Away from Home" - by Nick Mendola
So you decided to buy a second home!! A decision
that will be most rewarding.
Isn’t it exciting -- a new place to go, new things
to do, new people to meet (or not to meet), the thrills of doing the things
you always wanted to do or the recollection of your wonderful childhood
days at the lake. The excitement and the satisfaction are all within
Yes, you can create or recreate that dream; and now
is the time to do it. The prices are right, there is a diverse inventory
of all types of second homes available, interest rates are still low; and
when you consider how brief life is, why not do it now and not be numbered
among those who are now saying "I wish I had purchased 10 years ago."
How to buy a second home?
Try to determine exactly what type of second home
appeals to you and to your family. Is it: waterfront property? a
cottage? a cabin? in the woods or in the mountains? or perhaps a time share
condo in any part of the world?
Consider your present life style. If you like
traveling and visiting different places each year, a time-share may be
an appropriate concept to consider.
If your family or job circumstances are such that
you cannot travel far from home for extended periods of time, perhaps a
cottage or summer home on a nearby lake, waterway or in the woods is the
right choice for you. Take into consideration the travel time.
Travel time is the single most important factor which will determine your
usage and enjoyment of resort property.
Do you like going where you can just relax, read
a book, sit by a campfire, take naps, enjoy a view, shop or go to summer
cultural events? Then perhaps a second home with no or only minimal
maintenance can be most ideal for you.
If you like hiking, skiing, camping, hunting...perhaps
a place in the woods or in the mountains is right for you.
If you like fishing, boating, water-skiing or just
sitting by the shore and listening to the waves wash in and out on the
sand as you savor the evening sunsets, a large or small lake cottage or
other type of waterfront property, such as a recreational lot, is for you.
Yes, there is a maintenance factor to ownership of
many second homes. I have often said that "a change is as good as
a rest." Believe it or not, you may enjoy the personal satisfaction
of doing some "puttering around the cottage." We all take great personal
pride in our accomplishments. You never know just where your talent
Once you have decided on what type of second home
is in the future for you, you must determine how much you would like to
spend on its acquisition. Some individuals prefer to pay all cash;
others, most likely, will have to go to a bank or other financial institution.
The financing for most second homes is pretty much the same as you will
find with the purchase of your primary residence, with the exception that
most lending institutions will require a downpayment of 20 percent (yes-some
may do it for 10 percent down). In most cases, if the lending institutions
are selling their mortgages on the secondary market, they will want the
property winterized for year-round use.
If the property is of a seasonal nature and does
not have central heat, then it may be difficult to obtain a bank loan.
At that time, you may seek a property where the owner will hold the mortgage.
This is called a "purchase money bond and mortgage." Instead of making
monthly payments to a bank, you will make the payments directly to the
owner. You may also want to explore with your own accountants and
with the seller if there are any tax advantages to the seller in entering
into an installment sale. You as the buyer, if this is your only
second home, will still have the tax benefit of deducting interest and
real estate property taxes on your April 15th tax return. Think about
it... in effect your monthly payment of $700 may in reality be only $400
more or less depending on your tax bracket.
Once you have been qualified for a loan by your Real
Estate Broker or by a lending institution and have a pretty good idea of
where you would like to be and what type of property you would like to
purchase, find a local broker in that area who is actively listing and
selling properties. Ask around for who specializes in that type of
property, look for signs and choose someone with whom you feel comfortable.
Product knowledge and familiarity with a specific area are of extreme importance.
You may be dealing in areas and situations quite unfamiliar to brokers
and real estate agents who normally deal in city or suburban properties.
You may encounter such issues as: various forms of right-of-ways, uniform
dock and waterfront codes, accessibility to various utilities, varying
water quality for swimming, specific types of septic systems required in
particular areas, access to drinking water and various purification systems,
town building codes, setback requirements, percolation and water testing,
use and ownership of access roads, grandfathered situations of pre-existing,
non-conforming uses, dealing with the DEC and even more red tape to be
encountered after a sale is made. Furthermore, brokers who specialize
in that market can provide answers to some of your more intangible questions,
such as where does the sun set, which way does the wind usually blow (important
for sailor, and skiers) and where are the good fishing spots. The
more knowledgeable the broker, the more comfortable you will be in making
your final selection.
It is also important to choose a good real estate
attorney, one with knowledge of resort properties, local customs and experience
in reviewing surveys, abstracts and deeds. This is especially true
with resort property, where property ownership issues in the past were
handled in a more unconventional, informal manner than is done today.
Finally it is important to focus on what you are
really buying when you decide to purchase a seasonal second home.
First, you are creating a lifestyle for you and your family. Some
or most of your treasured lifetime memories and experiences will take place
there. Resort living can have a profound influence on family bonding
whether your family consists of your young or adult children and/or your
grandchildren. Secondly you are building equity in a limited, highly valued
and useable investment. Therefore, a second home can be considered
as "a sound investment that yields a dividend of pleasure." Thirdly,
you are buying a structure which may be incidental as it is the only portion
of the purchase that can be modified, demolished, used as is or rebuilt.
Always a Good Investment" - by Nick Mendola
For a number of reasons, the property along Canandaigua
Lake will always be valuable Canandaigua is an Indian word meaning "The
Chosen Place." Centuries later, it remains the choice of discreet
buyers. Its sparkling waters, views of the Bristle hills, great fishing,
proximity to Rochester, home of the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center,
accessibility to the fine City of Canandaigua, golf courses, tennis, fine
restaurants, plenty of shopping, public utilities and much more, make it
what call the "Jewel of the Finger Lakes." Each of its private properties
is a limited edition item for investment.
Will Rogers' words about property
still hold true today--"they aren't making any more of it!" Think
about it: the population is growing, leisure times is increasing but the
shoreline remains the same. Canandaigua Lake is not like Florida where
additional waterfront can be created by building new canals. At Canandaigua,
level lakefront vacant lots can only be made by demolishing existing structures.
Lake Property, similar to
other sound investments in limited editions, will always be a good investment--
especially if held in the long run. Owners cannot afford to buy today,
sell a year from now and make a big profit. However, many owners
are today selling at a handsome profit depending on when they purchased.
Furthermore, secondary homes continue to be used as one of the safest tax
shelters. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are still deductible.
When April 15 rolls around buyers will find a substantial reduction in
their income taxes. Unlike standard residential property, there are
intangible returns buyers should take into consideration when contemplating
investing on the lake.
I have always considered lake
property a "fun investment with a dividend of pleasure, " contrasted with
other types of investments where one needs a badge to enter the front door.
Buyers can immediately enjoy their lake investments. Today, families
with grown and/or married children procure lakefront properties because
the resort atmosphere and nature of the property adds to the cohesion of
As the Baby Boom generation,
with and without families, plans for retirement, many are opting for a
summer lake house here and a winter retreat in Florida or elsewhere.
The lake lifestyle takes people out of the fast lane, perhaps adding years
to the lifetimes.
The sad news is that someday
lake home owners may want or need to sell their lake homes and, if so,
two important questions must be answered. Do you absolutely want
to sell your property? And are you willing to price it at today's market?
Once an owner is committed
to selling lake property the factors of locations "showability" and price
apply. The location features of lake level, lot width and depth,
accessibility to utilities and privacy are the most favored. If the
house is in move-in condition, well maintained and easy to care for, selling
chances are greatly improved. Finally, they key is to price it properly.
The broad inventory of lake
homes and cottages is driving the current "buyer's market." As a
result, realistic buyers are often able to find the property of their dream
in a location of their choice at a price they can afford. However,
be aware that this cyclical buyer's market (like any other market) will
eventually come to an end. The well-priced and showable properties
consistently are being sold. Potential buyers, willing to come out to take
a serious look and to negotiate fairly, will be the beneficiaries of these
Particular Kind of Living Offers Homeowners a Different Lifestyle"
By Jill Miller of the Daily Record:Prestigious
Imagine waking up every morning to the sound of waves
crashing into the shore and going to bed at night with the moonlight dancing
across the water. Does this sound like an ideal place to live?
Rochester is centrally located for anyone who dreams
of living on the lake. Homeowners have their choice between Lake
Ontario, Sodus Bay, Canandaigua Lake or Conesus Lake.
Nick Mendola, owner of Edelweiss Properties,
said lake front property offers homeowners a variety of choices one may
not have living on a regular property lot in the suburbs. For example,
the lake offers the opportunity to sail, water ski or fish.
"No two homes on the lake are a like," Mendola
Anyone interested in moving to the lake front must
first decide what type of home they are searching for. A few questions
they may want to ask themselves are: "what type of water conditions am
I interested." "what type of water access would I like in an area with
a sandy beach" and if a boat owner, " do I want the option to dock my boat
in front of my house?"
The key to finding a home on the lake is to work
with a broker who specializes in selling lake front property, Mendola
Potential homeowners who have a specific design of
a house in mind must remember, the home can be modified, the location and
"It's not hard to find something on the lake," Mendola
said. "Anyone who wants to live on the lake can."
On Canandaigua Lake, such properties range from under
$100,000 to over $1 million dollars. Condominiums, lake access homes and
summer cottages as well as homes fall into this price range.
in a (Cottage) Name?" - Finger
Lakes cottage dwellers explain the traditions behind the names given to
their lakeside home.
By Jennifer Jordan of The Daily Messenger
Canandaigua Lake and the lush green valleys that
stretch up around it remind Nick Mendola of the classic triumphant
musical set in Austria.
So he and his wife, Marcia Mendola, named
their eastside cottage "Edelweiss."
"It's kind of a name that's sentimental to us - out
of the "Sound of Music," Mendola said. His real estate business,
"Edelweiss Properties," was given the same name for the same reason.
"It relates to the mountains and music and lakes,"
said of the name and the Alps-inspired theme, " You can picture Julie Andrews
singing over Canandaigua Lake."
Some, like Mendola and the Youngs, pick names
meaningful to them. Others maintain tradition and keep the name given by
Beth Kendall who stays in a cottage called "Edgemere"
is one of the traditionalists when it comes to cottage naming.
"It's been the name ever since boats used to deliver
the mail," she said of "Edgemere," adding, "It means , 'By the sea, By
the water.' "
Yet for awhile the name was not really used, Beth
Hugh Kendall bought the late-19th century cottage
in 1961, during his first marriage, Beth said. She said that perhaps his
first wife did not like the name.
Then, when Beth was looking for something in the
barn about ten years ago, she came across a sign with the name.
"I was very pleased," she said of finding the sign.
"It's very attractive. It has a white background and green lettering.
It must have been from in the old days when every cottage had a name."
The Kendalls had a friend make a larger replica of
the sign, which they now display toward the lake. Beth also has a home
called "Bonnie View" on the west side.
"I think it was very quaint just because Bonnie means
beautiful." Beth said. "I love that cottages have names... Some people
think it's corny but I like it."
A Banner Year for Lakefront Sales"
by Nick Mendola
(Daily Messenger July 18, 1999)
From beginning to end, 1998 was a banner year
for our lake sales. Supported by a strong economy, low interest rates,
greater job stability and a pent-up demand, we succeeded in getting our
buyers to come out in full force. These serious qualified buyers
recognized attractive buying opportunities of properties at fair prices.
They also were able to conclude their negotiations so they could enjoy
the 1999 season on the lake.
The buying trend of 1998 considerably reduced
the lake inventory of homes, cottages, condos, townhouses and lots.
Unfortunately for buyers, as of this writing date, the inventory has been
only slightly replenished. Even the new 1999 offerings that were
well located, priced right and in showable condition have already enjoyed
We expect that the trend in lake property availability
will be that sellers continuously place properties for sale at scattered
intervals throughout the year. Market data from the last 5-10 years
reveals that the usual Spring and Fall increase in properties entering
the market is now more spread over the entire year. Sellers
are realizing that the serious, qualified buyers are constantly looking;
and as soon as a buyer becomes aware of the right property, they attempt
to buy it regardless of the season.
As the inventory is further diminished, the market
slowly reverts to a sellers’ market and property values can appreciate
at an accelerated rate. To paraphrase Will Rogers: “They aren’t making
anymore of it.” Meanwhile, demographic data confirms the increase
in demand for lakefront living throughout the nation and this demand is
expected to continue growing.
Sellers’ Perspective in the Dynamic Lake Market
If you are a seller with a property that has
not sold, it is important to review its condition and ask yourself if it
is properly priced. If you are considering selling, an experienced
lake broker can provide critical information necessary for a quicker sale
at the best price for your property. Keep in mind that today buyers
will be reviewing the same information while assessing a purchase of your
property. Information which ranges from: the intangible motivation
of sellers to tangible comparable data and the sellers’ costs in the property
including capital improvements, to extraneous factors such as accessibility
to the property and any changes in the overall neighborhood environment.
Any variables that could potentially affect the future value of the subject
property are increasingly being taken into consideration.
Remember to choose an agent who has experience
in selling Canandaigua Lake properties and has an established relationship
to the community. An agent, specializing in city properties or properties
located on other lakes, may not have intimate knowledge of this specific
area and certainly does not have a mature list of serious qualified buyers
continually looking for property on Canandaigua Lake. When
you are interviewing an agent for the sale of your lake property, you have
the right to know just how many listings and lake sales he/she has consummated
over the past year, 10 years, 20 years. References are a traditional
way to learn more about a particular agent’s reputation and work ethic.
You may also observe the number of “For Sale” and “Sold” signs by that
particular agent. Most importantly, be aware that it is the agent
who will be representing you in the sale of your property. That agent
should be knowledgeable from experience honed from an excellent history
of lake sales and relationships built over time with other professionals
in the area, such as attorneys, contractors and government professionals.
All of which are essential to facilitating a smooth and successful sale
in the wake of an increasingly complex process of transferring title.
Why should you ask if the agent has a broad inventory
of lake listing? Statistics show that only about 3% of the potential
buyers that call on a listing will ever buy that particular property; 97%
will buy something else. Therefore, an agent with an inventory of
similar listings can direct potential buyers to all suitable properties
at as early as their first contact. The economies of scale available
to this agent benefit sellers by significantly increasing the exposure
of their property in a given marketplace.
In many ways, the agent is more important than
the company representing you. Although the company name may have
gotten the agent to your door, your ongoing relationship with that individual
will be most important. Sellers can learn more about an agent’s strengths
and weaknesses by asking the following questions.
1. How long have you been fulltime in the Real
Estate business? In which areas and types of properties do you specialize?
2. How many properties have you sold? Where?
3. How many lake properties are you currently
4. How knowledgeable are you of this area?
5. How available are you to be reached by me,
potential buyers and by other agents who may want to show and sell the
property? Are your phone numbers easily available to all, especially
for weekend and evening showings?
6. Do you possess tools necessary to succeed
in today’s evolving real estate industry: specialized Internet site for
Canandaigua Lake property, computer software, cellular phone, fax machine,
voice mail, email, digital camera and equipment, etc.?
7. Do you have a centrally located office in
a highly visible location to attract walk-in business seeking property
in the area?
8. Do you receive continuous calls from buyers
looking for certain types of property?
9. What will be done to market the property?
(Open Houses, Advertising, etc)
10. To what value-added resources do you
have access to in order to facilitate an enjoyable, thorough and successful
sale, i.e. financing, resources for moving, school data, utilities, other
Please keep in mind that you will not only be
interviewing the agent, the agent will also be interviewing you.
The agent will be asking himself/herself:
1. Is this the kind of property I would like
in my selling inventory?
2. Are the sellers serious about selling or are
they just testing the market? – and what happens if it passes the test?
3. Are the sellers objective? Do they value
straightforward honest answers that are necessary to successfully sell
their property in a specific market at a specific period in time?
4. Are the sellers willing to price their property
at a level supported by today’s corresponding market values?
5. Is the property showable? Will they
make it showable or offer it at a substantially lower price to compensate
for its present condition?
Buyers’ Perspective in the Dynamic Lake Market
Although the trend may be edging towards a sellers’
market, sellers should heed a caveat. Buyers in the 1990s are considerably
more discerning than those of the 1980s.
The current market of buyers is much more analytical.
They scrutinize the comparative market analyses much more thoroughly and
review data more easily available at municipal databases and even provided
on the Internet. They do not want to be caught up in the 1980’s frenzy
to purchase lake properties at almost any cost when buyers occasionally
out-bid each other with offers that were in some cases over the asking
price. Today, some buyers consider the future viability of selling
a specific property, concerned that they will be able to sell their 1990
properties for as much or more than their current purchase price.
In most instances, today’s buyers are seeking
Engineer and Property Inspections including radon tests, chimney inspections,
pest infestation inspections, lead testing, etc. Where applicable,
(properties that do not have access to all public utilities), buyers and
most lending institutions are requiring septic system inspections, water
potability and/or flow tests. In instances where there are old septic
systems, their future use capability may not be adequate nor up to today’s
watershed standards and buyers along with the help of contractors and the
watershed inspector are researching new and more efficient systems so as
not to pollute the lake. Unfortunately, the zebra mussel situation
is also causing buyers to proceed with caution and take prospective measures
to deal with this problem. Water purification is an important requirement
for many buyers in order to be able to drink lake or well water; and their
investigation into such purification systems can be complex. The
aforementioned items have a monetary cost and buyers are aware that their
costs do not end with the purchase price. Additional discretionary
costs for personalizing, remodeling, redecoration and possibly an addition
to the structure further lead 1990 buyers to become in most cases extremely
cautious. Ultimately, buyers know that their efforts to make an investment
in lake property will be rewarded with immeasurable dividends of pleasure.
The market factors and psychological insight
into the buying and selling of properties in the lake market touched on
in this article only partially characterize the true dynamic nature of
the lake market. However, with appropriate information and competent
professional guidance, sellers who offer their properties in showable condition
and at fair market values will continue to enjoy sales in a reasonably
short period of time by receiving more offers, quicker and closer to their
price. Similarly, buyers who decide to work with professionals who
have an excellent history of specializing in a specific market will be
able to leverage their property searching and analysis resources.
Thus, this type of relationship guarantees an enjoyable buying experience
while securing a property that meets their needs, wants and investment