3 Tips for Buyers Shopping for A Weekend Home

Adapted from an article by Sean Nielsen of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty and originally published on July 12, 2021, in Inman.com’s Leading in Luxury column.

47 S Union

The facade of 47 S. Union Street in Lambertville, N.J., a popular spot for weekenders along the Delaware River. This home is listed by Stefan Dahlmark and Tom Hora of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty.

The desire to invest in second homes that afford more breathing room, more opportunities to reconnect with nature, and more time to pursue personal pastimes has always been part of the real-estate market in Bucks County, Pa., and Hunterdon County, N.J., and it’s been extra strong since the start of the Covid pandemic.

If you’re coming out of New York City or Philadelphia, or even Washington, D.C., to spend downtime in the Delaware River Valley of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, here are tips to help you decide which type of getaway home is right for you.

1. Make your wish list

What are the three must-haves on your wish list? Agents report that for many buyers, the most prominent desire is for their vacation home also serve as a the staycation home so they no longer need to board a plane to discover their own piece of paradise.

In Bucks and Hunterdon counties, that has means homes with more square footage and more recreation options have been very popular. Space for home offices, space to host family and friends, pools and tricked-out outdoor recreation spaces, i.e., outdoor kitchens, fire pits and lounging areas, remain popular features even for second homes.

Far away—but not too far away

People would love to drop their obligations and responsibilities and head out of town, but for most, that simply isn’t realistic. Today’s buyers are looking for second homes where they can enjoy a weekend escape and a digital detox, while still being in proximity to their families, lives and lifestyles.

The ideal vacation destination might be described as “close enough but far away,” and for buyers coming out of New York and Philadelphia, Bucks & Hunterdon counties are perfect – they are within a two- or three-hour drive of the cities and easier to reach than The Hamptons and shore towns of New Jersey. Yet, for those who need to dash back and forth to the city, it’s do-able. Train and bus service are also available in case a family member wants to keep the car at the weekend house.

Find a place that feels like home

We’ve all heard the cliché that home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling—but in the case of finding a vacation residence, it rings surprisingly true.

You might want a location that’s different enough to be an exciting change, but with the amenities, comforts, and conveniences that let you indulge in all the favorite activities you wish you could do every day. For some buyers coming out of cities to Bucks and Hunterdon counties, that can mean living in such towns as New Hope, Lambertville, Stockton or Frenchtown, where there’s life outside the door, along with restaurants, markets and shopping — just not so busy and crowded as life in a big city.

For other buyers, it can mean spending their work weeks in glass towers in the city and their weekends in antique stone houses, lounging outside in summer and tucked in by the fireplace in winter.

97 Geigel Hill Road in Erwinna PA

This rustic country house in Erwinna, Pa., is full of the nooks, crannies and character so many people seek in a Bucks County getaway home.

A change of scenery and season

Buyers also value a change in the weather—even if that just means moving from one local microclimate to another.

Homeowners accustomed to the extreme heat and humidity of city living appreciate the coolness of the riverbanks and lush woodlands that are the setting for many of the weekend homes in Bucks and Hunterdon counties. Less blacktop means lower temperatures and fresher air.

2. Work with an agent who is passionate about your target market

The best, most knowledgeable agents will have spent time living in the areas you’re shopping in. If you don’t know an agent in that market, contact your agent in your primary community and ask them to refer you to a reputable, trustworthy agent.

3. Choose an agent who shares their wisdom

On a related note, authenticity from your agent is vital. Work with someone how has cultivated local knowledge and connections, and can tell you personal stories about why they love a particular vacation market. Maybe it’s the local Fourth of July parade, or the way the community comes together to welcome newcomers or bespoke recommendations for restaurants and recreation.

That agent should serve as a resource to you even after you have moved to your home, helping you find home-repair and maintenance professionals and other service people.

Listings Large & Small Hit the Market in Upper Bucks

Along with brilliant sweeps of forsythia, an influx of new properties on the market is a sure sign of spring. Launching this week is the one-of-a-kind, magnificent Shaggy Bark Farm in Haycock Township. Continue reading

A Buoyant Market Greets Bucks County Sellers In the New Year

Comfort Road home for sale

Just listed in Solebury: This renovated and expanded residence on almost 15 acres is tucked away off of a treasured scenic road. It features a spectacular main residence plus a separate guest house and long list of amenities. Offered at $2,295,000. Listed by Linda Danese of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty.

What a long, strange year 2020 was for nearly everyone in real estate. While Covid-19 concerns caused sales in urban markets to plateau, suburban markets in close proximity to New York and Philadelphia, including Bucks County, experienced an influx of buyers and renters. Although real-estate activities in Pennsylvania were largely shut down between mid-March and the end of May, many brokerages ended 2020 with record-setting sales volume, helped by extremely low mortgage interest rates.

As home buyers can attest, the inventory of homes for sale presents slim pickings. According to Bright MLS, the multiple-listing service used by realtors to share listing information and research home-sales activity, in December 2020 inventory in Central Bucks County stood at under two months’ supply of homes for sale. A balanced market is considered six months of inventory, so clearly the market is favoring sellers. Data from Bright MLS shows the median home-sale price in Bucks County in 2020 is $352,000, an increase of 9.7% from 2019.  More locally, the median home sale price in Central Bucks County (Bedminster, Buckingham, Doylestown, Newtown, Plumstead, Solebury, Tinicum, Upper Makefield townships and Doylestown, Newtown and New Hope boroughs) in 2020 was $513,000, up from $455,000 in 2019. That’s an increase of 12.7%.

What is in store for 2021? Nationally, Lawrence Yun, Ph.D., chief economist and senior vice president of research at the National Association of Realtors, predicts about a 10% rise in the number of homes sold in 2021 but with prices moderating. He expects mortgage rates to remain at or near historic lows.

If you are considering offering your home for sale and would like guidance on the market in your area, please contact Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty’s New Hope office: 215.794.3227. An experienced realtor can provide specifics about home sales in your area and help guide you as you think about listing your home for sale. Professional guidance can help you decide whether to list your home, what price to offer it at and whether to make improvements before listing it.

 

A Working Past, A Sedate Present: Fleecydale Mill

fleecydale mill

In summer, a mix of perennials, mature trees and container plantings create a lush environment at Fleecydale Mill in Solebury Township, Bucks County, Pa.

Situated along the Paunacussing Creek in Solebury Township, Bucks County, Pa., just down the hill a bit from the charming historical village of Carversville and just up the hill from the picturesque Delaware River village of Lumberville, Fleecydale Mill was not always the quiet retreat you see today. Take a look back at its origin story, provided by research from Gary Granzow, a neighbor, who researched the property for the Historic Carversville Society.

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