Craig Tice operates Tice Construction out of Spooner, Wis., a vacation town in which he says the population increases by at least 80% on every summer weekend. A while back, the home builder and remodeler noticed that the desirable lots on the lakes in the area were being snapped up at a fast rate, many by spec home builders. “I told my brother [and business partner, Scott], ‘In five years, when these lake lots dry up, all that will be left will be tear-downs and whole-house remodels,'” he says. In anticipation of this, Tice began preparing his company to best take advantage of this change. “I wanted to get the company healthier, to put us in a position where we had assets and could borrow money,” he says. The reason? Tice planned on getting into spec remodeling once the new-home market dried up.

Sure enough, new-home building petered out two years ago, and some of the spec builders have actually left town. Even better, what was once a seller's market has turned favorable for buyers. “Until last year, you could barely find a place to buy,” Tice says. “Now, the market is ripe for doing this.”