Monday, May 11, 2015

BUYER TIP: Things to Consider Before Buying a Weekend or Vacation Home

Summer vacation is a mere 9 days away for most St. Louis schools.  How do I know?  The Nenonen Boys started the official countdown at the breakfast table this morning- ha!

Each year around this time, like clockwork, friends and past clients begin to reach out to me with questions about vacation home acquisition: a dock house in the Ozarks, an Innsbrook A-frame, a hillside escape with a view Table Rock, a river house with land, a historic cabin in Chautauqua, a hunting retreat, a condo in sunny Florida, a place to get away.  

The fact is, St. Louis is surrounded by gorgeous lakes, rivers, and resort communities- little hidden secrets that are not only beautiful, but relatively affordable to purchase.  Those who have experienced the joy of planning a local Lake weekend rental getaway, myself included, know all too well that getting your hands on peak time (like Memorial Day weekend) can be impossible and COSTLY.   

I have the same questions presented to me every year around this time: How do I find a property?  What do I look for?  What do I avoid?  Is it a decent investment? How do I ensure the security of the home when I am not there? Ultimately, isn't it less expensive for me to buy? What hidden costs do you project?  Will my vacation home ultimately become a headache?

All of these questions are important, valid, and necessary to research prior to taking the plunge!   I recently stumbled upon this terrific article on and felt compelled to share. Sound Advice. 

8 Factors to Investigate Before Purchasing a Vacation Property


I have been a property manager here in Orlando since 2006, so I feel very confident in advising investors on buying a vacation home. Here are eight tips you should consider before you go and put money down on a vacation home.

Know All Your Costs

Before you sign a contract, do your homework and know exactly what the true carrying costs of your vacation home are going to be every month. The carrying costs should include: mortgage, home owners insurance, property taxes, HOA fees, property management fees, pool service (if you have a pool), lawn service, monthly utility bills, etc.

I recommend after you have calculated all your expenses, you should make sure you have no problem paying these expenses even if your vacation home brings in zero monthly income. I have talked to too many investors over the years who bought a vacation home they could not afford and whose home became an anchor on the family’s finances.

Find a Good Property Manager

A good property manager is key if you are going to be owning a vacation home. After all, the manager is the one who is going to be looking after your investment when you are not in town. A vacation home can deteriorate very quickly if the house does not have proper care.

I recommend driving around the neighborhood where the house you are looking to purchase is located and find homes that have good curb appeal. Then find the property managers who manage those homes. Chances are if a property manager is taking great care of the outside of a vacation home, then the inside is usually very nice as well.

Travel to the Vacation Home Location Before Purchasing

You will want to travel to the vacation home location quite often and make sure this area is where you and your family will want to travel and spend most of your vacations. You should also make sure that the area is easy to get to. I’m sure it is nice to have a vacation home in the mountains, but if it takes you a plane ride and a 3 hour car ride to get to, chances are you probably will not be visiting your vacation home too often.

Learn About Peak Time

If you are going to looking to get rental income from your vacation property, you should be aware that the most popular travel times will bring you the most rental income. So if you need income from your vacation home to make the deal work for you and your family, then you will probably need to use the house during the off season when the demand is not as great.

Know That Owning a Vacation Home is Not Always a Vacation

If you are pretty handy or if you want to save money, just be aware that when you visit your vacation home there will probably be a couple of days that are dedicated to doing general maintenance and repairs to your property.

The National Realtor Association has stated that the annual upkeep on a house should be around 2% of the value of the house. So if a house is around $150,000, then the owner should expect to spend around $3,000 annually on repairs and upkeep to keep the house in the same condition. The same rule goes for vacation homes.

Be Aware That Lifestyles Do Change

My wife and I have a vacation home in Destin, Florida. When our kids were younger, we used the house all the time. Now we visit our property about every 18 months or so. As your kids get older, their lives become more hectic with sports, school, and church activities so there is not as much free time.

Check the Crime Rates

You will want to check the crime rates of area and make sure that you are purchasing a home in a safe place. High crime will kill a vacation hot spot quicker than anything.

Learn the City’s Future Plans

Go to the city planning board website or do some investigation on your own to see what future plans are for the city. This insight will be extremely helpful when you go to actually purchase a property.

I hope these tips help you when you go to purchase a vacation home. The biggest tips I can give any potential vacation homeowner is to be realistic in what you can afford and do not overreach when purchasing a vacation home. After all, a vacation home is a luxury item that has turned into a nightmare for far too many families.


LOCATE A LOCAL REALTOR WHO YOU TRUST TO ADVISE YOU FROM START TO FINISH ON THIS PURCHASE. No one can determine value, growth potential, best location,upkeep, and income potential like a Realtor.  Period. As a Buyer, your Realtor representation is 100% FREE to you, paid for by the Seller so take advantage. Ask around, do your homework.  If you cannot locate the right fit, call me at 314.452.7675 and I can stick you through our NRT referral network to have your placed with a reputable agent in the area.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to invite your friendly St. Louis Realtor for a weekend of fun in the sun. =)