I'm interested in purchasing property for potential Airbnb or long term rental in the Lake Arrowhead/ Crestline, or Big Bear Lake area. Currently a Los Angeles resident.
The main issue holding me back is fire risk, especially after seeing these recent fires in 2020.
How big of an issue is this? Will property values decline as each summer produces fires that potentially level homes?
Also any general tips of renting in this area would be great.
Nice house. So yes, fire is a risk. There is no way around it. If you build your home next to water, it might flood. If you own a home in California, you might have an earthquake. If you buy a home in an area which has lots of native fires, you get the point. There are natural disasters everywhere, tornados, hurricanes.. You can't get around it. This is why we have insurance. The best thing to do is always work for the best and prepare for the worst. I love BB and Arrowhead. AirBnB's did fantastic up there this past summer.
I'm happy to help any way I can. Here is a Env Hazard search map by CA.
Hi Adam, Crestline resident here.
It feels like just about every county in the western US is seeing increased fire activity, and I don't think fire risk is much of an issue as long as you're properly insured. Insurance rates here vary considerably by carrier. Many of my neighbors have an affordable California FAIR policy wrapped into their normal homeowners' policy. My insurance through USAA is quite reasonable.
Some insurance companies will quote extremely high premiums because they're not really interested in writing many policies in the area, so it's well worth shopping around.
You can probably call your current insurance company and ask for an estimated quote on that particular house for reference.
How's the STR and long term rental market in Crestline? Prices seem a little more affordable than BB or Lake Arrowhead but wondering how the traffic is there especially with how accessible it is to local LA folks.
My friends with STRs in the area say they've never been so busy! My impression is during the warm months they're very easy to rent and in the colder half of the year it's mostly holidays and weekends with the weekdays being empty, so I'd say it's about the same as many vacation areas. I'm really not sure about the LTR market around here, my guess is most people with stable jobs would just buy something.
I do think Crestline has a lot of investment potential, being just a little bit easier to get to than Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear.
@John Sharpe hey john thanks for your perspective here. Do you also have STR in crestline? compared to arrowhead and big bear, what's usually the attraction around Crestline for people who come out there?
@Vinci S. I don't have a rental here, I just own my own home. I moved here about 2.5 years ago and love it. I'll probably never sell my current house and will probably turn it into an STR if I ever move away. About half the homes on my street are STRs.
The biggest attraction is our fun little lake, Lake Gregory. There's also hiking trails, and the town puts on lots of fun events (on pause for Covid of course) during the Summer and holidays. I recommend homes near Lake Gregory, or something with an "airliner" view of the flatlands below (hence the name Crestline).
Because we're about 1,200 ft lower than Lake Arrowhead there are some days when it's snowing in Arrowhead and Big Bear but not here. We do get snow though, in fact we get all 4 seasons including Fall colors. I think some of the STR renters come up just to experience the seasons, play in the snow, or to cool down when it's hot below. We're closer to metro LA but farther from ski slopes than Lake Arrowhead, and Crestline definitely has a lower price point for investment. Big Bear is kind of different because it's also a ski town in the winter so that's the major draw there.
I used to live in Crestline. Had a house there from 1999 until I retired and moved to TN in 2017. I was the third generation in my family to have a cabin or house in Crestline. My parents spent their Summers and weekends there in their teens-mid to late 1940's.
It is a nice small town atmosphere. The lake is public, open to anyone (unlike Lake Arrowhead which is private). It is a non-motorized lake, so fishing, kayaking, etc. There is a swim beach area with floaties the kids swim out to that are like large platforms in the swim area. The beach and picnic area is good at the lake. There is a zero depth water park, where the water falls from pails or fountains to play in. There is a tiny playground. They used to have a carnival at the lake each year. The library is great! Looks out onto the lake. Rents movies.
The area gets a huge amount of visitors when ever it snows. There is sledding and typical snow play (not skiing) in Crestline.
There are hiking trails in Crestline, some quite popular and used by the local folks and visitors. Google "Heart Rock in Valley of Enchantment" That has been one of my personal favorites since I was maybe 5 years old. The trail ends at a waterfall with hearts formed in the rock. (Valley of Enchantment is part of Crestline.)
Many of the visitors to Crestline come from the San Gabriel Valley and Pasadena Area. Since the 210 freeway was extended to San Bernardino, it provides pretty direct access to Crestline.
Fires, yep they happen. I was evacuated 3 times. It is one of the reasons I decided to not retire in my home in Crestline. I knew that as I aged I would not be able to handle evacuations.
My suggestion is to look at the fire break and fuel breaks and buy in an area that is protected by them. For example, my house was on Zuger Drive off Thousand Pines. Thousand Pines ends at Thousand Pines Christian Camp. There is a Fuel break line all around the outside of that camp to prevent fires from entering Crestline from that 'back side'. So the area between that Camp and the main part of town is protected more than some other areas.
Also, know that the fire camp that is set up for fires is generally at the baseball fields by the lake with sleeping at Thousand Pines Christian Camp. So you know those areas are more protected. Oh, yeah, and the Stockage Saloon always stays open, even during evacuations. Good food there, and the police, firefighters go there for breaks. So my house was between the firefighters bed, their water source and their bar! Safer area. There are other fuel and fire breaks, so ask to see them with your realtor or just stop by the fire department. And buy on the correct side of the fuel/fire break, not in the kill zone.
Fire insurance, after I moved I was told that Lloyds of London was no longer issuing fire policies they were maxed out for the area, so really look at the house and the surrounding areas. Some companies will issue insurance if the house is perfect in all ways. Are the neighbor's trees large and too close to your house by the fire safety planting guide? Insurance companies look to see if ANY tree is too close to the house. They do not care if it is your tree. Look at the street. Can a fire truck drive up the street and turn around or drive through and get out? If not do not expect them to come up that street during a wildfire. Dead end streets are not good in the mountains. Are there electrical lines overhanging the house? (Yep sometimes in the mountains your neighbor's line may go over your house) That is not easily insurable. Does the house have wood siding? Look at everything from a fire perspective. BTW, a neighbor's house with vinyl siding caught on fire. The vinyl melted solid and wrapped around the house. They had to saw/cut it open. The house and all the stuff survived. They just had to treat it for the smell. And they put new vinyl on it, and new windows. The window frame vinyl was melted too.
Hey Adam, and all others, my wife and I live in our home we bought in Crestline 5 years ago, I’ve also been a firefighter for about 10 years now.
Fire is a risk in the mountains absolutely, but a lot of the risk can be mitigated by what they call “defensible space,” the specific location of the house in relation to canyons and drainages and open space, and of course building construction.
I'm new to the real estate investing game and would love to network with anyone interested in the area. Im interested in flips, BRRRR's and STR's.