Buy that second house NOW, and rent it out!

Industry Observer

The economy doldrums have made all of us a bit skittish when it comes to spending money. But in the long run we want our money to work for us so we can have more for our retirement years. One of the best ways to do this is purchasing a second home, and renting it out.

I have said this before but want to strongly suggest the following: If you are considering purchasing a vacation home in the next two years, DO SO NOW!  There is a great article written in today's Real Estate News called " For Your Clients, 6 Reasons Why It Is Smart to Buy a Vacation Home". 

As an owner of several vacation homes I can state  having rental homes has been a great experience. Several years ago we looked at purchasing a home that we, as a family, could use on weekends and during the summer months. As a big fishing, and water sports family our natural inclination was to look towards the water. We spent weeks looking at homes up and down the Chesapeake Bay, and along almost all of its tributaries. Doing so taught us the need for existing boathouses (many are grandfathered in and could not be built today), deep water, and riprap. But, in learning what to look for we also talked with others about how frequently they used their second homes. Almost everyone answered something like , "well, we hoped to use it more than we actually are able to". On average people use second homes 12 weekends a year.

That got us thinking. How many weekends could we actually get away to enjoy this house? And would it really just create another level of stress instead of enjoyment (gotta go cut the grass, gotta go check the boat, gotta go see if there is any damage from the storms) in an already chaotic life filled with family, work, and demands. For us, we decided it would create more headaches than joy. So we opted for a second choice - buying beach properties where there  were existing property management companies that could manage, rent, and maintain the houses for us. It was an excellent decision.

We purchased our first home in February of 2004. It needed lots of painting, and updating, but the "bones" were amazing. After months of work, we got it on the rental market. I have to admit one of the hardest things was to get in the car to leave.  After pouring our time, money, sweat, and love into getting it "just right " horrible thoughts came to mind "would people knock out walls? would my pots and pans be there when I returned? Would people love our home as much as we did? " When we came back a month later, the house was in great condition. And the comments book requesting guests to leave their thoughts about the house, and asking for what we could do to make it better was filled with notes from people who  loved our house and great thoughts on improvements!

In 2007 we bought our second vacation home. It too is rented out. We had learned things from the first one that we copied, and changed some from the first. And when we left after getting that home prepared it was with the knowledge that we would return to a home where others had a great time. The best thing is we are able to use our houses but rents have paid for the mortgage, and maintenance. There are many homeowners in Sandbridge that live in their homes in the "off months - September thru May" and rent them out for the 12 summer weeks. Those weeks pay for the house for rest of the year. A great retirement possibility is living in the beach house during winter, and having the ski chalet in Wintergreen where you live in the summer.

Renting out your house is not for everyone, and before I tried it I did not like the idea at all!  But now that we "bit the bullet" I see renting as a great way for others to help you build your investment. Similar to an employer putting money into your 401K , renters give you the money for your mortgage payments. And with each mortgage payment you are adding to the principle in your home. Don't wait if you are thinking of buying. There are amazing houses available, at fantastic prices! I will be happy to help you find a great rental home to purchase anywhere in Virginia!

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