Financing Your Lake House in 2020

You’ve decided to dive in and buy your dream house on the lake, but how do you finance this life changing decision? From vacation rental income to second home mortgages, you have many options when it comes to affording your lake house in 2020.

Here are some tips to make buying a lake house a sound financial decision.

Finance during a year of stability.

mortgage interest rates to consider when financing your lake house

The real estate market experienced a year of declining interest rates in 2019. With few economic risks and low inflation, borrowing costs are expected to remain low, making 2020 a great year to take on debt for a long-term purchase.

According to Bankrate, the rate on a 30 year note fell from an average of 4.68% at the beginning of January 2019 all the way down to 3.9% by Christmas. This is really good news for homebuyers.

The lakefront real estate market ended on high note in 2019, with average sales price for lakefront homes projected to continue increasing this year. If you haven’t read our analysis of last year’s lakefront market, start hereand learn why 2020 is the year to finance your lake house.

Consider your use and classify appropriately.

how will your lake house be used?

When financing your lake house, you will need to classify your property based on how it will be used. Typically your lake house will fall into one of three categories for financing: primary residence, secondary residence, or investment property. The type of home you buy will affect your interest rate and may require you to have a higher credit score.

Secondary Residence vs. Investment Property

If you plan to use your home as a short-term rental, you can still classify the property as a secondary residence instead of an investment property, taking advantage of lower interest rates and qualifying for mortgage interest tax deductions. This will vary by lender, but typically your lake house can remain a secondary residence if your home is rented no more than 180 days a year and you occupy the home at least 10% of the time you would rent it. You will have to report rental income on your taxes if you rent for 15 or more days. Learn more about mortgage classification here.

Look for niche lending options.

Niche lending options for financing your lake house

With vacation rentals gaining popularity over the last few years, most lenders should have a base level of knowledge when it comes to financing your lake house for short-term rental use. If possible, seek out a finance professional familiar with the vacation rental industry. You lakefront sales specialist may have recommendations for you.

If you don’t intend to rent out your lake house, there are plenty of lending options to meet you where you are financially. Many banks, such as M&T, offer bridge loans to help you purchase a new home before your existing home sells. You can also tap into the equity of your primary home to fund the down payment for your second home (cash-out refinance). Learn more about your lending options here.

Determine your Vacation Rental Income Goals

If your lake house is a second home or investment property, vacation rental income could factor into what kind of lake house you can afford. Your rental rate is determined by the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, amenities, and updates your home has. The larger and more modern the house, the higher the sales price – but also consider that you’ll most likely be able to rent it out more often and for a higher rate.

Our real estate team can provide a vacation rental income analysis for any lakefront home in the Finger Lakes. We provide income projections for the lake houses you’re considering and you can compare side by side how much each will earn, making it easy to determine the level of financing you’ll need.

Consider the extra costs.

Costs to consider when financing your lake house

Your lake house will incur higher costs than a traditional or primary home. Here are a few expenses to budget for when determining how much lake house you can afford:

Flood Insurance

Being so close to the water might warrant purchasing flood insurance. Though not required by New York State, your mortgage lender may mandate that you purchase a policy in addition to homeowners insurance. Flood damage isn’t typically covered by homeowners insurance and less than 50% of flooding incidents are covered by federal disaster assistance.

Maintenance

You’ll likely need a larger maintenance budget for your lake house, especially if it’s a second home or investment property. Lakefront property components, such as docks, decks, boathouses and beachfronts, will need routine maintenance, pressure washing, replacement, clean up, and more.

If your lake house is a secondary residence or investment property, consider hiring a management company to perform these tasks for you. In addition, property managers having a year-round presence at your home can reduce the chances of a break-in and quickly address storm damage or pests to avoid long-term issues and higher costs later on.

Lifestyle

There’s a reason you’re buying a lake house – you want the lake lifestyle! You’ll want to set aside some funds to buy that boat you’ve always wanted, and don’t be surprised when the family asks for a couple kayaks and a jet ski! Prioritize which gear you’ll need once the house is yours – and plan for more fun purchases later on.


What’s the best thing you can do when purchasing your lake house? Work with a professional that specializes in lakefront real estate. With 95% of our sales being on the water, our team is ready and excited to answer your questions and find the right lake house for you! Call us today (855) 683-8429.

2019 Lakefront Real Estate Report

Each quarter, our sales specialists analyze real estate trends across the region’s lakefront market. We compile our findings into a complimentary report to make your decision to buy or sell an easy and informed one.

Here is our analysis of the 2019 lakefront real estate market:


Analysis of lakefront homes sold on 7 of the Finger Lakes in 2019.
Statistics aggregated from MLS.

Overview

The lakefront market experienced smaller gains in 2019, compared to 2018. This can be attributed to the average sale price for lakefront homes continuing to tick up, while the number of sales decrease.

Lakefront homeowners are holding onto properties longer, riding the wave of YOY value increases and the popularity of operating short-term rentals. Investors continue to enter the market, looking for homes not only for personal use, but for profit. Our region has seen a 25% increase in vacation rentals over the last few years.

Challenges

On lakes where the number of homes sold dropped 50%, we saw a correlating drop in total sales volume. Honeoye and Owasco Lakes were challenged by algal blooms and low inventory this year, but homes on both lakes continue to sell faster. Lower price points could transition these lakes deeper into a market that favors buyers in 2020.

HAB’s and Red Tide continue to challenge the nation’s lake and oceanfront real estate markets. Educating new homeowners on lake friendly living practices will be a focus in 2020, to ensure the health and safety of our waters for years to come.

lakefront market real estate agent

Successes

Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes saw the greatest increase in overall sales volume last year. High-end buyers are attracted to Canandaigua Lake for its luxury amenities and close proximity to the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. We expect the upward trend to continue in 2020, as transportation options, like seaplane routes, lakefront development, and amenities continue to expand.

Seneca Lake enjoyed a 33% boost in sales volume last year, with the highest overall gain in average sale price and greatest overall drop in days on market. Seneca is the largest of the Finger Lakes, and arguably the lake with the most opportunity. While Geneva revitalizes its downtown and gains national attention for its dining and tourism, Watkins Glen continues to yield some of the region’s largest events. Seneca Lake home prices still come in below the regional average, but with an 18% price gain last year, don’t expect the lakefront bargains to last. 2020 is the year to buy on Seneca!

Seneca Lake Real Estate

Market Trends to Watch

Mortgage rates are projected to continue trending downward in 2020. This is particularly great news for those looking to purchase a vacation home or income property. With low inventory and no pressure from the fed, lakefront buyers have the luxury of waiting for the right house to come on the market.

In general, the heat is off, with bidding wars at a 10 year low across the nation, but a limited inventory of starter homes is pushing first-time buyers into new territory. Rather than pour their assets into a primary residence, first-time buyers are investing in vacation homes in less expensive destinations, like the Finger Lakes. These homes have the potential to pay for themselves with vacation rental income or allow buyers to save up for their next investment.

Family saving for real estate

Focused on Lakefront in 2020

While the lakefront market flattened out in 2019, the Finger Lakes Premier Properties team experienced a 58% increase in lakefront sales. Our team led purchasing sales on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes and continues to be the leading real estate team servicing the entire region. Lakefront sales accounted for 95% of our 2019 sales, higher than any other real estate team in the Finger Lakes.

Our 2020 focus is lakefront real estate. If yours is too, call us today (888) 441-0079.

Why List Your Lakefront Home in Winter

The weather outside is frightful, so no one’s buying a home this time of the year, right? Think again. In the last 60 days, 35 lakefront homes went under contract in the region, including 33% of our available inventory. The market is trying to stay warm just like the rest of us, but lakefront homes are in short supply.

While winter may seem like a more challenging time to sell, the same rules don’t always apply for homes in a vacation destination. There are plenty of reasons to buy in winter, but here are some of the pros to selling your lakefront home in the off-season:

Higher priced homes see more action.

According to our listing agent, Cynthia Emerling, homes priced above $500,000 are seeing more interest. “The higher priced market starts to pick up in November, when people start evaluating their finances from the year and are motivated to take advantage of tax breaks.” Listing ahead of or during this surge of high-end buyer activity that your home sits on the market less time. “I tell high-end listings to hold out for this time of year, regardless of when they listed. This is when their buyer is in the market,” says Emerling.

Your home stays ready-to-show.

Selling in the summertime has its drawbacks. While it may be the time of year when your lakefront and landscaping look their best, it’s also the time when your lake house sees the most use. With family, friends, and guests in and out all summer, it can be difficult to ensure your home is ready-to-show when it needs to be. To maintain a staged, clean appearance, list your lakefront home in winter. As an added bonus, a light blanket of snow will cover any less-desirable features outside the home.

You’ll get the most out of your last summer on the lake.

There’s only a short window of summer weather here in the Finger Lakes. Showings can make it more difficult to schedule and enjoy your time at the lake. If your home is a vacation rental, constant showings can interfere with the guest experience. Guests who book in the peak season pay a premium for their stay and would prefer not to be interrupted by your agent.

Investment buyers have extra motivation.

On the vacation rental side, we see higher volumes of booking activity around the holidays. It makes sense – the whole family is gathered in one area, making it easy to plan their next vacation. Investment buyers don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to fill their calendars ahead of the new year. This is a huge motivator for short-term rental owners to buy ahead of the new year.


Even if you decide to hold off on listing until after the holidays, don’t wait too long. We see the spring market ramp up long before winter’s end. Lakefront buyers want to close have plenty of time to get their new home ready for summer.

Ready to list your lakefront home this winter? Start here!

Our real estate team will provide an assessment of your lakefront home and a rental analysis, free of charge, to attract buyers to the income potential of your listing. Call our lakefront listing experts today (888) 976-4981

Lakefront Real Estate Report: Q3 Highlights

How did the lakefront real estate market perform in the third quarter of 2019? Our team of highly knowledgeable lakefront sales specialists have compiled a complimentary analysis of market trends for the Finger Lakes to explain.

Lakefront Real Estate Report for Q3 2019
Analysis of lakefront homes sold on 7 of the Finger Lakes in Q3 2019.
Statistics aggregated from MLS.
  • Average days on market continue to drop on all lakes as the region transitions into a strong buyers market.
  • Lakefront inventory is still low, leading to a decrease in homes sold and total sales volume overall.
  • Low interest rates are feeding more buyers into the lakefront market.
  • Interest in short-term renting and investment homes is fueling demand for lakefront property.

What Our Agents See in the Lakefront Market

“We’ve seen an increase in out-of-state clients looking for lakefront homes in the area, many from PA. This is a great time of year to buy, especially for investors. Close on your home by 2020 and make updates to see a higher ROI in time to open your calendar for peak season.”

Dave Lucchesi, Buyer Specialist

“It’s a good time to list because of the number of buyers in the lakefront market. With interest rates continuing to drop, more buyers are comfortable with investing in a second or third home, staying in the market longer.”

Cynthia Emerling, Director of Listing Services

Top Performing Lakefront Markets

Canandaigua Lake

Total sales volume on Canandaigua Lake jumped almost 50% year over year. Lakefront property is in demand, with average sale price up 11% and homes spending an average of 10 days less on market. Our agents note that appropriately priced Canandaigua Lake homes have moved quickly this quarter.

Seneca Lake

We continue to see opportunity in the Seneca Lakefront market! With a near 50% increase in total sales volume, led by the FLPP team, and consistent growth in the number of homes for sale and average sales price, the largest Finger Lake shows no signs of slowing down going into Q4.


Download your copy of the full Q3 Lakefront Real Estate Report here.


For more information about buying or selling lakefront property in the Finger Lakes, call our real estate team today! 833-915-1259

How to Buy a Lake House

Maybe you’ve had the dream to buy a lake house for a long time. Maybe you’ve heard success stories about owning a vacation rental. Regardless, you’re ready to own your very own slice of lake life, but where do you start?

We caught up with our buyer specialist, Dave Lucchesi, to answer this question and to learn more about the steps his clients take to buy their lakefront home in the Finger Lakes. He broke it down for us in 5 easy steps:

Continue reading How to Buy a Lake House

Enhance your Lakefront Listing with Better Visual Content

With the increased use of visual social media platforms and mobile internet, having quality, professional photos has never been more essential to selling a home. Prospective buyers can access your listing and develop interest in your home – or take it off their list – without ever seeing it in person or contacting a realtor. Here are the numbers:

92% of homebuyers search the internet before contacting an agent.
Listings with more visual content, like virtual tours and videos receive 403% more inquiries.
89% of buyers across all demographics look to the web to narrow down their list of properties to consider.

Source: Matterport Industry Stats

This is why it’s crucial to work with an agent that has photography and staging experience or one that utilizes a professional photographer in order to get buyers through your door.

We’ve put together a few of the basic photography tools that your real estate agent should be using to put your best foot forward online.

Continue reading Enhance your Lakefront Listing with Better Visual Content

Q1 Lakefront Real Estate Report

Advise for lakefront buying and selling in the Finger Lakes

It’s here! Download our full report to see how the lakefront real estate market performed during the first quarter of 2019.

What you need to know

It continues to be a seller’s market. A decrease in the number of homes sold and an increase overall in average sale price means that supply is not meeting lakefront buyer demand. Lakefront homes on average are also spending less time on the market – our average is only 8.6 days!

If you’re on the fence about listing your lakefront home, spring is the perfect time to test the waters. Contact our Real Estate Team today for a free assessment of your home! (844) 464-0949

First Quarter 2019 Lakefront Real Estate Report | Finger Lakes

Our Real Estate Experts explain:

“Every lake that we work is down in overall volume of sales, many of the lakes by very large volumes. Less homes are selling on the lake, because less homes are on the market. The average sale price on the majority of the lakes is way up as well, while the days on market continue to go down. Very strong seller’s market right now.”

Cynthia Emerling, Director of Listing Services

“It’s all about being prepared. First, make sure you have your pre-approval letter ready. Then, get on our buyers list, receive our emails, and make sure you’re ready to move quickly on new listings. When we know exactly what you’re looking for, we can be agile – even preview houses before they hit the market. There’s a lot we can do to get you into your lake house for summer!”

Dave Lucchesi, Buyer Specialist

Exciting Announcement!

After tabulating the first quarter lakefront real estate sales on the Finger Lakes, it looks like Finger Lakes Premier Properties ranks #1 in total sales volume! Not only were our sales 5.4% higher than our second place competitor, but we earned the first place spot for lakefront purchasing sales on both Canandaigua and Cayuga Lake.

6 Reasons to Sell your Lake House this Spring

Spring signals the awakening of the housing market, especially for buyers looking for lakefront property. If you’re considering selling your lake house, now is the time to list! Here’s why:

1. The Cabin Fever is real. We are just now starting to see the first signs of spring and for many, the only thing that got them through the long, snowy months was the dream of spending sunny days on the lake. Those who spent the winter browsing lakefront listings for inspiration now have the opportunity to get out and see what’s really on the market, especially if they’re coming from out of state. Make sure your home is one of the first ones they see!

2. Average sales prices are up 23%. According to our 2018 Lake Front Real Estate Report, the average sales price for all Finger Lakes increased 23%, with the largest gains occurring on Keuka and Seneca Lakes. It should also be noted that total days on the market are down 10%, meaning lakefront property in the Finger Lakes is selling for more and in less time.

3. It’s a seller’s market. There are far more buyers looking for the lake life than homes on the market, giving an upper hand to the seller in negotiations. It may seem that lakefront property is shielded from fluctuations in the housing market because of affluent buyers, but a recent study found that 55% of prospective vacation rental buyers make under $150k a year. Our advice: sell while the market is strong.

4. Buyers are eager to use their home THIS summer. Listing your lakefront home in the spring gives buyers the appropriate amount of time to tour what’s on the market, make an offer, negotiate, and close with enough time to actually enjoy their new lake house. Summers are so short in upstate New York and buyers want to make good use of their investment. And the sooner you list, the sooner your home will be seen by the thousands of visitors to the Finger Lakes that start pouring in once the weather get warmer.

5. Vacation Rental Potential. Buyers who are looking to purchase your home and make it a vacation rental will want to secure bookings for the summer in order to earn as much income as possible for 2019. Our real estate team provides rental projections for all of our listings, so you might even consider joining our rental program in the future!

6. Spring Cleaning. Chances are you’re going to be cleaning debris from the beach, considering upgrades to the décor, and doing minor repairs around the house this spring. With a minimal extra effort and suggestions from our lakefront real estate specialists, it will be easy to get your home in the ideal condition to sell.


Our real estate team specializes in lakefront home sales, providing you with the top advice, up-to-date market research and years of experience necessary to sell your home to the right buyers and for the right price. Call us today! 844-248-3917

Lakefront Real Estate Trends

For Real Estate trends, 2018 was quite a year for waterfront homes in the Finger Lakes. As you can see from the chart below, many lakefronts saw a decrease in the number of homes sold, average sale prices, and overall volume sold. However, looking at the days on market, we can see the complete story.

Lakefront real estate trends are monitored closely by Finger Lakes Premier Properties. For more information about buying or selling on a specific lake, contact their Real Estate team today.
The information above is provided by the Lakefront Real Estate Team of Finger Lakes Premier Properties.

The overall lakefront market has seen an increase in buyer’s self-education of the market conditions. Many can recognize an overpriced listing and will wait for another appropriately priced home, rather than making a low offer. So we have seen new listings entering the market sell quickly, typically in under 2 weeks time. For example, 12 of the homes we listed for sale in 2018 sold in less than 10 days. Another 4 sold in less than 2 weeks.

The market is not down because of disinterested buyers. It is down because there were not enough homeowners wanting to sell in 2018. This has created a seller’s market here in the Finger Lakes. Owners are seeing full price or more on the offers for their homes. This is true for those that are priced appropriately for the market. These market conditions exist even on lakes such as Honeoye or Conesus. Though there was little change in the average sale prices on these lakes, there were large decreases in their average days on market.

In these conditions, now is a great time to sell your lakefront home to get the most money in the shortest amount of time. There remains a large pool of potential buyers looking for the perfect lakefront home in our region. Especially as the Finger Lakes grows as a popular vacation destination. Despite spring being seen as the popular time for real estate transactions, with limited competition, new listings are getting optimal exposure and quick turnover in this first quarter.

For more information about lakefront trends, contact our Real Estate team today at 833-311-5575 or email us at sales@FLPPlake.com.

Looking to buy a lakefront home or investment property in the Finger Lakes? Search our listings today!

Increase Bookings With Four Easy Upgrades

Comfortable Outdoor Atmosphere

When you vacation in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee or the white sandy beaches of Pensacola, what do you do? Do you lounge around inside or enjoy the view outdoors? If you are like the people vacationing in the Finger Lakes, you probably chose your vacation spot for the outdoor spaces to savor the scenery. If you want to increase bookings, create an enjoyable outdoor atmosphere for your guests.

One way you can do this is to provide furniture. However, throwing a few wooden chairs out in a yard that receives direct sunlight probably isn’t going to do the trick. Instead, you may want to invest in plush furniture that is both comfortable and decorative, but durable enough to withstand the elements. Perhaps some comfy cushions or a recliner would be appropriate so that guests can unwind and relax.

Another way to create an enjoyable outdoor atmosphere that will really make your vacation rental stand out is outdoor décor and shaded spaces. With some art, statues, and area rugs, you can increase the ambience of your outdoor living area. Potted plants that don’t require much watering would also add a nice touch. Above all, make sure your vacation rental’s outdoor space provides enough shade. Not everyone likes to be in direct sunlight all day.

Central Air and Ceiling Fans

Although vacation rentals are on the cool waters of the lakes, summers can get hot and humid. Nothing feels better than walking into a cool, air-conditioned house to recuperate from the day’s activity. It also happens to be one of the main complaints our guest services department handles during peak months.

If your vacation rental home does not have central air and/or ceiling fans, you will want to install these as soon as possible. Doing so will boost your home’s search results, improve your guest’s experience dramatically, and ultimately lead to return bookings.

Technological Home Improvements

While many people vacation in the Finger Lakes to get a break from reality and enjoy the outdoor scenery, they still appreciate the convenience technology offers. This is especially true of the millennial generation who are beginning to enter into the vacation rental industry as consumers.

Installing a reliable Wi-Fi network will definitely please your guests. If guests have complained in the past about limited Wi-Fi, you may consider upgrading to accommodate a greater number of devices.

Guests also appreciate smart TVs with cable or a movie streaming service to relax at night, such as Roku. Besides entertainment, a TV contributes to the overall atmosphere and helps your guests feel more at home. If you already have one TV in the living room, you may consider placing additional TVs in each bedroom.

Another technological improvement that is becoming popular in the vacation rental industry is virtual home assistants such as Amazon’s Echo products. Like Siri, a virtual home assistant will talk back and act on voice command. Guests can ask for information, the weather forecast, music playback, and more. This can be especially useful for guests who want to look up things to do or places to eat in the area.

Amenities

When it comes to amenities, do not skimp. Amenities are all those extra things that put the cherry on top. Even the smallest things can make or break a guest’s experience which can affect reviews and repeat visits.

FLPP includes the traditional amenities such as towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and maps of the area. You may wish to throw in additional amenities such as a universal charger and adapter to assuage the fears of travelers who forgot their own.

However, remember that guests are vacationing in the Finger Lakes. If you want to increase bookings, consider adding lake-specific amenities such as paddleboats or kayaks as part of the vacation rental. Another amenity guests look for is a hot tub, especially our year-round renters. In addition to the extra draw, you will be able to increase rates as well.