Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

Lifestyles, Community Information. Helping you find your new home


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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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Ready to Buy? Let Rolf Kramer Real Estate Agent Specializing in Retiring in Williamsburg HELP!

You probably have experience buying and selling real estate.  However, if it has been a long time since the last real estate transaction, you may need to learn about some of the things that have changed since your last transaction.  For example, disclosure laws, buyer representation, and reverse mortgage financing are all relatively new for buyers and sellers.  For those of you that may need a refresher, we can provide you with complete information about today’s home buying process.  Here is a great home buying guide to help you understand the current home buying process: “The Perfect Fit, Home Buying Guide“. You can also check out our Buyer ReportsFrequently Asked Questions, and Real Estate Glossary. Buyers no longer need to represent themselves during the home search and purchase, while all agents represent the seller. Smart home buyers today can receive undivided confidential representation by choosing a “Buyer’s Agent.”  Find out more about Buyer’s Agents and how we can represent you and protect your interests during your home purchasing process.

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate

Financing Your Home

The first step has not changed much.  You need to know how much you want to spend. Will you get the money from the resale of your current home? How much can you afford or qualify for?  In today’s financing process it is critical to check your credit report to know your credit worthiness.  Clear up problems, if any, before going to a lender.  A good credit rating will result in you receiving lower interest rates.  Your credit rating will also affect the rates for the property insurance on your new home.  Read more about the New Reality of Property Insurance.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage from a mortgage broker or lender, with a commitment to fund your mortgage in writing.  Ask about the various types of mortgages to find the one that may be right for you.  There are many more options than there were even five years ago.  Once pre-approved for a loan, you will know your price range to begin shopping for real estate.

Finding the Right Lifestyle, Neighborhood and Home

Check out the various lifestyles that Williamsburg has to offer.  Whether you choose an active adult community, a golf course or country club community, waterfront living, urban condominium, suburban single family, or if continuing care is needed, you will find them here.

Determine the type of neighborhood you are looking for.  Do you prefer a neighborhood with lots of trees, one in the middle of town or out in the country?  Would you like to have easy access to a highway?  Do you prefer a community with a Home Owners Association or one without?

Make a wish list of all the specifications you want in your home.  Prioritize the list based on your wants and needs.  Next, mark out those aspects that you are willing to compromise on, in case you need to.  Then start searching for your home. You can search the Williamsburg MLS right from our website, or you can have us do it for you.
Review the property listings that meet your needs.  Select properties to see in person and then tour them with us, your Buyer’s Agent.  Once you have selected the property that best meets your needs, we will generate a Comparative Market Analysis to determine the market value of the property.  We will then write and negotiate an offer to purchase the property.

Closing the Deal

Once the contract is ratified we will continue to represent you and assist you throughout the post-contract procedures.  This will include participating in a professional home inspection, selecting your settlement attorney, obtaining property insurance, contacting utility companies, conducting the pre-settlement walk-through, and the Settlement at your attorney’s office.

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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Ready to Retire? Ready to Move to Williamsburg?

Welcome to your Williamsburg retirement living resource, where you can discover everything you need to know about living in the historic Williamsburg area.  My focus is to provide useful information about the diverse lifestyles the Williamsburg area has to offer.  Whether you choose to purchase real estate in an active adult community, a golf course or country club community, waterfront living, urban condominium, suburban single family, or if independent/assisted living or continuing care is needed, its here.  Williamsburg even offers two new mixed-use developments, New Town and High Street, that are an intelligent combination of housing, employment, shopping, and recreation. I can provide you with valuable information crucial to making your retirement destination decision.

One important consideration is ‘quality of life’.  CNN Money Magazine ranks Williamsburg, Virginia among the 25 best retirement cities in the US. With a click of the mouse, you have access to information about the Williamsburg real estate market and useful information such as climate conditions, cost of living, medical services, property tax rates, recreation and cultural activities, restaurants, houses of worship, and much more.

RETIREMENT - the world's longest coffee break - Rolf Kramer

Once you make the decision to retire and relocate to Williamsburg, my goal is to make buying your Williamsburg home and relocating a seamless transition.  You can search for your dream house through our local Williamsburg Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or request that I do it for you.

Let me put my 10-year real estate experience to work for you. Not only do you benefit from my thorough knowledge of the Williamsburg real estate market, but also from my inside knowledge of area neighborhoods. Make use of my relationships with local lenders and other service providers to help meet your individual needs as you relocate to Williamsburg.  I will be happy to counsel and guide you step-by-step through the entire home buying process by providing you with timely and accurate information and advice.

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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Grand Illumination Sunday, 12/6/15, at 5:30pm

The Grand Illumination will light up the skies in Colonial Williamsburg, this Sunday, December 6, 2016. The event runs from 5:30-7pm, the first Sunday of December. This is a local’s favorite event and you won’t want to miss it if it is your first year in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Grand Illumination Fireworks

Do plan ahead to get parking and assume you’ll get something to eat afterwards, because the traffic is snarled up for about 45 minutes after the fireworks are done.


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Are you headed to Grand Illumination?

Don’t miss this very special holiday event. Each year, the first Sunday of December. Mid afternoon through early evening. Lots of Christmassy activities and ends in Fireworks. It will make all the packing and unpacking worth it. You are going to LOVE Williamsburg.

Warming hands by a cresset cw grand illumination and first night singing by candle light grand illumination and first night

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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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Vote for Liz Moore & Associates in the Best Of Williamsburg, 2015

Cast your vote for us as the Best Real Estate Company in The Virginia Gazette’s “Best of Williamsburg” contest. You can vote by texting lizmoore to 71593, or online at www.vagazette.com/bestof2015between now and November 7th.  Help us get the word out!  The winners will be announced in the Virginia Gazette on December 26th and 30th.text lizmoore to 71593

 

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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Looking to be SCARED this Halloween, in Williamsburg???

Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream isn’t the only scary, spooky haunt in Williamsburg, this Halloween! And, if you haven’t checked out “Unearthed: Scarlett’s Revenge,” this new themed maze made connection with the producer of “The Blair Witch Project.” Also look for mazes “Lumberhack” and “Cornered.” Closes Sunday at 10pm. Tickets $77 for a one-day pass. Contact 800-343-7946 or buschgardens.com for more information.

Haunting on DoG Street: Blackbeard’s Revenge. Oct. 30-31 in the Historic Area at Colonial Williamsburg. Free Halloween trick-or-treat festival for children 12 and under takes place from 5-7:30 p.m. each night. Event features pirate shanties, a costume contest and free M&M Mars treats at the historic buildings and homes along Duke of Gloucester Street. Candy for those with allergies will also be available at select stops.  Participating children must be preregistered and registration is now closed for this event.  At 8 p.m., the undead crew members of the pirate Blackbeard, who were tried and hanged on Williamsburg’s streets in 1719, will return to seek their revenge. The ticketed program includes a trial of the undead in the Capitol, an encounter with Blackbeard and a ghostly walk through the tombstones, jail and the gallows. Recommended for guests ages 13 and up. Procession of the undead led by pirate zombies to Chowning’s Tavern takes place at 10 p.m.

Family Frights at Jamestown Settlement. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Elementary school-aged children can trick-or-treat aboard a haunted Susan Constant,Godspeedand Discovery, as well as through the re-created early 1600 fort, listen to ghost stories, play games and walk through a spooky straw maze. $7 per child ages 4-12 and $3 per adult. Tickets available at historyisfun.org.

Creepy, Crawly, Create! 2:45-4:15 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31, Art Museum of Colonial Williamsburg. Make Halloween art inspired by the creatures on display in “Birds, Bugs, and Blooms: Observing the Natural World in the 18th Century.” Visitors admitted with Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket.

Kimball Theatre presents “Nosferatu” at 7:30 p.m. and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at 11 p.m. Oct. 31. The theater is also showing “Alien” Oct. 25-31. 428 West Duke of Gloucester. For tickets and complete showtimes, visit kimballtheatre.com.

Colonial Ghost Tours. Tours leave at 8, 9 and 11 p.m. most nights. Extended tours available. One-hour historic ghost walk tour through Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary. Tours groups meet in front of the Kimball Theater. Tickets: $13, $10 (child). Extended tours: $18, $15 (child), and $19.99 for 11 p.m. tours (may vary by demand and season). Check calendar online for availability at colonialghosts.com.

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.