7 Things to Look For When Buying a Vacation Home

7 Things to Look For When Buying a Vacation Home

  • Derek Buse
  • 10/30/22

Owning a home away from home has immense appeal​​—and the world is catching on to it. The vacation home market has skyrocketed in recent years as more and more people are scouting out ways to maximize their quality of life while also potentially receiving a return on their investment.
However, searching Lake Whatcom homes for sale for a potential vacation property is a significant undertaking that should only be made after careful deliberation. Read on for Derek Buse’s guide on what to look for when buying a vacation home.

The location’s qualities and appeal to you

Let’s face it: We’re in an altogether different frame of mind when we’re on vacation—and gratefully so! This means it can be all too easy to holiday in a lively ski resort town, a vibrant beach community, or a glamorous section of a globally-renowned city and convince ourselves it’s precisely where we would like to set down roots—at least on vacation time. Given the costs and responsibilities of owning a second home, the location and characteristics of the home ought to capture—if not exceed—your expectations.
To this end, make a list of the qualities your vacation destination and home should have. Do you want to purchase a second home in a tranquil area where you can find genuine, much-needed R&R? Or do you prefer a region bustling with nightlife, art museums, and shopping opportunities? Do you veer more towards lakes or oceans? Are you happier in sun-drenched spots, or prefer the peace that comes with snowy settings?
Identifying the traits that’ll please and sustain you away from the destination will help you determine if this decision is right for you—since it’s one thing to fall temporarily in love with a dazzling place and quite another to have an ongoing obligation to it.

This brings us to our next point…

Your vacation home’s real personality

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In addition to determining if the location aligns with your ideals, spend time in the region throughout the year. The ski resort town you’re smitten with may have a completely different vibe during the spring or summer, while the beach community you’re fond of may shut down entirely during the winter. A fair number of vacation homeowners take their vacations during off-seasons to capitalize on rental income, so you must ask yourself if you’d be just as delighted with the area during different months. As well, move beyond the touristy spots you may typically visit to garner an authentic feel of the region. Rising unemployment, less-than-stellar public schools, and the closure of public facilities—this can all bring down your vacation property’s value if you choose to sell it in the future.

Whether it can be used as a vacation rental

Pulling in a passive income on your vacation property is obviously alluring, but the neighborhood, condominium complex, or region you purchase in may have strict laws on vacation rentals. If you’ll be in a legal position to rent it out, speak with your real estate agent about the competitiveness of the local vacation rental market before making your ultimate decision. Furthermore, keep in mind that you’ll need liability coverage.

All of the costs

When weighing the pros and cons of owning a vacation home, it’s imperative that you have a clear and thorough comprehension of the costs involved. Besides the amount of a down payment—which can be as considerable as 20-50%—and a mortgage, you’ll have to factor in property taxes (which tend to be higher in desirable, vacation “worthy” locations), homeowners association fees (if applicable), security, landscaping maintenance, insurance, utilities, cleaning services, and possibly a home warranty. Even while you’re away from your vacation home, the cost of maintaining it will continue—and can add up quickly. This may edge into your retirement or savings for significant life events such as your children’s college tuition.

Who will tend to your vacation home

Whether or not you rent out your vacation home, you may want a professional to keep an eye on it and handle its maintenance. Renting the property when you’re not using it can provide a nice stream of income. Short-term vacation rentals are increasingly popular but some neighborhoods and developments may have regulations on them, so be sure to check with local and state regulations. A property manager who also assists with vacation rentals typically charges 30% in commission fees, which will have to be woven into your budget.

How much time you’ll actually spend in your second home

Purchasing a vacation home suggests you’ll have the freedom to flee to it often—but we all know that life just as frequently gets in the way of our best intentions. If you’ll only be able to spend 14 days in your vacation home per year, you’ll have to ask if it’ll be worth it, particularly once you realize that once you arrive, you’ll likely spend a fair amount of time inspecting it for any damage that occurred in your absence and/or while it was rented. Likewise, figure travel costs into your budget.

The assistance of an honest, realistic realtor

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Exploring the idea of purchasing a vacation home is an exercise in pleasure, but without a sound plan and professional assistance, the act of doing so can quickly become volatile. Derek Buse is one such professional—he’s a real estate agent and broker who can help you navigate the sometimes uncertain waters of purchasing a vacation home. Beloved by his clients for his integrity and forthright demeanor, he’d be delighted to answer any questions you may have about Lake Whatcom real estate and the region’s lovely and luxurious vacation properties. Schedule a consultation with Derek today to learn more about the process—and how, with a solid strategy, your dream destination may just very well turn into your home away from home.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Work With Derek

Specializing in relocation, new construction properties, and vacant land, Derek sets himself apart by providing an exceptional real estate experience. He is the only agent in Whatcom County to achieve the Accredited Land Consultant designation from the LAND Institute.

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