Is It Time to Buy a Second Home?

If you have been dreaming of owning a vacation home now may be the time to buy. Home prices and mortgage rates continue to fall and there are some great deals for buyers looking for a second home.

Here are five things you need to know before taking the leap.

1. Prices are at all-time lows
In many second-home hot spots, prices are still close to their five-year lows. When the real-estate bubble burst, some of the hardest-hit markets were vacation destinations. Many vacation home areas experienced overgrowth and may now be suffering from foreclosures.

2. Think ROI
Consider the possible return on your investment. Whether or not you decide to rent the home out, you will want to consider buying a place that has good rent potential. That’s because a home’s rent ability can affect its resale value. Before you bid on a house, make sure the homeowners association or township allows short-term rentals.

3. Don’t count on rental income
If you are planning on counting on rental income to cover the costs beware. According to HomeAway.com, a typical second home property rents out just 17 weeks a year. Make sure to account for the weeks the home won’t rent. Plus, you’ll need to pay for cleaning, maintenance, insurance, and maybe management fees. Make sure to plan on the maintenance costs of the property being at least 15% of the income.

4. Your mortgage rate depends on how you use the home
How you use the home depends on the mortgage rate you will receive. If you plan to use the property primarily as a second home and you’ll pay about the same mortgage rate as you would on a primary residence. If your plans are to use the home for rental income and need that income to qualify for the loan, you’ll need to have as much as 25% for the down payment and pay up to one percentage point more in interest.

5. Take advantage of tax benefits
Talk to your tax guy before you buy. If you rent the home out for two weeks or less you won’t have to report a cent of income to the IRS. The good news here, you can still deduct property taxes and mortgage interest. On the flipside, if you stay there for less than two weeks or 10% of rental days, you can deduct operating costs in addition to interest and property tax.

But where should you buy? According to CNBC here are the top places to buy a second home. If you are thinking about buying a second home I can help you find a professional agent in that area.

Why You Should Buy a House NOW

It’s time to buy a home! That is right you heard it here, no more doom and gloom for the real estate market. The time has come to go out and buy some real estate. The only thing holding buyers back has been consumer emotion but a look at the facts should help buyer feel more confident in opening up their wallets for a great opportunity in today’s housing market.

JP Morgan’s Market Insights report has outlined why people looking to buy a home have never been in a better position. Here are just three important points from the JP Morgan report.

The Price is Right

One measure the report looked at was the ratio of personal income to home prices.

“Since 1966, the median price of an existing single family home in the U.S. has varied between 150% and 251% of personal income per household. However, roughly three-quarters of the time it has been in a relatively narrow band between 185% and 230%. In September 2011, the ratio was just 153%, implying that to get back to an average price to income ratio, home prices would have to rise by about 27%.”

Mortgage Rates are Right

Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows as compared to personal income.  The report notes, “During the week of October 7, Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates had fallen to an average annual level of 3.94%. Assuming the use of a fixed rate mortgage with 20% down, this would make the median mortgage payment on a single family existing home just 6.9% of per household personal income, compared with an average of 14.4% since 1966.”

What this means is that it is a buyers perfect storm. Buyers who buy now will likely reap a long term financial gain by buying a home at a lower than average cost and financing it for a lower than average cost. It is a win-win situation.

Home Ownership Beats Renting

The report goes on to look at the cost of renting versus owning. JP Morgan predicts that by the “third quarter of this year, we estimate that the implied median mortgage payment had fallen to just 78% of the median asking rent. In other words, at current mortgage rates, home prices would have to rise by 35% just to get back to their average relationship to rents.”


Home buying is now more affordable than it has been in decades. Home prices are at all time lows, mortgage rates are at rock bottom and income levels remain steady. Despite what you may hear on the nightly news home ownership has never been more affordable.

Buy a Home and Watch Your Money Grow

Before you decide to buy a house, it is crucial that you consider various factors beforehand. Some of these factors can be as straightforward as making sure to choose a home in a good area, and making certain that the property is also in good condition. However, it is also important to consider the housing market, because it is imperative that you buy a house at the right time. For example, if you are in a market where there is a huge demand for homes for sale, then the prices of houses will generally be high, and so if you are buying a house for investment purposes, this wouldn’t be the right time for you to make that purchase. With the market starting to creep back up buyers will be looking to get a good deal before demand goes back up so selling a home right now can bring great results.

On the other hand, if there is less demand for buying houses, then the price of property will generally be very low, thus making it the perfect time to buy. Right now is a fantastic time to buy a home with the slower market interest rates at the lowest in years. Buying a home in a down market can become a great investment down the road. You can consider it like a savings account. Buy the property in a down market, and watch your money grow.

Should I Buy a House ?

Owning a house gives you a sense of fulfillment, and helps boost your self-esteem. It is a long term investment and should not be taken lightly. The present state of your finances is possibly the single most important factor when contemplating home ownership.  Before you start shopping for a house, take into consideration the following factors.

Have you set aside enough money for the down payment?  The amount you need varies based on the price of the home and percentage required by your lender.  Zero down mortgages are possible, however the interest rate is typically very high increasing the amount paid out over the life of the loan. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is typically required for this type of loan, again increasing your monthly payment.

How high of a mortgage payment can you afford to make ?  If you opt for a fixed rate, your payment would remain consistent throughout the period of the loan. This type of loan is favorable for future financial planning.   Adjustable rate mortgages make it a bit trickier to predict your monthly payments based on the fluctuating interest rate throughout the duration of the loan.  This type of loan could be risky if interest rates rise and your payments increase significantly higher than anticipated.

The security of your financial future is paramount when acquiring a mortgage loan.  You would not want to enter into this long term investment without stable employment and a definite career path.  Most banks and lending companies require a borrower to have been with the same employer for at least 2 years before considering a loan of this nature. Secure financial footing is key when applying for a mortgage loan.

When determining your readiness to purchase a home, your credit score is as important as your finances. If you have a low credit score, you’ll attract a higher lending rate. This implies an increase in the amount paid back to the lender over the duration of the loan. An excellent credit score of 720 or above attracts the best interest rates and repayment terms. If your credit score is too low, improve it by:

  • Becoming Debt Free
  • Removing all inaccuracies from your credit report
  • Making all monthly payments in a timely manner — eliminating late payments
  • Avoid applying for new loans and opening credit accounts

The commitment of home ownership comes with financial responsibilities beyond the monthly mortgage payment. Be certain to consider additional expenses such as property tax, utility bills, and home maintenance costs when calculating your budget.  Carefully weigh out all the factors to ensure you will be comfortable with your monthly payments allowing you to enjoy your new home for years to come.