Whether you’re seeking a cozy cabin in the mountains, a getaway beach house, or a modern condo in your favorite big city, buying a second home is a big decision. Here’s how to tell if you’re ready for another home, and how to prepare if a second home is actually in the cards for you.
1. Determine if you can afford a second home
Before you get your heart set on any one property, assess your situation and look beyond the cost of a second mortgage alone. And keep in mind that mortgage companies may charge your second home more in interest if you intend to rent your home out, as lenders consider rental properties a greater risk than primary residences.
Can you afford insurance, property taxes, and ongoing costs when you’re not around? Water, electric, gas, and trash removal bills never stop, even when you’re away.
And just like with your current home, unexpected maintenance charges are a given. Want a yard for your kids or pup to run around in? Plan on landscaping costs when you’re away from your vacation home.
Additionally, if you know you’ll be gone from your potential second home longer than a few weeks, you may want to hire a property manager to regularly check in on your property.
2. Decide on a location
Sure, a home near your favorite beach sounds perfect, but would you be able to visit your second home as often as you’d like? Purchasing a second home when you only have a couple weeks of vacation a year, or you live thousands of miles away, might not be worth it — especially if you’re not planning to use your second home as a rental.
However, if you already spend a significant amount of your time where you hope to buy, and you can afford a second property, a vacation home may be the perfect plan for you.
3. Investigate insuring a second home
Once you have an idea of the true costs involved with owning a second home, and you know the general area you hope to buy in, a chat with your insurance company comes next.
Start the second-home conversation with your current insurer, where you already have a relationship. If you use them for both of your properties and car(s), you may qualify for a better rate.
Take note, though: Better rates don’t mean inexpensive rates. If your potential new home is in an area prone to flooding, your insurance rates will likely be higher.
Houses with swimming pools also tend to up your rates, and a pool with no fence or gate surrounding it may mean no coverage at all.
4. Find your home and enjoy a vacay any day
After you’ve budgeted all possible expenses for a second home and you’ve identified potential neighborhoods, contact a real estate agent and find your new home.
Once you’re settled in your new vacation property, soak in the benefits. Not only do you get to enjoy vacation time from the comfort of home, but if you spend significant time there, you’ll soon discover how cost-effective a second home really is in comparison to vacation rentals.
Other perks? Ample privacy, and no crowds like you would face in a hotel.
And if your newly purchased second home is in a desirable area, you may benefit financially in the long term even if you choose not to rent out your property. Depending on how your second home is used, you’ll probably also qualify for some tax benefits.
A vacation home should be a refuge. Use your second home as a space to unplug, relax, and spend time with those you care for, in an area you love.