Buying a vacation home is an enticing thought and exciting prospect. But the process requires the same practical consideration as any other financial decision you make: Know what you’re looking for, pay attention to the numbers, and negotiate aggressively to walk away with the best possible deal. (You might get an even better deal if you buy during the off season!)
Buy Now Where?
Remember the first rule of real estate (modified slightly) when choosing a second home – “Vacation, Location, Location!” The location of your vacation home will depend upon several factors and personal preferences. Where would you like to be? When would you like to be there? What would you like to do while you’re there?
Be Here Now And Then
Look to buy where you’ve vacationed before. Decide whether this is a place where you’d like to spend every vacation based upon your lifestyle and recreational interests. Do you want to be on an ocean beach or lake front in the summer? Perhaps you’d like a mountain retreat and snow skiing in the winter? Would you prefer hiking and biking or isolation and solitude?
Getting There From Here
Most people buy a second home within 200 miles of their primary residence. Be realistic about the distance that you’re willing to travel to and from your personal vacation getaway. Do a few “commuter test drives” under the worst-possible-case conditions of Friday rush-hour and Sunday evening to see if this is a reasonable, comfortable driving distance to take joy rides and make the occasional maintenance run.
Buy To Suit
Think about what kind of vacation home that you want. Is it a house, a cabin, or a condo? Select the type of home that best suits your wants, needs and desires. If you’re looking in unfamiliar territory, or a new geographical region, you may want to rent a home there for a season to make sure that you love it. Don’t rush into any decision. It’s important to take your time, carefully consider all of your options, and make sure that the vacation property you purchase is just right for you and your family.