News & Politics

Beach House Bargains

With the market cooling, vacation-home buyers may find sellers eager to deal—and prices dropping.

Dreaming about a beachfront home in the Outer Banks or a house in the hills of West Virginia? Good news. It may have dropped in price.

Not long ago, real estate in Washington vacation spots was hot, with homes selling fast and buyers waging bidding wars. But the softening demand and credit crunch have cooled the market. Richard Hess, sales manager at Sun Realty in the Outer Banks, says many properties have had to lower their prices in order to sell.

“This doesn’t mean that these homes dropped in value,” Hess says. “It means in most cases the sellers were testing the top of the market a year or so ago. Now these—as well as others—are priced to move with realistic seller expectations.”

Not everyone feels the pressure to sell. Laura Reed, co-owner of Canaan Realty in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, says some properties are second, third, or even fourth homes. “Typically, these are homes that people didn’t have to buy—which means they usually don’t have to sell them if they’re not going for the price that they want,” she says.

Pat Herlan, a broker with Timberline Resort Realty in Canaan Valley, says sellers eager to move to other parts of the country may be willing to negotiate. When owners want to sell, he says, “buyers can make a deal and be rewarded with a lovely, sometimes exquisite vacation home and/or retirement property.” 

Here’s a look at houses in vacation areas selling for less than the original asking price.

Outer Banks

This eight-bedroom, nine-bath house in Nags Head is an oceanfront property listed by the Outer Banks Association of Realtors. It’s selling for nearly $2 million—about $450,000 less than the price two years ago at the market’s peak. The house, with an elevator, heated pool, and boardwalk to the beach, brings in about $160,000 in rental income each year.

A property in Corolla recently sold for $1.15 million, nearly $500,000 less than its original list price. Says Hess: “This is the time for buyers to get exactly what they want, with more buying power than they’ve had in several years.”

Canaan Valley

This mountain house cost the owner $1.25 million to build and furnish, but he’s willing to sell for $1 million in order to purchase property in the Carolinas. The house has a private exterior porch, terrace, and decks. An Italian marble entry leads to a main room with floor-to-ceiling glass. The four bedrooms include two master suites.

Smaller properties and ski-area condos here that are priced between $250,000 and $400,000 usually go for 10 to 25 percent less than the original list price, Herlan says. For the more expensive units in this price range, you might get 15 to 35 percent off.

Rehoboth Beach

This new house sits three blocks from the ocean in a popular area called the Pines of North Rehoboth. It has four master suites, a fifth bedroom, oak floors, two gas fireplaces, and a wraparound porch. It went on the market last spring at $1.6 million. It’s been reduced twice and now lists for $1.47 million.

According to Debbie Reed of Re/Max Realty Group Rehoboth, the seller lowered the price to keep the property in line with prices for similar houses in the area. Reed says: “With the current pricing, the house is in an attractive position, being the only newly constructed single-family home in North Rehoboth of this caliber under the $1.5-million mark.”


Snowshoe, about five hours from Washington in West Virginia, has become a popular resort town in the past decade. In 1995, developer Intrawest bought the Snowshoe Mountain resort and developed it beyond the mountain.

Intrawest’s investment of millions of dollars resulted in new condos and townhouses, says Pam Myers, a sales specialist with Playground Destination Properties Snowshoe Mountain.

This 1,850-square-foot townhouse, hard by a ski trail, went on the market a year ago for $639,500 with four bedrooms, 3½ baths, and a hot tub on the deck. It was reduced once to $599,000 and then sold in the fall for $550,000.

Bethany Beach

According to Lauren Alberti of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in this Delaware beach town, sellers have been slow to catch on to the cooling market and have set prices too high. Now there are so many houses for sale that buyers have too much to choose from.

“If they had little to choose from, they’d make a decision quicker and the market would pick up,” Alberti says. “There’s too much choice. The interest rates are incredibly low, the money is available, and surely the beach is as always desirable and where everyone wants to be.”

This five-bedroom furnished house near the beach is listing for $1.6 million, about $100,000 less than its original price. The owner is motivated to sell, Alberti says.


This new house in Laurel Ridge has four bedrooms and 3½ baths. There’s a wraparound deck and screened porch, and it’s only a short distance from skiing. The asking price originally was $499,000 but has dropped to $439,000.

According to agent Tim Hess of Wintergreen Real Estate Company, the owners are builders who need the cash from the sale for a new project. They’re willing to sell at a near break-even point.

Cameron Carroll of Wintergreen Real Estate Company says Wintergreen’s large inventory of houses means that buyers are shopping around with little urgency to buy.

A property that recently sold for $650,000 in the Devils Knob area sits at the highest point of Wintergreen. It has eight bedrooms, a stone fireplace, and an enormous kitchen. The original list price? $799,000.