What to look for when buying vacation properties

Published on Jul 01, 2021

What to look for when buying vacation properties

You’ve just returned from a fantastic family vacation with a desire for more frequent trips. If only you owned a home there you would be free to jet off at a moment’s notice. The idea of buying a vacation property can be very romantic, but don’t forget to look at the reality before jumping in. Here are some important things to consider before investing in a vacation property.

Be sure you like the area

If you’re considering buying a vacation home, it’s a good bet that most of your vacation time will be spent here. Make sure you and your family really understand and love the area. If your family prefers mountain camping, it may not be a smart move to buy a beach house no matter how good of a price you get.

Check your finances

Property ownership can be a good investment, but it’s not without risk. It’s important to make sure you are in a stable financial situation and can afford the extra payments. Don’t forget that ownership comes with more than just mortgage payments. Factor in insurance, property taxes, homeowner association (HOA) or condo association dues, utilities, and yard maintenance. You will also need to furnish and equip the house. Don’t forget about property management and cleaning fees, if necessary.

Think about rental income

You can recoup some of your investment by renting out the property when you are not there. This also helps keep your place occupied to deter theft and to catch maintenance issues quickly. Before you select the property, do some research to see if there are rules that may limit your renting options. Some local ordinances, HOAs or property groups have rent restrictions that can put a damper on your plans. You want to make sure to know what’s allowed before you sign the mortgage papers.

Consider accessibility

How easy is it for you to get to this property? It’s important to pay attention to your commute when considering your property. It may be the perfect house, but if it takes you a day and a half to get there, you probably won’t make the trek all that often. It’s better to pick something that you can easily access to make the most use out of. Also, factor in travel expenses when looking at your budget. If you have to fly to get there, that’s another cost that can add up in the long run.

Have a plan for oversight

You don’t want the property to go too long without oversight. If you can’t check in on it regularly, have a plan for someone who can. Maybe a friend or relative lives nearby, or maybe you need to hire a property manager. This way any problems can be identified and addressed promptly. A property manager can also help facilitate the rental process. You will need to advertise the property, coordinate renters’ arrival, arrange payment methods, and regular cleaning and facility maintenance. A property manager can take care of this process for you and may be worth the extra cost.

It’s fun and games, with a twist

When you own your own property, there will be upkeep involved. Be prepared to set aside some vacation time for maintenance projects, or budget for a handyman. Even though this isn’t your primary home, it will still require the same attention to keep it looking good, running smoothly, and be a place where you and your family will enjoy quality time. Regular appliance services, painting, and minor repair may take up a few days and leave your vacation looking more like a busy weekend home.