Vacation Home Buying 101

Have you dreamed of buying a vacation home but aren’t sure how or where? Bree Bristol, Six Degrees Team Broker, has some advice for you.

A vacation home purchase can be a thrilling prospect. It can also be a dream that never quite becomes a reality. If you’re considering buying a vacation home, here are some tips and considerations that might just get you past the dreaming phase.

What is your “WHY?”

Take a moment to decide why you want a second home. Is this a home you plan to use on weekends and holidays? Is it a home you plan to move into after you retire? Or is a second home an investment opportunity that you plan to rent to other vacationers as passive income? It could be a combination of these things, but it’s always important to think about your lifestyle and what the purchase means for you long-term.

Location is Key

Now it’s time to decide WHERE you want to purchase your vacation home. Is it going to be somewhat local – a few hours away? Or is it going to be out of state? Do your research and have a real estate broker help you narrow this down to better understand real estate trends and values in different areas. A lot of times your “WHY” can help you determine your location.

“I am starting to see people buy second homes in warmer climates (then Western WA), such as Arizona, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas. They use them as a rental or Airbnb and plan to move into them when they retire,” Bree said. “Some people want a cabin a quick drive away to escape to on the weekends.”

Snowy mountains with trees

Know the HOA Rental Rules

If you plan to use your vacation home as an Airbnb or VRBO, make sure to check for any HOA rules that prohibit short-term rentals (less than 6 months). Many beach communities have this rule in place, and we are seeing more communities adopt this restriction.

Maintenance for your Vacation Home

Be sure you think through and set up regular and seasonal maintenance for your vacation home. It’s essential to have contacts with local vendors, such as landscapers, cleaners, handymen, etc. Some owners choose to hire a property management company to handle all of this, but make sure this added cost is figured into your buying budget if you plan to go that route!

“A cabin up at Snoqualmie is an awesome winter vacation home AND rental, but will your renters have to dig themselves out of three feet of snow or will you have a snow removal service on call during the winter months? Think through all seasons of homeownership to better understand the maintenance costs for the property,” Bree said.

fireplace in living room

Insurance and a Second Mortgage

Talk to your lender as there are different loan programs for buying a second home. The type of loan and rate can be dependent upon how you plan to use the property – as a second home or as an investment property. The same goes for homeowner’s insurance – the cost and type will differ depending on if you plan to have renters or how often the second home is occupied. We recommend speaking with Brittany Van Brunt at Geneva Financial to discuss your options.

Consult a Tax Accountant

Make sure to talk to your accountant to understand any tax implications. Much like the loan and insurance, HOW you use the property will determine what kind of taxes you will pay. If you rent out your vacation home more than 15 days a year, you must report all rental income to the IRS.

Is it time to explore how you can buy a vacation home? Contact Bree Bristol to learn more – our team also has a great referral network through Compass Real Estate to put you in touch with an experienced agent anywhere you’ve dreamed of going.

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