Buying a lake house as investment

2 Replies

Wife and I heard of a potential family-deal, where current Detroit Lakes owner wants to quit the snowbird game and go full-time-Florida. They're basically shutting down after this season, and we heard they wanted to list. The idea of having a property like that to use as vacation rental is intriguing, but curious to hear how others have fared in this situation.  

Price sounds like it is good for the area, based on age of house and the fact that any non-family buyer might just tear it down and start over. I hope to broach the topic of seller-financing, if they are into it; but honestly the property can probably appraise close to the asking as-is. Any bank-financing-sized down payment would be probably impossible for us right now.

For us, we'd probably keep as-is for some time due to nostalgia, using some weeks for vacation and the rest as income-generating. In future, as opportunity presents itself, we could deal with a tear down/rebuild situation, or simply sell then. In the meantime, we envision that some family members may also want in on the action, so a multi-owner situation. I would set up all legal structures myself, but curious if the numbers-running process is different for seasonal rentals.

Any advice for how this might reasonably be structured? success/horror stories?

You don't sound too excited about this and best case scenario it sounds like you will end up with a vacation home at market price....  Doesn't sound like something I would put much effort into unless I was really looking for a vacation home.  if the only option that would work would be seller financing I would approach them with that first.

There are several people who do short term rentals on here, I could put you in contact with someone who runs a business managing these if interested.  I am sure you can find similar properties up there to gauge rental prices and interest but if you plan to use it on popular weekends you may fall short of your expectations.

If this may involve many family members I think the first step would be to make sure everyone is on the same page with whether you are going to rent it, when you will be trying to rent it, and how long you plan to hold the property.

Many of these seem to be setup in a family trust or Family LLP with an operating agreement which I am sure you can handle. Disputes seem to come up with expected use and when someone wants to sell.

For example - brothers A, B, and C went in on the investment but Brother D and E didn't.  Brother A gets mad because brother B keeps inviting and conveying the benefits of ownership to D and E who haven't put any money in....

Or brother A wanted it to rent it enough to offset his payment but B and C want to occupy it the popular weekends...