Monday, December 20, 2004

The British are coming

Europeans like a bargain as much as Americans do. With the dollar so weak against both the ero and the pound, more and more British visitors are taking advantage of the cheap dollar to buy vacation homes in New England and elsewhere.

According to a story in the London Evening Standard:

"The pound now buys nearly two American dollars ... and New England estate agents report a huge upsurge in British buyers looking for second homes in holiday areas where they can ski in winter and play golf and go hill walking and fishing in the summer, all within an easy drive of Boston Airport.

"Top favourites are New England ski resorts such as Killington in Vermont, the Mount Washington Valley in New Hampshire, centered around the towns of North Conway and Jackson, and the Sunday River ski resort, near the town of Bethel in Maine."

Anthea Masey reports that Peter Pietz, of estate agent Badger Realty, which has branches in Jackson and North Conway in the Mount Washington Valley, says he has sold six holiday homes to UK buyers in the past 16 months. "They usually decide to buy a holiday home after spending a holiday here."

Property prices are affordable, according to the article. It cites a marketing consultant and his American wife, who live near Guildford. They bought a four-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium triplex in North Conway through Badger Realty in August. They paid �109,000 [ about $211,000.]

"We had spent summer holidays in the area and love the scenery. We have never skied, but we are going to try cross-country skiing this winter. There are miles of beautifully maintained tracks, so it would be a pity not to give it a go. The winters here are lovely: cold and crisp with blue skies. We also like all the factory outlets around North Conway, especially as there is no state purchase tax in New Hampshire," explains the consultant. The couple will rent out their UK and as this is a year-round holiday area, there is the potential of rental income," he tells the Standard.

"People say, isn't it expensive to get there, but it isn't necessarily a lot more expensive or time-consuming than driving a car to the middle of France. Outside the peak times, we usually pay between �170[$329] and �250 [483] for our flights to Boston," the article quotes a British buyer as saying.

Ted Crawford, of Century 21 in Killington, "says homes rent well in the summer and winter, and he believes prices in the town are about to take off. 'Rental income can cover between 50 and 60 per cent of running costs. Homes in Killington offer good value because demand is only now catching up with a big increase in supply in the mid-1980s.'"

The article concludes with several examples. "Snap up a New England holiday home �124,000 [$240] " in Killington, That's for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, alpine-style contemporary chalet with exposed beams inside. The article also highlights a three-bedroom house in Bethel, Maine for �98,000[$189,000.]

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