So you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a home in the mountains. Congratulations!
Owning a second home can be the start of an exciting journey for many. It may signal the culmination of years of savings and careful planning; or, it might be a way of diversifying your investments.
Whatever the reason, ownership of a second property offers many benefits. Whether you want a gathering place for family and friends, greater access to the outdoors or just a place to recharge your batteries, a second home eliminates the hassle of making lodging reservations and other travel arrangements.
However, with those perks come additional layers of responsibility which you’ll want to address before you sign the final papers.
Determine How the Property Will be Used
Most people put a fair amount of thought into what they are trying to achieve with a vacation or second home. Will it be a weekend refuge or perhaps a several weeks or months worth of vacation time? Who will be using it? Will you be renting it out?
If you are unsure of how much time you’ll be spending at your new home, you may want to wait at least a few months before committing to a schedule. If you are planning to rent out your home, you’ll have to keep that in mind when furnishing the home. You’ll need appropriate supplies on hand and you may want to adjust the decor to withstand the wear and tear that comes with renting.
Shopping and other Amenities
Depending on the location, you may have to keep in mind what supplies are available locally and what items you may have to stock up on/bring with you. In other words, plan accordingly and keep a list of items that are required to keep the home functional and operational. Just like your primary residence, when you notice that you’re getting low on certain items, it’s advisable to have a running list of necessities. If your goal is to destress, the last thing you want is multiple trips to the store to pick up items you forgot to pack.
Regardless of whether you’ll be renting out your home or keeping it for family and friends, it’s imperative that you have a local point of contact who can check on the property and make sure there are no problems. Whether you enlist the help of a neighbor or another year-round resident with whom you trust, you’ll be glad that someone is keeping tabs on your investment.
The last thing you need is to plan a visit, only to find out there has been a water line break, downed tree limbs on your roof or across the driveway or vandalism. Having someone who is willing to check on your home on a regular basis is critical to keeping it safe and operational.
You may want to invest in the services of a property manager or management company. Many people have come to the conclusion that this service is worth the price. Having the peace of mind knowing that snow and debris are being cleared from the property, the home is being checked on a regular basis and everything is operating normally, especially when you are planning a visit, often justifies the extra expense. Home maintenance is critical at your primary home and even more so at a vacation home, especially when it’s not occupied full-time.
Water damage, in particular, is a big concern for absentee homeowners. Frozen pipes or a malfunctioning hot water heater can create big problems, especially when it’s not immediately addressed. You may want to consult with an HVAC professional on how to best protect your home, and at the very least, shut off the water when you leave for extended periods of time.
Assuming you want your home to be a retreat, you may not want to be responsible for cleaning it, especially if you are cleaning your primary residence. Ask around to find a responsible housekeeper or cleaning service, and conduct interviews. You’ll want to feel comfortable with a person or persons being in your home when you’re not there. And, it’s always a good idea to have an inventory of all your possessions and to keep valuables locked up in a safe or locked closet.
Will your home be used as a rental? Many people need rental income to keep a second home viable, and VRBO, Airbnb and other companies have made the short-term rental process much easier and accessible for all. For a fee, these companies will list your home and keep the rental calendar up to date. You can block out the time you anticipate using your property and allow renters to access it when it’s convenient for you.
Also, check with your insurance company and make sure your policy will cover theft, breakage, damage and other issues that can crop up with a rental.
Make sure you are familiar with the local regulations on short-term vacation rentals. Some communities do not allow them while in others, it’s the norm. You’ll also need to know how much you’ll have to pay in local taxes when renting out your home. Many communities have cracked down on illegal rentals and fines are now being levied against unlicensed properties. It’s imperative to know all the ins and outs before renting your home as a short-term vacation rental.
Some properties have their own on-site management and reservation systems. If your second home is part of such a community, many of the rental requests may go directly through the front desk. All of the property maintenance, including housekeeping, is included but you typically pay a high HOA monthly charge as a result.
If you need assistance in finding your dream mountain home in the Vail Valley, contact Usaj Realty. Usaj Realty can help you make a vacation retreat a reality.
Posted by Pat O'Connor
Pat O’Connor has dual citizenship in both Wisconsin and Colorado, having been born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, but later adopted by the Centennial State. A graduate of the University of Colorado (B.S. Journalism, 1980), O’Connor began her career as a sportswriter at the Boulder Daily Camera under the tutelage of the venerable Dan Creedon. Her experience also includes stints in public relations at Aspen Highlands Ski Area, the Colorado Trial Lawyers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. When she isn’t piecing together sentences, the self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” enjoys traveling, running, playing golf, hiking 14ers, horseback riding and skiing. During football season, she can be found cheering for the Buffs and "whooping it up" when the Packers win. She loves talking sports and giving recommendations on cheese curds.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter