Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

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Buy and Build BEFORE you retire – create your dream in baby steps

Build Your Retirement Home Before You Retire – in other words: Buy (or build) a vacation home now with an eye to retire there.

Buy and Build BEFORE you retire - create your dream in baby steps, Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent

By Jeffrey R. Kosnett, From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, August 2013

Last February, Ken Means bought a 3,000-square-foot home built in the early 1990s on 80 acres of land. Located in the Ozarks near Cabool, Mo., it is six hours from Means’s home near Peoria, Ill., so he can’t go every weekend. But when he can spare a day or two, he works on projects such as building a pond to attract waterfowl. The property is ideal for Means not only because he is an avid hunter but also because all that land comes with a reasonably new house—as opposed to a wreck in need of restoration. Plus, shopping and other basic services are no more than 15 minutes away.

Means, who is 56 and owns a fire-equipment business, says that five years ago he started toying with the idea of buying a vacation home that he could eventually retire to. Now he says he may sell his business in as little as two years—so he can resettle sooner to his spread. Land is cheap in the Ozarks, so his new property set him back less than $300,000, house included. Property taxes of less than $1,000 a year are also low.

The Missouri Ozarks is a low-income area, so there aren’t many locals with the cash to bid up property values. Dollars aside, Means says the smartest thing he did before buying his house was to take the time to look at many properties and talk to residents and real estate agents. He knows he’ll be comfortable living there permanently when the time comes.

“You’ll want to buy something early enough to get it into shape before you do retire,” says Means. “You don’t want to retire and then work your butt off, because that defeats the point.” The remote property is unlikely to attract renters, so he’s not even thinking about a listing. Instead, he has opened the door to his family. His parents recently stayed for two weeks, and his sister and her family will vacation there for a week and a half.

When you’re ready to retire, there’s surely a manicured, gated subdivision with stair-free designs and an unchallenging golf course in your area. And the easiest (and perhaps least costly) decision is to stay in place and carry on, sans the commute (see The Benefits of Aging in Place). Some more adventurous retirees choose to move to a Sunbelt mecca or even to live overseas (see How to Retire Abroad).

But there’s another way: Buy or build a retirement home before you retire. You can enjoy it now for recreation and relaxation, years before you get the gold watch. You can use it as a weekend and holiday retreat, and you can expand or adapt it gradually so it can function as a permanent residence. The home doesn’t have to accommodate every luxury you’d ever want. The location and the lay of the land are the draw.

According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. vacation-home sales were a relatively modest 469,000 in 2010, rose to 502,000 in 2011, grew to 553,000 last year and will rise again in 2013. Prices are still depressed from the peaks of 2005 and 2006, the two years when Americans bought more than a million second homes. Still, prices rose 24% last year, to a median of $150,000 for existing properties.

With real estate prices booming again, could desirable recreational and resort-area property sell so fast that if you wait even one year to buy, you’ll strike out? Stacy Matherly, the real estate agent who sold Means his acreage, says she is inundated with e-mail inquiries from distant “sofa surfers” who are eager to go home-and-land shopping. David Knudsen, a real estate agent in Liberty, N.Y., says the second-home market generally trails the primary market by six to 12 months. It is definitely on the rebound, if still in the early stages.

Half of all second-home buyers pay cash. But that stat may be misleading because the transaction counts as a cash sale if the buyers draw on a home-equity line on their main residence to pay for abode number two. If you need a mortgage, note that the standards for vacation homes are tougher than for the purchase of a primary home. You will need excellent credit and a down payment of at least 20%. Plan on paying an interest rate on the mortgage that’s a little higher than for a first home.

Brokers who sell property within 150 miles of New York City say that affordable real estate still exists in the region, and buyers are tapping stock market profits rather than taking out bank loans to pay for it. For example, in Sullivan County, in the Catskills two to three hours northwest of Manhattan, there are listings for three-bedroom houses on five acres ranging from $200,000 to $300,000. These houses are rustic enough that you would probably want to invest in some upgrades. Direct water access, whether to a lake or river, and sweeping views pad the price substantially.

Not all preretirees are interested in an existing house, however, especially a dated ranch or bungalow. If you want to build, David Weiner, a New York City architect known for his glass-walled weekend retreats in the Catskills and the Berkshires, says the first and hardest job is finding the land. It can take as long as two years to get local permits. You can also expect to deal with environmental quirks; water and septic conditions are all over the map in rocky places such as Maine and other mountainous regions. In remote southern Colorado, where Weiner has also designed custom homes, people will pay a premium for building sites where there will be 320 sunny days a year to power their off-the-grid solar units.

In the East and Midwest, you’ll pay a premium for proximity to skiing and hiking trails, good roads, and beautiful vistas. Land becomes less expensive about a three-hour drive from a major city. The farther you go, the more land you can get for less.

Some architects will design second homes as small as 1,500 square feet. Weiner says most of his clients prefer a smaller weekend place anyway, because the cost of construction keeps creeping up—especially in rural areas, where the climate can require that the construction withstand storms, floods and wind. The total cost to build can easily reach $250 per square foot; combined with the cost of the land and the architect’s plans, you could be looking at $750,000 for even a pocket-size luxury home in a high-cost region such as New England.

Weiner says you should budget for a 10% to 15% overrun in building costs because something will go wrong, whether it’s a drainage problem or new regulations that magnify the cost of installing utilities. Fortunately, once you’ve acquired land, no one can outbid you. If you decide not to go ahead with the project, you should be able to sell the tract for a profit.

If you’re not ready to cash in your current house, or if you don’t want to or cannot borrow enough against your equity to swing the deal, you may have to negotiate a construction loan with a bank. You can eventually roll the balance into a 15-year mortgage or even pay it off if you profit enough from the sale of your primary residence.

Rent it for income?

To defray the costs of maintaining two homes, you may be able to rent your lair to short-term visitors (see Tax Breaks for Second-Home Owners). Insiders say the rental business is booming in most places, citing a high volume of bookings and rising rents at HomeAway, Vacation Rentals by Owner, Airbnb and other agencies.

In a survey by the NAR last year, more than 90% of vacation-home buyers said they planned to rent their new property within one year, and three-fourths of them expected rents to cover at least half of their mortgage. That’s more realistic now than it was during the recession, but you’re taking a chance if you expect your vacation home to function as an ATM to make the cash-flow numbers work. It’s better to buy or build something you can afford from current resources and shop diligently for the right property and price—even if your heart is telling you to rush to closing right after a memorable vacation.

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. 

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About Rolf Kramer – who am ?

You know you are ready to retire. You know you want to live in Williamsburg, and you found this blog. But, why should you hire Rolf Kramer to represent you when you are searching for your home and negotiate a home purchase in Williamsburg?
 Rolf Kramer, Real Estate - licensed agent in Virginia
Rolf Kramer
REALTOR ®
ABR, SRES, e-PRO
Williamsburg Office
rolfkramer@lizmoore.com
(757) 564-4455 Cell
(757) 240-2584 Direct Fax
(757) 645-4106 Office
(800) 825-2707 Toll-free

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I provide my clients with state of the art technology, sophisticated marketing techniques, up-to-the-minute information, and the expertise demanded by today’s rapidly changing market. My services are backed by Liz Moore and Associates, devoted advocates for the consumer! Every home Liz Moore and Associates markets will have a professional and independent property inspection by an NAHI-certified home inspector, a market evaluation by a licensed appraiser, and a complete termite and moisture inspection by a bonded exterminator. Best of all, this is done at our expense. An innovation pioneered by Liz Moore and Associates, this process provides advantages for both buyer and seller. It allows our agents to accurately pinpoint true market value, ensures that you are advised of value and potential repair issues up front, before negotiating price and committing to terms, and avoids eleventh hour discoveries that can derail a sale. Liz Moore and Associates takes the surprise, and a lot of the stress, out of home buying and selling.

When I work for my clients they can always be assured that I will be truthful, do my very best for them and get the job done right. I learned this from building a 30 year professional consulting career. That career was based on a tradition of listening to clients and then delivering expert knowledge, advice, and determined hard work to help my clients fulfill their needs. That is what I do for my real estate clients.

As a Realtor, I have come to realize that I don´t buy and sell real estate. What I really do is help people change their lives. When people move from one home to another, it changes where their kids go to school, where their family worships, and their sphere of friends. It dramatically changes their lives. I have a big part in making that happen and I take that very seriously.

Making this family life change a successful change is what puts a smile on my face and in my heart. I really get a kick out of having my clients come back to me and thank me for the helping them get what they wanted, where they wanted to go, when they wanted to go, and without undue stress.

I am in the business to make money because my most important job every day is to create security, stability, and a future for my family. I build that business by working with people like you and taking excellent care of them and their real estate needs.

As a Buyer’s Agent: I employ detailed interviews to identify a client’s needs and review every available property through extensive resources, including several Multiple Listing Services, online newspaper classifieds, and For Sale by Owner web sites. Clients are immediately notified via email about any new properties that fit their needs. Clients are provided with their own internet portal where they can sort their properties into favorites, possibilities, and rejects. As a real estate professional and long time resident of Williamsburg, I offer my clients an insider’s perspective on the local real estate market.

As a Seller’s Agent: I use a variety of advanced marketing tools. Clients are provided enhanced Internet listings on http://www.realtor.com, http://www.point2nls.com, http://www.craigslist.com, http://www.backpage.com, http://www.rolfkramer.net, http://www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com, http://www.yahoo.com, http://www.googlebase.com, http://www.zillow.com, and http://www.trulia.com, which present their property to millions of online buyers actively looking to purchase. Buyers can directly access the property´s details, multiple pictures, and panoramic and 360° Virtual Tours. Properties are listed in two local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and lock boxes are provided for easy access by more Realtors. I use traditional marketing techniques that still help sell a house in today´s market: For sale sign and a box with flyers on the lawn for drive-bys; open house for the public; broker open house; advertising in newspapers and magazines, and ‘Just Listed’ postcards to neighbors. I maximize the market exposure of my client’s property to include all sources of first contact for home buyers.

rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out  www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Should you add another bathroom? Ask yourself these questions!

Ask yourself these questions before you choose to add another bathroom to your existing home. Check out the infographic, below the questions for the answers!

  • Do you have 2-bath, 3-bedroom home?
  • Do you argue over bathroom time?
  • Are you going to stay at least 5 more years?
  • Do you lack a bathtub or a shower?
  • Do you have plumbing already present near the addition?
  • Do you have enough space for another?
  • Do you have enough money?

Should you add another bathroom to your home? Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent


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Staging: Rearrange. Reconfigure. Restyle. The Rewards are REAL.

Staging is your home, reinvented. Our professional staging consultation, at Liz Moore and Associates, will give your home that selling edge.

Rolf Kramer, 757-564-4455

That is because we believe that having a home professionally staged means a quicker sale and a higher net proceeds for our sellers. Along with Staged 2 Sell, the region’s premier professional staging company  we are pleased to offer an initial staging consultation to our listing customers, at our expense.

It’s all part of our exclusive “No Surprises” program proven to boost the sales potential of our client’s properties. Because when it comes to truly reinventing real estate, no one else does it better than Liz Moore & Associates.

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.

 


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Should I Update My Home Before I Sell?

Should I update my home before I sell?  This is a classic home seller’s dilemma. And, like so many questions, it really depends on your specific situation. There are a number of improvements that are “no brainers”… so let’s take a look at those first. The least expensive investments with the greatest returns are undoubtedly the following:

  • Fresh paint. Choose a neutral color, and give the interior a bright, new look. You may want to consider doing some early packing, and not re-hang all your pictures (less clutter will make rooms look larger, and the new owner will  not have to fill holes).
  • Landscaping. A carefully manicured lawn and weed-free beds are an indication that the property is well cared for. Mulch and some color in the flower beds will go a long way toward creating that important curb appeal.
  • Replace carpet, if necessary. New flooring, in a neutral color, allows the buyer to feel that they are moving into a “new” home.

All three of those improvements tend to encourage a stronger offer on your property, because the prospective buyer isn’t moving in with a laundry list of “to-do’s” which are likely to be estimated at a higher cost than what you’ll pay. By doing them, in advance, you preclude a buyer for reducing his offer price by the amount he feels he’ll need to invest.

Retiring In Williamsburg

Other additions that aid in the marketability are minor kitchen and bathroom remodeling, such as replacing dated counter tops and appliances, and refacing or replacing out-of-style cabinets. Because these improvements can be a bit more pricey than painting and landscaping, be sure to include me in the decision-making process. Not only will I be able to advise you whether or not the project makes sense, I will be able to guide you to affordable and reputable contractors to do the work.

Carefully consider any major renovations, such as room additions, garage conversions, or swimming pools, too. It is very important to make these investments to enjoy while you are living in the home, because chances are that you will not recoup but a fraction of the cost. Garage conversions, for instance, may add a great bonus room or extra bedroom, but when it comes time to sell, you’ll have to subtract the value of the garage that you no longer have. Garages are likely customary – the loss most likely will exceed the gain. 

Bottom line, let’s talk so that I can steer you away from costly changes that you won’t recoup and help direct you toward changes that will help you sell faster. Want to know what your home is worth? Click here.

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Williamsburg Real Estate Market Watch – February 2015

You asked for it – here is the latest Market Watch!

  • How long do Williamsburg homes take to sell? Average of 59 days
  • How many other houses are for sale? Approximately 7.2 months worth of inventory
  • How close to the Selling price are Sellers getting? 97.9%
  • What is the median Sold price? $293,000

Here is the skinny on selling homes, in Williamsburg! Have more questions about this Williamsburg Real Estate Infographic? Give me a call: 757-564-4455

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent, Williamsburg, Virginia, Retiring in Williamsburg

 

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.