The Real Estate Guide, Susan M. Boyce, February 11-25, 2005, pg 12
Don't wait to buy land, buy land and wait. After more than three decades of successfully buying and selling recreational properties, that's still the advice Rudy Nielsen, president of NIHO Land & Cattle Company, gives anyone who is considering land as an investment.
Successful Investing Takes Guts and Planning
The first step in buying recreational property, while logical, often surprises people. “You have to have the guts and the motivation to do it,” Rudy says. “I’ve talked to lots of folks who saw a great property, but while they were still thinking about it someone else came along, wrote the cheque, and bought it.”
Rudy stresses the more properties you know about, the better the chances of finding the perfect one. “Use realtors, the Internet, local newspapers, word of mouth- anything that gets you information.”
As you discover properties for sale, it’s essential to keep organized. Sort by priority and keep each one its own file with a note showing where you originally got the information from. For every property you are seriously interested in make sure you have a title search plus a pre-emption map, a forestry recreational map, contour map, and forest cover map. If possible, you should also obtain aerial maps from the B.C. government.
When you’ve negotiated a price that you believe is fair, do a field inspection to ensure it’s a property you really want. If it is, then close the deal. Once you own the land, you can consider ways to improve the value- clear underbrush, build roads, construct a cabin, or even do selective logging.
The key to successful investing, Rudy says, is having a system and sticking to it. “Over the years, I’ve developed a 20 step system that works.” How confident is he in that system? Totally. “If you follow my 20 steps, you will develop the confidence and guts to purchase recreational property.” You can check out Rudy’s 20 Steps to Buying Recreational Land on his website at www.niho.com.
Where Will You Hang Your Investment Hat?
Choices in recreational properties are diverse as buyers, but not surprisingly, waterfront property still tops the desirability list. However, as supplies dwindle, prices are escalating- especially in traditional hot spots such as Kelowna. “Anything on the water is going to be attractive,” says Eugen Klein of Goddard & Smith International Realty. “It can be on a lake, the ocean, a stream- if it’s waterfront, it’s probably a good investment.”
Eugen is also a fan of what he terms unique properties- properties like private islands or large ranches with 1,000 acres or more. “We see a lot of buyers from the United States, the UK and Europe looking for this type of property. They tend to buy it and hold it for long term investment.”
Industry experts are unanimous in their assessment that savy investors need to be looking at smaller towns, and stress there are not only good values to be found but attractive properties as well. “You’re probably going to spend a minimum of $300,000 for waterfront property in Kelowna,” Eugen says. “If you go to Merritt or Logan Lake, you can find some lovely properties for $50,000. Buy the land, put a modular home on it- you really don’t need to spend a lot of money.”
Ultimately, though, wherever you decide to hang your recreational investment hat, the key messages from industry watchers remains the same. Buy something you love, and do it now because prices aren’t going to go down.