Are you thinking about buying a vacation/summer home? If so, read on to learn the top 8 tips for buying a summer home you never want to leave.
Waking up to a sunrise over the water? Walking with your baby and seeing them touch sand for the first time? Priceless.
These moments are all possible if you purchase a summer home. But deciding to buy and finding the right one isn’t necessarily a walk on the beach. It can be, but only if you do it right.
Read below to find out our top summer home shopping tips.
Visit First – A Few Times
If you’re planning on buying a second summer home, make sure you’ve actually spent some summers there. We’re not talking about a long weekend here or there – like a good two weeks or at least three visits.
This will give you a chance to really learn where in town you want to be. Can you try to stay in different hotels or small towns each time? That’ll help you figure out which is the right spot for you.
You may find that you don’t want a summer home somewhere in Florida, because it rains for about an hour in the summer every afternoon.
Or maybe you thought you liked the gulf coast, but it wasn’t what you expected once a thunderstorm mixed up the water.
Just take your time to make sure you really want to spend time there. You should never buy any sort of home on a whim!
Figure Out Your Budget
You need to stay in budget with your summer home, which may include calculating in not only closing fees but travel to and from the property while you buy.
There will be the classic home taxes to pay, like property and title tax. If you rent – that’s another tax beast, which we’ll discuss below.
Meet the Neighbors
If you’re buying a home in a busy non-tourist neighborhood, can you have the neighbors check on your house every once in a while?
Theft happens in all communities – but it’s especially easy for a criminal to enter a vacant home. You want to have a security system, but also an eye on the ground (or across the yard).
You can buy things like random timer light switches or even smart bulbs you can control from thousands of miles away. Have your mail forwarded and ask that your neighbor pick up any door flyers or hangers that show up.
Hire a lawn service to keep everything tidy – which is probably part of your HOA rules anyways.
Calculate All the Fees
Along with a security system and potentially smart lights, you’ll need to think about all the fees. What’s the HOA for the property you’re buying? That can add a couple hundred dollars a year.
Can you expect to pay things like snow removal in States where it’s mandatory to clear the sidewalk?
Does the HOA cover these services or will you need to pay a neighbor to do it?
Calculating all the potential costs will make sure you don’t think you’re buying in your budget, but somehow overspend.
Will You Rent?
When you think about renting out your second home – there’s a lot to consider. You’re essentially running a side business.
1. When during the year will it be rented?
Think about when you’ll use the property and when you’ll rent it out. You’ll probably want to use the home sometime during peak season. You have to be willing to give up your rental income so you can enjoy the house you bought for your family.
2. What renters will consider your property?
You don’t want people to hang out and throw parties there – or maybe you do. Is your home family friendly or is it the perfect place for a winter/beach rager?
3. Who will take care of your rental property?
Someone will need to be there to clean up after renters, let them in, show them around – etc. Apps like Airbnb charge cleaning fees, but they don’t find the person for you.
4. How are you going to advertise your rental property?
Yes, you can put it on Airbnb or other travel apps, but first, you have to go through and take all the pictures.
Do your research on other like rental homes in the area to figure out what to charge. Details like cancellation periods and cleaning fees are on the table too.
What will you do if a renter breaks something? You can easily hire a local property agent who can handle these things for you – but they do so at a fee. That’s another cost you have to work into your budget.
5. Can you even have a rental property?
Some HOA’s, buildings, or neighborhoods won’t let you rent out your home. Even if it’s high season and you could make a good amount of money.
They don’t want people coming in and out that aren’t “dedicated” to the neighborhood. Other neighborhoods welcome rentals, but only through high-end companies like 1st choice Leisure.
Finally, are you ready to pay taxes on your rental profits? Since it’s a profit and technically a business, the government will tax your earnings.
Friends and Family
Once you figure out everything above and buy the home – you’re going to have a few family or friends who want to use the property. What’s your policy for them staying there?
Will you charge them a discounted rate or let them use it for free? Maybe they can use it for free, but they go down right after another renter checks out and they’re on the hook for cleaning.
You’re allowed to say no if someone asks to stay. You can always claim that you have someone already using the home (as long as it’s far enough away).
Schedule Vacation Time Early
Now that you have this summer home, you need to make sure you actually use it! That means taking time off and submitting it to work in advance.
This way you won’t find yourself really needing a vacation but in the middle of a big project at work. Schedule out a few visits at the start of the season and you’ll have time to figure out the details before you go.
Enjoy Your Summer Home
Finally, and most importantly, you bought this summer home to be somewhere beautiful with your family. Yes, there’s a lot to think about when buying and maintaining a second property.
But there’s also a lot to rejoice about! Get ready to put some pictures on those walls and stock the garage with pool floaties. It’s going to be a great summer!
Want more tips on buying your first rental property? See here.