This time of the year, as cold weather is in the not so distant future, real estate agents in Windsor are often asked by their clients advice on buying vacation homes. No doubt about it, warm weather sounds mighty nice during our colder winter months so if you are serious about taking it to the next step, here are the most common questions we often encounter:
1. Where should I buy a vacation home?
This is a question only you can answer, but consider the following: The answer depends on what you can afford, how far you want to travel, and if you want to rent out the property when you are not using it. Here’s some more food for thought.
Will you be living in your winter home or visiting frequently? Do you want to live near the ocean, river, lake, golf course, mountains, desert? Are you able to fly when you want or will you travel to your new home by car? Will you need a car once you are there if you do choose to fly?
Are you looking for a home for retirement or for your large family to enjoy now? How big do you want the home to be? Would you prefer a condo, furnished or unfurnished home? Do you want a pool, near a golf course or any other area close to your hobbies?
Now that you have considered all of the above, ask yourself this: Can I afford this lifestyle? Will you depend on rental income and if so, is the location you have selected a popular visitor attraction? If you are hiring a Property Management Firm to manage your rental, be advised that they normally take anywhere from 10 – 50 percent of the rent right off the top. If you are living in a condo, can you afford the monthly Homeowner’s Association Fees? Pool maintenance, insurance and other monthly costs must also be considered. And another thought about insurance; if you are moving to a tropical location, remember that insurance can be expensive because of hurricanes, rainy weather, etc. A good idea is to get several quotes BEFORE you make an offer.
2. Is this a good investment?
Like all homebuyers, you should ask yourself if you are making a good investment. Before making any offer, carefully research the location, property and your budget. By all means, hire a professional real estate agent who knows the area you are considering very well. They are called “neighbourhood specialists,” and this will be the very best thing you can do when you begin your search. You want to make sure that you are buying in a good location that renters seek and will feel safe and welcome. The closer to the major attractions the better, especially if you are buying in a beach community, river or lake communities, snow skiing, etc.
3. Should I buy a vacation home with friends or family?
Again, this is a personal decision and for many, it provides a means to afford a vacation home. Certainly, you will want to consider this only with solid relationships and keep in mind that if they are unable to afford such a property at some point down the line, you will be responsible. Which proves the point that a clearly written contract needs to be devised that spells out each person’s responsibilities, partnership arrangements and what will happen if someone wants out of the deal. Visit a real estate attorney to handle such arrangements and don’t rely on a simple handshake and a verbal agreement.
These are just a few points you need to consider before you sign a contract on a vacation home. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly but again, carefully researched and well thought out. A vacation home can bring years and years of entertainment and wonderful memories. The vast majority of clients are thrilled with their decision to go ahead and purchase a second home but all agree that it took time and was not an impulsive decision. The few that regretted their decision admitted that they didn’t do their homework and bought without understanding the market and they lacked enough information on the community and surrounding area.
If you are considering a vacation home, give us a call and we can help refer you to an agent in the area you are considering.