Are you thinking that this might be the time to buy a second home, that weekend getaway that you’ve always wanted? Or, are you struggling financially and feeling pressure to sell your own weekend home? How can a buyer know that he or she is getting the best deal, that the property you buy now won’t be worth less in a few months? And, how can a seller know that selling now is a good idea? What if the market starts to recover in a few months?

Neither buyer nor seller (nor any real estate agent) can see the future, but anyone can see that, right now, many properties aren’t selling, at least not at the prices sellers want. There are, however, strategies for making the most of this market.

By Steve Bailey, Dec 4, 2008, NYT

Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president with the Corcoran Group in the Hamptons, said her real estate market has certainly felt the impact of recent sharp drops in the stock market. “When this all began in mid-September, some buyers backed out of deals not yet signed up,” she wrote in an e-mail message. “Some sellers offered better terms to keep the deals on course. In some cases, this worked, in others not. Many would-be buyers moved to the sidelines and/or lowered their price points in looking.

“Some buyers have become more price-oriented. For example, there are buyers more concerned about size of discount than they are about location and amenities.”

Though the market for vacation homes is not immune from economic reality, it does not shadow the total real estate market. “While the overall housing market peaked in 2005, the market for vacation homes didn’t peak until 2006,” said Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors in Washington. That doesn’t mean, though, that a recovery in the second-home market will lag behind the larger market. “A large number of our transactions are not subject to financing,” Ms. Saatchi said of second-home sales in the Hamptons, so a rebound could occur if consumer confidence rises ahead of a loosening of credit.

If you have a vacation home that you’re thinking of selling, this is almost certainly not the best time. “It depends on the seller’s needs,” Neil B. Garfinkel, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said. “For example, if he needs to get out from under a mortgage, he may have to sell.”

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