advice on buying condo at Whitetail
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(Anonymous)
November 24, 2003
We are thinking about buying one of the small condos in the inn at Whitetail. These are essentially like small hotel rooms. Does anyone have any input on the HOA there, or know any of the owners of a condo at Whitetail? Any feedback on these units, rental potential, problems with the management etc. would be appreciated.

Thanks!

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 24, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
From what I have heard, they have a strong HOA and are a good investment. Also, if you own one, you will have the ability to occasionally commute to DC during the day and ski at night. The resort is one of the best-managed ski resorts in the area and also has some of the most modern facilities. All that translates into value as far as area property owners are concerned. For more on ski real estate in the Mid-Atlantic, check out this article:

http://www.dcski.com/news/2003/05_06_2003/realestate.php3

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 11-24-2003).]

Scott - DCSki Editor
November 24, 2003
Member since 10/10/1999
1,095 posts
One thing you should consider is that Whitetail is primarily a day resort. (And by primarily, I mean overwhelmingly!) Since Whitetail is just 90 minutes away from D.C. and Baltimore, there aren't going to be too many people clamoring to stay overnight. Whitetail is also primarily a winter resort, so I would expect rentals will be practically nonexistent for almost 9 months out of the year. (There is golf near Whitetail now, but I'm not sure how much of a draw that would be for overnight visitors.) And as a day resort, you won't find any apres ski at the slopes of Whitetail -- so it's a different kind of real estate market than you would find at Seven Springs or Snowshoe.

So, at least right now, it wouldn't seem that there's strong rental potential for properties at Whitetail. This is my gut feeling, but you should try to get (accurate!) numbers from the agent there. My guess is that there is not strong rental demand for those Inn units -- I just can't see how there would be. Those that are interested in renting would probably be families, and they will be more interested in renting the larger townhomes than the tiny condos at the Inn at Whitetail.

Having said that, there are other reasons why you might want to purchase a property at Whitetail. If you visit frequently, then having your own property could be a real convenience. I would just be careful not to consider rental income as a big factor in your decision.

In terms of resale value, the Inn at Whitetail rooms aren't going to be the hottest property at Whitetail. They truly are small, without full kitchens -- that immediately knocks families off the list of interested renters/buyers. (You do realize the "kitchenettes" don't even have sinks!) They are much cheaper than the townhomes at Whitetail, but the townhomes are going to be much more in demand at Whitetail if the real estate market at Whitetail heats up. I think the Inn at Whitetail rooms have been on the market for some time (at least 1-2 years), and they haven't sold out.

Another thing to consider: if you are interested in a property primarily as a place to stay vs. as an investment, you would probably be better off simply renting a townhouse at Whitetail each time you visit and stay overnight. They're not terribly expensive to rent, and you could rent for many, many nights before you came close to the purchase price of even one of the Inn rooms.

One final question to consider: do you see Whitetail evolving into a destination resort in the coming years? If it does, the value of the real estate might go up. If it continues to be a solid day resort, there's little incentive for the vast majority of folks to stay overnight. Whitetail is a nice community to live in, but again, most people would want the fully-equipped townhomes, not the hotel-like Inn rooms.

- Scott

JohnL
November 24, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Scott & John make some good points. I will add that I would be extremely hesitant to buy into any real estate development project that has been on the market for 1-2 years and has not completey sold out. Only buy if you are getting a real attractive discount on the property.

The DC-area primary home and vacation real estate markets have been over-heated for the past several years. For vacation homes, prices have often risen solely based on *possible\probable* future events, such as completion of new roads, speculation of new development, etc. Not selling out in 1-2 years is highly unusual in this real estate market; the market is telling you something.

[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 11-24-2003).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 24, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I re-read your question and realized that you are looking to buy a small condo in the Inn at Whitetail. I have to agree with Scott that these units probably do not have a lot of rental potential because Whitetail is very much a commuter mountain.

On the other hand, if you do not care that much about rental income and are simply looking for a crash pad for yourself at the mountain, a small unit can be super (low utilities, taxes, mortgage, fees, etc). Given the real estate trends in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, you may even see some capital appreciation but don't bank on it. The beauty of a crash pad is that it will allow you to occasionally commute to work from your Whitetail residence and take advantage of the uncrowded nightskiing sesssions.

Rich
November 25, 2003
Member since 11/30/2000
194 posts
I'll do like my realtor did with me in Rehoboth; just before I unloaded a condo there. On a piece of paper write on the left side your: mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, condo fees, mgmt. fees, etc. On the right side write down the exact number of nights you actually slept in that unit. Divide...I could have rented a house EVERY TIME I went to the beach -- and saved A FORTUNE!

A FORTUNE! Besides, renting is recession-proof. Do you really think WhiteTail will appreciate as a "destination resort". Remember NO LIQUOR there so forget bars & happy hours and gathering holes - a mainstay of skiing (every heard of the Wobblie Barn?)!

(Anonymous)
November 25, 2003
Thanks for all the replies. We are looking at this primarily as a crash pad, and believe it or not, have four little kids and are still interested. The room would give us place to crash and a place to go if one of the kids gets tired or cranky. Right now they still don't mind being jammed into one room I know many will think we are insane, but did it for two weeks at Disney and survived.

We can't afford the bigger townhouses and I'm not sure we'd want to sink that much money into something we will only use for 2-3 months at most. Whitetail being dry is not an issue for us, although I can see how it might be on resale, and that is a good point to consider. For us, with young kids, it is almost an advantage.

Of course I realize we could rent for less money, but like the idea of having some tax breaks and maybe, hopefully, some appreciation over time.
The advice about looking into how long these things have been on the market is good and I will do that. Thanks again for all the input!

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 25, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Before you settle on Whitetail, take a look at Timberline. You can buy 1BR + loft for what a studio will run you at Whitetail. Also, Timberline has a wonderful junior racing program--a big draw for families and an "instant community" for newbees to the mountain. It's a much longer drive but it's also less crowded and there's also a lot of activities in the warmer months: golf (at Canaan Valley), hiking, mountain biking.

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 11-25-2003).]

(Anonymous)
November 25, 2003
I wouldn't spend a plug nickel at Whitetail (sometimes called "Wettail"). Why? First of all the slopes are located on the South side of the mountain. During mid Winters it has been very difficult to keep snow on these South facing ski slopes. Furthermore, the relatively low elevation combined with a rather warm location (near Hagerstown, MD) make Whitetail a very "iffy" ski resort. After all, Whitetail has gone under before. But please don't get me wrong, when there's plenty of snow Whitetail can be a great place to ski. I love to ski there on a weekday; I can get some real vertical in on their nice wide cruising runs.
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