10 Things to Consider Before You Buy A Vacation Home

Here are the top ten considerations you need to evaluate before deciding whether you're ready to buy a vacation home.

Many Americans dream of someday being able to buy a vacation home. More and more, these dreams are becoming a reality as the vacation rental industry has skyrocketed in recent years. In October alone, demand for second homes across the US was up 100%! Following these trends, investors are flocking towards popular vacation rental destinations across the US. Before you jump on the bandwagon, or on that new jet ski, you’ll want to understand these ten factors to help make a better purchasing decision.

1. Your Motivation

First, determine your primary purpose for buying a vacation home. Do you want a retreat where you can kick back with your family and friends or do you want a hefty return on your investment?

Ideally, you want both: a property investment that can give you great returns and a retreat where  you and your family can relax now and then. While you can strive for this property paragon, keep in mind there will be compromises. You may have to sacrifice some of your vacation time to renters during peak seasons. You may have to mix work with pleasure in order to keep your property in good shape for future guests.

2. The 1% rule

A real estate rule of thumb says that the monthly rent earned on your investment property should equal or exceed your monthly mortgage payment. This is true for when you buy a vacation home. If your projections indicate this will be true, this is a good sign you’re on the right track to break even on your asset.

3. Condition of the Property/Location

It’s crucial to determine that the condition of your property is livable before you buy it. You should leave no stone unturned when assessing property quality. This includes checking for structural damage or any hidden faults. To best accomplish this, be sure to find a quality inspector to guide you through this process.  

4. Condition of Neighborhood

The condition of your neighborhood will reflect on the condition of your property. That doesn’t just refer to manicured lawns and holiday decorations. Factors like the crime rate and noise pollution in the area can dramatically alter not only the value of your home but its attraction to potential renters.

5. Upkeep and Maintenance

When searching for vacation homes, keep in mind you are investing not only in the property but its future maintenance and upkeep. If you think the job will be too much to handle on your own, you will likely need to hire a vacation rental management company or an Airbnb manager.

6. Furnishing

Find out if the property you’re interested in comes pre-furnished and decorated or will require your attention. You may be on the hook for new bedding, furniture, and kitchen appliances to make your house more attractive to your guests.

7. Property Management

If you do not live near your new property, then you should consider hiring a property manager to take care of the home in your absence. Guests require a lot of attention and a local intermediary can remove a lot of the heavy-lifting. Property managers also understand the tax and property laws that impact your asset.

8. Location

If you are buying a property in the hopes of generating an income, then you will have to make sure that the location of the property is attractive to renters. How far is it from popular  restaurants? Is it close to local attractions like popular lakes or beaches? What’s the property walkability score? Putting yourself in the shoes of your potential guests can go a long way towards making an informed decision on whether to pull the trigger on any specific property. This is essential work to do before you buy a vacation home.

9. Taxes

When you buy a vacation home, don’t forget that you will have to pay taxes on it. If you do, don’t worry, the IRS will remind you. Consult your accountant and mortgage specialist on what you can expect to pay in taxes. Make sure you know the unique situation of your vacation home and the state and county laws that will affect your property. Finally, be sure to check for tax incentives that you can apply towards your second home.

10. All-in Cost

Once you’ve completed all the above, tally up the aggregate cost of owning a separate home. Include property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utility bills in your calculations. Consider hidden and tangential costs as well, such as property management fees and renter They’ll make owning a vacation home as easy and carefree as an afternoon on the beach!

Once you've made the decision to purchase an investment property, check out Topkey to help with all your short-term rental onboarding needs. Topkey is the one stop shop to set up and onboard your Airbnb/VRBO listing. We'll help you obtain the appropriate short-term rental licenses and permits, guide you through how to take great photos, and we will write your Airbnb listing content that is fully optimized for SEO. All of this is included in our Airbnb starter pack.

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