Flying South for the Winter?

Ah, the great migratory snowbird. 

Snowbirds are by nature friendly and social creatures, who tend to travel in partnered pairs and often with a flock.  It is not unusual, however, to find single snowbirds mixed in the crowds.  Snowbirds, primarily in the Northeast and Midwestern regions of the United States – and, of course the Great White North (that’s Canada, eh) – sensing the coming of colder, winter weather, begin looking South to escape the bone-chilling winds, snow and ice Mother Nature brings.  Snowbirds migrate throughout the year; however, the highest proportion of migratory patterns occur between November and April.  Migratory destinations – like Florida, Texas, Hawaii, Arizona, California, perhaps even abroad – find themselves swelling with these temporary residents augmenting and mixing with the local populations.  They bring with them excitement, relief, a new kind of energy, pets and, of course, money.

Before heading South, there are a few considerations the snowbird should take note of.

1 - If renting, rent early!

  • If the snowbird hasn’t invested in a place of their own and chooses to rent a temporary nest, secure it as soon as possible.  By renting earlier than later, you get better rates and choices of residences with better amenities like views, pools, activities, shuttles, etc. 

  • It’s highly recommended to work with vacation property managers or real estate agents local to the area if you don’t already know it well.  These professionals will know the ins and outs, best properties and potentially savings that others won’t.

  • Don’t forget, when comparing prices, to include state and local taxes and any additional fees.

 2 - Don’t Rush to Buy.

Snowbirds typically travel to the same destination each year once they find a location they like.  The key, however, is to find that place before committing financially.  Experienced snowbirds suggest to try different geographies, parts of the state or even regions of the country, as well as different communities within those locations.  Did you find the place where you are most comfortable?  Is proximity to family or friends important?  How about room for guests?

When you do find the right place and are ready to make that your Southern nest, experts say the best time to pull the trigger is Spring. This is the time of year most of the competition have gone.  Summer and Fall typically have less inventory to choose from.  And of course, as said earlier, working with a local realtor is best.  Oh, and make sure you’re already pre-approved so you can move more swiftly.

 3 – Prepare Your Primary Roost for the Departure!

Of course, securing your primary nest is extremely important and takes some forethought.  A lot can go wrong when a home is left unoccupied or vacant – especially in the winter.  Taking time to think through what needs to be done to keep your home healthy and safe is well worth it.  Here’s a few items to consider:

  • Insurance. Most people don’t think about the potential of reduced coverage when a home is left unoccupied.  Some carriers have specific rules to maintain coverage, even simple things like keeping the ambient temperature no lower than 60F degrees.  Check with your insurance agent before you go.

  • Frozen pipes.  It’s a huge deal and you should turn off the water to the house.  You may also want to consider blowing out the water lines, too.

  • Electricity.  Unplug your appliances to prevent “vampire drain”.

  • Health.  Talk with your doctor about your trip and also make sure you can refill prescriptions at your intended destination.

  • Estate Plan.  While legal reciprocity between states is in place, some institutions don’t recognize documents & forms from out of state which could slow down processing.  Check yours, talk with your lawyer just to make sure everything is in place.

The best way to ensure peace of mind as you head South for the winter is to hire a home watch company.  We are professionals who take care of your property while you’re away.  Why leave the biggest financial investment you have to chance?  Roost Home Watch is there when you can’t be for the Asheville and surrounding areas.  If you have properties elsewhere, the National Home Watch Association can help find a reputable, accredited home watch company in your area.

 Stay warm out there!

 A Tip from Roost Home Watch

The #1 item to think about is your pipes.  According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, 37% of all frozen pipe failures occur in the basement and the highest risk of property damage when the temperatures drop.  A single incident can cost more than $5,000.  Roost Home Watch would like to provide you with a checklist to winterize your home before you leave it.