advice on buying ski house/condo/property
April 8, 2007
This has been swirling in the back of my mind for a while, and I am starting to think about it more seriously and browsing. Those of you that have jumped in, I would appreciate any advice or thoughts. I am focusing on Snowshoe or Canaan Valley areas, with more interest in CV because I like the vibe and there is more to do in the local area. Not even sure where to start, other than to say slopeside is not a requirement (especially if we can get a nice little house with some land and/or a view), but all options are open. Not really interested in renting or using this as an investment -- would be a simple ski/getaway place for my wife and I. Any tips or recommendations would be appreciated.
hey skier219...are you not interested in Wisp? much more to do in Deep Creek than other resorts (it's the reason I'm here)...my place is for sale: see www.DCLakeBlog.com
I'm looking to save $ on commissions, so accepting all reasonable offers
Not really interested in renting or using this as an investment -- would be a simple ski/getaway place for my wife and I. Any tips or recommendations would be appreciated.
Im interested in this also. Funny you mentioned the no renting thingm because when I was there on the Luau weekend I met a guy from Richmond who bought a condo at the base of Tline, and said he doesn't rent it out either, and comes up every weekend after Christmas. Maybe we canaan, i mean can, do a timeshare thing, with the understanding that timeshare arrangements don't apply on powder days
We bought a condo at Timberline last April. While my expectations were sky high, I can honestly say that every expectation was exceeded. My condo is not slopeside, but within 75 yards or so. We also do not rent ours. We were there every weekend from opening day to closing day. As an added bonus everyone I've met from the HOA and resort have been very friendly and welcoming. There are also quite a few DCSkiers in there.
You may want to browse some of the real estate websites. Timberline Realty Canaan Realty Mountain Top Realty Landis Realty
These are the major listers for properties at
Timberline although they also have other properties in the area.
Another good resource for property around the valley is Realtor.com
. Fill in the search criteria and use Davis (26260) as the zipcode.
If you have any questions or would like more details on my experience, feel free to ask here, or PM me.
On a side note, several of the first four companies I mentioned advertise on DCSki. So if you're not in a hurry, go to the DCSki home page and press refresh until one of the ads comes up. If you go to the site that way, Scott gets a little bling
I guess we haven't really looked into Wisp because we spend most of our time skiing in VA and WV, and haven't ever ventured to Wisp. I like the idea of Canaan Valley because TL and CV ski areas are right there, and Snowshoe (and Wisp for that matter) are not too far away. Still figuring it all out.
Thanks for the details Clay, very helpful.
My pleasure. BTW, I work in Richmond, we should take a few turns together at Wintergreen next year.
Sounds good -- I am usually up there at least once a week midweek, and often on Sunday afternoons too.
I bought a condo in CV 3 1/2 years ago, and like the area so much I wouldn't sell for ANY AMOUNT!! Even with a potential national housing bubble, if you're buying for your own enjoyment, provided that you don't overpay, you really can't go wrong in a newly 'discovered' resort area like CV, considering the very limited supply of buildable land there.
The biggest decision is house vs. condo, and slopeside vs. other area in the valley. I bought a condo in a development in the valley, but not at timberline. I wanted a condo since I'm not terribly handy, and don't really enjoy doing work around the house.
MountainTop Realty, Timberline Realty, and Canaan Realty are the big three RE companies in the valley. I used MountainTop.
Send me a PM if you want more info, and my opinions, on different developments, etc.
I have owned a condo at Timberline for 6 years and I'll share some insights.
1. As mentioned, a lot of people don't rent, and the reasons why are fairly straightforward. Putting your place in a rental program limits your visitation options. We tend to make our decision to go last minute based on conditions, and that's harder to do in a rental program. Many renters tend to put a lot of wear and tear on units (children and college students in particular), and it's depressing to return to a unit and always find something damaged, broken, or missing. Finally, I think it is tough for people psychologically to rent their homes to complete strangers no matter how good the return on investment may be. Some of us put a lot of work into making these units homey and dread the idea of some stranger sleeping in our nest. For Timberline, the cold beds issue has become a real problem. For example, the resort wants to host senior bus tours over the summer but if they can't get enough condo owners to rent their places, the idea will fail.
2. Typically, you spend a lot of time at your property the first year and then your attendence declines over time. Timberline is a great ski mountain and often has the best conditions in the region, but you will get tired of skiing the same trails after 6 years. I ski just enough days now at Timberline to justify a season pass, and if the pass goes up too much this year, I will not buy one. Despite Corridor H, the drive still seems quite long.
3. So why stay after 6 years? A lot of people I've met do sell their units after 2-3 years after they tire of the ski scene. But several factors have kept me in the CV longer and make me hesitate to sell.
--Warm weather activities. CV offers some fo the best mountainbiking and hiking in the region. While you can ski all the Alpine terrain in a few days, hiking all the terrain within an hour of the CV could take a lifetime. The mountainbiking is also first-rate and fairly extensive. Finally, I've developed an interest in birding, and the CV remains one of the finest places in the region to view the annual migrations of wood warblers, and is also a prime place to see extremely rare sparrows, and owls. I've birded the valley for 4 years (and travelled to multiple places in Central and South America) and am still adding new birds to my life list there and also getting pitcure perfect views of birds I've only heard to cought fleeting glimpses of elsewhere. Most competitive birders (I'm not one of them) begin a WV big day quest at CV. Birding is a growing hobby in the valley and across the country, especially with aging baby boomers.
--Investment value. While past performance is certainly no guarantee of future success, CV has been a very good investment over the trajectory of years I've owned a property there. People buy in the CV to be near the major ammenity (skiing). Keep that in mind when investing. With that said, there are some nice housing developments away from the Mountain, but I don't know how well they will do in the future compared to mountain properties (inluding Old Timberline). There's a lot of development proposed in the future in places like Tuscan Ridge. I don't know how that will effect prices. Corridor H and the general housing boom in the US have tripled the value some properties in the valley in 6 years I have been there, but I don't know what the future will hold. Will Corridor H keep being built? Timberline has antiquated infrastructure that desperately needs updating? This will only happen when the current owners sell out. When will that happen? Will the resort go bankrupt first? Will it have to close for a few years while all this gets sorted out? Can you hold onto your property through such a down period? These are questions I would be asking myself if I was interested in purchasing now. For better or for worse, your investment is tied to the ski resorts whether you like it or not. That's the main reason people drive the extra hours to second homes in the valley. I think what I am trying to say is keep your cost basis as low as possible. That will keep you happily out of the rental program and enable you to weather a downturn, should it ever come. CV prices seem to be defying gravity because it's such a lovely place and the skiing is so reliable. Also, the place has really gotten too big to fail. There's too much expensive property in the area to see this mountain go the way of Laurel. That won't happen but the transition could still be messy and disruptive. I'm not looking forward to it.
--Finally, be very careful of people fishing for a price. I can't emphasize this enough. Some people always have their units on the market for a PRICE. If they can get that price, they will sell. Comparables are often hard to come by, esxpecially for some of the housing developments. Make sure you get a realtor who has been in the valley for a while. There are some very good realtors in the valley, but I am not saying who they are. You'll have to figure that out yourself.
I have a home a snowshoe and am in the rental program. The reason I am at the shoe is due to small children. I can take them to there and always have more then enough activities to keep them happy and I can still lap lower shay's or hit the bike trails so I'm happy.
I think when my kids get older I may and go more towards cv but who knows. Right now it is a real good investment and I go a week every month of the winter and summer. Snowshoe is a longer drive for me but I like the fact once I'm at my unit I don't have to drive any where and I prefer the slopes to timberline/cannan.
If you have any questions about SS give me a PM.
Thanks for the input johnfmh and JohnP!
I really think you should listen to everything being said about this, especially John's comments. The first and main thing to determine is why do you want it.
I did something a bit different from most on this site. I purchased a large house in Elkins. Why - because its between CV and Snowshoe providing access to all three resorts in less than an hour. Other reasons - more conveniences such as building supplies, restaurants, etc. The wife and I go up every weekend and sometimes during the week, depending on the weather. Having a large house also provides lots of room for friends and family to visit. The negative, its not on the slopes and each ski trip is a drive and there's no lunch breaks at the "house", etc. However, it is exactly what WE wanted.
Back to John's comments - when we purchased our house several years ago, it has appreciated 2.5 times what we paid and that's good. However, prior to purchasing this house, I skied all the mid-atlantic resorts basicaly chasing storms each year. I really enjoyed the variety of ski resorts and the lower crowds going more on weekdays. Most of that's gone now and I ski mostly on the weekends.
For the last several years, I've purchased my season pass from Snowshoe. I really like T-Line & CV but skiing TL on weekends takes a lot of fun out of it - due to the slow lifts and crowds. TL has one of the best mountains around but it sure needs some investments made.
We're now looking forward to getting more into non-winter activities and our location is very good.
Cost is of course a major factor. We were able to buy a three story Victorian and have been restoring it. It makes a nice hobby when time permits, helps with the investment, and sure give plenty of space. We're also in town so we have plenty of neighbors close by and they help look out for the place when we're not there. I don't know how others may feel but I've also heard some very bad stories about how much noise is made in many of the slopeslide units with the renters partying, walking in ski boots, etc. Houses away from the resorts are usually cheaper than ones very close by so look at the money you plan to spend and see how it best fits.
My comments are just some things to think about because with us, we're very satisfied with our decision and I ski SS often and a few times now at TL each season. SS usually offers the best early skiing so that's why I continue with their season passes. Also if you like SC, there's almost never a crowd there so half a day on Cupp/Shay and half on SC is about as good as I've found it on an average weekend. They're ALL good on weekdays.
With lift ticket/pass price increases, the cost of ownership, tax increases, maintenance, driving expenses - is it worth it. I could ski a lot of different places and have money left over each year if I didn't own. Ownership is expensive and is worth it - if that's what you really want.
Final comments - its really nice driving up for a few days (summer or winter), having our personal items already there, just relax, go out, and have some fun. What a break from the busy metro area and without staying in rentals.
A study a while back also stated resort home owership averages less than 5 years. I think that is because it seemed to be a very good idea to have a 2nd home but many often tire of it. If its what you really want and as some here have stated, you wouldn't ever sell it.
rmc, thanks -- the idea of purchasing something in the middle of SS and CV has crossed my mind. In fact, something like this would be cool:http://www.canaanrealty.com/sales/shaversfork.htm
I would like to find a smaller place, as it will primarily be for my wife and I with 1-2 occasional guests. I can see us going at least every other weekend in winter and probably one weekend a month in summer, but this is something we need to think hard about before diving in.
I used to build houses, so I would enjoy having a place I can work on, but I don't want an older/neglected place that is a money pit! (there is a fine line there which is often easy to see when looking carefully). Actually, I would like to build myself from scratch, but the time commitment is beyond what I can handle with a full time job, unfortunately. It's a pity, because a small efficient house can be built for little $$ when labor is not a direct cost.
I don't know how others may feel but I've also heard some very bad stories about how much noise is made in many of the slopeslide units with the renters partying, walking in ski boots, etc.
Great points RMCVA. I remember the first time after we bought our condo at TL and they fired up the guns. I remember thinking 'Boy I'm glad I'm not slopeside'. I remember renting a slopeside condo at SS when they were making snow and it sounded like a jet engine in the bedroom. I'm about 75 - 100 yards from the main lodge area, and while I can hear if the guns are on, I can't really HEAR the guns if you know what I mean. I live in an upper unit and occasionally hear renters coming in and out stomping their boots. At first it bothered me and then I tuned it out and then I was walking across my kitchen in my boots on the way out to the 8AM opening and thought 'oops! I bet it sounds a lot worse down there then they do up here!'
But you bring up a lot of good things to think about especially what is your motivation and can you live with skiing only one resort most of the time (if you buy at the slope). One nice thing about T-Line is that if you get too bored, you can pop over to Canaan for a fairly reasonable price.
That area sounds really good! I see that Bowden,wv which sits at the intersection of the Shavers & route 33 is at an elevation of 2218'. The house looks to be located right next to the Bicle Knob/Stuart Knob Rec area. I've always thought these 4000' elevation Mtns which are the 1st of this size on the western front could get a lot of snow. You wouldn't be plowing as much snow at your place but would only be 15 min away from some great Nordic Sking/Shoeing. The Otter Ck wilderness area is there & You would have the River to play on & Shavers Mountain to explore as well. That house would cost at least a hundred grand more up in the valley & the Bonus or the Icing on the Cake would be the opening of Tory Mtn or MPC ski areas 25 minutes up the road from you which when added to SS & the Valley areas would really put a halt to all this Bored with skiing talk!!!....PS you don't know how many times I have had to take that 40 min ride into Elkins from my place 2 minutes south of the valley to buy hardware or whatever i couldn't get at the few places at the valley...
Very sound advice and I have little to add but a few things I will offer a slightly different opinion.
I come to this as both a former renter in the Valley and now owner/landlord. The Valley is unique in WV but particularly if you view it from the DC vantage point. The topography, the climate, the flora, the fauna are all significantly different than anything you can find within 8 or 9 hours of DC. The variety of recreational activities--skiing, hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, etc.--are unique. The ability to leave DC on a 90 degree July day and arrive 3 hours later to 70 degrees is bracing. Every time a friend uses my CV house for the first time all come back amazed at how DIFFERENT it is. The contrast explains much of the charm.
Now for a bit of heresy on the DCSKI site. It may be true of Timberline, particularly slopeside that most use and rental happens during ski season. Makes perfect sense. But for me, with a house in the Valley but away from TL, my peak rental season is summer, followed by Fall/Winter. More and more people seem to be drawn there for reasons other than skiing, although that remains a very strong lure. I have families during the summer, looking for a chance to get away from the city to a cool place (in both sense of the word) to fish, swim, ride horse and bikes, hike, and just relax. I have people who want to trout fish in the spring and fall, leaf peepers in the fall, and skiers in the winter (who, sadly, are the most destructive of my house).
All of this is to make the point that while some of the economic vitality of the Valley is dependent on skiing, that is apparently less and less true. That is not simply my opinion but also that of long time Valley members who rely on tourism and second homeowning for their livelihood. They see the Valley increasingly as a 4 Season tourist destination.
The other factor that makes me optimistic about the Valley is Corridor H. I no long harbor any concern/hope (yes, I am ambivalent, although the more I drive the road the more I love it) that the funding won't be there to complete the highway. First, too much has been invested to stop now. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Democrats control Congress and Sen. Byrd is in the position to lock down the funding and to do so within the next 12 to 18 months. I have no doubt that he will. Once the road is complete not only will it significantly shorten the drive from the DC metro area, particularly Northern Virginia, but also dramatically improve the experience of the drive. No more white-knuckle passing coal and timber trucks before the next hairpin turn. Little Susie won't be getting carsick. It will be a relatively easy 2.5 hours drive from Fairfax. Once the 5.5 million people in this area understand how easy it is to get to CV, what will that do for the long-term viability of CV and its housing market?
I was lucky. I bought a house 4 years ago, in the Valley but away from TL, for less than some people pay for a car. It has tripled in value since and my rentals, as unpleasant as it is for all the reasons posted on this thread, have offset most of my out of pocket expenses such as utilities, condo fees, fire wood, etc., and left me some spare change. I am reasonably confident in the long-term prospects and recently bought an unimproved lot in Canaan Heights to build on some day. So I am an optimist.
Your post just made my day Dmh! I was torn between buying a lot at canaan Hts & where I bought in the next valley.Canaan Hts is beautifully Woodsy & very Snowy & I love pssing thru there on the way to Davis..you can't go wrong there..good luck. I'm going out to do some more yard work now & carry your positive vibe with me!