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Time for a Vacation Home?
If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home, you’re not alone. The rate of second homeownership has jumped, as large numbers of Baby Boomers move into their prime wage-earning years. It is estimated that 6-10 percent of homes in the United States are second homes. That number is much higher in desirable vacation communities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 32 percent of homes on Cape Cod are seasonal and prices have increased by more than 60 percent since 2000. Seasonal homes represent an even higher percentage on Cape May – 48 percent – and prices have increased by more than 70 percent since 2000, dwarfing the national average, which increased by about 32 percent.
The trend of second home ownership shows no signs of slowing. People in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond are much more active than their parents. They’re seeking outlets for fun, and with two wage-earners at home who have more disposable income than ever, the trend of second home ownership will continue.
If you’re considering a second home purchase, where do you start?
► Location. Consider your personal tastes, interests, and hobbies when you’re choosing a second home. For example, if you’re the type of person who thinks anything over a two-hour ride is long, you’ll have a fairly small geographic area in which to conduct your search. If you plan to use your second home for a couple of vacations every year and long holiday weekends, then you can extend your search to a larger radius. Many second homeowners purchase properties in their favorite vacation spots because they already enjoy the area and want to spend more time there.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t purchase a second home with an outdated kitchen. Just understand that if you can’t tolerate the current kitchen, it could cost you $10,000 to $40,000 to update. Unlike your primary home, you’ll have the additional challenge of managing a renovation project long distance with a quality contractor you can trust.
Buy a second home that suits your personality and needs. If you don’t like working on your primary residence or dealing with contractors, look for a home that needs little work. At the same time, buying the smallest second home in the best neighborhood you can afford means your investment may appreciate at a higher rate.
While rentals in your chosen area may be strong today, make sure you can afford the mortgage without any rental income when budgeting for your purchase. There are many facets of second home ownership that are out of your direct control – everything from a gasoline shortage to a hurricane.
Taking the time to choose wisely means monitoring events in your desired vacation community. Learn how long homes have been on the market to get an idea of how much room you have in negotiation. Learning the overall direction of housing values in your region also helps you make educated buying decisions.