Real Estate Blog

Tips for Buying a Second Home or Vacation Property

Many people dream of buying their own second home or vacation property, a place they can retreat to on weekends and holidays where they can spend quality time with family and friends, get away from their everyday cares, and just relax. If you’re thinking about becoming one of the lucky people who owns a second home or vacation property, there are several things you should consider before signing on the dotted line. See below for some helpful tips and ideas.

Location is Key

When buying a second home or vacation property, choosing your location carefully is essential. Try to focus on real estate for sale in areas that have properties with appreciating values. Even though it’s a vacation home, you still want to make sure it’s a good investment. You don’t want to end up losing money on the property if you should ever decide to sell it.

Talk to a real estate professional in the area where you would like to buy a property. A professional will know which neighborhoods offer the best values and will be familiar with real estate trends. Resort areas and more rural locations tend to have properties for sale with more flexibility in the pricing than properties in urban settings. A licensed real estate agent will know how to negotiate the best price when it comes time for you to make an offer on a property.

Consider Renting Before Buying

It’s hard to know if you will really enjoy spending time in an area if you haven’t spent a lot of time there. Are there amenities like restaurants and stores nearby? Are you looking for a property in a quiet location, or a home that’s near neighbors you can chat with? A long term rental can help you get the answers to these questions as well as help you figure out what you want and don’t want in terms of location.

A rental home can also help you figure out what type of second home is best for you based on your lifestyle. Do want a home with a large kitchen for entertaining or are you planning to eat out most of the time? How many bedrooms do you really need? Do you want to take care of maintenance like mowing the lawn or snow removal yourself, or would owning a condo where these tasks are done for you be preferable?

Determine How Often You Will Use the Property

Being realistic about how often you will use a second home or vacation property can help you figure out whether buying it in the first place is a good idea. If you’ll only be there a few times a year, maybe renting a property in the area would make more sense for you. Knowing how often you will be using the property can also help you determine whether or not it makes sense to rent the property to others when you’re not using it yourself.

Understand Your Budget

Your budget for buying and owning a second home or vacation property needs to include more than just the expenses associated with purchasing the home. You will need to factor in expenses such as real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, cleaning services and landscaping costs, and the cost of unexpected repairs to the roof or plumbing and heating system, which can be substantial. Unlike your primary home, a second home or vacation property is a luxury. Understanding how much it will cost will help keep you from overspending and from having to possibly sell the property before you’re ready.

Develop a Plan for Renting the Property

Many people who own a second home or vacation property make up for some of the costs associated with owning the home by renting the property when they aren’t using it. If you plan to rent your vacation property short- or long-term be sure to understand the rules for renting set out by the city, town or homeowners association where the property is located before you buy the property, especially if rental income will make up part of your budget.

Don’t Rush Into a Decision

When you finally find a vacation home you really like it’s tempting to rush into a decision to buy it. But you don’t want to decide on a property too quickly only to discover later that the price is too high, the location isn’t quite right, or the house is too large for your needs. It’s better to pass on a property than to make an expensive mistake. Eventually, the right property will come along.

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