Buying a Second Home: What You Need to Know

Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals share their advice on what to consider before buying a second home.

Buying a second home is a dream for many, whether that means finding a vacation home or adding an investment property to the portfolio. But buying a second home comes with its own set of considerations. From maintenance to insurance, financing and timing, we turned to Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals from across the country to answer many of the questions you might have before starting the search for the perfect second home. Here’s what they had to say.

“I deal solely with second homeowners. Buying a vacation home can be enjoyed more if they understand how much management a property may or may not need when not around for most of the year. For instance, buying a condo can be easier to manage from a far away distance versus a single family.” – Chris McDonnell, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, Vail, CO

“Have a good idea of what you will be using [the property] for. With services like AirBNB becoming so popular many homeowner/condo associations have tightened up their rules and regulations to preclude the ability to use the property for this type short term lease or rentals at all.” – Andrea Geller, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Chicago, IL

“In Charleston, we have many second home owners. If considering as a rental property, your goal should be to mitigate the costs of your own family retreat. You may make a fortune, but you should make great memories in a location and in a property you wouldn’t necessarily afford without the rental income.” – Jenn Maher, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

“Make sure you are aware of the zoning where you’re buying. It may be a recreational property for now (or rental) but if you plan on retiring there in the future, are you allowed to live there year round as a primary residence? Also, make sure you know the financing rules for a second property. Can you put down as little as 5% or do you need 20%? Is it on leased land? Then you need a credit line or cash. No mortgages on leased land in Canada.” – Melissa Mummery, Coldwell Banker Coastline Realty, Brokerage, Port Dover, Ontario

“Create an LLC for your investment property. Reap those tax benefits!” – Monica Hart, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Maplewood, NJ

“Invest in an area you know.” – Erin Holman, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Scottsdale, AZ

“Do your “second” homework. See what I did there? Seriously though, read the covenants to make sure that the use you have in mind isn’t prohibited. For example, can I have a pet? Am I allowed to do my own rentals? Check the financials of the home owner’s association. Are there big repair projects coming up? Is the HOA broke? Will they need to levy a special assessment? Of course, the best piece of advice is to work with a Realtor from Coldwell Banker that understands your preferred second home market.” – Dave Moloney, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, Steamboat Springs, CO

“Do it sooner rather than later. I’ve specialized on income property sales for almost 20 years and the investors who bought back then are now paid off and either have huge equity and are making great returns without mortgages, or have pulled out money for other projects. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll have it paid off.” – Todd Glaskin, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Waltham, MA

“In regards to purchasing an investment property, the one piece of advice I’d share with someone is to set realistic goals.” – Sunny Berle, Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, Kitty Hawk, NC

“Plan for emergency expenses in your budget.” – Tricia S. Beam, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Florham Park, NJ

“Make sure you have the right insurance in place. If you buy it strictly for personal use and then decide to rent it later, you may need an adjustment to your policy, especially if it’s a condo.” – Jeff Bosch, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Chesterfield, MO

“Some states, like SC have different taxes owed based on if it is your primary residence or second home. Not understanding the local tax costs could cost you a lot of money.” – Rebecca Hanlon, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

“Buy it in sunny southwest Florida.” – Ashley Houseman, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, Sarasota, FL

“Visit and buy during the season that you are planning on living there. Our area is completely different in summer and winter! Access, sun exposure, sounds from boats in the water, etc.” – Kathleen Tillman, Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty, Coeur D’Alene, ID

“If this is for a second home, look at it that way. It is an emotional purchase. Where do you want to spend your free time and time with family, friends and loved ones? If this is for an investment property, it’s all about the dollars and cents. How much return are you looking for financially and for how long do you want to hold onto the property?” – Tracy Freeman, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Maplewood, NJ

“Establish a plan and talk to your financial advisor! Many of my buyers want to pay off their retirement home by renting prior to retiring. Make sure you have the ROI after expenses.” – Natalie Painter, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Kitty Hawk, NC

To start your search for the perfect second home, visit or find a local Coldwell Banker Real Estate professional.

Victoria Keichinger is the Vice President, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not managing national media and advertising for the Coldwell Banker brand at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse and son. A true Francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

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