Ah, vacation season is finally back! As the weather begins to warm up, you and your family may be dreaming about buying a house at your favorite beach destination or finally making the move to invest in a cabin in the woods. Buying a vacation home is often a dream come true and if it’s within reach for you, how do you know if it’s a good idea? What are some things to keep in mind as you explore your options?
Tips for Buying a Vacation Property
Considering a Vacation Property? Here's What to Consider
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Before going all-in on the purchase of a vacation home, think about the pros and cons of what this purchase would mean for you and your family. You may also want to consult with an experienced real estate agent who understands the market for vacation homes and can help guide you through the process.
Here are some of the common pros and cons when buying a second home:
- Extra Income: Vacation properties have the potential to generate extra income for you and your family. If you choose to offer your vacation house as a short-term rental, the rental income may cover the mortgage on the property and then some! Rental properties – whether at the shore or in the city – can turn into a wise long-term investment.
- Increase in Value: In general, vacation homes tend to increase in value year over year assuming they are in good condition and maintained. This is exceptionally true if you can purchase a home in a popular destination or if you’re lucky, buy a home in an up-and-coming hot spot!
- Family Getaways: Owning a vacation home gives you an easy place to retreat to for a long weekend or an extended trip. Plus, since you can store your belongings at the property, you don’t have to worry about packing up heavy suitcases for the trip.
- Financial Commitment: It’s no surprise that buying a second home is a large financial commitment. In addition to the monthly mortgage, you will likely need a down payment as well as closing cost fees saved up for the purchase. Mortgage rates for second homes are typically slightly higher as well.
- Maintenance: One of the biggest downsides of another home besides your primary residence is ongoing maintenance. If you live relatively close to the vacation house, it may be easy to stop in to do some work or supervise someone you hire. Chances are, though, your vacation home will be a bit too far to stop in on a whim or to fix something in an emergency. In this case, you may need a property manager to help with routine and emergency maintenance.
- Taxes: Owning a second home may have a significant impact on what you owe in taxes each year. In addition to state, local, and property taxes, you will also be on the hook for additional income tax from rental revenue. And depending on local tax laws, you may be required to get a business license and pay sales tax or even hotel tax. An experienced accountant or tax pro can help you understand the tax implications of purchasing a second home.
Don't Buy on Emotions
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and emotions of buying a vacation home! You may be dreaming of a summerlong family get together, or even sneaking away to the beach house for the holiday season. Purchasing a second property may signify a milestone in your life or career – and it is something that brings you pride and joy.
Buying a property based on your emotions, however, can be problematic. Try to objectively consider the purchase and understand your “why.” When you understand what is motivating you to make the purchase you can plan your budget and what you are looking for in a vacation home.
Protect Your Investment
You may find the perfect vacation home for you and your family – great location, attractive price, and it has the perfect two trees in the yard for your hammock! Even though the property looks and seems like a dream, you will want to make sure the title is ‘clean’ before you get to settlement. That’s where a title company can help.
A title company will perform a title search of public records and look for any issues with the title. At Watermark Land Transfer, we will go back and look at the list of all owners of the property in chronological order, from the owner sixty years back to the current one, to uncover any potential problems that may affect YOUR ownership rights.
Although not common, some title issues that can arise on a vacation home include liens on the property, unpaid property taxes, public records errors, and encroachment with neighbors. Once the title is clean on your vacation property, you can protect your investment with owner’s title insurance.
Owner’s title insurance offers protection for your property rights for as long as you and your heirs own the vacation home. If legal ownership of your property ever comes into question, an owner’s title insurance policy protects you from expensive legal problems that could result in the loss of your second home.
Your Local Title Company in York, Pa.
Watermark Land Transfer is a full-service real estate settlement and title services company in the central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland regions. Our goal is simple – to provide concierge-level service and a hassle-free closing. We do this through diligent, thorough, and detailed-oriented work. Our team has decades of combined experience that helps put our clients at ease during what could be a stressful time.
If you are in the process of buying a vacation property, our team of title agents and closing agents are here to make your real estate transaction as smooth as possible. We approach our settlement services a bit differently than other title companies and put you – the buyer – first!
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