Kim Cook's Blog
Owning a second home or vacation home is the dream of many Americans hoping to retire in style. However, owning a second home can also be a huge financial asset and even an added form of income if you’re savvy with the rental process.
What stops most of us from buying a vacation home in our ideal getaway? The funding, of course. But, there are ways to plan ahead to ensure you’ll be ready to take the plunge and purchase a second home when the time comes.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to be talking about the steps to buying a home away from home and give you some tip on how to accomplish this goal in the most financially-sensible way possible.
1. Location is Key
When you buy a second home, you take on all the responsibilities of homeownership a second time. Since you won’t be around every day to tend to maintenance tasks and troubleshoot problems, you risk discovering costly repairs that could otherwise be avoided.
The most common issues to be concerned with are frozen pipes in northern climates, flooding in coastal areas, and problems like pests that can be found just about anywhere.
Depending on your budget, you might want a home you can drive out to on the weekends, meaning somewhere close by to your primary home. This option also makes it easier to stay up-to-date on home maintenance tasks before they become an issue.
2. Try before you buy
If your ideal vacation home is in an area you’re not totally familiar with, it’s a good idea to visit the neighborhood, talk to the locals, and gain their perspective on the area before buying.
This trip will also give you a sense of what you can expect to spend each time you visit the home. And, if you plan on renting out the property when you aren’t using it, you’ll be able to gauge what a reasonable rent price is for the location.
3. Earning income from your vacation home
Making extra cash from a home that you get to use pretty much whenever you want. Sounds like a dream, right? It can be if done properly, but you’ll need to ensure a few things before you can start earning income from your vacation property.
First, be aware that investment properties often require a larger down payment (typically 30%). Lenders also charge extra interest on homes that will be rented out.
Finally, there are local and state-level laws you’ll need to adhere to. These laws are designed to protect your interests as well as the people who rent out your property, so make sure you use a standard rental agreement for your area.
4. Making an offer
You’ve been here before. Once you’ve decided on a home, it’s time to start crafting your offer and negotiating with the seller’s agent.
However, before you pick a number, do some research on all of the expenses you’ll be paying on the house in question. Property taxes, homeowners association dues, utilities, and any other costs should be on your radar before determining if it’s the right home for your budget.
You’ll also want to be aware of the stipulations of renting out a property you own. This includes reporting income from renting your home to the IRS.
Now that you know the steps you’ll need to take to move toward your goal of buying a vacation home, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that are best for you and your family’s future.
Everyone defines the term "quality of life" differently, but if you asked 100 people, you'd probably hear a lot of similar answers.
According to a Gallup study entitled "The State of American Well-Being," the basis for a good quality of life includes having a sense of purpose, feeling good about what you do every day, having supportive relationships, being motivated to achieve your goals, being able to effectively manage your finances, having the energy and health to pursue your interests, and sharing a sense of community pride. Feeling safe and liking where you live were also key ingredients in the formula for a high quality of life .
The Gallup/Sharecare report focuses on several aspects of community life, such as the role local governments play in offering amenities and resources to citizens. The study concluded that "communities that invest in active living, including bike paths, parks, walkability and public transit, have residents with better health and well-being outcomes."
While factors such as the quality of school districts and low crime rates are often foremost in the minds of house hunters, there's also a lot to be said for communities that offer public recreational facilities, educational programs, cultural events, and services that promote health, safety, and a clean environment.
Advantages that can help make one community more desirable and family friendly than another can range from free outdoor concerts and public tennis courts to the availability of farmers' markets and clean, updated playgrounds. Other features which can positively impact the quality of life in a community include well-maintained roads and bridges, the availability of dog parks, community parades, and programs to encourage the proper disposal of drugs, electronics, household chemicals, and recyclable products.
At the neighborhood level, quality of life is often measured by factors like noise, the condition of nearby properties, the overall safety and security of the area, and the amount of street traffic. Clean air, mature trees, and friendly neighbors can also contribute to a wholesome living environment that can be enjoyed for generations.
While there are many advantages to designing your own home or buying new construction, one might need to make short-term sacrifices when it comes to things like noise, neighborhood aesthetics, and other temporary inconveniences. Your real estate agent or home builder can probably fill you in on things like construction timetables and project completion dates.
If you're in the market for a new home, it's always a good idea to clarify in your own mind what you and your family needs to feel comfortable, happy, and secure. Creating a priority list of needs, desires, and preferences not only helps you stay focused in your real estate search, but also increases the probability that you'll be satisfied with your new home on a long-term basis.
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When you budget to buy a home, you sit down, do the math, and try to estimate what all of your monthly costs will be. There are so many monthly costs that come with being a homeowner that can make the whole process complicated. Sure, you have taken the standard costs into account like home insurance, property taxes, and even utilities. But there are a few out-of-the-box costs that you’ll need to consider for your house hunt.
Flood Or Other Natural Disaster Insurance
Natural disasters are costly and devastating. Many homeowners who live in areas that are affected by natural disasters like floods and earthquakes often opt for additional coverage for their homes. Premiums for earthquake and flood insurance often end up being very high. As a natural disaster strikes, these premiums can go up even more. If you live in one of the high-risk areas for natural disasters, you’ll want to check with your insurance agent ahead of time to plan for the additional costs that these special kinds of insurance will incur.
Water Costs During A Drought
There are many areas across the US that suffer drought conditions from time to time. Your water bill can skyrocket during these times. It’s best to continue conserving water and watch your bill closely in order to try and save some costs. There’s not a whole lot you can do otherwise to control your bill. You’ll need to stay prepared with some extra cash on hand in case of these emergencies and know that costs can rise due to different environmental conditions.
Tax Hikes And Special Assessments
As a homeowner, you’ll need to prepare for different kinds of assessments and tax increases. If your condominium complex needs significant repairs then you’ll probably end up paying an assessment to help offset the costs. This is what comes with belonging to a homeowner’s association.
You can’t prevent that the town is building a brand new school that requires a tax increase, nor can you prevent roof damage on one of the buildings in your complex. Financially, this is a hidden cost of homeownership that you should be prepared for.
Unexpected Maintenance Costs And Home Furnishings
Once you move into a home, you’ll need to prepare for the unexpected. The dishwasher may need to be replaced. The roof may need repair. The walls may need some paint.
When you buy a home you may also need a bunch of things to furnish the home. These could include dishes, pots and pans, sofas, beds, and more. You don’t want to leave your new home completely empty! You also don’t want to be without vital appliances like an oven or a sink for too long if they are outdated or in disrepair. This is why it’s a good idea to have extra money on hand to deal with any of these costs.
The best rule of thumb to follow when buying a home is to always be prepared with a but of extra cash on hand to avoid major issues down the road.