5 Things to Know Before Buying a Vacation Home

Read these tips before you ask yourself if you're ready to invest in a home away from home.  Having a second home for getaways sounds glamorous — and often it’s even a really good long-term investment. But don’t jump in blindly. Here are five considerations to make before plunking down on a vacation home:
1. Spend time: How easy will it be for you to travel to your new vacation home? Your best option is accessibility — for me, it’s a two-hour drive door to door. While it may sound romantic to have a cabin if it takes you two flights, a rental car, and a three-hour drive to get there, I can promise you it won’t get much use. Don’t buy a vacation home until you’ve visited the area several times. It sounds basic, but you better be sure you simply adore and can’t get enough of that beach town or ski village before you commit to buying there since you’ll be spending a great deal of your free time there in the future. Unlike with hotels and time shares, owning a vacation home doesn’t allow you the option to easily change destinations if you tire of the scenery.

2. Know costs: Become familiar with the total price of owning your second home, including property taxes, insurance, and any other carrying costs. Even when it’s unoccupied, you’re still incurring water, gas, electrical, trash removal, landscaping, and other maintenance charges. Carefully factor these overhead costs into your budget; nothing ruins a perfect vacation home like being in over your head financially.

3. Maintenance: A specific expense for vacation homes is a management fee. If you plan to visit infrequently — and are considering renters while you’re away — make sure you find someone to maintain your home. This service will cost some money, but so will any damage caused from neglecting those frozen pipes or leaky roof, especially if it goes unnoticed for a long period of time.

4. Rental income: A smart vacation home purchase is one that incorporates rental potential into the equation. If managed correctly, many of your costs can be offset by rental income. From a long-term-investment standpoint, rental income may allow you to build equity and eventually pay off the property. Analyze nearby vacation homes, talk to local agents and vacation rental companies, and look online to see what’s renting (and for how much). And don’t forget to research occupancy rates; you’ll want to know how often your home will be vacant.

5. Safety :Check the local crime rates before you buy, especially if you’re going to leave the home unoccupied for long stretches of time. A break-in or other crime at your vacation home can be particularly frustrating when you’re not around. Take into account the cost of a security and alarm monitoring system to your budget if need be.

Feel free to share your experiences on buying a vacation home in the comments below. To view vacation homes click here


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Gurcharan Garry Bhaura

Gurcharan Garry Bhaura

Broker of Record
CENTURY 21 President Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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