9 Pieces of Advice from Actual Owners for Buying a Vacation Home

What you need to know about making the dream of a vacation home a reality.

Summer is officially here and hopefully at some point you’ll be taking a vacation. While you’re on your getaway this summer or even in summer’s past, I’m betting a question has popped into your head at some point: what if I bought a home here?

Ah, the vacation home. It’s a dream for many, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a reality too. Owning a vacation home is not only a solid investment, but something you can enjoy as well. To help those who are weighing the pros and cons of buying a vacation home, we talked to several vacation homeowners to share some advice on what you need to consider when looking at owning a home away from home.

Thomas G. – Make sure the home is small and manageable so it doesn’t become a second job to maintain and start up each season.

Andreas P. – If you think you’ll rent it out when you don’t use it…think again!

Dennis M. –  I would suggest that the vacation home be within three hours of your primary residence. This will make it easier to use, as well as check, if renting. It’s important to understand the total costs – mortgage, taxes, association fees, assessments. If the vacation home is part of an association, be sure to obtain important association documents – Master Deed, By Laws, Meeting Minutes – which will provide you insight into the property and potential issues.

Nick D. – Expect company…all the time.

Bob R. – Be sure to recognize the difference with buying a second home in a vacation community and buying an investment property in a vacation community. The first will be, or become, your home away from home and the later will require you to become a landlord, of some sort anyway. If you are planning to use the property for your family almost exclusively than you are in the market for a second home, but if you need to rent in order to comfortably own then you are looking for an investment property, good or bad. With second homes you have only yourself to worry about the care and respect shown to the property. With an investment property you have to accept that renters do not always treat your property the way you expect them to and that leads to disappointment, unexpected wear and tear, and costs of doing business. So, make sure you know what you want and don’t reach so far that your dreams are lessened by constant worry.

Cindy R. – Hire a property manager or someone who can watch your property while you’re gone. I’ve used a property manager for years who checks on my vacation home weekly to make sure there aren’t any leaks, damage or even theft when I rent it out.

Mike L. – Talk to neighbors or realtors in the market you’re buying to get a list of contacts who are reliable to fix things that might break or need repair when you’re not there.

John A. – Invest in smart home tech for your vacation home. A Nest camera, thermostat and smoke detector allow you to keep tabs on your place when you’re back at home. Plus a smart lock for the door makes it easy for property managers or even repair men to come in and do work as needed. And if you have a smart camera, you can even virtually keep tabs on the work and communicate with them while you’re at your home or office.

Here’s to hoping your summer plans involve a lengthy vacation and should you feel the need to invest in your favorite vacation destination, visit coldwellbanker.com to find an agent in our global network who can help turn your dream into a reality.

Husband. Father. Socializer. Mets Lifer. TV Aficionado. Consumer Engager.

David Marine is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker, where he oversees the brand’s marketing efforts and content strategy including acting as managing editor for the Coldwell Banker blog and heading up video production efforts. While CMO by day, David runs a three ring circus at night as he is the father of 4 boys. He also happens to be married to Wonder Woman. True story.

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  1. Brooke McAvoy
    August 31, 2016

    I hadn’t thought to make sure that vacation home is manageable. Now that I think about it, it would be difficult to maintain a large space regularly, and you would have to sacrifice some precious relaxing time. While I look for a cozy apartment on the beach, I’ll also look for one that is small like you suggested. Thank you for such an applicable article!

    • David Marine
      September 2, 2016

      Thanks for the comment Brooke!

  2. Rachel
    September 20, 2016

    Making sure the vacation home has smart tech is a good idea. That way you can monitor your house if you feel the need. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  3. Tyler Meredith
    December 5, 2016

    I like what Cindy R. said about hiring a property manager. It makes sense that it could be helpful to make sure the home doesn’t have any damage but it could be hard to do that from so far away. I’ll have to look into hiring a property manager if I buy a vacation home.


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