10 Essential Tips When Buying a Second Home (Part 2)

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. CA DRE #01490977

10 Things to Consider When Buying a Second Home (Part 2)


Buyers desiring a second home have some important considerations before making a decision about where, when and how to buy that property. What they specifically want and need for that second home is a critical discussion to have before getting started.


These issues may differ in important ways from decisions you made for your primary home purchase. Think about what these differences might be before you get too far along – it will help you to be more effective in your home search and planning.


Here’s what was discussed in Part 1:

  • Lifestyle issues (How might your second home lifestyle differ from the way you live now?)
  • Financial considerations (Cash versus financing; the added costs of a second home)
  • Rentability (Do you want to also rent the property; can you rent and are there any restrictions?)
  • Maintenance (Things you have to do as a homeowner – how will you handle maintenance at your second home?)
  • Location (Where do you want this home to be relative to where you now live; how far are you willing to drive? What about traffic?)


Here are 5 additional issues to think about as you go about your home search for your second home.



The issue of security is important to consider, perhaps even more so than in your primary home since you won’t be there full-time. The area itself where the property is located is always something to evaluate, of course, but it can become more complicated if you are not living there fulltime.


Do you want or need someone to check on the property on a regular basis?

Do you feel a need for a security system?

Do you prefer a lock-and-go type of condo building, or a gated community for enhanced security?


Lastly, you will want to check on the particulars for home owner’s insurance since you won’t be there all the time and it’s not a primary home.



If pets are an important part of your life, is your plan to have them with you when using your second home? There is, of course, the practical reality of transporting them – easy for a short car ride.


But the other question to think about is if there are restrictions in the home owner’s association regarding type of pet, size, and how many you can have.


If your heart is set on having your pet(s) accompany you, you need to check that the HOA allows pets, especially dogs. If you can’t take your pet, or simply prefer to not do so, one option to consider is to have a pet or house sitter when away. In addition to have your pet taken care of, you have the reassurance that someone is watching your primary home when you are absent for an extended time.



Unless you buy a furnished second home, which may not be easy to do, you should consider additional costs and personal time for furnishing your home so you can use it. You might want to furnish your second home differently than how you do at home (e.g., do you want a completely furnished kitchen like at home or a pared-down one since you will be eating out more than cooking?). Do you need to buy all new furniture or can you, perhaps, use extra furniture from your primary home? 


If you are planning to rent it out you may want to consider the quality of the furniture, and accessories that tenants might expect. Spending too much on expensive personal furnishings when you will be renting regularly could be a waste of money. Some second home buyers have a locked closet or storage area in the home to put away valuables and personal items when renting.



As with a primary home purchase the condition of your second home, inside and out, is probably an important consideration.


Are you looking for a home that is turn-key so you can start enjoying it immediately?

Or are you willing, and able, to deal with a fixer to get it to where you want it to be?


You will want to think about whether you want to be living with construction, or doing projects every time you are using the home. Given the property and location, however, the right decision might be to put up with remodeling to get the house you like, at a price you are comfortable with, and make it your own.


While move-in ready might be your ideal, finding something completely turn-key that checks off all the boxes on your list of “must haves” may not be possible within your budget. Be willing to be flexible around doing some cosmetics to get the property that will work for you as a second home.



Searching for a second home can be a little different depending on where you are looking for the property, especially if it’s an area you don’t know as well as where you live.


One complication is when the area you desire is a distance from your home so you can’t readily explore the homes or communities in person without taking a house hunting trip. But to get the right house and neighborhood, the time and expense WILL be worth it.


Some buyers may be willing to buy a home sight-unseen if they can get enough information online and through their agent, along with the use of technology (e.g., video, Facetime). But it is not without risks.


Working with a knowledgeable agent who understands the local market conditions (inventory, pricing), the communities, and how to assist buyers from a distance will work to your advantage. Market conditions and pricing may be very different from where you live, and you need to understand how these issues can impact your decision making, and budget.


If you are searching in another state the offer paperwork, and even the purchase process, may be different from what you are familiar with. So you need to understand those issues early on in the process. The right agent will provide the education you need and answer all of your questions.


I am happy to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about purchasing a second home in the Carlsbad or North San Diego County area, especially along the coast. Please give me a call at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your particular needs and budget, and I can address any questions about your search for a second home.


You can search for your second home in Carlsbad (and elsewhere) here.


If you are in the market for an oceanfront second home, you'll find some good guidance in this post - 6 Things to Know About Buying an Oceanfront Home.


Once we discuss your particular needs, budget and location interests I can also create a custom search for you that meet your specific criteria.

Posted by

Jeff Dowler, CRS
Certified Residential Specialist / Realtor®

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Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Jeff,
What a great follow-up to Part 1.

Nov 08, 2022 09:13 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thank you Carol Williams  Glad you liked it!


Nov 08, 2022 10:51 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

This is a great topic Jeff (and timely for me, too - am dreaming of a little cottage in Ireland). As you are pointing out, there's much more to consider than just how to pay for it. 

Nov 08, 2022 09:31 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Hi Andrea Bedard  What a wonderful place to have a second home!

Thanks for the compliment.


Nov 08, 2022 10:52 AM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

You did an outstanding job with the post Jeff Dowler, CRS. There are many things to consider in a second home that is different than a primary home. It is so important for the buyers to understand everything. 

Nov 08, 2022 08:55 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thanks so much Beth Atalay 

There can be many differences to consider. And it's a new experience.


Nov 08, 2022 09:18 PM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

There are so many things to think about when buying a second home and I think you covered them well with parts 1 and 2.

Nov 09, 2022 04:24 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Hi Brian England Thanks for the compliment. No doubt there are some other considerations


Nov 09, 2022 10:59 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Jeff,

I like your series on buying a second home. So many points need to be considered and evaluated. Well done and congratulations on the featured post..well deserved.

Nov 09, 2022 05:04 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Hi Dorie Dillard Austin TX 

As with a primary home there are important things to think about, but made more complicated given the nature of the purchase. Thanks for the kind words.


Nov 09, 2022 11:00 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Jeff... Part 2 was just as good as Part 1. You've beautifully laid out all the considerations that need to be taken into account by buyers of second homes.

Nov 09, 2022 05:18 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thank you Nina Hollander, Broker  Having been a second home owner a couple of times was great experience!


Nov 09, 2022 11:01 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Excellent two-part posts for things to consider when buying a second home!

Nov 09, 2022 06:11 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thank you Kat Palmiotti  I'm glad you liked it!


Nov 09, 2022 11:04 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Really great list -- lots to consider here. I especially love that you included pets! A very important consideration in my mind but probably not included in many similar blogs! 

Nov 09, 2022 06:41 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Lise Howe Thank you!

Pets are certainly an important consideration for those who have them. I know several people with second homes and they always have their dogs with them.


Nov 09, 2022 11:05 AM
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

What an excellent post.   Thank YOU for doing this for us all.

Nov 09, 2022 07:58 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

I appreciate the kind words Ginger Harper  I'm glad you liked it.


Nov 09, 2022 12:32 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jeffs,

I went through this 20 years ago when we bought a second (vacation) home in Sedona.  I didn't have a wonderful guide like Part 1 and 2 that you shared with us. 

Based on your guide, I know you can help clients well with a second home purchase in Carlsbad.

Everything you have stated we had to consider.  One of the biggest challenges was transporting our two cats.  Sedona is a 6-7 hour drive from what was our California home.  It took our kitties some time to get used to the travel.  We had crates we put in the back seat and left them open so they could roam if they wanted. The only thing that made it worthwhile was how well they took to our Sedona home. 

Nov 09, 2022 08:25 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Hi Sheri Sperry - MCNE® 

Ah yes, transporting pets when moving! We moved with 2 cats from Boston to Carlsbad in 2005 (a 7-day trip) and found them to be much happier being able to roan rather than being in the carrier. I also drove my Mom and her 2 cats from Philadelphia to Carlsbad in 2013. Quite the adventure.


Nov 09, 2022 12:35 PM
Sharon Miller
RE/MAX Platinum - Crane Hill, AL


A great, very complete article! With the info you have provided, any prospective buyer would think twice before attempting to "wing it" on their own. As a waterfront property specialist I thought I'd add a couple of important considerations which I have observed during my twenty-eight plus years selling second home/waterfront properties.

First, any prospective purchaser, should approach the evaluation of a second home property with an open mind. I experience with regularity, many potential buyers who have preconceived notions as to what they will accept as a suitable property. Unfortunately, during these times of low inventory and escalating prices, many potential buyers experience "shock reality" when their bubble is burst because they didn't take the time to adequately familiarize themselves with prevailing local conditions. I received an offer from a fellow realtor last week, who was from out of the area, whose buyer made a $345K offer on a property listed at $960K? An adjacent property of lesser value ..... sold a few month's ago for $650K. Needless to say, with this example, those involved, wasted their time as they were totally unprepared. 

Secondly, I can't over-emphasize the importance of utilizing an "experienced" real estate agent to participate in the process. In the example I shared above, the agent who presented the offer, was from out of the area, had little to no knowledge of local real estate/waterfront conditions and apparently, never bothered to search for comparable recently sold lake front properties with acreage and out buildings. I share this info in order that it might assist other realtors who are dealing with second home prospective customers to take heed as to the detailed information that you have shared along with my example of what happens when adequate preparation is ignored or overlooked. 

Prospective buyers who will finance their purchase, need to put "the horse in front of the cart" and visit a reputable mortgage provider first .... to ascertain the particulars as it relates to their ability to qualify/secure a loan. "Waiting to see what's available first" with a second home acquisition, is a complete waste of time, as it can be likened to visiting a jewelry store for the purpose of looking at engagement rings without first establishing a budget or spending limit. In many cases, for first-time second home buyer's or engagement ring purchaser's, perceived expectations, far outweigh what's in one's wallet.

Hope my comments will add value to your detailed, well written post. Finally, here's a quote which says it all.

" It's not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. It's the will to PREPARE to win that matters."

Coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant


See ya,




Nov 09, 2022 09:03 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Hi Sharon Miller 

Those are all excellent points - thank you for sharing your wisdom and your experiences and adding to the conversation in ways that can help potential buyers (and their agents)!


Nov 09, 2022 12:38 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Jeff this is one of the BEST guides I've ever read on things to consider when purchasing a second home!  Well done Sir!  And I highly recommend potential buyers call you personally if they are considering buying a home in your area.

Nov 09, 2022 10:19 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thank you, thank you Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker  I am so flattered.


Nov 09, 2022 12:39 PM
Emily Medvec
eXp Realty LLC - Santa Fe, NM
Broker | Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Well thank you for the 5 star guide to purchasing a 2nd home. Frankly, may of the items relate to issues in purchasing a home period. Here in Santa Fe, many people want a 2nd home for short term rental. Here an experienced Realtor or agent is key because of our Short term rental ordinance. Bottom line there is a lot of things to consider. You nailed them.

Nov 09, 2022 11:15 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

There ARE lots of similarities Emily Medvec .

The STR issue is a big one as some communities and many HOAs only allow a minimum of 30 days. Thanks for the compliment.


Nov 09, 2022 01:52 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff thank you for sharing this, I would have not thought of a couple of them.

Nov 09, 2022 12:05 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thanks for stopping by George Souto  I suspect some second home buyers do not always consider all these issues. And no doubt there are a few others, too!


Nov 09, 2022 01:53 PM
Number Cruncher LLC - Overton, NV
Helping Taxpayers Resolve IRS problems

Great information.  One thing to add is that the interest paid on the mortgage on 2nd home can be used as an itemized deduction on their tax return. :)

Nov 09, 2022 03:29 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Great point CANDACE (Candy) STEVENS, EA  I certainly don't want to play tax professional and make recommendations, etc.


Nov 09, 2022 04:44 PM
John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Hello Jeff Dowler, CRS these are very valuable list of essential tips when buying a second home.

Nov 09, 2022 08:17 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Thank you John Pusa 

I'm glad you thought so!


Nov 09, 2022 09:56 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jeff loved your post had to smile at Sharon Miller   comment she should have made that into her own post and put a link to yours:) Endre

Nov 09, 2022 10:56 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Endre Barath, Jr. 

Perhaps Sharon will decide to write a post on the subject - I should have suggested that!


Nov 10, 2022 09:59 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

How much of your business is second homes Jeff?  It's primarily what we do although we have a few full time and retirement buyers each year, but second homes is and has been my bread and butter for 28 years.

Nov 10, 2022 07:34 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Most of my business is primary homes Tammy Lankford, and some retirement, although I am working with some new buyers who want a second home. Some of this information is my own personal experience and thoughts!


Nov 10, 2022 10:01 AM