Kathy Murray's Blog
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Buying a second home is an exceptional opportunity. You can expand your real estate portfolio, creating an investment strategy for building wealth over the long term. It’s also nice to have a home, one you can use on the weekends to get away. Whether you want to buy a home on the beach, on a lake in a densely wooded area or a home across the country, your first step is securing financing.
Know the Costs of Buying a Second Home
Purchasing a second home does mean more responsibility. It may mean a second mortgage, insurance costs and property maintenance. You’ll be paying utilities, upkeep and taxes on a multiple properties. Using this information, calculate how much you want to spend each month in these areas. Then, you can start looking for the home that fits.
Work to Build Your Down Payment
Buying a second home affordably is easier to do when you can apply a sizable down payment. Most often, home buyers need between 3 and 20 percent of the purchase price available as a down payment. The more you have, the less you finance or the larger of a home you can safely purchase.
With second homes, you may have additional avenues for securing that down payment. This includes savings, of course, but it may also include borrowing against the equity in an existing home to use as a down payment.
Choosing a Loan Program for Your Needs
One of the challenges of buying a second home is proving to lenders you can afford the mortgage payment and other costs. There are loan programs available to help you, but the options are somewhat limited in terms of federally sponsored programs. You may have used a VA or FHA loan, for example, to purchase your first home. These are generally just for the primary residence, not second homes.
However, there are other loans available to you. Conventional loans, which are still some of the most commonly sought-after loans available, are available to most people. Lenders will look at things such as:
Like any other home loan, it will be backed by the value of the home you purchase. In that way, the home must be worth at least as much as you plan to borrow.
Debt-to-income ratios tend to be a big factor for most lenders. Fannie Mae-based loans often require a ratio that is up to 45 percent if you have at least 25 percent down and a moderate credit score. That means your monthly payments need to be under 45 percent of your gross income.
It’s also important to consider how you plan to use the property. Lenders need to know if the home will be vacant (getting insurance for it can be difficult). They also want to know if you plan to produce a second income from it. If so, you need to ensure your loan covers this type of use.
The good news is that most conventional lenders off second home loans. Find the dream home you’ve been looking for, and then work with a lender to secure the purchase.
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Having a second home gives you an opportunity to spend part of your time living in another area or bring in another source of income if you rent it out. Purchasing another home is a major investment that requires careful consideration. Before you begin looking into properties for sale, keep the following factors in mind for your second home.
Choose a Location Carefully
Whether you have a location in mind or you’re exploring your options, make sure you get to know the local area well prior to making a purchase. If you’re thinking of buying property in a vacation area you’ve visited before, for example, you should learn more about what this location is like in the off season. If you’re considering places you’ve never been to, gather as much information as you can about the area, such as local crime rates and average weather conditions throughout the year.
Decide on the Right Kind of Home
Your second home could be a single-family house or a condo or townhome. If you plan on using the property often and you want more privacy, a single-family house might be the right choice. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to make sure you maintain the property all year round. A condo or townhome might offer a better option if you only plan to visit your second home a few times a year, since you won’t have to worry about yard maintenance.
Consider Financial Factors
In addition to paying a mortgage and property taxes, there are other financial factors to take into consideration. For a vacation home, you might have added expenses, such as flood insurance in a hurricane-prone area. You’ll also need to include the cost of maintaining the property throughout the year, such as professional yard maintenance or routine HVAC maintenance. If you plan to rent out your second home, you might need to factor in the cost of hiring a property management company. You might also need to include HOA fees whether you buy a vacation home or rental property.
Work with a Local Agent
When you know where you want to purchase a second home and start looking into available properties, work with a local real estate agent. These agents are familiar with the local market, which helps ensure that they’re able to find you a home that fits your needs. They’ll also be able to determine the right asking price for it based on local market conditions.
Think About Taxes
The tax situation for your second home will depend on whether or not you rent it out and for how long. You’ll need to report rental income if you rent it out for more than 14 days per year, but you’ll also be able to deduct the cost of rental expenses. Since tax rules for property ownership can be complex, get detailed information about your situation before choosing a second home to purchase.