The Dos & Don'ts of Buying a Second Home

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Antonelli Realty 3137972

Now that you know your way around the basics, let's talk about a few dos and don'ts of buying a second home. Remember, you're not buying a house with the intention of moving there full-time; because of this, your priorities will be different.

  • Do Evaluate Long-Term Goals

The first question to ask yourself is what your goal is with the second property. Do you want to be able to go there for summer vacation every year? Do you want to rent it out full-time and retire there in 20 years? This will change where you purchase a house.

You also need to consider what your long-term needs will be. If your children will grow out of your current favorite vacation spot (or if your current favorite spot isn't super accessible), that may throw a wrench in your long-term planning.

  • Do Get to Know the Area

As with your primary residence, it's important to know the area. The difference is what you're evaluating the area for.

Let's say you've picked out a San Diego neighborhood. Thing is, you're not checking out the school system or the aspects related to permanent residence. And if you're choosing a place in your favorite vacation spot, chances are you haven't noticed some of the less obvious things that only show up when you live there—things like local politics, crime rates and property taxes.

The best way to get familiar with the area? Start chatting with people who live there. And not just about crime and politics either—ask about what there is to do year-round. If you plan to retire here but only like one event a year, you're going to be bored.

  • Do Get a Local Real Estate Agent

Let's be honest: Even if you've vacationed in an area, you just don't know it like a local. If you're looking to buy a home in the area as a non-local, you need a local real estate agent to point you in the right direction. There's also the fact that real estate is a highly-localized business. To get the best deal on a property, you need a real estate agent who knows the neighborhood like the back of their hand.

  • Do Know What Type of Home You Want/Need

Sure, there's appeal in a single-family house, but if you're not living there full-time, do you really need it? Think about it: If you purchase a second property, you need to maintain it. If it's a house, that means a lawn, heating and air conditioning, pipes and other tasks.

Also, if you're not living there for nine months of the year, that means you're either trekking out to the property once a week just to clean it, or you're paying someone else to clean it for you.

A condo, on the other hand, requires far less maintenance, and it's easy enough to delegate tasks to someone as needed. If you plan on retiring to your second residence, you'll also need to consider how your own needs and abilities may change as time wears on. You may not be able to maintain a house on your own, or may need a house with better accessibility.

  • Don't Impulse Buy

Above all else, do not impulse buy. There's any number of reasons for this: finances, for example, or not taking a long enough look at the area. The next thing you know, you're stuck paying a second mortgage on a house that isn't really the right fit for you.

When you buy, you should be in the right mindset to take a long, hard look at your finances and how much house you can afford. A second-home affordability calculator is a great tool to use in this situation. Similarly, you need to seriously consider what you and your family need from a second residence.


This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.


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Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Paul. That instinct to impulse buy is hard toovercome, but overcome one must. Enjoy your day!

Jun 27, 2018 05:48 AM #1
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"Franklin MA Homes"

Good morning, Paul Antonelli impulse buying is very common with second home buyers.... they're so excited about that purchase, they often fail to put enough thought into it....

Jun 27, 2018 05:49 AM #2
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Paul. This is excellent and should be featured. Impulse buys are all too common and then.....:(

Jun 27, 2018 05:59 AM #3
Eleanor Thorne
Equity Resources - Cary, NC
Equity Resources 919-649-5058

Great suggestions, I also think you would want to look at rental expectations.  With our condo at the Beach, having space to keep "Owner" items was critical. 

Jun 27, 2018 07:50 AM #4
Michelle Edwards
Realty One Group Trilogy - San Bernardino, CA
Licensed Realtor® in California and Nevada

This part right here: "you'll also need to consider how your own needs and abilities may change as time wears on" is huge. Thanks for sharing.

Jun 27, 2018 08:31 AM #5
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Paul Antonelli

Broker Owner; Antonelli Realty
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