Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am

Business & Real Estate

A realtor's guide to buying a vacation home

courtesy of Alex Proimos
Vacation homes made up 13 percent of all home sales nationally in 2013, according to a National Association of Realtors survey.

Across the country, spring is finally making an appearance. For many Americans, this means one thing – vacation time.

More and more people are taking their vacations in a second home, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2014 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey. The survey found vacation home sales accounted for 13 percent of all sales in 2013, up nearly 30 percent from the previous year. That represents their highest market share since 2006.

Even as activity picks up, the market remains good for buyers. This means that if you’ve been dreaming of buying a vacation home, now may be the time.

Before you start the process of looking for a vacation home, you should think about what kind of home you want. Are you looking for a condo or a house? Do you want a cabin in the woods or a bungalow on the beach? Knowing what you want to get from your home can help establish a price range and location you can use to begin your search.

Once you have a general idea of the area and type of vacation home you want, your next step is to contact a realtor. Whether you’re going to buy a vacation home across the country or across the street, working with a realtor can save you time, money and a lot of stress. A realtor who lives and works where you want to buy can provide valuable insight into the local market. He or she can help you determine what you can afford and which neighborhoods fit your wish list.

A realtor will also have insights into the area’s current real estate values, utility costs, municipal services, taxes and facilities and zoning laws that may affect your property.

You may want to interview a number of realtors before deciding on the one who best suits your needs. Ask how many vacation-home listings they have, how many years they’ve worked in the industry and if they have any particular specialties. Look for a realtor who has earned the Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist certification. This means that he or she has specialized training in buying and selling second homes.

Are you considering renting your vacation home when you are not using it? If so, ask your realtor about renting to others. He or she can advise you on potential restrictions, advantages and disadvantages, and tips for making your vacation home a top-notch investment as well as a fun retreat for your family.

The wonderful thing about a vacation home is that it’s a great getaway and a good long-term investment. Vacation homes often become retirement homes, so your purchase really is an investment in your future.

Myron Von Raesfeld is president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

For more information, call (408) 445-8500 or visit sccaor.com.

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