Have you ever thought about purchasing a second home? Are you dreaming about a lakefront getaway or a quiet cabin in the woods? While a vacation home may sound like a great idea, finding the right property can seem daunting at first. But with guidance from a qualified Realtor who specializes in vacation homes, the process itself can be a dream. “Most people start their search online, and from there it’s important to determine a local agent with knowledge of the area and the vacation home market,” said Dian Ankney, Franklin. “It is always better to go with someone who really knows and understands the area you’re looking in.”
Make your wish list
The first stop on the journey toward your second home is to make a list of your priorities. Brainstorm the qualities you most want in a vacation property. While certain factors are important in any home search – the layout, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms – the vacation-home hunt calls for you to consider other issues, too. “Make a list of the pros and cons for each community, lake or area you are considering,” said Natalie Beavers, Nineveh. “Form there, narrow down the list of other factors, like if you want seclusion or to be near all the action, if you’re seeking a lakefront property in an idle cove or you want to see all the action in the main speed zone of a lake.” Beavers specializes in helping clients find lakefront homes in the Nineveh and Princes Lakes area of Johnson County south of Indianapolis. When working with second-home buyers, she said her goal is to help them determine what is most important and then seek out a specific property to fit that criteria.
Begin with a solid budget
The qualities you want in a second home are important, but you have to consider all of the associated costs. A vacation property can be exciting to own, but various expenses can temper some of your enthusiasm if you haven’t budgeted for them. Beyond the purchase price, buyers need to keep in mind regular utilities, homeowners’ association fees, slip fees, furniture and housewares, recreational vehicles and routine maintenance. As you prepare your budget, be sure to include one-time costs to obtain the property and all of the ongoing expenses. To prevent unpleasant surprises, talk with friends or colleagues who own multiple properties and ask about their experience. “Making sure you can afford what you want and like is the most important consideration,” Ankney said. “You want to be able to afford to do the things you want once you buy a property.”
When spring is in the air, the market heats up with buyers searching for vacation homes. The warmer temps may trick you into thinking it’s the perfect time to acquire your home away from home – but if you can exercise a little patience, you may get a better deal in the fall. The off-season becomes a buyers’ market in some areas, so check with your Realtor. “For any kind of summer home, many think it’s better to buy at the end of the season, when owners don’t want to carry the expense of maintaining during the off-usage months,” Ankney said. “This can be true in certain areas, but it may not be the case if, say, a lake area is a mix of weekend and full-time residents. Your Realtor can help guide you correctly.”
Rent out or not?
Some buyers seek vacation properties solely for personal use. Others offset the costs of ownership by renting out the property for part of the season. Buyers seeking a vacation home with a mind toward rental income should let their real estate agent know their intentions. “Some areas do not allow renting, or they may specify a minimum lease length when renting,” Beavers said. “Check local ordinances to determine what is allowed with a property you’re considering buying.” With thoughtful planning, diligent research and the help of a good Realtor, you can find a second home to suit your needs and provide years of enjoyment.