The humankind has always wanted to attain new heights, literally and metaphorically speaking. We’ve looked at eagles flying high above the mountain tops and craved their freedom and power. That’s why we have chosen the bald eagle as one of our national symbols. But humans have had a special relationship with mountains since the beginning: they provided shelter, food, and wood for fire during the winter. From their hearts, we’ve got our gold and diamonds, as well as all the iron and stone needed to build our skyscrapers. Their fir trees had made our Christmases more bright and cozy, keeping our families strong and united around the fireplace. Mountains have given us so much… And still do!
Everyone feels the calling of mountains somewhere deep inside. As a nation, we have always been engaged with the outdoors and we owe a lot to people like Henry David Thoreau and John Muir for exploring the most scenic trails before us and making them accessible for all of us. If you didn’t know, there are 193,500 miles of trails on federal lands beaten by more than 34 million hikers, 9 million backpackers, and 8 million mountain bikers each year. In fact, on the first Saturday of June, we celebrate National Trails Days. In 2019, this day happens to be June 1. So, if you’ve been dreaming of hiking the Appalachian Trail - the longest one, crossing 14 states, or the Continental Divide trail now is the best time to leave everything behind and get moving.
Or you may wait till the first snow falls. Mountains are beautiful in every season, but winters are magical - that’s why we have plenty of ski resorts for all winter sports enthusiasts where mountain view homes are in great demand. We boast 7 million active skiers and 2.2 million active snowboarders (active meaning they’ve hit the slopes at least once in the last season), according to National Ski Areas Association. There are 472 ski areas in the US - 6% fewer than 20 years ago. Most of them are concentrated in the state of New York (51), Michigan (42) and Wisconsin (31), but the Rocky Mountains are also a paradise for skiers, and so are the ski resorts in Utah. If you’re thinking about owning a mountain view home as a vacation home or as a rental property, don’t let yourself get so caught up in the excitement of the moment that you fail to take all the aspects into account.
What should you know before buying a mountain view home?
Whenever you visit a ski resort, you’re probably wondering how much money is in the game of rental properties such as cabins, hotels, and hostels. Yes, there is a lot of cash swirling around but not everybody is a winner. Some of the picturesque cabins that you see up in the mountains are empty for most of the year, bringing no income to the owners. Other properties are so hard to reach that even if the owners try to rent them by any means, nobody is willing to spend money on an “almost” perfect vacation. All mountain view houses for rent are currently in the race for the best reviews, and online bookings are the king of cash when it comes to vacation rentals. Tourists share their experiences and make their next decisions based on other’s opinions.
So, if your plan is to buy a log cabin to rent when you’re not using it, you have to take the following things into consideration:
- You may not qualify for a second mortgage if you already have a mortgage on your primary home. Your debt to income ratio should not be more than 50% even for a USDA loan, and the housing costs should not exceed 30% of your monthly income.
- You will owe property tax and homeowners insurance.
- You will have to pay for cleaning services or property management if you can’t show up in person when guests arrive.
- How far should your cabin be from your home? How much time would you spend traveling?
- Keep in mind that most people prefer short day hikes of less than 5 hours and a third of them would travel a maximum of 15 minutes to a trail. You may want to market your property to those who embark on a thru-hike and might need a place to stay overnight.
- Don’t buy before you inspect personally! Don’t trust the images. The mountain view home might look perfect from the outside, but once the seller discloses all its issues, you might want to step back and look for another one.
If the house is on a slope, hire a soil surveyor to offer you an explanation of the soil on which the cabin is built and what to expect in the future. Make sure there are plenty of trees uphill and downhill that keep the soil in place, otherwise, erosion is only going to get worse and a landfall will be inevitable, sooner or later.
- Make sure the property is close to good restaurants and grocery stores, and not too far from a trail or slope.
- The house should be connected to all the basic utilities. Otherwise, it could cost you a small fortune to bring electricity to your site or to install a propane gas line.
Before making a real estate investment, you should also learn how to do a SWOT analysis. Be honest, look at the numbers and if they look bad on paper, in reality, it could be much worse. But you won’t risk too much if you invest in the best towns bordering one of the major trails or in one of America’s top ski resorts.
Real estate investing along the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail (AT) is about 2000 miles long, crossing 14 states. Every year, between 2 and 3 million people hike a portion of it. It takes about 165 days to complete it, and since 1936, only 20,000 people have walked the full distance. Thru-hikers spend about $5,500 on average on food, lodging, transportation, and hiking gear. Some of the best towns along the trails where hikers may rest for a while are: Bennington (Vermont), Gatlingburg (TN), Helen (GA), Rangeley (ME), Harpers Ferry (WV), Waynesboro (VA), Great Barrington (MA), and Hot Springs (NC).
The states with most trails are California (5095 miles), New Hampshire (3,864 miles), New York (3,436 miles), Massachusetts (2,145 miles), and Wisconsin (2,000 miles). Feel free to explore real estate investment opportunities close to these trails, too: Lost Coast Trail, California; Tonto Trail, Arizona (Grand Canyon National Park); Trans-Catalina Trail, California; Kalalau Trail /Napali Coast, Hawaii; and Mount Katahdin, Maine.
Real estate investments in the US top ski resorts
Whistler is North America’s most popular ski resort while Breckenridge is the most visited ski resort in the U.S. However, according to Forbes which classified ski resorts by their Pure Awesomeness Factor (PFA), five resorts have preserved their top position at least for the past decade. So, if you want to take a burden off your shoulders, invest where the big players are: Jackson Hole (Wyoming), Alta and Snowbird (Utah), Telluride (Colorado), Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows (California), Vail / Beaver Creek (Colorado).
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Best choice: $60,000 - 1,400 sq. ft. condo (timeshare)
Population: under 400
Lowest listing: $350,000 - 2,262 sq. ft. house
Best offer: $16,500 - 1,241 sq. ft. condo (timeshare)
Squaw Valley, California
Lowest listing: $115,000 - 1,056 sq. ft. house 5 acres lot
Lowest listing: $15,000 - 1,285 sq. ft. condo (timeshare)
Lowest listing: $14,999 - 1,308 sq. ft. condo (timeshare)
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Best deal: $8,000 - 984 sq. ft. condo (timeshare)
Do you want to be one step closer to your next mountain view home? First things first - decide WHERE you would like to buy a property. With so many great offers in Colorado, why not get in touch with a Colorado real estate agent today?
If you’ve already spent some time in one of America’s best resorts, then you have an idea of the landscape you want that property to face. Secondly, take another holiday there and talk to the locals, visit the grocery store, talk to a police officer about the crime rate and try to gather as much information as possible. Find everything you need to know about the taxes and the local laws regarding hunting, fishing and gun possession. And once you are sure that’s the right place to invest, you can go on the major listing websites and look for a real estate agent nearby. Last but not least, weigh in the benefits of owning a property full time or part-time. Timeshare units are abundant and could be a cheaper way of getting the property you love with the mountain view you’ve always dreamed of.