Finger Lakes NY vacation rental

9 Replies

Hi, I am investing in the Buffalo area and I am looking at a waterfront properties in the finger lakes. Has anyone invested in vacation homes in this area? 

I need to better understand the numbers (how many weeks a year can it be rented / seasonality / taxes / cashflow / management fees...). 

I am looking at properties 3+ bed 2+ bath with access to the water in the $300-$400k range. Canusus or Canandaigua lakes. From what I see it can be rented between $250 and $400 a night depending on the season and taxes are around $10k. I was hoping to be able to rent 20-25 weeks a year and I am not sure if it's a reasonable assumption. 

Thank you!

How much is a decent motel per night in your area?

Double check the taxes. In many non-recreational areas the property taxes in Western NY are 4-5% of assessed values. Recreational property taxes are higher than non.

Hi, I'm new to BP and do not have any investments yet. But I've lived in the fingerlakes region most of my life. I;m looking for a smaller/less expensive properties near tourist areas. Prices along all of the lakes have been really rising over the past decade. I would think that it would be easy to rent for June, July, and August. These lake houses/cottages usually rent by the week. Other than those months, it would likely be harder, but I've seen on airbnb plenty of reviews for properties throughout the year. It seems that your best luck is the season when the wineries are in full swing with tours... There's more winery business around Seneca and Cayuga lake all the time. Not really sure about Canesus/Canandaigua. 

I hope that's at least a little helpful

Hey Vincent, my brother and I own a couple vacation rentals and a seasonal campground on Conesus lake. In regards to high dollar weeks you will probably get 9-10 weeks out of it. May, most of June, sept and oct you’d be looking at weekend rentals. If you find a property on the west side of Conesus lake you could get lucky and find a suny geneseo student or professor who would do a sept to May rental but at a significant decrease in price. Good part is someone is occupying the property throughout the winter. You really want to look for a 4+ bedroom house as a lot of our renters are families who go in with other families as weekly rentals during summer can be $2-3k+. Rents for a 3 bed may not be able to cover all your costs. In regards to cashflow depending on what you buy it for you could end up just breaking even especially if you have to hire property management. I believe the bigger property manager on the finger lakes is around 20% (don’t quote me). Feel free to reach out if you have more in depth questions.

@Vincent L

We own property in the ADK mountains, Rocky Point Properties.

Most people that purchase condos buy them and make a little money or break even. Because of the high up front cost they are more looking to own a great piece of property, and be able to vacation for free for 1-2 weeks a year.

The people that rent them out year round do better on cash flow but, I think it is more of an appreciation play.

The tough part about water front rentals in finger lakes and ADKs is the short seasons and high up front cost.

One advantage the Rocky point properties seem to have is that they get snowmobile renters in the winter so they are busy more than just the summer months.

Hope this helps

@Eric James , @Michael Sandritter @Shane Hirt @Matthew Irish-Jones Thank you for the insightful information 

It seems that the challenge is the short season and high fixed costs, I am visiting a house this week-end and meeting with a property manager, we'll see but based on your comments reaching my goal of 20-25 weeks rented/yr will probably be difficult. Worst case I will get a nice weekend in the Finger Lakes out of it :)

Thanks Again

It is a beautiful area.  I especially like Seneca Lake, but they are all nice.

I live right by Seneca lake, so that's my favorite as well. But the whole region is great. Good luck!

I own a vacation property there between the lakes, not lakefront.  You can definitely make money there, but you have to be super careful with your purchase price.  $250-400 per night is pretty high in that area - your place is going to have to be well-positioned against other luxury rentals.  Being lakefront, you are probably pigeon-holing yourself to rent only to tourists, and that's going to limit your rental season to the summer (I presume).  

My personal preference is to stay on the lower end (where you can rent from $100-200/night), because then you get people that are traveling for various reasons, and the rental season doesn't completely die in the winter (though of course it slows down).  In the off season this past year, about half of my guests were traveling in the area for reasons other than tourism (visiting family, traveling for work, etc.).  

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