By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®
With the onset of summer and vacation travels, you may be dreaming of buying a vacation home. The beauty of a second home is that it’s a great get-away, as well as a good long-term investment.
To begin the process of finding just the right vacation home, look where you’ve vacationed before. Or if you are considering a new geographic region, rent a home for a season to make sure it suits you.
Think about what sort of vacation home you want – perhaps a cabin, a house, or a condo. Condos come with homeowners’ associations, which have certain rules and fees but also offer many benefits that are often attractive for owners who are not always on the premises.
According to NAR’s 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, the typical vacation property is located 200 miles from the buyers’ primary residence. Investors typically purchase a second home within 20 miles of their primary residence. Despite inventory challenges in recent years, vacation home buyers have been active.
In listing the reasons for purchasing a vacation home, forty-two percent of vacation home buyers plan to use their property for vacations or as a family retreat, 18 percent plan to convert their vacation home into their primary residence in the future for retirement, and 12 percent because of low real estate prices and the buyer found a good deal.
For investors, thirty-seven percent purchased the home to generate income through renting the property, 16 percent purchased for potential price appreciation, and 15 percent because of low real estate prices.
Once you have a general idea of the area and type of vacation home you want, contact a Realtor locally to learn whether they also list in other markets. Or perhaps they can refer you to a peer in your desired market. Once you settle on a Realtor, ask how many vacation home listings they have, how many years they’ve worked in the business and about any particular specialties.
A Realtor can help you determine how much you can afford and will coach you through the personal and financial data you will need to apply for a loan. Additionally, a Realtor will be familiar with current real estate values, taxes, utility costs, municipal services, and facilities and zoning laws that may affect your property.
Ask your Realtor about renting your vacation home to others – he or she can advise you on potential restrictions, advantages and disadvantages, and tips for making your vacation home a premium investment, as well as fun get-away.