How to Maintain a Vacation Home

With the summer season in full swing, it can be easy to find yourself daydreaming of purchasing a vacation home; whether for sentimental or investment reasons, it’s fun to think about.

Once the excitement wears off a bit and it’s time to start thinking about the logistical side of purchasing a vacation home, you may find yourself wondering, “how can I maintain my vacation home?” If you’re on the fence about buying a vacation home because of this factor, here’s what you need to know.

Maintaining Your Vacation Home From Afar

Keeping tabs on your home and ensuring it’s kept up to the highest standards is easier than ever before, no matter how many miles away you may be. Here are the top considerations and tools to maintain your vacation property.

  1. Enlist a trusted helper: Whether this is a neighbor you trust or you hire a property manager or cleaning service, you can have someone regularly check-in and clean up the space. This will ensure everything is in order for you or potential renters. Pro-tip: Don’t leave a spare key around the outside; instead, leave an extra key with a reliable neighbor.
  2. Utilize technology: In these digital times, it’s likely that you have many of these devices in your own home, so why not install security cameras and monitors around your vacation property? Installing motion sensor security systems can help add an extra layer of protection while you’re away. You may also consider getting changeable locks that allow you to reprogram the keycode periodically, especially if you rent your space out.
  3. Create an owner’s closet: This is important if you’re going to have people coming in and out of your property without you there – whether it’s seasonal renters, property managers, or loved ones. Safeguard a closet (or even a room) with a special lock where you can tuck away personal belongings and sentimental items. Pro-tip: If you keep important documents here, make sure you store them in a waterproof bag in the event of an emergency like flooding.
  4. Don’t let the house look empty: A vacant home is basically an invitation for burglars, who most often look for the easiest target. Making sure mail, newspapers, deliveries, etc., don’t pile up is a great first step to making sure your vacation home doesn’t look empty. Cleaning gutters and keeping the landscaping sharp are also good practices. Pro-tip: Install smart lightbulbs inside your home that you can control remotely. You can frequently turn these off and on so that your home doesn’t look unlived in from the outside.
  5. Get to know the area: Whether you’re going to be spending time at your property or purely renting it out, it’s a good idea to establish connections. Get to know your neighbors, local restaurants, and activities, and network with handymen or cleaning services that you can turn to for help in maintaining your property.
  6. Register for police checks: If your vacation property is in the U.S., see if the town offers vacation home checks. Many towns have programs where police officers or registered volunteers will periodically review the perimeter of your home while you’re away.

Vacation homes can be incredible investments and hold important sentimental value; make sure your property is secure and in good condition while away with the tips above. Look through Land Hub’s current listings if you’re interested in purchasing a vacation home.

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You may have heard that spring is the best time to list your property for sale, but do you know why?

The real estate market goes through a number of cycles from year to year—some predictable, and some not. And while it’s not always possible to know what will happen from month to month and season to season, spring is usually an ideal time for sellers to get on the market, especially compared to the preceding winter months.

Here’s why spring is a great time to list, including some quick tips for making the most of the season to get your property sold faster and for more money.

Why is spring the time to sell?

Every spring, the birds start chirping, the flowers bloom, and the real estate market heats up with more inventory and more buyers looking to find that perfect place to call home.

In most of the country, March through May are considered to be the best time for real estate, with buyers seeing more properties for sale and sellers seeing an influx of showings and offers. Even in our current seller’s market, spring is still considered a prime listing time, and it’s wise to get your property up now if you want to take advantage.

Some of the reasons that spring is so optimal for listing include:

Better weather

Warmer temps and sunny skies both bring out more buyers. Better weather also means more curb appeal for houses and more lush greenery on vacant land. Wait to take listing photos and videos until the drab grays and browns of winter have at least somewhat abated, and update visuals that you’ve already taken for your listing if they’re dated by winter weather.

Increased demand

Demand has been consistently high for a while now, but it’s likely to surge even more during the spring months. Buyers with families often wait until spring to start shopping in order to coordinate moving with school schedules. And even solo buyers tend to prefer waiting out the winter and hopping onto the market come spring. More homes being listed does mean more competition, but there should be enough buyers that you’ll still have no trouble getting people in the door.

Higher sale prices

According to The Mortgage Reports, people who sell their properties in May tend to see 5.9% higher purchase prices. They also sell 18.5 days sooner than at other times of year. These trends continue into June before they start to drop off. Work with an experienced real estate agent who can maximize your property’s exposure and negotiate the best deal on your behalf. And if you’re getting a lot of interest, try to be patient instead of going with the first offer you get—buyers have cash to spend and they’re often willing to go well above listing for the right property.

Spring is already here, so it’s time to make moves. If you’re ready to list, find a real estate agent you like and get the ball rolling. You can also make some improvements to your property now and list later in the season when the market is still at a peak, which could end up leading to even more cash in your pocket.

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by Laura Mueller

There are a lot of factors that you need to pay attention to when buying land, and zoning is one of the most important. How a property is zoned gives you a ton of information about what you can and cannot do with it, including regulations on building, landscaping, and general land use. But if the zoning laws don’t align with your plans, is it possible to have the property rezoned for your desired purpose? It’s a bit complicated—and, unfortunately, not so easy to do.

Here’s what to know about rezoning, plus where to start if you’re interested in pursuing the process.

Zoning 101

Zoning laws are legally-binding guidelines on property use that are set out by the local governing body. They’re typically codified as part of a master plan for the neighborhood or town, with areas designated for specific uses such as residential or commercial development. Other things that zoning laws may regulate include:

• Building heights
• Building density
• Access roads and parking
• Removal of certain natural resources

Think of zoning laws like a rule book for what is and isn’t possible on a piece of land. They’re the reason you can’t build a shopping center in the middle of a subdivision… or a subdivision in the middle of a shopping center. They’re also potentially a major obstacle to doing what you want on a piece of land, since you won’t be able to make any changes without the zoning rights to do so.

Can you get your land rezoned?

It’s always recommended that you do thorough research on any zoning laws in relation to a property before you invest. That way, you won’t run into any surprises when you go to apply for building permits or pursue other types of improvements.

However, it’s certainly possible that when you’re searching for land you’ll find a parcel that is perfect in every way—except for how it’s zoned. If that happens, you can try to get it rezoned, but it’s going to take some work and it’s definitely not a guarantee.

At minimum, there are two things that you will have to prove in order to achieve a change in a property’s zoning regulations:

1. That it benefits the community. Asking to have your land rezoned for fully personal use is a tough sell. Local lawmakers want to know that the change will benefit the entire community, particularly in terms of economic potential.

2. That it adheres to state and federal laws.
Beyond local zoning laws there are also state and federal requirements that dictate how land can be used. If there’s a statute standing in your way, even local support won’t be enough to change the regulations.
Your local government probably has other considerations too, but plan to meet these two must-haves if you want your rezoning request to have a shot.

How to apply for rezoning

If you can make a good case for rezoning your land, then your next step is to petition for a rezoning with your local Building and Planning Department.

Be ready to prove those two considerations mentioned above, with plenty of supporting documents to back up your claims. In addition, have a clear plan for what you want to do on the land and why it’s worth making the change. Keep in mind that you will likely have to pay a fine, with the cost to apply for rezoning starting at around $1,000.

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By Caroline Kirby

Beekeeping and leasing land to beekeepers is the growing trend for many vacant landowners and farmers. Whether you’re looking to pollinate your crops or you just have a piece of land that you’re not using, leasing to beekeepers may be a productive and sustainable option that even has some tax benefits to boot.

How does leasing land to beekeepers work?

In the last decade, beekeeping has qualified as an Agricultural Exemption that can save landowners a lot of money in property taxes. The great thing about qualifying for this special valuation is you don’t even have to be the one doing the work – you just need to lease your land to a beekeeper or a commercial beekeeping operation if you have the space.

There are many websites and online forums where you can match with beekeeping operations in your area. So, why do it?

Why should I lease my land to beekeepers?

Bees are a vital part of the environment and food supply chain in North America and across the globe, as they pollinate our crops.

Over the years, commercial bee colonies have collapsed at an alarming rate due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has been linked to the use of pesticides on crops. Beekeepers need healthy forage land to be able to rebuild colonies after crop pollination.

When you lease your land for beekeeping, you’re helping beekeepers grow their business, making your land productive, helping farmers pollinate crops, and even contributing to supporting our global ecosystem.

What do beekeepers need on their leased land?

The most important thing beekeepers need to do their job is space. While bees can be found in urban, suburban, and rural areas, there are some specific types of land which are more suitable for bees and beekeeping than others.

Factors that may influence the productivity of land for beekeeping includes:

Forage: Bees need diverse and abundant food sources. You’ll want an area with plenty of flowers in bloom.

Water: : Your land should have a proper water source nearby so that the bees don’t spend too much energy flying far. Bees love small ponds or creeks but are notorious for being drawn to “dirty” water sources like hot tubs or swimming pools.

Climate: While American honeybees have done well in adapting to their climate, the weather in your area will impact when flowers and plants bloom and if these tiny creatures can survive winter.

Nearby beekeeping: Honeybees are known to rob other colonies, which can devastate and deplete resources as well as spread disease. Do some research to ensure that any neighboring colonies are adequately spaced out.

Each of these factors can impact how the bees live and produce. Open meadowland near wetland is the ideal location for beekeeping, while an area surrounded by forests and trees isn’t as effective and can hinder honey production and the ability to pollinate.

North Dakota, Montana, and California are the top three honey-producing states and are often associated with more productive beekeeping. Browse through Land Hub’s current listings to purchase property for beekeeping in one of these states, or put your own land up for sale!

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by Laura Mueller

Florida is one of the most popular states for people looking to invest in raw land, and for good reason. In addition to having plenty of land for sale, Florida ranks right in the middle when it comes to property tax rates (0.89%, compared to the 1% and up you’ll tend to find as you move further up the east coast). It’s also undeniably beautiful, with something for everyone in terms of land use potential.

If you’re familiar with the Sunshine State, then you’re probably well aware of the many differences between the Peninsula in the south and the Panhandle in the north. And while both offer quite a bit of opportunity for land buyers, there are some major differences that you’ll want to keep in mind when deciding where to invest.

Before you buy land in Florida, take a look at this quick breakdown of what the north and south have to offer so that you can narrow down your search and find your perfect property.

South Florida

The Florida Peninsula is beachy, flat, and full of tourists. It’s also what a lot of people tend to think of first when they think of the state, since it’s where you’ll find trendy vacation spots like Miami and St. Petersburg, as well as the Everglades at the southern tip and Disneyworld further north.

Fortunately for land buyers, the southern part of the state isn’t all swamps and hotels. There is an abundance of land for sale in the area, including opportunities for citrus farming. Do keep in mind however that the Florida Peninsula is as flat as it gets, capping out at a mere 12 feet above sea level at its highest point. Likewise, while land is plentiful it’s also limited in size, usually to around 10 acres or less.

North Florida

North Florida—a.k.a. the Florida Panhandle—stretches for about 200 miles right at the north-west corner of the state. It might not have the hip reputation of the Peninsula, but it is home to Tallahassee, which is Florida’s 8th largest city and the state’s capitol.

Travel around the Panhandle and you may feel more like you’re in the Deep South than a beachy paradise. But that doesn’t mean it’s not rife with opportunity for land buyers. Fewer people means larger plots of land for sale, and you’ll also find a much higher and hillier terrain (though at 345 feet above sea level, its highest point is still the lowest of any state).

The Panhandle is the place to go for land investors looking for ranch land or timberland. And with the Gulf of Mexico never more than 100 miles away, there’s ample opportunity to enjoy a sandy getaway when you get the urge.

Find Land for Sale in Florida

North or South, if you’re ready to buy land in Florida then you’ll have a lot of available properties to choose from. We recommend working with an experienced real estate agent in your desired location, since their familiarity with the area will ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for.

Begin your search today by browsing land for sale in Florida. From beaches to ranches and Peninsula to Panhandle, you’re sure to find just the right fit.

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By Caroline Kirby

There are over 600 ski resorts across North America with over 100,000 acres of slopes to shred. However, a majority of these resorts are owned by a handful of corporations and holding companies — five to be exact: KSL/Aspen, Vail Resorts, Powdr Corp, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, and EPR Properties. Many of these companies’ reach extends far beyond North America, but for the sake of this article, we will focus on the region.

You can see a comprehensive list of who owns which resort in the U.S. from the National Ski Areas Association.

Do companies own the land that ski resorts are on?

This is where things get a little tricky. While ski resorts typically don’t own the actual land, there are various different ownership structures that define ski resorts. In the United States specifically, some of the most common structures include:

• Mountain is owned entirely by the resort
• Mountain is federal land such as the U.S. Forest Service.
• Combination of public and private land.

When ski resorts don’t own their land, they pay rent or a yearly permit which is calculated as a percentage of their gross income. In the U.S., most ski resorts are operating under lease agreements with the U.S. Forest Service or other government organizations. In recent years, many resorts have received approvals for expansions directly from the USFS, which has many environmental and local community activists concerned.

Purchasing, running, and maintaining a ski resort is expensive. You’re paying to buy or lease the land, investing in extremely expensive equipment, staff to run it, and thanks to climate change, many popular resorts rely fully on snowmaking machines as annual snowfall is rapidly decreasing.

These are just some of the contributing factors which have led to mom-and-pop ski areas having to close or turn to community-led non-profits to keep their doors open.

How do the big-name resorts operate?

In North America, Vail and Whistler are two of the most known resorts, and in this article from The Atlantic, they point out that they make most of their money from lodging, rentals, and food. That’s why avid skiers will see more and more destination resorts thriving while the smaller shops that tend to serve local communities have to close their doors for good.

What is the future of ski resorts in the U.S.?

Ski resorts across the country are facing some hard truths. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, rising temperatures and melting snow, and the fall of local ski resorts and shops to big-name conglomerates, many aren’t sure what to expect from future ski seasons in the United States. If you’re looking ahead in the short term, Condé Nast Traveler wrote a great piece on what to expect when hitting the slopes during COVID.

As you head out on fall getaways and winter break in the coming weeks, it may be interesting to do a little investigating yourself to see who owns the resorts you visit. Do you know the history of the land you’re skiing on?

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