“LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. . . ”
The mantra of the savvy real estate investor is infinitely more important than any other single factor when it comes to looking for the perfect spot for your
Southwest Michigan vacation home. It has been said that it is even more critical than the location of your primary residence. Why? If it’s not close, you’ll hardly ever use it. Simply put, you can’t enjoy something you rarely get to. According to experts, regular use of vacation homes over three hours away drops off dramatically from those second homes which are closer to the owner’s primary residence.
The general rule of thumb is to choose a desirable geographic area as close to your primary home as possible, while still feeling as though you’re “getting away”. If you dread making the drive there and back, you probably won’t feel like going for a long weekend, let alone a regular weekend or a simple overnight. It’s hard to look forward to a 4 or 5 hour drive on a Friday evening and even more disappointing to have to leave early on Sunday for the long return trip. On the other hand, those second homeowners whose drive is within two hours find themselves able to take full advantage of their vacation home, even on short notice.
Subtle differences in terminology can mean a big difference
Some second home developments are called “Condominiums”, but they are actually single family home communities. Many of the newer communities are structured as “Site Condominiums”, but that is basically due to the onsite shared amenities. In these cases, you will pay a monthly “Condominium Association” or “Homeowner Association” fee and the association will take care of a variety of things, such as common area landscaping, lawn care, snow removal, pool cleaning, beach and pier maintenance and more.
Is there a difference between lake house, lakefront, lake view, and lake access?
(Hint: YES! See Lakefront Properties for
more on this.)
The term “lake house” typically refers to the fact that you have a home in a community which is located on a particular lake, even though your particular home may be in the development but a short walk or golf cart ride from the actual water.
The term “lakefront” typically refers to a home, whose lot actually borders the water. It is sometimes also referred to as “waterfront”.
The term “lake view” suggests that you have a view of the water from your home, but it may not be the closest home to the lake.
“Lake access” means you are in a community which allows you to use the lake. There may be a community beach, pier or common waterfront area.
Most of these home types will have actual “deeded access” to the body of water, a key component to securing the real estate valuation premium not given to homes without a water feature. In many cases this premium can be 30% above a similarly built home of the same age and size which does not have deeded water access.
Even within this group of deeded access types, these subtle differences can translate to differences in pricing or lot premiums.
“But there’s nothing to do!”
Your family’s interests are as important as proximity. Be sure to buy your second home in an area that boasts attractions and activities of interest to you and your family. For the adults, look for access to golf courses, antiquing, winery tours, casinos, great restaurants or just touring a unique and beautiful countryside. If you have kids, think of playing on great beaches, kayaking, canoeing, biking, hiking, swimming, water sports like tubing, skiing, water trampolines, fishing, snowmobiling, snow boarding and skiing. They’ll also enjoy having access to a playground and, if everything they’ve done that day hasn’t gotten them to bed earlier than normal, nothing creates better quality family time than making s’mores and telling stories around a crackling fire.
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