Considerations before Buying a Second Home

By Ryan Fleming Vice President, Private Banking Relationship Manager - The Commerce Trust Company

September 6, 2016


It is estimated that between six and 10 percent of homes in the United States are second homes. If you are considering buying a second home, now could be a good time to take the leap with interest rates still near historic lows. Ryan Fleming, a Commerce Trust Private Banking Relationship Manager in Bloomington, Ill., discusses some common considerations for second-home buyers.

Q. Ryan, what are some of the pros and cons of a second home?

A second home purchase can fulfill a lifelong dream or become a nightmare. Many buyers can avoid the nightmare scenarios by making a balanced and informed decision.

The downside of buying a vacation home is that you will have two of everything – mortgages, property tax bills, water bills, fuel bills, etc. It also means additional responsibility for repairs and general upkeep.

At the same time, owning a second home can be very rewarding in tangible and intangible ways. It can be the source of relaxation, a place to get closer to your family or to engage in your passions or hobbies. It can also generate income if you choose to make it an investment property.

Q. What should a potential second-home buyer consider before making a purchase?

Think about your goals for the property. Do you want to buy a vacation home that will one day become the place you retire to, and perhaps even pass on to your children? A second home for vacations is very different from an investment property that you buy to generate income. That difference can affect your taxes and the insurance coverage you will need.

Many second-home buyers rent out the property part of the year to offset their expenses. There are different tax rules depending on how much you use the property for personal or rental use. There are many more considerations that are best explored with your accountant or financial advisor.

Q. Good tip. What else?

Take a look at the numbers. Consider whether you can afford to take on a second mortgage, plus insurance, maintenance, repairs, furnishings, and property-management fees, if you choose. Prices can vary greatly by region. Developing communities are less expensive than established vacation hot spots. An experienced real estate professional can help.

Q. What about getting a mortgage on a second home?

An experienced banker can be invaluable in helping to understand the costs of purchasing a second home and the loan options available to you. They can look at your current financial situation and the property you want to purchase, and advise you on what type of loan you may be eligible for. A banker can also help you get prequalified or preapproved for a loan before you start looking at properties, so you know what you can afford to buy.

Q. Any final thoughts?

Before searching for a second home, it is important to clearly define your goals for the home – whether it is a retirement destination, an investment property, or used for other purposes. Next, build your team of professionals, including a banker, tax advisor, and real estate agent who can help you navigate the process. Remember that purchasing a second home is a big decision that should be made carefully, and in the context of your total financial life. So be sure to include your financial advisor or planner.

  • Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and the opinions and other information in the commentary are as of September 6, 2016. This summary is intended to provide general information only and is reflective of the opinions of The Commerce Trust Company.
  • This material is not a recommendation of any particular security, is not based on any particular financial situation or needs, and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, tax advisor or investment professional. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against all risk.
  • The information in this commentary should not be construed as an individualized recommendation of any kind. Strategies discussed here in a general manner may not be appropriate for everyone.
  • Commerce Trust does not provide tax advice or legal advice to customers. Consult a tax specialist regarding tax implications related to any product and specific financial situations.
  • Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice depending upon worldwide market, economic or political conditions.
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