Preparing Your Home For The Spring Market

 

Before you decide to list your property for this spring market, please consider taking a few essential preliminary steps to give your property an advantage over others’ listings. As you get ready to sell your property, it’s important to ask yourself what you can still do to spruce it up.

Is your home ready to be shown? Is there clutter scattered throughout? Does every room look its best? Are there any repairs that still need to be made? Are there any small aesthetic upgrades you can still make? Does your home have any sustainability features you can highlight or add?

Potential homebuyers will be scrutinizing your property, analyzing every positive and negative detail.  Many repairs and aesthetic changes can take more time than you might think to complete, so you should think about getting started in advance of  listing your property for  sale. In addition to preparing your property, you should understand your local market and what may be currently important to buyers in your area.

In its most recent REALTORS® and Sustainability report, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that there is a growing interest and demand for more sustainable green properties among consumers. Some of these sustainability issues and practices include efficient use of lighting, Smart Home features, water conservation landscaping and renewable energy systems like geothermal and solar.

“As consumers’ interest in sustainability grows, REALTORS® understand the necessity of promoting sustainability in their real estate practice, such as marketing energy efficiency in property listings to homebuyers,” said William E. Brown, NAR president, a REALTOR® from Alamo, California.

If you are considering listing your home, here are a few steps you may want to take as you begin preparing your home for the spring market:

1. Clean up and organize your home. Removing all unnecessary clutter can make your home look more spacious and welcoming, and putting trinkets and framed photos away will help visitors envision themselves living in your property.

2. Repair and improve property features. Unattended repairs may bring down your property value and hinder it from receiving offers. Other simple home improvements include painting rooms with neutral colors, and adding landscaping to improve curb appeal. More advanced home improvements include installing Smart Home technology, solar panels or other renewable energy options.  Before pursuing any of these options be certain to use appropriate, licensed professionals who can help you determine state and local regulations for obtaining any required permits.

3. Understand your market and property value. There are many variables that can impact your property’s value in your local market. Local real estate professionals can provide information about your market, assess the price range for similar homes in your area, and provide you with advice to help guide you through every step of the process. They can also help you evaluate the situation so you can determine what actions to take next.

 

To learn more about how to start preparing your property for the spring market, contact me today!

Doing It Right The First Time

Purchasing your first home can be an intimidating task, but it doesn’t need to be. Understanding every step of the process and planning ahead to make sure there are no hiccups are essential to having a successful experience.

Are your finances in order? Do you understand escrow? Are you aware of closing and insurance costs? What about property taxes? Do you know about Home Owners Association (HOA) fees? Do you know how much real estate you can afford to buy?

Making the transition to first-time homeownership may seem daunting as you learn various terms, provide proper documentation for financing, and learn how the many pieces need to fall into place for the home purchase to be approved and completed. While it’s tempting to look to the internet for answers, some issues will not be easily resolved with an online search.

In its most recent 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that out of the close to six million homes sold, 35 percent were purchased by first-time buyers, a 3 percent increase over 2015. Additionally, 88 percent of buyers purchased their home with the assistance of a real estate professional.

If you are considering purchasing your first home, here are a few points you may want to keep in mind throughout the process:

  1. It is important to understand the financial aspects involved in buying a home especially the first time. For example, you will need to set a realistic budget for an affordable mortgage payment. Compile all the necessary financial documents, save up for a down payment and improve your credit if it is not already rated very good to excellent. According to the 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR reports that the majority of buyers paid 10 percent of the purchase price as a down payment and obtained financing for the remaining 90 percent of the purchase price. If you don’t know where to start, a mortgage advisor should be able to help.
  1. Consider all the costs involved in buying and then owning a home, including principal and interest on the loan, taxes, insurance, and inspection costs. Also remember to think about future costs like utilities, maintenance, commuting, HOA fees and any possible upgrades.
  1. If you do not understand a term or do not know what to do next, always consult an expert. As a real estate professional, I can help you find a property, negotiate the deal, and guide you through every step of the home buying process.

To learn more about how to start planning for your first home purchase, contact me today!

Is The Market Hot or Not?


There are various news stories on any given day about the health of the real estate market. They are so varied in fact that it can be very difficult to ascertain exactly how healthy the market is.
Is it too late, can you still afford to buy? Should you wait to sell until prices rise even further? Is now the time to hold off on making any real estate decisions?
The reality is, real estate is a very local business and because of that, it is difficult to gauge an entire industry’s overall success using anecdotes from any particular area of the country that isn’t your own.
Would you be surprised to know that your market can change depending on price point or even what street you live on? What is happening to the entry level market is vastly different than what is happening to the move-up market. Even the luxury market has its own price points that determine time on market and overall sale price. It really is that varied.
In its most recent quarterly report, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) revealed that sales prices in over half of the markets measured since 2005 are now at or above their previous peak level. The median price for an existing single-family home during the last three months of 2016 increased in 89 percent of the markets tracked, with 158 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas showing sales price increases in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with the fourth quarter of 2015.
In all of 2016, an average of 87 percent of the markets NAR studied saw increasing home prices which is up from the averages in 2015 and 2014.
“Buyer interest stayed elevated in most areas thanks to mortgage rates under 4 percent for most of the year and the creation of 1.7 million new jobs edging the job market closer to full employment,” explained NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “At the same time, the inability for supply to catch up with this demand drove prices higher and continued to put a tight affordability squeeze on those trying to reach the market.”
Yun also noted that depressed inventory of new and existing homes led to “several of the largest metro areas seeing near or above double-digit appreciation, which has pushed home values to record highs in a slight majority of markets.”
If you are considering purchasing or selling a home, here are few points you may want to keep in mind throughout the process:
Don’t assume that daily news reports about real estate will determine your level of success with your own real estate goals. National data can provide an overall temperature of the market; however, your success will be based on your particular marketplace and other more subjective factors relating specifically to the property could impact the result. How many homes are on the market in your price point? How many days were they on the market? There is a significant amount of information to collect and analyze.
Don’t speculate or attempt to try to time the market. By the time you think you should make a move, the market may have already changed.
You have access to experts that can help you. There are so many variables that can determine your success, and I can provide you with advice to help guide you through the process. There is data readily available at any given moment, and I can help you evaluate the data so you can determine what actions to take.
Trust your real estate experts. As your real estate expert I can provide information about current inventory, days on market, and sales activity.
To learn more about how local and national statistics can impact your overall goals, visit www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com.

Home Sellers, Buyers: Start Planning Now

For homeowners who are considering selling their homes, it is not too early to start preparing for the spring selling season, which is traditionally the real estate industry’s busiest season.

Whether you’re thinking of putting your home on the market or planning to buy a home, right now may be the ideal time to meet with a real estate professional who understands the market to discuss your options.

For home sellers in particular, there is much to prepare for, and a real estate professional can help you prioritize and establish a plan of action. A strategic sales and marketing plan is essential to engage active buyers. That plan should include an effective pricing strategy, home presentation suggestions and a comprehensive approach to online marketing.

A competitive market analysis that includes a review of current inventory, recent comparable sales prices and other data is critical information that a real estate licensee can provide. In addition to providing valuable marketing data, a knowledgeable sales associate can also make recommendations on how to prepare your home for maximum appeal and to better position your property on leading real estate websites and portals in the industry. Below are a few practical tips:

As a seller, focus on curb appeal: The outside of a house is the first thing potential buyers see and it is important to make a good first impression. If the “curb appeal” is strong, people will want to see what is inside. To improve a home’s appearance, consider mowing the lawn, trimming the trees, cutting back overgrowth and possibly adding some pots or containers of colorful plants and flowers. Also, properly store away gardening equipment, bicycles and other toys.  The front door should have a “welcome home” feeling so consider adding a fresh coat of paint on the front door — it can work wonders on making that good first impression.

Remove the clutter: Homebuyers tend to show less interest in an untidy home. The two most important rooms in a buyer’s mind are the kitchen and bathrooms. Make certain these rooms are sparkling clean and show well.  If necessary, re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks. It is also helpful to clear out overflowing closets and avoid displaying too many family collectibles and photos.  Consider renting a storage unit to store some furniture to free up space in other living areas of the home. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in the home.  By neatly displaying and making all available space accessible, the seller affords the buyer a suitable opportunity to look towards the future.

Make repairs: Homebuyers generally expect all features in a home to operate safely and efficiently.   It may be beneficial to repair any faulty or outdated electrical outlets and wiring, furnaces and water heaters, along with leaking roofs and other plumbing concerns, prior to putting a house on the market.   Potential buyers may also react negatively to holes in window screens, broken windows and burned-out light bulbs.

Minimize odors: Make sure to take out the trash, change the cat’s litter box frequently, and open the windows to eliminate cooking odors. Another helpful tip is to clean drapes and bathe pets. It is important that the home smells nicely and you should consider adding fresh flowers, scented candles, or freshly baked cookies which can help create a pleasant environment.

Work with your Sales Associate:  Being objective about your environment is not always easy and you should utilize your real estate sales professional to gain an independent determination of what actions you should consider to make your home more appealing. Sales associates have the experience and knowledge to help identify potential problem areas and/or suggest some modifications that can help attract more potential buyers.

Preparation for Buyers Homebuyers have to do their homework as well and obtaining financing is generally a major priority. With limited inventory on the market in most areas, those buyers who come to the negotiating table pre-approved and ready to make an offer are likely to have stronger bargaining power.

A real estate professional can walk you through the home-buying process and help you identify homes for sale that are in your price range. Real estate licensees can help you research the markets you are interested in, prepare and present offers, negotiate price and other terms and then close the transaction.

If you’re thinking about getting into the market this year, give me a call and let’s chat research your options and make a plan to get you where you want to go.  Contact me today!

2017 Real Estate Market Outlook

 

Outlook for 2017: Will The Seller’s Housing Market Continue?

Over the past year, the greater Salt Lake City area has seen a strong seller’s market for housing – thanks in large part to a shortage of homes on the market, strong demand by buyers and mortgage interest rates that hovered near historic lows. But as 2017 gets underway, the question is whether that seller’s market will continue, especially given a recent uptick in interest rates.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage nationwide climbed to 4.16 percent in mid-December (the latest figures available), up more than a half a percentage point just since the November presidential election. Economists say the increase is due to more optimistic economic growth projections, higher-inflation expectations, and the Federal Reserve’s recent rate hike.

Although mortgage rates remain relatively low by historical standards, the sudden increase in rates is one of several factors that could impact the housing market in the coming year: Will low inventory levels begin to rise? With the job market remain strong and continue to grow? What impact will the new Trump administration have on the housing market and the economy?

All of those factors could play a role in how the housing market shapes up in the new year.

A panel of industry economists in a recent article in Inman News, the national real estate trade publication, said they generally expect 2017 will remain a seller’s market in much of the country. But they believe that trend could begin to give way to more favorable conditions for buyers in 2018 and 2019.

“2017 is probably going to skew more toward the seller’s market,” Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, told Inman. “Most markets will skew more toward seller’s markets, and even in the Midwest there are probably more seller’s markets than buyer’s markets compared to their own history.”

But Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com, said the three laws of real estate – location, location, location – will be ever more important this year.

Markets in the western U.S. have seen the most significant price appreciation, making it difficult for first-time buyers to find success. Smoke expects that trend to continue, but sees great variations geographically – even from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood in a particular market.

“We’re seeing some clear patterns emerge within markets — one might be slowing down and cooling off where another part is really heating up,” he told Inman. “Real estate is so local that I would argue that a neighborhood view is really where you can see the differences and disparities and changes that are occurring around the country.”

The economists did project that inventory levels will likely rise in 2017 and new construction will pick up as well, giving frustrated buyers a bit more to choose from.

The upshot is that sellers might find that it will take a little longer to sell their property this year than it did in 2016. However, the increase in listings and construction probably won’t be enough to offset pent-up demand from buyers as long as the job market remains strong.

The National Association of REALTORS® publication, realtor.com, said the days of multiple offers and bids well over the asking price probably won’t go away in 2017 – although they may not get much worse from a buyer’s standpoint.

Citing rising mortgage rates and a shortage of affordable homes for sale, realtor.com projected a smaller increase in sales in 2017 than last year and slightly slower price appreciation of about 4 percent on average nationally, down from 5 percent in 2016.

“2017 will be a year of growth in both sales and prices, but that growth will be slower than what we’ve seen over the last three years,” according to Smoke.

Much of what happens in the coming year could depend on how high mortgage interest rates go. Smoke projects 30-year fixed mortgage rates to rise to 4.5 percent in 2017, while Gudell of Zillow expects a peak rate of 4.75 percent following additional Fed rate hikes.

No one knows for sure what will happen to interest rates or the housing market. But if you have been thinking about buying or selling your home, now may be a good time to make your move before rates go higher and while demand for housing remains strong.

If you’re thinking about it, give me a call and let’s look at your options.

UTAH HOUSING MARKET TURNS IN SOLID PERFORMANCE IN 2016

Utah’s housing market had its challenges in 2016, including low inventory of homes for sale, rising prices that challenged would-be buyers, and political uncertainty with the presidential election. But despite the headwinds, this turned out to be a good year overall for our local housing market.

Home sellers enjoyed solid gains in sale prices throughout the greater Wasatch Front. The median sale price for single-family homes, condos and townhouses in the region through October (the latest data available) reached $240,000, up 8 percent from the same period a year ago, according to local MLS data analyzed by Coldwell Banker.

Strong buyer demand, a healthy local economy, and a continuing decline in the inventory of homes on the market all combined to make 2016 a seller’s market in much of Utah. The market was also fueled, in part, by a growing technology sector and the accompanying jobs that has attracted, both locally and from higher-priced markets around the country.

The year saw a continuation of mortgage rates that remained near historic lows much of the year, helping make home purchases more affordable. But in recent weeks, key lending rates began to tick higher, which could present challenges to the market if that continues into the new year.

According to Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed rate mortgages in the U.S. averaged 3.94 percent in the week ended Nov. 17, up 40 basis points from its 2016 low. However, average rates are essentially flat from a year ago and below historical averages. During the height of the housing market in 2007, for example, the rate surpassed 6 percent.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti in analyzing the recent bump in mortgage rates stated, “If rates stick at these levels, expect a final burst of home sales and refinances as ‘fence sitters’ try to beat further increases, then a marked slowdown in housing activity.”

One of the biggest challenges for the housing market in 2016 was insufficient listings to meet buyer demand. The number of homes for sale in October was down a whopping 25 percent in our region from the year before. The Salt Lake Board of Realtors said the region’s housing markets had roughly four-month’s supply of available homes, well below the typical five- or six-month supply.

Despite limited inventory for buyers to choose from, home sales in the greater Salt Lake City region (Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, Tooele and Wasatch counties) were up 3 percent in 2016 compared to last year. As of October, sales year to date totaled 28,831, up from 28, 062 sales during the same period in 2015.

However, sales came under pressure in the higher-priced markets in the region with much of the gains coming in the more affordable communities. According to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, sales in the July-September period, for example, fell the most in areas like South Jordan, West Jordan and Sandy. At the same time, sales in Utah, Davis, Weber and Tooele counties either gained or remained relatively flat, as some Salt Lake City-area buyers went to adjacent counties to find more affordable homes.

As 2016 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2017, there are reasons to be encouraged about the outlook for the market. The greater Salt Lake City region’s growth in high-tech jobs and solid economy should continue to create demand for housing in our area.

If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, now may be a good time to make your move. Mortgage rates are still low by historical standards, although that could change in the coming year if rates continue to move higher. And for now, we’re still enjoying a seller’s market in many of our communities.

If you have questions about making a move, including what your home might be worth and what the market looks like in your neighborhood, I’d be happy to help. Please give me a call or e-mail me and we’ll get started today!

Maintenance is Critical to Keep up Your Home’s Value

bought . The man is sanding down a door on a workbench as his wife has well earned brew . They are both taking a break eating sandwiches and drinking tea.

Each month, most of us invest thousands of dollars in an asset that we are counting on to provide shelter, hold or even grow its value, and be there for years to come. Of course, we’re talking about our home.

Although our home may be the biggest investment we make in our lives, we often don’t think about regular maintenance until it comes time to sell. And by then we could be surprised with enormous repair bills that could have been avoided with simple maintenance each year.

One of the smartest things you can do as a homeowner is to act like you’re selling your home even if you aren’t. That means doing regular inspections of key areas on your property and make the necessary repairs and maintenance before small problems become big ones.  Here are a few areas to pay attention to:

  • Pest inspections: You should have pest inspections done on your home every two to three years. We all know how much damage termites and other pests can do to your foundation. By having regular inspections and preventative pest control work done now you can avoid serious damage later.
  • Water damage: Moisture intrusion can be your home’s worst enemy, causing damage to wood structures, masonry, flooring, wall coverings, stucco, and other areas. Water damage can be extremely costly so make sure to inspect for leaks wherever water piping is located.  Regular caulking and sealing can help prevent trouble.
  • Outside drainage: While water can do serious damage inside your home, it can create trouble outside, too. Make sure that water is draining away from your home in order to avoid cracking of your foundation and sidewalks, as well as pest and mold problems under your home.
  • Maintain decking: Care for your deck with regular sealing to prevent water damage, termite infestation, and fungus decay. You may also consider installing wood deck alternatives made out of composite and plastic lumber, which are beautiful low maintenance options for homeowners.
  • Roof and rain gutters: Another potential water hazard comes from your roof. New roofs are not inexpensive, but the damage that leaks can cause can be far more costly to your home. Clear your rain gutters and spouts of debris and consider having a roof inspection if you haven’t done so in recent years.
  • Yards and landscaping: Well-landscaped and maintained yards are a big part of a home’s appeal, and beautiful yards help increase the value of a property. It’s just as important to maintain the outside of your home as it is the inside.
  • Creating a firebreak: Flammable wildland vegetation too close to your home could make it difficult for firefighters to save your home from a brush fire. Make sure you clear at least a 30-foot firebreak around your home.
  • Inside fire safety: Install smoke detectors in each bedroom and every level of the house, and test them regularly. Put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Have an electrician check older wiring, and replace it if necessary. Finally, have heating units inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.

Just like any other major asset you own, it is important to invest some time and money maintaining your home’s value. A small investment in your home’s wellbeing today could prevent tens of thousands of dollars in damage tomorrow.

Tips to Help Choose the Right Real Estate Professional

Japanese professional male worker sitting in modern studio with laptop, smiling to camera, Tokyo, Japan. Candid portrait of Asian man at work in creative agency.

Buying or selling a home is often the largest, most complicated financial transaction any of us will ever make. A real estate agent can be an invaluable resource in this process and can potentially make or break your home buying or selling experience. But how do you find the right person? What qualities should you look for when selecting a real estate professional?

Here is a suggested list of important qualities that your real estate professional should possess before you work with them to buy or sell a home:

  • Readily available. Real estate is not a 9-5 business. You don’t want to lose out on a purchase or sale because your agent wasn’t immediately available. Great real estate agents are extremely responsive and available 24×7 if necessary. You need someone who is comfortable with the level of communication that you want and need. That individual should be able to provide prompt replies via phone, text, or email, even after “normal” business hours. You may also want to consider working with a real professional who is affiliated with a major brokerage and/or a team, so that they will have additional support backing them up if necessary.
  • Knowledgeable about the market. Look for a local professional who has a successful track record in your Neighborhoods and cities vary considerably and great real estate agents know the ins and outs of your particular community.
  • Skilled at using local data. Your real estate professional should know how to retrieve localized data and use it effectively in helping you buy or market a property. Local data points, including housing trends (top regions, average value of similar homes, home improvement spending), can be used to price your home competitively, market appropriately, and negotiate intelligently.
  • Well connected and reputable. Look for a real estate professional who already has a list of prospective buyers or who works within a well-known and well-connected real estate brokerage company. Many homes are purchased by someone from across the country or around the world. A well-connected real estate agent can easily promote your listing through their network of out-of-state and international buyers.  The size and quality of your real estate agent’s network can greatly expand your pool of potential buyers.
  • Direct and honest. When it comes to selling your home, you want your real estate agent to be brutally honest about the price range of your home in comparison with other listings. Agents who belong to national, state and local Associations of REALTORS® are committed to acting ethically in your best interests. Don’t take it personally if suggestions are made to rip out shag carpeting or repaint the neon lime walls in your home. Your personal style preferences may not be as appealing to the majority of potential buyers.
  • Tech savvy. Gone are the days of people finding home listings merely through newspaper ads or for-sale signs in the front yard. According to a National Association of REALTORS® survey, more than four out of 10 home buyers now begin their search online and more than eight out of 10 baby boomers and millennials use the internet at some point in their home buying search. You need a real estate professional who understands the ins and outs of selling a home online. From Zillow and Trulia and every other real estate website in between, your chosen real estate agent needs to have a strong online presence to effectively market your property.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Having an experienced, knowledgeable real estate professional to help navigate the complicated home buying and selling process is critical these days. Take the time to interview several REALTORS® before choosing the right one for you. By investing a little time upfront and asking the right questions you can help ensure that your home buying or selling experience goes smoothly and is successful.                                                                                                                                                                                                If you are considering jumping into the market, I would love an opportunity to interview for the job of being your Realtor!

Why Fall May Be A Good Time To Sell Your Home

reality-check-pic-oct-2016

Why Fall May Be A Good Time to Sell Your Home

The Utah housing market has been strong this year with steady price increases in a number of communities and relatively low inventory to meet the buyer demand. Now that fall has arrived, some homeowners may believe that they have missed their window of opportunity to sell and that they should wait until next spring. Contrary to what some people believe, fall may actually be a very good time to list your home.

Although many people think of  spring and summer as the prime home-buying season, autumn may be one of the best seasons to sell. That may be particularly true this year given the fact that this has been a seller’s market in many areas. Sale prices are still climbing in Utah as compared to last year, open houses have been well attended and some properties are seeing multiple offers and sales above the asking price.

If you have been thinking about selling your home, there are several reasons to consider doing so this fall:

  • More time to focus on home shopping. Buyers have returned from their summer vacation, children are back in school, and the holiday season isn’t upon us yet. That all adds up to the next couple of months being a good time for buyers to focus on finding that special home.
  • Continued demand from buyers. As anyone who’s followed the news this year knows, there have been more buyers than sellers for homes in much of Utah. That trend has kept sale prices climbing in most areas and brought lots of potential buyers to open houses.
  • Pending home sales are up. The index of pending home sales in the western U.S. in July (the most recent figure available) was the highest it has been in more than three years, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, attributes the increase to stronger labor markets.
  • “Serious buyers” in the market now. During the fall months, there tend to be fewer people who are “just looking” than in the spring and summer and more serious buyers. These are often people who must buy for specific reasons, such as employment relocation. As a result, they are more likely to act quickly when they find the right property.
  • A lack of available inventory. The number of listings has been relatively low all year compared to historical averages, in many cases half of a normal market. In the fall, there typically are even fewer homes for sale than other times of year, meaning less competition and more potential buyer attention for your listing now.
  • Great natural “staging” this time of year. Fall can be a beautiful time of year to showcase your home, with the leaves turning fabulous colors and the summer heat giving way to cool crisp days. But it’s important to keep up your home’s curbside appeal as the weather changes by keeping landscaping trimmed and cleaning up fallen leaves and other debris.

While fall is not always considered the typical home-buying season, there are a lot of advantages to listing your home now – especially at a time when others might shy away from selling.  But like any other time of year, it’s important to price your home properly, make it look its best, and have a strong marketing plan in place to reach potential buyers.

These are just some of the reasons why it’s more important than ever to work with an experienced professional REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® can help you determine the appropriate price ­based upon recent comparable home sales in your area and put together a marketing strategy that will help make your home stand out from the rest.

With a few simple steps and the help of a professional REALTOR®, you just may find that selling your home this fall may be the best move you’ll ever make.

Vacation Home Sales Flourish: What Buyers Should Look for in A Second Home

cabin-on-a-lake
Summer often means fun-filled vacations with family or friends to a tropical destination, a golf resort, or perhaps a mountain retreat for fishing and hiking. As summer draws to a close, it’s only natural to reminisce about those terrific getaways and to start thinking about owning your own vacation home so the holiday never has to end.

If you’ve been kicking around the idea of buying a second home, you’re not alone. In 2015, vacation home sales in the U.S. reached the second highest level since 2006, according to the 2016 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® (“NAR”).

“Baby boomers at or near retirement continue to propel the demand for second homes,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s senior vice president and chief economist. Buyers purchased an estimated 920,000 vacation homes last year, down from the peak of 1.13 million units in 2014 but still the second-highest level in a decade.

Yun said that the “expanding pool of buyers amidst a dwindling number of bargain-priced properties” resulted in higher prices for vacation homes last year. The median vacation home price was $192,000, up 28 percent from $140,000 in 2014.

Approximately 40 percent of vacation homebuyers purchased in a beach area last year, 19 percent bought in the mountains or at a lakefront and 16 percent selected a vacation home in the country.

If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home of your own, here are a few things to consider:

Can you afford a second home? Vacation home prices have been going up, and the purchase price is only the beginning. You should calculate all the costs of ownership, including utilities, HOA or condo fees, property taxes, insurance and the expense of furnishing and maintaining your vacation home in determining if you can afford one.

Consider renting out your home. NAR® reports that about one out of four vacation homebuyers plan to rent out their properties at least occasionally. But there are potential drawbacks to renting, including multiple local jurisdictions that limit the ability of homeowners to rent their properties, especially on a short term basis. It’s best to consult with your legal, tax and insurance advisors before buying any property that you may want to use as a rental.

How often will you actually use it? If you cannot or do not rent out your vacation home, you should make sure you visit it frequently enough to make the purchase worthwhile. First, pick an area that you love and want to return to often. Otherwise, you may be better off just renting a place the few times that you plan to be there.

Location, location, location. Most vacation homebuyers should choose a location that offers the greatest number of amenities and activities that fit their interests, whether it’s swimming, skiing or golf. You may also want to choose a place that is conveniently located for family and friends to visit.

Visit the destination often before buying. You may want to rent a home in your preferred area at various times of the year and hopefully for extended periods of time. This will give you a better sense of the locale and help make sure that you won’t get bored with returning to that location in the years ahead.

Plan for emergencies. If you are not able to visit the house regularly, make sure to work with someone who will. A water leak, for example, can be devastating if left untreated. And if you’re renting out your home, repairs need to be made quickly. You should find a good local property manager to provide assistance on maintaining the property.

With mortgage interest rates still historically low, this may be a good time to consider purchasing a vacation home. But it’s important to work with an experienced real estate professional who understands the vacation home market and the local area you’re considering. With the help of a knowledgeable REALTOR®, you’ll be well on your way to finding that special vacation home that you will enjoy for many years to come.