Buying a second home — especially where you like to vacation or where you plan to retire — remains popular in the US. In fact, baby boomers preparing for retirement own about 57 percent of all second homes in the country, according to the National Association of Realtors. In addition to acquiring retirement homes or vacation getaways, people buy second homes for family gathering hubs and recreational spaces.

You must understand the financial commitment of buying a second home and decide whether the market is ripe for the purchase. But once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to consider what you need to look for in your second home.

Pampering or Preplanning?

To make buying a second home as smart as possible in every way, know your motives. Are you ready to pamper yourself with a dream home or are you just planning ahead? Other questions to ask yourself include:

  • Are you seeking to stay central to your extended family?
  • Do you want to find the ideal location for your permanent home when you retire?
  • Are you looking for an active lifestyle in your retirement?
  • Do you desire a warmer climate?

The answers to these questions drive the next steps in the process. They also affect other decisions you’ll have to make, such as the type of mortgage you’ll seek and what kind of insurance you’ll need. Find a mortgage lender with ties to a potential destination — like Prime Mortgage Lending of West Asheville, which as ties in Western North Carolina and Northern California. They can provide valuable resources and referrals when you’re looking for a second home that matches your goals.

Location, Location, Location

As in any real estate transaction, the location of the property has to meet your goals. Consider the area you’re considering and what it has to offer you, especially as you age.

  • Is it near shopping?
  • Is it in a quiet neighborhood?
  • Does it have other amenities, like nearby parks or pools?
  • Will family and friends want to visit you there?

Try It Before You Buy It

Before you complete the process of buying a second home, give it a trial run (if possible). If you can’t rent the actual house you’re looking at, rent a nearby property to check important features, such as:

  • How accessible is the property?
  • What is the cost of living in the area?
  • What do the locals think of their community?
  • What have the property values done over the past few years?

A good Realtor can help you answer these questions, but nothing beats first-hand experience. Trust your instincts and your values as you rate the issues that are important to you in your second home.

Get on Good Terms with your Second Home

Don’t forget to negotiate. Look for better terms than are normally available when buying a second home. You can request special terms from the seller, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get them. While it may not hurt to ask, if you insult the seller with too many conditions, you’ll lose all your goodwill.

Talk to an independent lender at Prime Mortgage Lending to help you find better terms. An independent lender is free to consider all options, which can help in strict situations like buying a second home. Finally, look for the most favorable insurance, maintenance and local tax options when looking at buying so that your second home fulfills all your expectations and then some

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