Our Real Estate Blog
Owning a second home or vacation home is the dream of many Americans hoping to retire in style. However, owning a second home can also be a huge financial asset and even an added form of income if you’re savvy with the rental process.
What stops most of us from buying a vacation home in our ideal getaway? The funding, of course. But, there are ways to plan ahead to ensure you’ll be ready to take the plunge and purchase a second home when the time comes.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to be talking about the steps to buying a home away from home and give you some tip on how to accomplish this goal in the most financially-sensible way possible.
1. Location is Key
When you buy a second home, you take on all the responsibilities of homeownership a second time. Since you won’t be around every day to tend to maintenance tasks and troubleshoot problems, you risk discovering costly repairs that could otherwise be avoided.
The most common issues to be concerned with are frozen pipes in northern climates, flooding in coastal areas, and problems like pests that can be found just about anywhere.
Depending on your budget, you might want a home you can drive out to on the weekends, meaning somewhere close by to your primary home. This option also makes it easier to stay up-to-date on home maintenance tasks before they become an issue.
2. Try before you buy
If your ideal vacation home is in an area you’re not totally familiar with, it’s a good idea to visit the neighborhood, talk to the locals, and gain their perspective on the area before buying.
This trip will also give you a sense of what you can expect to spend each time you visit the home. And, if you plan on renting out the property when you aren’t using it, you’ll be able to gauge what a reasonable rent price is for the location.
3. Earning income from your vacation home
Making extra cash from a home that you get to use pretty much whenever you want. Sounds like a dream, right? It can be if done properly, but you’ll need to ensure a few things before you can start earning income from your vacation property.
First, be aware that investment properties often require a larger down payment (typically 30%). Lenders also charge extra interest on homes that will be rented out.
Finally, there are local and state-level laws you’ll need to adhere to. These laws are designed to protect your interests as well as the people who rent out your property, so make sure you use a standard rental agreement for your area.
4. Making an offer
You’ve been here before. Once you’ve decided on a home, it’s time to start crafting your offer and negotiating with the seller’s agent.
However, before you pick a number, do some research on all of the expenses you’ll be paying on the house in question. Property taxes, homeowners association dues, utilities, and any other costs should be on your radar before determining if it’s the right home for your budget.
You’ll also want to be aware of the stipulations of renting out a property you own. This includes reporting income from renting your home to the IRS.
Now that you know the steps you’ll need to take to move toward your goal of buying a vacation home, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that are best for you and your family’s future.
You can extend your living area by activating your outdoor spaces. Whether your yard is large or small, you can create a spot to entertain, read, or just relax with these tips:
Most outdoor spaces can accommodate some type of seating option. If you’re working with a smaller porch space, try a hanging swing or a bistro table and chair. Add a dining table to a larger patio area or deck if you plan to host outdoor dinner parties or game nights. If you’re looking for something more relaxed and flexible, opt for outdoor living room pieces. Search for weather-resistant, modular options that can be easily rearranged.
Sun and Insect Protection
If you have an uncovered patio space, consider introducing a pergola or a canopy. These options offer protection from the sun and wind which will make your time outside more enjoyable, especially if you live in a warmer climate. A canopy can be beneficial because it will often include netting options that offer protection from mosquitos and other flying insects.
Add some lighting to your space to boost evening ambiance or to accommodate outdoor dining and games. If you opt for a canopy or pergola, consider introducing strings of twinkle lights, placing candles on tables or installing bug-repellant torches. For something more substantial, you may introduce a firepit. Wood, natural gas, propane and gel fuel options are readily available. Select the source that works best for your location and budget.
Introduce Color and Texture
You can liven up your space with pops of color and texture. Some options could be an outdoor rug, bright cushions and pillows for your chairs or planters filled with flowers and foliage. Hang a mirror on a wall or fence to create the illusion of extended space and depth whether your space is large or small.
If you recently submitted an offer on a house and received a "Yes" from the seller, you likely will need to schedule a home inspection in the next few days or weeks. Ultimately, an inspection can make or break a house sale, so you'll want to plan for this evaluation accordingly.
Fortunately, there are several steps that a homebuyer can follow to plan for an inspection, and these are:
1. Find an Expert Home Inspector
All home inspectors are not created equal. And if you make a poor selection, you risk missing out on potential home problems that could prove to be costly and time-intensive down the line.
Before you schedule a home inspection, evaluate the home inspectors in your area. That way, you can find an expert home inspector who will go above and beyond the call of duty to assess a residence.
Reach out to a variety of home inspectors and ask for client referrals. Then, you can contact home inspectors' past clients to better understand whether a home inspector can match or exceed your expectations.
Furthermore, a real estate agent can help you find a qualified home inspector. In addition to helping you buy a home, this housing market professional can put you in touch with top-rated home inspectors in your city or town.
2. Make a Home Inspection Checklist
When it comes to preparing for a home inspection, it usually pays to be diligent. Thus, you'll want to put together a checklist beforehand to ensure that you know exactly which areas of a house that you want to examine.
A home inspection checklist may emphasize looking at a house's roof, heating and cooling system and much more. Also, it may be worthwhile to include questions to ask a home inspector in your checklist. This will ensure that you can receive comprehensive support from a home inspector throughout your house evaluation.
3. Consider the Best- and Worst-Case Home Inspection Scenarios
Although you'd like to believe that a home that you want to buy is in perfect or near-perfect condition, an inspection may reveal a wide range of problems. However, if you prepare for the best- and worst-case home inspection situations, you can increase the likelihood of staying calm, cool and collected in even the most stressful post-home inspection scenario.
If a home inspection reveals that there are no major issues with a house, you're likely good to go with your home purchase. Next, a home appraisal may need to be completed, and you'll be on your way to finalizing your transaction.
Conversely, if various problems are discovered during a home inspection, you may need to reconsider your home purchase. In this scenario, you may want to ask a seller to perform home repairs or request a price reduction. Or, you can always walk away from a home purchase as well.
If you need extra help preparing for a home inspection, you can always reach out to a real estate agent too. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can get the assistance that you need to conduct a successful home inspection.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.
For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.
Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.
Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.
Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.
The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.
Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.
After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.
Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.
Mortgage applications and credit scores
Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.
Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.
Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.
If you intend to sell your house, it pays to learn about the home selling process. By doing so, you can understand exactly what it takes to enjoy a seamless home selling experience.
Ultimately, there are three steps to sell your house:
1. Prep Your Residence
Take some time to learn about your residence's strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can identify any problem areas in your house and allocate the necessary time and resources to mitigate any issues that otherwise could slow down your home sale.
In many instances, it is helpful to schedule a home appraisal. During a home appraisal, a property expert will examine your residence both inside and out, as well as evaluate your home in relation to comparable houses in your city or town. Following a home appraisal, you will receive a property valuation that can help you establish a competitive initial asking price for your house.
Also, scrub the floors, clean the kitchen countertops and perform extensive home interior cleaning. And don't forget to mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and complete various home exterior maintenance and upgrades as well.
2. List Your House
Adding your house to the real estate market can be simple, especially if you work with a top-notch real estate agent.
Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your home selling goals. He or she then will help you get your house ready for the real estate market, thereby increasing the likelihood that your residence will generate lots of interest from potential buyers.
A real estate agent is a must-have during the home selling journey. This housing market professional is unafraid to provide you with honest, unbiased home selling recommendations as you proceed along the home selling cycle. As a result, a real estate agent can help you optimize the value of your residence, regardless of the housing market's conditions.
3. Negotiate and Accept an Offer
Oftentimes, home showings and open houses will be held to showcase your residence to prospective buyers. If buyers like what they see, it may be only a matter of time before you receive multiple offers on your residence.
If you receive a home offer, you probably will have a short amount of time to decide whether to accept, reject or counter this proposal. Consider your options closely, and if you are not satisfied with an offer, you should not hesitate to walk away from the proposal.
On the other hand, if you receive an offer that you like, you can accept it. At this point, a buyer may perform a home inspection to further assess the condition of your house. And if the inspection goes well, it may be only a few weeks before all of the necessary paperwork is finalized and your closing date arrives.
The home selling cycle may seem like a long, arduous process at first. Fortunately, if you follow the aforementioned steps, you can reap the benefits of a fast, profitable home selling experience.