How To Buy A Second Home: 5 Key Details You Need To Study Carefully

hand reaching for house showing how to buy a second home

How To Buy A Second Home: Do’s and Don’ts

Whether it’s a vacation property, a vacation home, or just a place for their elderly parents, nearly 10 million Americans have a second home. For the half of Americans who own their home, a second home could seem like twice the headache. If you don’t know how to buy a second home, you can bet it will be.

row of beach vacation homes

Buying a second home involves saving the money to buy it. Most importantly, you also need to gain the knowledge of the housing market you plan to purchase. Getting to know the difference between an undervalued and an overvalued market will help when ready to invest your money.

If you want to know how to buy a second home, you need to look at the details carefully. Follow these 5 Do’s and Don’t’s when it comes to buying a second house.

1. DON’T Make An Impulse Purchase

When you’re scanning the market for a great place to vacation, make sure you research the local market carefully. Lots of great vacation spots around the world have relatively inexpensive housing available. However, not every property is worth your money.

If you buy a second home while you’re in the Pollyanna haze of being on vacation, you might not be thinking realistically. You need to make the decision to buy a second home while you’re able to take a hard look to determine how much home can I afford.

You can learn if financing a second home is right for you by utilizing a second home affordability calculator.

In addition, you need to consider what the specific needs are for you and your family.

Buying a second home that you don’t have the time or money to manage can be a huge gamble with your finances. Don’t take an unnecessary risk. Renting a place whenever you decide to go on vacation could be much more financially sound than buying.

triangle on black board time cost and quality

Check out your options for getting a mortgage and familiarize yourself with second home mortgage requirements before you make any major decision to buy a second home.

2. DO Evaluate Your Long-Term Goals

While taking vacations now with your family could be everything you need in your current lifestyle. It could be the happiest part of your current life. However, if you think your kids are going to grow to hate Florida or Sonoma, or wherever your favorite vacation spot is, you might struggle to visit later on.

If you buy a place on the west coast but dream of retiring on the east coast, you might be making your future plans more complicated than they need to be.

As you age, you might have different accessibility needs. Be sure there are adequate standard entries for people with disabilities. You should also assess whether or not the kinds of medical services you might need are located nearby.

In learning how to buy a second home, you need to be able to predict who you might be in 10 or 20 years.

3. DO Get To Know The Area

Even if you’re buying a vacation home in one of your favorite places on the planet, you could be constantly looking at the place through rose-tinted lenses. Think about what the area has to offer on a day-to-day basis. Living somewhere is very different from vacationing there.

Even after visiting somewhere regularly for many years, you won’t see what it’s really like to live there. There could be crime, bad politics, or high property taxes you won’t know about as a guest.

different colored house group together in a neighborhood

Make some friends with people who live in the area to get the real deal on what it’s like to live there. If you plan to work there but there’s no market for what you do, you could be left stuck without employment. Even if you decide to retire there, if you only enjoy one or two restaurants or events in the area, you’ll be sitting around without much do to.

You could risk ruining your favorite places by pulling back the curtain.

4. DON’T Hire An Out Of Town Agent

When you’re searching for a real estate agent, make sure you hire someone who is local to the area. This can be a little tricky to do when you don’t live nearby, but it’s essential to getting the best deal on a quality property

A local agent will know the market and will be able to advise you. Whether it’s on the upswing and about to pop or on a downward trend you should hold out for.

Real estate is one of the most localized professions on the planet. There are particularities that are specific to neighborhoods that even someone in a neighboring town won’t know about.

Local real estate agents also know what’s going on in the area.  As a result, they can alert you if your favorite local anchor store is about to get torn down. They’ll also be able to tell you if a new development is opening up that you might want to get in on before prices heat up.

5. DO Know What Type Of Home You Need

While you might want to have the privacy of having a single family home, buying a condo is an option that allows you to come and go as you please. While your dwelling will remain your own, you’ll be able to leave essential maintenance up to someone else. You won’t have to worry about trimming a lawn, cleaning up, or picking up the mail.

Staff at a condo building are trained to handle all of that for you.

multi colored condo beach homes

If you decide you want to rent out your home when away, make sure that’s okay with your condo association. If they’re not able to accommodate you, you might end up needing to buy your own home. A duplex or two-family home is a great way to have the best of both worlds.

Knowing How To Buy A Second Home Is Up To You

The most important person to please when deciding on a second home is yourself. You need to ensure that the location and the home itself is up to your needs. Buying a second home that you’re unhappy with days after the closing is the best way to feel depressed about what should be an exciting investment.

Part of knowing how to buy a second home is finding out the mortgage options available. Feel free to check out our guide.

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  1. Clearly making a decision by impulse is one of the worst choices one can make. Most people that are looking for a second home are not taking into consideration many hidden factors.

    This article seems on point and may save second home buyers a few headaches when considering this type of decision.

    When trying to figure out how to buy a second home, one should get familiar with the surrounding area, understand the seasonal activity before making this important decision.

    • Great points.

      Buying a second home is a big decision.

      Knowing the market place and acquainting yourself with the market conditions is your first important step when considering a second home.

      Also, just as important is to contemplate if it’s a place you want to spend significant time. Will the kids grow out of it?  Will you become bored with the same vacation amenities year after year?

      It’s a big investment, so consider all of the options before you buy.

      All the best 

  2. Hello Patrick, 

    This is great information!!! I never considered buying a second home. Now I’ll be ready when it’s time

    Now that I have read your article it’s has me thinking I may want a vacation home of my own some day.

    Good points about learning the neighborhood that you plan to live in before taking the leap. Planning 10-20 years from now will set me up for the right place to have a second home.

    Thanks for the vital info. I’m looking forward to future articles.

    • Hey Ahmad,

      Happy to hear you enjoyed the article.  Many people have never considered buying a second home or thought it was doable.  If you plan ahead it is quite possible and it will provide you and your family considerable joy and pleasure for years to come.

      One thing I would advise that is most important.  Do get to know the area you plan to make your vacation home before making the commitment.  Things change and as you and your children get older preferences will change.

      Make sure the second home you select will be a place the family will look forward to returning to often.  There are many families enjoying their second homes today.  Even some have been passed down through the generations and are still a frequent gathering place of fun and enjoyment for all.

      All the best. 

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