessions.
First, you need to know going into the cabin buying process that you may have to offer a little more than what the properties were going for a year ago. Our area is a sellers’ market right now, and property market values are reflecting that in the offers we are seeing. This means you may be competing with investors who are looking for a place that will generate a decent income on the rental income market. To make sure you come out on top, you are going to have to offer your highest and best price.
With that in mind, a higher offer using lending means getting the property appraised for the amount you are offering might be a challenge. As market values have rapidly risen, the appraisal values – the determined worth of the home to help lenders decide if they will approve the requested amount on a mortgage – have not really kept up. But there are things you can do to help it appraise for more. For example, appraisers can consider the gross rental income in the value of the cabin. So, I and my staff will help you find a great rental company able to bring in an amount that will make the cabin worth more in an appraisal.
How you can rent your cabin and still enjoy it
But you may say, “I don’t want to rent my cabin because I don’t want to share it!” That’s okay. We can help you figure that out, too. We know rental companies who will take great care of your property and your belongings. You can use it as much as you want, but when you’re not there you’re going to want to generate income on it to help with the mortgage. And you can do things to make sure it is being rented by guests who will care as much about taking care of the cabin as you do.
- Outfit it with the very top end furniture, appliances, and amenities. With the better quality items in the cabin, you can charge a higher price per night to help pay for those items. Give more, and ask more.
- Appeal to a smaller group of people. Limit the number of people allowed to rent your cabin. If you try to pack in more people, you will attract groups that are looking to spread the cost around and the more people in the cabin at one time, the more likely things will get broken.
- Prohibit pets. The last thing you want when you come to your “home away from home” is to discover pets have destroyed your favorite lamp, or scratched up the flooring. You can bring your pets, of course, but there’s nothing requiring you to let other people bring theirs!
- Pick something in a private area. Even something private can still be part of a resort, such as Brothers Cove, or Shagbark – which is protected by a guard gate around the clock. Maybe you would like a cabin in a residential type setting such as Sky Harbor (as long as crazy, winding roads are your thing).
- Look for something you will have to remodel. I often tell clients our number one goal in helping them buy something is to find someone else’s mistake that they can correct affordably. It’ll be cheaper to buy, and the money you put into remodeling will pay for itself with the additional rental income it generates. When furnishing or remodeling, make sure to choose materials that are more durable – ceramic tile, granite, distressed woods, stone, slate, etc. Avoid things like soft pine that scratch easily, or carpet that will stain and tear over time. Also, sheetrock is generally something you should replace with wood walls, tongue and groove, or something that gives it more of a traditional cabin feel.
- Have the cabin deep cleaned once a year. If you do this right before you come for your big vacation trip of the year, the positive impression it will leave for you as you walk in on the first day will help set the tone for the whole trip!
In conclusion, if having a cabin here that you can use for vacationing any time you want is a dream of yours, don’t let the current market situation discourage you. Lenders’ rates are low and most lenders only require 10 percent down payment. If you can swing it, you should put down 20 percent so that you aren’t charged what’s called PMI. It’s a form of insurance required by the bank when you owe more than 80 percent of the loan value. And, don’t wait. As the economy improves, the more buyers there will be. While we are in the process of building back what was lost, and building new cabins in new areas, the shortage of available properties here will continue. So the longer you wait, the more the cabin is going to cost.
If you want to learn more, or need help finding a vacation cabin that’s right for you, I and my staff are always here to help!
This Sevierville house offers “Smoky Mountain Living” at its best!
If you’d like to schedule a visit to this Sevierville house, call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.
If you’re looking for the peacefulness of country living but still want to be close to the excitement of the Smokies, you won’t want to miss seeing this Dandridge home.
If you’d like to schedule a visit to see this ‘country living’ property, call 865-765-6157 or 865-654-2111.
When people call about buying vacation or investment property, one of the first questions I am often asked is, “Should I buy a condo or a cabin?” The answer is, “Yes, you should!” Both have great, attractive qualities and serve specific goals, so it really comes down to what your personal preference is for owning a home in the Smokies.
Why You Should Buy a Condo
Condos are the best investment when knowing that what you’re getting will be low maintenance is the most important concern. When you buy a condo, you don’t have to worry about who is taking care of the roads or whether someone may be thinking about building on the next lot over and blocking the view of Mt. LeConte. You have the support of the homeowners association to take care of the building maintenance, the grounds, the roof, etc. In a condo, you’re close to the action for shopping and other activities that make our area so popular. If you’re planning to use the property more for your own purposes than for rental income, a condo can fit that need with a lot less upkeep.
If keeping your costs low is important, then another thing that makes the choice to buy a condo is that insurance is cheaper than on a cabin. You’re basically insuring the contents of the condo unit, so the cost per square foot is about half when comparing apples to apples with a cabin.
And yes, condos can make money if you choose to rent yours out. While you won’t make as much with a condo as you might with a cabin, you can still generate income to help with the mortgage, put in that new flooring, or just have some extra spending money for your next visit to your home away from home. As a condo owner, you are competing with the hotels and timeshares around here. So you have to make sure you are offering a little more for your guests. A well set up, effectively marketed one bedroom condo can bring in about $25,000, and in some places we’ve seen units generate as much as $30,000. Due to the fact that your unit is the same as your neighbor’s, there is a ceiling on what you can earn, though. Changing out the flooring or making other updates won’t really add to the value if you decide to sell it. If your neighbor’s unit sold for $150,000 last week, then that’s about where you can expect your price will be this week, in general.
Why You Should Buy a Cabin
The best reason to buy a cabin instead of a condo can be summed up with two words: rental potential. Where condos have a ceiling on what they can earn, cabins have a wider spread and are really only limited by their size, location, amenities, and what the views around them are. Some cabins have HOA fees, but just as many do not, or have a very low one for things like road maintenance. You can make improvements, add amenities, and update the décor to raise the value of the cabin.
Cabins in the Smokies also tend to attract a larger pool of customers, people who want the unique experience of sleeping in a cabin in the woods. For some, the cabin stay is the main part of their vacation. So you’re not competing with the hotels and timeshares.
You can also change and update your cabin the way you want and if you make the right changes, they will add value to the property. But you will have to take care of the maintenance yourself or pay someone if you’re in an area without an HOA that includes that. You’re responsible for making sure the cabin is stained and treated for bees on a regular basis.
Next, we created a test for you to see whether you should buy a condo or a cabin.
Rate your stance on each of these scenarios on a scale of 1 to 10.
- You see a bear from your window. How awesome is that? 1 = The opposite of awesome! 10 = Best day ever!
- Bees are swarming around the door to your home. 1= Call pest control! 10 = Let’s build a beehive!
- The roof is leaking. 1 = Time to call my real estate agent. 10 = Time to get my hammer and nails!
- You notice grass growing up along the sidewalk. 1 = Spray some weed killer right away. 10 = It’s just a couple blades of grass.
- You decide to change out the green carpet with hardwood. 1 = I don’t care if it adds value, I just want to change it. 10 = This had better make my property worth more!
If you scored above 40, you would probably prefer a cabin to a condo. You enjoy nature and you don’t mind taking care of the structure yourself (at least, not enough to dissuade you from living in a cabin).
If you scored lower than 25, you will probably want to buy a condo rather than a cabin. You need a property that is well maintained and you want to enjoy your space the way you like without worrying too much about making money on it.
If you scored between 25 and 40, you could go either way. The cabin you need is something in a resort that is maintained by the HOA or by a rental company. Maybe you want a cabin you can outfit in a way to make it worth more but want to be around people while you’re working, or perhaps you don’t want to see grass on the sidewalk but hope the bear will come up on the deck to say hello. Part of what makes the Smoky Mountains so great is that there’s something here for everybody! If you want to learn more about rental properties or need help to buy a condo or a cabin, we are here for you!
When I meet with people excited about investing in rental cabins, one of the questions I am often asked is, “Should I buy a resort cabin or one that’s more private?”
My answer is, “yes and yes!”
No really, the choice between resort cabin and private cabin comes down to personal taste. My recommendation is to choose the one that fits your own preference, or even better the one that offers the best value for the price.
When it comes to rental, neither type is more dominant over the other. We have a group of renters who love privacy and we have a group of renters who want the resort atmosphere. Our area has such a variety of offerings that it can meet the vacation goals of anyone who comes to visit us. For some people, a trip to the Smokies is about getting away from the hustle and bustle, so they love their privacy. They want the quiet seclusion of the mountains. But others come here with a different set of goals for a vacation. They want to meet different people from other states and share their stories.
Cabins in a resort setting come with a number of community-minded amenities, such as a miniature golf course, a public pool, a walking path, and/or a picnic area. These resorts need those additional attractions because the type of people staying there are generally the extroverts who enjoy meeting other people and interacting with their fellow vacationers. They want to be close to the shopping centers, to the local shows, and to feel safe while they are visiting. These people (your renters) will be shopping, dining, going to Dollywood, and driving through the National Park, or riding go-carts.
The renters who come here looking for a quiet get-away are the folks who don’t want to drive at a snail’s pace on the Parkway with all the traffic. These folks don’t mind the curvy roads. For them, that’s part of the adventure! They will be more tolerant of the gravel and the steep drives as long as it is quiet and pristine when they get there. If they see a bear on the deck, then it was a perfect visit! The ones who enjoy privacy aren’t here to shop or visit the attractions. They’re spending their time hiking, cycling, and rafting. They know the backroads around the traffic!
From a buyer’s standpoint, the things you need to think about when deciding which type of cabin you want to invest in are the maintenance and upkeep costs. While there are several typical expenses that every cabin owner must bear on his or her own, in a resort setting homeowners association (HOA) fees can offset expenses for things like road maintenance, property upkeep, and in some places utilities. They also pay for the public amenities at the resort, like the club house or the public swimming pool. A development/resort with an HOA could vote to increase the costs, though that is rare given that a majority of members have to support the increase.
Cabins outside of development or resort areas generally aren’t part of an HOA so while you won’t have the same fees as ones that are, as a cabin owner you will have to bear the unexpected expenses on your own. Landscaping can be one of the biggest challenges in a private cabin. The more we change nature, the more we have to maintain it to keep it the way we made it. The advantage of having a private cabin is that you have more control over what happens with your cabin. You don’t have HOA guidelines you have to follow and you are more likely to own the land around your cabin instead of just the footprint it sets on.
So to summarize, this is one of those awesome choices where you can do what you want! (You know I don’t say that too often.)
If you’d like to learn more about investing in rental cabins, and the differences between those in resorts compared to private rental homes, contact my support line at 865-654-2111 or my office at 865-429-2121.
You won’t want to miss seeing this custom built home in Pigeon Forge.
To learn more or schedule a showing at this custom built home, call our office at 865-429-2121.
If you’re in the market for a second home or investment rental cabin in a popular Smoky Mountains resort, you won’t want to miss seeing this one!
This more than 2,000 square feet four-bedroom, three bath rental cabin in the area’s popular Sherwood Forest resort is our featured “Cabin of the Month” for April.