Your memories of vacationing the summer away at your grandparents’ lake cabin entice you to get your own piece of vacation paradise. Buying a vacation home is an emotional high. It brings you nostalgia and happiness that you can afford a place to unwind from life’s stresses.
A vacation home can be a great retreat for family and friends. But a serious look should be taken into your finances (both present and future), the tax implications and the workload of buying a second home before any purchasing takes place.
An annual survey by the National Association of REALTORS® showed that 920,000 vacation homes were sold last year, all for different reasons. For example, some vacation homes were planned to be used as family retreats while others play a role in future retirement plans.
Buying a vacation home in the current housing market is a popular move. Mortgage rates are at their lowest levels in years. Low mortgage rates mean that homes are more easily affordable, including second homes and vacation homes.
Whatever you plan to do with your vacation home, here are some tips before you put any money down.Check your home buying eligibility. Start here (Oct 2nd, 2023)
Get help from a real estate agent
If you aren’t familiar with the area that you are going to be buying a vacation home in, it might save you time, effort and money by seeking the expertise of an agent.
In many resort areas across the country, agents have gotten special training and have become NAR certified as a Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist or RSPS. This designates that they can facilitate the buying, selling or management of properties in a resort, recreational and/or vacation destinations. Also, real estate agents will understand the best mortgage option for a vacation home.
Find out the tax implications
With your primary home, you get lots of tax breaks such as tax-deductible mortgage interest. Second homes do fall under the tax-deductible interest realm, but investment properties don’t. So, if you plan on renting out the home for certain periods of time during the year, you need to know the tax rules for that.
Figure out total costs and maintenence
Just like your first home, your second home is going to have problems. Renovation and upkeep can cost a lot of money, especially if you are planning on putting money into the home right after you purchase it.
Also important to keep in mind is that you will not be visiting your vacation home as often as you’re living in your new home. If the home isn’t being rented out, you may have to pay somebody to keep track of the home to make sure it’s safe.
Consider the distance from your primary home
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have regulations when it comes to getting a conventional loan on a second home. They believe that a property – to be considered a second home — must be 60 miles from your first house to make it legitimate.
If the second home is less than 60 miles away from the mortgage loan borrower’s main residence, it will be considered an investment home. Mortgage rates on investment homes are higher than those for second homes or vacation homes.
Will the novelty wear off?
Too often, home buyers find a “perfect” summer home. However, as time goes on, the home gets visited less and less. When this happens, the costs associated with having a vacation home can be greater than the pleasure of owning one.
One way to avoid the costliness of an unused vacation home is by renting it out when it is unused. Not only will this reduce the cost of owning the vacation home, but it could even pay off the mortgage bills and possibly more.
Find the right mortgage
If you aren’t among the 38 percent who were able to purchase their vacation home with cash then you’ll need to get funding.
If you’re planning on buying your home for renting purposes, it could be more difficult to get funding. However, the money generated from renting could more than offset any additional costs.
If you are buying a home for vacation purposes, finding a loan that fits your budget could be even easier. No matter what you want to use your home for, the best approach is finding out what rates are available to you.