Wintertime Retreat Shopping -Part II
In a recent edition of the Weekly Survival Real Estate Market Update, I covered the winter access issue relating to getting into your retreat after an event during the winter months, now let’s cover how to shop for your retreat during the winter.
When traveling to shop for your retreat during the winter months there are several issues which you’ll be dealing with when your boots hit the ground. First and foremost realizing that not every listing agent can force their sellers to plow the driveway to the property will help keep you calm. Recently, working with a SurvivalBlog client we found first hand that there are sellers who take the attitude of “if they want to see it then hike in” and won’t spend the bucks to make sure the access is acceptable for a buyer to see their property. Why this is? I have no idea. It seems to me that it would be the owner that should be in charge of maintaining access to the listing, but even I would not do so if the seller would not pay for the service, so getting mad at the listing agent will do nothing more than make them upset. My solution would be to either bring snow shoes with you if you have them or arrange for your real estate agent to rent a few pair for your party so you won’t have to ‘post hole’ up to your thighs to see some of the properties.
There is upwards of three to four feet of snow at the higher retreat elevations here in Idaho now and several properties that are excellent retreats and priced almost rock bottom are not accessible without the proper equipment, although they are right off of county maintained roads! Three hundred yards of walking down a driveway through waist deep snow is not fun! Be prepared to spend hours at your final three possible properties hiking the property lines and seeing what is on the property, ask a lot of questions about debris and fences because when the snow melts and you find hidden treasure (garbage/debris piles et cetera) you won’t have any recourse (unless it’s toxic waste). Be careful and diligent.
Vehicles! Regardless of your Realtor’s vehicle you should rent the best four-wheel drive truck they have available at the airport. No, not the Escalade, the only bling around should be the night sights on your pistol, not the rims on your ride. Why? Because you’re responsible for the safety of your family. When we were shopping for our retreat we never rode with an agent (especially with four kids). We either followed them or had them ride with us. Expect the worst conditions and be prepared to either dig yourself out or wait for a tow truck if you get stuck, no matter the locale some properties are on very icy and un-maintained roads with help hours away. Your agent should be carrying all the tools needed for a dig out (tow ropes, shovels, chains et cetera) in their vehicle and having two vehicles will be of immense help in such conditions. Getting stuck and throwing off your showing schedule really is a bummer. Pack a small Bug Out Bag for your vehicle as well with some food and water (such as a Camelbak) and first aid supplies as well.
If you are not working with an SurvivalBlog approved retreat Realtor then for goodness sake take a firearm with you on your trip. It’s not as big a hassle as I have heard some folks make it out to be and especially during the spring and summer months there is danger from wildlife. If you can’t bring a firearm then pick up a canister of bear spray before heading out. The bottom line is that you should be armed no matter where you go (in CONUS) so be sensible, your family is counting on you.
Another noteworthy action would be to make sure that your Realtor has previewed each listing. This is for several reasons. First, to make sure that the property meets not only standard retreat criteria but your specific criteria as well. The second and most important is to verify access! This past weekend we ran into this issue. The one and only property that I did not preview out of 18 showings that weekend was our first, on Saturday morning. The road was terrible with snow lightly covering almost two inches of ice! Needless to say we ran off the road and never made it to that property. We were in the same vehicle and had to call a wrecker to pull it out. Lesson learned! We did finally see 16 of 18 listings over the weekend but it was a bit more hurried that it should have been.
The reduced daylight during the winter months can play havoc with your sightseeing and make for very short days. In northern latitudes, you can expect only 8 hours of daylight versus almost 15 hours in the summer. Winter is a great time to shop for your retreat, just be prepared. If you have any questions about Idaho retreats please contact me via e-mail. God Bless, – Todd Savage