Buy a Ski Cabin, Leave Out the Payment?

Finally Mother Nature has given us a a few (dozen) feet of the glorious white stuff.  More already this year, they say, than the last two years combined!  Yes!

Now, if you’re anything like me, meaning an avid snow person and lover of homes…you’re scouring for potential ski cabins to invest in.  I do this every year and darn it, one of these days I’m going to take that plunge.

Where to start though?  We have a lot of criteria to examine:  snowpack, lift access, distance from my permanent residence (still undecided if close or far is better), rentability/ROI, and of course price.

My personal goal is to find a place that I only need to rent out 6 nights a month to pay the mortgage… and one that can rent that many days without too much struggle.  Let’s see if anything makes the cut!

Snoqualmie Pass for example has the highest rental rates if you examine, as well as the highest percentage of bookings of all the ski resorts.  So, this is a shoe in right?  Well, let’s just think about it.  When the winters aren’t producing well, which is the first mountain to miss out?   There’s a lot of other perks up there.  The hiking is phenomenal and there are hundreds of lakes.  Plus, it’s only 21 miles to the nearest large town, which you may not even need now that it boasts its own brewery.

House #1 A gorgeous cabin with amazing access: $929,000

Average Rental Rate of Closest Comp $495 a night and is booked 41 days of the next 3 months!  Not bad.  Doesn’t put me at my dream scenario of renting 6 nights a month with a mortgage (assuming 20% down and 4.5% adding in property tax and interest) near $4350.00.  Still $1400.00 a month to figure out.

Just down the road.  With all the perks of the Summit at Snoqualmie there’s a small cabin with much less commitment.

At just 414 square feet it will take some creativity to get more than a family of 4 up for the weekend.  With that said comps show this could probably rent out around $99 a night (better than a hotel!).  With a purchase price of 155k we’re getting a little closer!  Monthly payments equaling about $719 a month.  After 6 nights of rentals you’re left with a whopping $125.00 to swallow.

Mt. Baker Ski Area  – Glacier, WA

This adorable cabin in Glacier sits at 1200sf for a mere 183K… Glacier cabins are not as easy to rent out, but as far as personal enjoyment goes would top our list of getaways.  Still, comps show that this home could rent 6 days a month with a little effort at a price of around $160 a night.

cabin_glacier 1

What does our math look like with those numbers?  The payment on this cutie would be $917… Putting our endeavor at a positive flow of $43 a month woo hoo!

Same town deeper pockets? For $485k this very stunning cabin could make more sense.

The numbers:  potential rent of $300 vs the comps, 6 nights a month appearing to be an easy go for bookings.  Income of $1800 a month vs a payment of $2300.00.  So close! The beauty makes the extra $500 bucks seem worth it.

What’s the deal with Crystal Mountain?

cabin greenwaterBigger than it looks  this $319,000 home could easily sleep 10 and is very updated and cozy inside.  It sits on an acre, which is both desirable and expensive when you’re talking taxes.  I of course think of future additions with so much land.

What’s the potential.  VRBO comps are easily renting in the summer and winter around $256.00.  That’s $1,536 incoming vs a payment of  1710.00 (taxes of over $400 a mo.) Very respectable and I’m keeping it in the file!

Steven’s Pass!  What do you have for me?

I love this area.  Snow sports all winter, biking, hiking and Lake Wenatchee in the summer!  Year round awesomeness!  Let’s see what we can do here.


$1027 a month will get you a 1500 sf cabin just 15 minutes from the lift on the Skykomish side.  Renting for an average of $175 a night, though it looks like there will be some effort to get that 6 nights a month.  Income = $1050.00 It’s a keeper.  With a positive return of 23.00!  Get a bottle of bubbly!

White Pass what do you have for me?

Fifteen minutes away from White Pass and just a few miles from Mount Rainier a 1329 square foot cabin sits in the town of Packwood.  White Pass is arguably my favorite mountain to ride so putting out the effort for a couple extra nights a month for renting may be worth if for me.  Let’s see if I’ll have to…

$1319.00 payment, average of 169.00 a night and an established rental record.  At 6 nights a month I’ll be at a bout $1014.00 with $205 to consider in extra payments every month.

Looks like the Realtor in Skykomish might be getting call from this home hippy!  Make sure to always do your due diligence. Not every home in every neighborhood can be a rental.  Get the help of a Realtor whenever you’re researching the purchase of a home.  No matter what you intend to do with it.

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