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Considering a vacation home?

Vacation home sales are booming, particularly in beach and boating locations in the South and West. If you’ve always dreamed of a home away from home, be sure to ask yourself the following questions.

How will you use it?
Will it be a seasonal home and future retirement spot? A vacation home you’ll also rent out? Pick a place you love, but heed the advice of experts who say the sweet spot is a destination that’s no more than a three-hour drive from a major metro area. The proximity can help with resale, plus it usually draws a larger pool of potential renters. If rental income is important, ensure local laws or association bylaws allow it before making a purchase.

Can you afford all of the costs?
Don’t just look at the purchase price to determine if you can swing it. You’ll need to also factor in property and insurance taxes, potential homeowners or condo association fees, and the cost of utilities and maintenance. Your tax implications will vary, too, depending on how you decide to use the home. If you rent it out for more than 15 days a year, for instance, you’ll need to declare the income to the IRS.

Do you have a plan for when you’re gone?
If you live more than a couple of hours away, a local property manager may be helpful for overseeing tenants and dealing with maintenance issues. You’ll also want to take measures to protect your home when no one is there. A security system is a no-brainer, and it might even reduce insurance costs. Other good bets include motion-sensitive exterior lights, timers for indoor lighting, and a car parked in the drive every so often (courtesy of a neighbor).

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