Buying Land in Leavenworth - Is now the time?

In a previous post I mentioned a few parts of the Leavenworth real estate market that I thought held the most promise for great deals. In the post I mentioned:

  • Kahler Glen Condos

  • New Construction Condos in Leavenworth

  • Cabins in Ponderosa Estates 

  • Building Lots in Ponderosa Estates 

  • First Time Homes in Leavenworth

Leavenworth - From Sauers Mountain

David - contemplating a purchase of a lot in Leavenworth writes in:

Geordie, what do you think of the market for developed lots in Leavenworth?

We are considering buying a lot and eventually building a house. At the time we decided to pursue this, we were not ready to buy a home and did not have the money for a condo that was big enough for us (we were not looking for a rental, we were looking for a permanent home someday). It seemed at the time that the market was pretty hot, and we wanted to “get a foot in the door” so that when the time came, we had something already. Now the market has changed, and we are wondering if this is the best way to go. We will most likely not be buying anything this year, but aren’t sure if now is a good time to buy a lot, especially if in the future we decide to buy a home and then would have to sell the lot.

Warren Buffet's advice always seems timely:

We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.

Certainly over the last 6-12 months, buyers in the real estate market have been fearful. In earlier years, they were greedy.  Currently, there aren't as many buyers for undeveloped lots as there once were and the availability of financing the purchase of lot is not what it once was.

If you are buying a lot in a place that you want to build a home and live in, I think this could be a great time. Generally, we expect land costs to be 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost of a home. Don't buy a $200,000 lot to build a home that is only going to be worth $400,000. Or viewed another way, don't buy a $100,000 lot in a neighborhood full of $200,000 homes.

If you are buying as an investment, do your research on who is buying and building in that neighborhood.  Are there hidden costs - sewer, water, slope, that make building there prohibitively expensive?

Buying a home already built is most often cheaper than buying the land and building. There are so many great programs right now to buy a home that I wouldn't recommend building instead of buying for the "average" person. If you have special requirements for a house or special talents, then maybe building will work.

Remember that real estate is a fairly illiquid investment. You may not be able to sell a building lot when you need to or for the price you hope to.  Please don't buy any real estate if you are hoping to make a quick buck.

I 'll leave you with one of my favorite pieces of advice:

Real Estate is not for Day Traders

Comments

"Real Estate is not for Day Traders" Never heard it said so perfect Geordie. In our area we are seeing this return to normal, well as normal as they can be, with prices stabilizing and less short sales entering the market. How did Leavenworth fair through all this and is your market seeing signs of recovery?

Toby- Thanks for dropping by. We never had many foreclosures or short sales here in Leavenworth so we were pretty lucky in that regard. Our prices never really dropped either, though the number of sales did drop dramatically. May has been great so far - twice the number of pending sales this month compared to May of 2008. We'll have to see how the rest of the summer goes before I declare a "recovery."

Thanks for the column. I learned a lot, and a couple of points stick out to me. One is that it is usually cheaper to buy a house that is already existing instead of buying land and building, and that buying a lot and building may not be right for the average person. Our main concern is that the price of housing was rising so much that by the time we are ready to buy a house, our buying power would be less then if we had purchased land sooner. We have some time to think about it, and we will see what the market does, but this gives me some information that will help.

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Allyson and Geordie Romer

Leavenworth real estate agents - Allyson and Geordie Romer

For over a decade, Allyson and Geordie have been serving clients in the Leavenworth-area real estate market. Together, they work tirelessly to stay on top of the regional market and present the most relevant opportunities to their clientele.

When not in the office, they can be found exploring the endless recreation opportunities of the area in all of its seasons.

 

Testimonials

 

Geordie provided excellent real estate representation! We appreciated his detailed knowledge of the market, his up front and honest approach, and his negotiation skills.
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Laura Anderson

 

 

As “west siders” looking for a getaway near Leavenworth, Geordie provided insight … his knowledge of design features important in a “snowy winter wonderland” was appreciated. Thanks Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  –
 

- Jean Stern

 

 

Geordie made this somewhat complicated transition easier for us…going above and beyond to help us work through issues that came up during the sale of our parents home. We appreciated his knowledge, attentiveness to details and his willing spirit.
Our family is grateful for Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Terry Foster

 

 

Geordie was great in every way. We have been looking in the Leavenworth area for some time, and Geordie was absolutely the best for local knowledge, history and depth on neighborhoods, developments and the local market trends. He was very quick to respond (even when he was on his vacation) and worked very diligently to get all of our questions answered in a very timely fashion. We would recommend him highly to anyone looking to buy or sell a home. Very friendly, and helped us navigate all of the local options before we made an offer on the property that we purchased. Thank you, Geordie!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Ryan Olsen

 

 

It was such a pleasure to work with Geordie and his wife, Allyson on our cabin purchase. They showed us a variety of locations, listened to what we wanted and helped us find the perfect match. Everything was smooth and not stressful, just relaxed and easy. We would definitely recommend Geordie and use him again if the need arises!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Cammie Schlosser

 

Moving to Leavenworth?

Are you looking for a cabin or a condo in Leavenworth that your family can use as a home base when climbing, skiing or hiking around Leavenworth or Lake Wenatchee?

Maybe you rent a house here and have decided to stay, surprised how a summer of rafting somehow turned into seven years.

Maybe it’s time to escape the hustle of the big city (and its rain) and move to Leavenworth with its four seasons.

Maybe you bought a condo years ago, don’t seem to use as much, and it’s time to sell.

Whatever your motivation, we are here to help. If you are buying a home, the best place to start is with our Homebuyer’s Guide to Leavenworth.