Why do you need to buy a place now? There is an enormous difference between going on vacation and enjoying yourself or being a real estate owner of a second home, many times zones from your home. Have you been around Western US to know the differences in the resort areas? Why not take 10 trips in the next 8 years to the various areas, and which might be the best fit for you? Owning real estate is nothing but a headache, considering property TAXES, maintenance, renting, rental commissions, furnishing etc etc etc. Your dream of retiring in 8 yrs to ski country and owning an investment property where you will likely only spend a couple dozen nights in the next few years are two different subjects. Personally, I don't think owning any second house which takes an airplane flight makes any sense at all, unless you have MANY millions and have no care in the world about wasting or loosing tens of thousands of dollars. Because likely your property will be a loss for you, except for the immediate "juice" of the purchase. (bragging rights etc etc). So for the loss you are likely to take, instead you can take one or two nice ski trips per year, to different places, and in a few years when you are actually ready to retire and spend quite a bit of time there, it will be the right thing to do.
>My budget is not big and I don't want to borrow too much - but I can afford to do it.
When I read that, I think you have a moderate amt of money that is just burning a hole in your pocket.
Saying that, it is possible, maybe likely, that real estate prices have bottomed, so at least you are not buying during a boom. But seems to me we have an enormous oversupply of housing, esp second houses, and this oversupply is likely to last for many, many years, so there is no rush to get in at the bottom. We may not even be at the bottom.
I just believe all the otherwise smart people I know who have timeshares and get themselves locked into various real estate deals. I love to travel and completely enjoy the freedom of going when and where I want, and usually at a bargain.
Another thing about skiing. One injury or other health problem and it could be over in an instant. Within a few weeks or months you would come to terms that you are not a skier anymore and would have to move on to other things. Ski town would no longer have any allure or meaning for you.