3 Things To Consider When Buying A Vacation Home

Buying a second home is somewhat different from buying a primary home. Whether you're looking for a place to spend your summer vacation, or you're a snowbird looking for a yearly break from subzero temperatures in your own region, buying a second home involves some different considerations than you used when you decided to buy your primary home. Take a look at a few things that you need to consider when shopping for your second home.

What Is The Home For?

Sure, you want a vacation home, but it's important to be specific about the reason why you want the home. That will help you pick a property that best suits your needs. For example, if you expect that the vacation home will eventually be your retirement home, you'll need to consider whether the home will suit you when you're older and may have different limitations and needs than you have now. Is the home wheelchair accessible? Could it be easily modified? Is it located near hospitals and other medical facilities?

Or, perhaps you're considering renting out the home for extra income when you're not using it. If so, you'll need to consider whether it's convenient to amenities that will interest renters. For instance, long-term renters may want to be located near a good school district, and seasonal renters will want a location that's convenient to shopping, dining, and local attractions.

How Will You Maintain The Home?

Another important consideration is how you'll maintain the home when you're not using it. For example, you may not want to leave the air conditioning off for months on end – especially during the summer – in a hot, humid climate like Florida. Also, your lawn will need care whether you're using the home or not. What's more, unoccupied and poorly maintained homes can be targets for burglars.

If you have friends or family in the area, you may be able to leave spare keys with someone you know and ask them to keep an eye on the home. Otherwise, you may need to hire a company to do the work. Choosing a condo instead of a house cuts down on the off-season workload because there's no outdoor maintenance to worry about, so you may want to consider that possibility.

Also, renting out the home doesn't remove the need for a maintenance plan. Someone will have to be available to deal with tenant concerns and check on the property. If you plan on renting, you may need to hire a property management company.

Are You Aware Of All The Expenses?

You probably wouldn't consider buying a second home if you weren't sure that you could manage a second mortgage. However, that's not the only expense you'll have to consider. You need to research additional costs like property taxes and homeowners' insurance costs in your vacation area to make a smart financial decision.

If you buy a condo or a home in a gated community, you'll most likely have to pay homeowner's association dues. You should also consider the cost of living in the area. Will vacationing there cost you an arm and a leg just in groceries and filling up your gas tank?

The best way to make a smart choice when shopping for a vacation home is to use a real estate agent that's familiar with the local area. A local agent will know the lay of the land, including real estate for sale, and be able to help you make an informed decision.