Purchasing a Vacation Home to Renovate
We have strong relationships with many real estate agents in the Charleston area. Often, their clients purchase vacation homes to renovate and they benefit from having a design-build firm like PRD Custom Homes & Interiors ready to step in after their purchase is complete to begin the renovation.
Over the past several years, we’ve partnered with Kathleen L. DeWitt, Sales Executive at Akers Ellis, to help her clients build and customize their homes on Kiawah Island and have loved every project!
“As part of her eleven-year career with Kiawah Island Golf Resort, she was involved with opening The Sanctuary Hotel and served as a Property Manager. Kathleen obtained her real estate license, joined the Akers Ellis team in 2012, and has been awarded Salesperson of the Year for 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022.”
We recently sat down with Kathleen to discuss tips for finding the perfect vacation home in places such as Kiawah, Seabrook, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Charleston.
- How often do you work with home buyers who are looking to purchase a vacation home in Charleston?
I would say it’s about 90% of my annual business. Primarily my real estate clients look for solid investments with healthy rental incomes.
- How do you go about starting the search, or defining their priorities for the house hunt?
Typically we begin with some very basic questions like budget, location, and size. Then we look into more specifics like open concept vs a more compartmentalized floor plan, personal taste, renovated vs rehab projects, and other factors.
- What are some of the main differences in searching for a vacation home to put on the rental market vs a private vacation home?
Sometimes our clients wish to have an established rental income, which would be a factor. Also, bedroom sizes are important so you can see what type of bedding can or cannot be accommodated into spaces.
If the property is a single family dwelling, and it does not have a pool, then the buyer will often need to know if there is ample room to establish one before they will consider the purchase.
- What’s your top advice for finding the right real estate agent for someone looking to purchase a vacation home in Charleston?
Charleston, Kiawah, Seabrook, and other areas are niche markets. I would highly suggest retaining a real estate agent that specifically knows the area and has their finger on the market’s pulse.
This will assure you that you are seeking the right areas that will be sound investments and retain their value for potential resales in the future as well as a possible revenue stream if you’d like to rent the property.
Adversely, if you have a real estate agent that ever applies too much pressure on you to purchase and you feel uncomfortable, I would be cautious. Purchasing a vacation home is a major life investment. A good real estate agent will guide, encourage and educate you so that your new property will also be a good investment for your kids and grandchildren.
- Why might it be a good idea to look for a vacation home that needs to be renovated vs one that is ready to go?
Oh, I love projects!
There is of course risk when you purchase a home that needs renovating, but the rewards are so satisfying when the project is complete. I feel that when clients are able to put their stamp on a property with a custom luxury renovation, they get even more enjoyment out of it!
Additionally, the return on a turn-key project can be significant. I am a huge advocate of encouraging sellers to update prior to selling for a larger return, if it’s an option.
- What are some of the best vacation home features you’ve seen?
When I think about vacation homes, I also associate them with families making memories. I would have to say some of the fabulous kitchens, dramatic family rooms, expansive outdoor pools, spas and cabana kitchens tend to be my favorite features since it is a place for everyone to gather and enjoy!
- How can a home buyer know what they’re getting into, and feel comfortable moving forward, before they submit an offer on a vacation home?
It might sound cliche, but if you are financially capable of having a vacation home and it “feels” right, I say you’ll know you have made the right decision. Of course you will have had to do a little homework yourself prior. Also, please listen to your real estate agent – this should not be their first rodeo and they love to help clients!
If you’re considering buying a vacation home on Kiawah Island, check out Kathleen DeWitt’s latest featured listings and look no further for one of our absolute favorite real estate agents in the Charleston area!
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