The second home and vacation home market is slightly different in Williamsburg. While the area does have a large market for those looking to retire, those looking for a vacation spot usually get into the area through timeshare purchases, says Charlotte Turner, associate broker at Liz Moore and Associates.
Buying for retirement is on an uptick, she says, and a lot of people in Northern Virginia look to the area because it is an easy ride down. “They start visiting with their kids, they may be a year out or two years out, [and] they start looking around [for a home]. They love that it is a college town and the culture. They love that there is always something to do. And they are buying here because they are thinking of future grandkids and that this is a destination.”
Williamsburg is a strong market and has the backing of limited land capacity to keep it that way. Turner says about two to three neighborhoods are being built at one time, but with the waterways running through the area, Williamsburg just doesn’t have the capacity to build beyond a certain point. “The dirt part of our land is more expensive than most places because we’re surrounded by water. A typical ¼-acre is a smaller lot, but 1 acre is hard to find,” she says.
Turner adds that because there is a large retirement market, buyers are looking for first-floor master suites and townhomes and condos that are maintenance-free, and she notes the area doesn’t have as many attached townhome/condominium-type homes as it does single-family homes. Popular neighborhoods are Ford’s Colony, which has a golf course but not high costs for amenities; Kingsmill, which is a little bit of an older neighborhood but still desirable; and then the private-membership country club called Governor’s Land, with homes that start in the $500s and higher association fees.
Those considering the area for a vacation home look to the over 30,000 timeshare options available that typically come in condo form. “[They are] pretty much booked solid year-round,” Turner says, noting the interest that people have in visiting the area.
For those who are thinking about buying a home and renting it out as a vacation property, Turner does caution that they look into the rental restrictions. She says the City of Williamsburg is less stringent, but there are strict guidelines that must be followed. And if you purchase in a community with an association, they typically do not allow Airbnb or VRBO rental arrangements.