Buying Your First Vacation Home

 

Retirement is a good time to start pursuing your dreams. You’ve got money in the bank and time on your hands. For many people, this is the perfect time to consider buying the vacation home they’ve always wanted. If you’ve been contemplating a vacation property, here is what you need to know before buying.

 

How to Know if You’re Ready for a Vacation Home

 

When determining if you’re ready to buy a vacation home, consider whether this will be your primary residence or if you’ll just be staying there during certain seasons. If you’ll be spending time there year-round, that might mean you’re willing to spend more on a mortgage to get a more comfortable home.

 

It’s also important to know why buying a vacation property may not be right for you. For example, if you enjoy visiting different locales or trying different resorts, being tied down to a vacation home might not be the right choice.

 

Next, you need to be realistic about your budget and what you have to invest. Like your current home, a vacation home will require paying for a mortgage, insurance, and taxes.  You will also need to provide for upkeep and maintenance. Speaking of maintenance, it’s a good idea to have the property evaluated before you commit. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to hire someone for the job; in Spokane, for example, home inspections can run between $318 and $376 on average.

 

Maintaining Your Vacation Property

 

Maintaining your home throughout the year is important. You’ll need to:

 

  • Keep up with regular maintenance like changing air filters, cleaning gutters, maintaining the HVAC system, having the roof inspected, and anything else you would do at your primary residence.
  • Protect your home when it’s vacant. You’ll want to install a security system with alerts for when activity is detected at your home. Homeaway.com has a comprehensive list of things you can do to safeguard your vacation home.
  • Maintain utilities when you’re not there and restart them when you arrive. According to HouseLogic, you can hire a property manager or local caretaker to run things when you’re not around and keep up with yard maintenance. According to All Property Management, a manager can cost anywhere from $100 to 8 to 12 percent of your monthly rental revenue.
  • Install an electronic thermostat if you don’t have one yet to help with energy efficiency, particularly when you’re not staying on the property.

 

Vacation Home Insurance

 

One of the more daunting aspects of purchasing a vacation home will be the cost of insurance. According to Southeast Discovery, vacation property insurance is more likely to be sold by an agency that specializes in vacation home insurance than standard agencies. This may be different than the “one-size” policy that your current home has.

 

These policies are called “Named Perils” coverage. The perils include the location (especially if isolated or in a scenic yet hazardous area) and the fact that you are not there 100 percent of the time.  According to the NAIC, “a ‘named perils’ policy covers losses for events specifically outlined in the policy, such as lightning, explosion, theft or smoke damage.” This type of insurance may also cover damage to your property or an injured guest. There is even coverage for renting waterfront property, such as a boat.

 

The Insurance Information Institute has some advice on how to save on vacation home insurance before buying:

 

  • Buy in a safe location. Avoid flood zones, areas with earthquakes, and other hazardous locations.
  • Your home’s condition and age also will affect insurance rates.
  • Certain special amenities, like a swimming pool, will raise rates.

 

Buying a vacation home can be a wise investment if you choose your property and location properly. Be sure to calculate all the costs and maintenance of your home before investing.

Guest Posted Thanks Jim

An article by Jim McKinley of Money with Jim