Whether it’s a lakefront cottage or a log cabin in the woods, a vacation home often seems to be a dream that only the wealthy can afford. But these days, you don’t have to be a millionaire to own one.
A nationwide survey shows the median household income of second-home owners is $46,500. And, according to recent statistics, there were 7.2 million U.S. households in 1990 that owned some kind of recreational property or second home for vacation purposes. That number is expected to at least double and possibly triple over the next 10 years. With today’s continued low interest rates, the tax advantages a second home can bring, and a wide selection of areas experiencing solid home price appreciation, this is an excellent time to consider purchasing a second home as an investment – and a great getaway place.
When searching for your second home, remember to investigate the area thoroughly. Ask a Realtor® and the local chamber of commerce to provide information packets, maps and brochures. Take time to visit the area several times – a few months prior to and during its peak season(s). Are the crowds unbearable? Is the weather unpredictable?
Speak with a local Realtor regarding current and past home prices. Knowing the area’s sales history will help determine the market value of the homes and effectively predict their appreciation potential.
Once you’ve settled on a community, work with a Realtor and lending institution to determine how much home you can afford. Drive around the town and its neighborhoods. Experience the day-to-day activity around potential properties. Keep in mind you may decide to retire to the area one day. Will the property serve two purposes – that of vacation and retirement home? More and more Americans are purchasing vacation properties in areas where they plan to eventually retire.
Remember, vacation homes remain a good investment and provide substantial deductions on yearly tax forms if they meet certain criteria. As the laws are ever-changing, complex and detailed, consult your real estate agent, who will usually work with a tax attorney or certified accountant, to calculate the tax benefits of owning a second home.
Relaxing in your own home in that dream vacation spot is not out of your reach. More and more Americans are realizing that owning a vacation home is do-able – not to mention a good investment and a peaceful retreat for years to come.