Should we buy a vacation home now that the prices are lower?


I have a little experience in this field having owned three skiing condominiums and a time share.  I believe that things are going to get a lot worse, so I personally would wait at least another year unless you can find a truly outstanding low price from a distressed person or bank--and you don't look at it as an investment.


After a couple of years of poor markets, real estate may turn out to be a reasonable hedge against inflation which is sure to be in our future.  But remember, vacation homes, particularly time shares, can be very difficult to sell even in good times.  If a person is going to use the vacation home for less than a month, renting a unit is likely to be a better financial thing to do.  When you add up all of the ongoing costs of a vacation home, it's seldom a good investment.


Lots of people rent out their vacation homes when not using it personally.  This can offset some of the costs but seldom offsets all of the ongoing costs of ownership after considering non-rental days, maintenance, utility, home-owners' fees, management costs, taxes, etc.  Further, if the vacation home is far from your permanent residence, it is difficult to assess damage and engage maintenance people.


We look at our own Park City condo as a non-investment.  We have it because we enjoy it and can afford the comfort--which is sometimes offset by something breaking, like when our whole ceiling came down from water that accumulated from an ice dam on the roof.  When we go to sell, it would be nice if we get more than it cost, but we certainly aren't counting on it.