People approach the whole idea of owning a second home from a hundred different perspectives simply because a second home can answer so many different purposes. If you are an Northeast Florida homeowner at the stage in life where making retirement plans is becoming a more immediate imperative, you might want to buy a second home as a vacation destination—but one which is also a tryout for your family’s future center of operations. Those who have spent a good part of their lives in cities sometimes seek a second home in the mountains or at the shore as a restorative refuge. People living in less crowded environs might crave a pied-à-terre for proximity to a city’s cultural riches. There really can be a hundred different reasons (and that’s not even counting all the financial ones)!
Once you begin to seriously entertain the notion, it becomes evident that deciding on which of many possible directions to pursue will involve weighing the tradeoffs each presents. In addition to an opening a conversation with the Northeast Florida real estate professional whose advice you’ve come to trust the most, some of the main points you will want to consider—
- If the second home is going to serve even temporarily as a weekend getaway spot, then buying within reasonable driving distance may be more important than you might assume. Keep in mind that the drive (or flight) will grow steadily less interesting as time passes.
- In most instances, a second home will be occupied by members of your family only on a part-time basis. This brings up a number of issues—among them, insurance. Vacant properties present a different profile to insurers than do homes that are occupied most of the time. Hazard insurance tariffs could also differ from what you are used to (especially in flood-prone areas). Investigating insurance coverage and costs early on in your search will help you to avoid surprises.
- Financing a second home is similar to financing your main residence. You are likely to need a down payment of 10% to as much as 30% in some cases. If you will be drawing on the equity in your current home, it’s only prudent to be able to retain a reasonable amount of reserves for unforeseen emergencies.
- You should consult your tax expert for details, but as a general rule, if the home is not rented out as a business proposition, you’ll likely find that you are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on your Federal tax return. Then again, if you are thinking of renting the house out for more than 14 days per year, rental income is taxable. In that case, though, you’ll be able to use deductions for expenses, such as insurance, maintenance, professional fees, and sometimes even depreciation. Each situation will be different—again, your tax professional will have the relevant answers.
Many people buy a second home in anticipation of retirement. If that is the case, think of factoring in the availability of quality medical and support services in your search areas. A remote cabin in the woods may seem appealing now, but as a retirement venue, maybe not so much! Thinking about the long range is never more important than when you are entertaining the purchase of a second home. I’m here to help clarify those issues, as with all your other Northeast Florida real estate need.