For history buffs and architectural connoisseurs, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia is an attractive destination for owning property as well as retiring. There are just two hurdles. Nothing is ever on sale. And, if by a quirk of luck a home makes its way into the market, it always comes with an eye-popping price sticker. The town is a designated historic area with homes mostly owned by the historic district. The area recreates the atmosphere of American life in the 18th century.
“It’s a tourist area and there is not a lot of real estate for sale,” said Susan Krancer, a realtor® at Liz Moore & Associates in Williamsburg, Virginia. Many of the older, historical homes are rental properties, owned by Colonial Williamsburg, a historical society, which is also one of the major employers in the area. Over the years, die-hard fans of the city have settled for homes in the surrounding areas. If you are passionate about moving here, try to have an open mind and consider looking elsewhere in the city of Williamsburg, Krancer advised. Homes there are more affordable and you are within walking distance from Colonial Williamsburg. Here are some additional real estate tips from Krancer.
Unlike the rest of the country, there’s not a large amount of inventory when it comes to real estate in Colonial Williamsburg. So be prepared for the long haul. “You should plan for a fairly lengthy search and wait for the right house to come up,” Krancer said. Depending on your flexibility, you could end up getting a better deal. You may end up paying a heavy premium to be close to Colonial Williamsburg or College of William and Mary, a reputed public research university dating back to 1693, which has many former presidents in its alumni roster. A recent advertisement for a 2000 square foot home from the late 1930s near Colonial Williamsburg was listed at $889,000.
“Anywhere else in the area you would pay half the price for the same house,” Krancer said. Be flexible and know what your budget can afford. You won’t lose much by not being in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg.
Hire a Good Williamsburg Realtor®:
It’s okay to do all your research online, but when it comes to that final leg of finding and buying a home, you need a good advocate on your side. If you are not from the area, it would serve you well to have a local professional guiding you through the rules and helping you navigate your way through the complicated process of buying a home. Most of the homes are older and there could be issues with the upkeep of the property.
“You could have structural issues, issues with moisture, title issues or questions related to historical requirements,” Krancer said. So, try not to do it on your own, and hire a professional.
Ask Friends, Family for Recommendations:
It’s always good to go with references. If you have a friend, neighbor, family member or coworker who was happy with his or her realtor®, get their advice. Spend time interviewing a few before you make up your mind.
Check out Planned Communities in the Williamsburg Area:
Many people who move to Williamsburg prefer to live in large, planned communities that are equipped with golf clubs, country clubs, tennis courts, spas and swimming pools. “They come here thinking it would be cool to live in Colonial Williamsburg and then they find out that homes are way more expensive and they come with restrictions on renovations or remodeling,” Krancer said. “Pretty soon they realize it does not make much sense.”
Of course, the rare buyer who has the cash will buy the historic home, and others are equally content with finding a spot in one of the newer communities while still being just five or 10 minutes away from Colonial Williamsburg.There are a plethora of real estate options to choose from in the city and surrounding areas, including condominiums and an urban community which has stores, restaurants, condos and townhomes all within walking distance.
The area is never a tough sell, Krancer said. “I think one of the attractions is the moderate climate, and most people who come here from other places already know about the area,” she said. Besides, the array of options – from historical, expensive homes to communities with classy amenities aimed at the middle-income retiree population – makes the location a popular destination for buyers.