How to Find the Perfect Vacation Home
Buying a vacation home can be very rewarding, both personally and financially, but it’s certainly a big decision! Before making any sudden moves, take the time to engage in some thorough research, organize your finances and choose a trustworthy professional. For more leisure property buying tips, read on:
- Do Your Homework: The very first step to finding the ideal vacation home isn’t particularly glamorous. You’ve got to do your research! This means reading the classifieds, searching the internet and looking at maps. Jot down ideas and information in a notebook or computer file and save these for future reference.
- Go for a Drive: Continue the initial groundwork by going for an exploratory drive and identifying the towns, counties or regions that feel right for you. How far are you willing to drive? What kind of amenities do you want to have close at hand? What locations truly appeal to you? You don’t need to make any major decisions at this point, but should begin organizing your search criteria.
- Be Realistic: Ask yourself a few tough questions, such as:
- How often you will be using the property?
- Should you buy or lease?
- How will you finance your purchase or lease?
- Can you afford the mortgage, property taxes and upkeep of a second property?
- Do you see this purchase as an investment or simply as a summer home?
- Narrow it Down: If you were able to get past number 2, then you’re well on your way to becoming a vacation property owner! Now it’s time to think about location, property and structure type. According to Terry Bryan, a real estate agent in the Rideau Lakes area of Eastern Ontario (thecottageguy.com), it’s important to look for a place that is fairly close to a few conveniences, such as a small town and/or grocery store – unless you really like roughing it! You should also clearly set priorities. “For example, establish whether you’re looking for privacy, which means trees and weeds on a waterfront would be okay, or if a clean shoreline, with less privacy is more important,” says Bryan.
- Rent to Own: Once you decide on a location, you may want to consider renting a cottage in the area of your choice to get a true sense of its amenities and ambiance. This is not a must-do, especially if you’re in a rush to purchase, but can certainly make coming to an informed decision much easier.
- Find an Agent: You’ve established your main guidelines and requirements. Now it’s time to find someone who can help make this dream a reality. “You should find a local agent,” says Bryan. “The best thing to do is visit the place where you are wanting to by a property. Almost every local office has listings and information posted in their window, and you can go from there.” Local agents tend to have thorough knowledge of specific areas, and can easily help you sift through the merits of various properties. They will also likely be available to you when you want to go view a property, which means no waiting or rescheduling.
- Choose to Invest in the Future: Are you looking at your vacation home from an investment or purely a recreational perspective? It will benefit you in the long run to make a concerted effort to understand the profit potential of this venture. As you search for your second home or property, keep resale value in mind. Try to get an idea of the future of the area you may be buying in, and make sure your purchase possesses as many distinctive features as possible.
- Establish Price Point and Timelines: Work with your agent to establish your price point, and the timeline during which you are hoping to purchase your vacation home. Be honest with yourself about how much you can afford. If a turn-key cottage with a gorgeous boat house is attracting you, but the price seems a bit steep, think about a ‘fixer-upper’. If you’re patient, you can do the work yourself, over time. Also, if the prospect of waterfront taxes is getting you down, consider purchasing a property with shared water access, which will cut costs dramatically.
- Identify and Clear Up Accessibility Issues: You need to be fully aware of what you’re buying, says Bryan. “Make sure you can get access to a survey, so you know that you have complete access to the land, and don’t have to cross someone else’s property to get to it. Ask a local lawyer to check out the survey for you. ” You should also find out if the main road leading to the property is maintained year round. If it isn’t, you likely won’t have access to your property for a great deal of the winter and early spring. Island properties can also pose barriers in terms of access, so take all variables into account.
- Go For It! The time has come to make your move. Work closely with your agent to draw up an offer that protects you and your investment. Secure financing, get a lawyer to review the documents and prepare to become the proud owner of a second property!