While most people dream of owning a primary residence in order to build equity and provide their family with safety and security, there are also plenty of homeowners setting their sights on the next prize – a vacation home. If you visit an area frequently enough, you might start to envision owning a second property there so that you no longer have to stay at hotels when you travel. But before you start house hunting for a vacation home, there are a few things you should consider.
- No matter what your purpose is for buying property, location is generally the most important factor. When purchasing a family home, for example, you likely want a safe neighborhood in an excellent school district that also happens to be near your place of employment. And when you’re looking at vacation homes, location is equally important. However, you’re probably seeking access to local attractions (a beach or waterway, city life, etc.), as well as a magnificent view.
- You may select a vacation home that is smaller than your primary residence for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, you won’t get the same use value out of this secondary property. So you don’t necessarily want to spend an arm and a leg on it. However, you can also make kids or guests double up in rooms or sleep on couches when you’re only visiting for a couple of weeks – a living situation that might not fly if it was required on an ongoing basis. And of course, a larger house means more cost all around, not just where the mortgage is concerned, but also in terms of taxes, insurance, upkeep, utilities, and so on.
- When it comes to the home you live in all the time, you have plenty of opportunity to schedule maintenance tasks, perform repairs, and plan for upgrades. But do you really want to spend your two weeks of vacation each year conducting such tasks for your vacation home? Unless you plan to pay a management company or a live-in caretaker to handle the needs of your vacation property, it’s probably a good idea to purchase newer construction rather than an older home that needs a lot of repairs and maintenance.
- Potential problems. If you purchase beachfront property, you may have to deal with issues related to humidity (warping, rot, mold, etc.), as well as the possibility of flooding. When you buy property in a winter place for the purposes of a ski vacation, issues like exterior deterioration (from winter storms) or roof collapse (from snowpack) are something to be aware of. Before you buy in a particular area, it pays to know what costly problems could be on the horizon so you can decide if it’s worth the risk.
- Other options. You don’t necessarily have to buy a second home in order to secure a regular vacation spot. There are other options to consider. You could, for example, get in on a time share. Or you could look into vacation rentals through a company like Residencial Casa Linda. And sites like AirBnb and VRBO offer the ability to rent private homes. It’s just something to consider before you put yourself in debt for your own vacation home.