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Buying a home is never easy, but it can be especially challenging if you're making your purchase from a remote location, like when you're buying a vacation home. If you're purchasing a second home or a vacation property in the next few months, these tips can help you through the process. By doing your homework, working with the right real estate professional, and by making decisions in advance, you can make the purchasing process easier on yourself. Here's what you need to know.
Understand the Tax & Loan Implications
Mortgages for vacation homes often require a larger down payment than primary residences. In addition, some loans that can be used to purchase primary residences cannot be used to buy vacation homes. For example, you can't pay for a vacation home with an FHA loan.
You may be able to deduct the mortgage interest from your taxes, but only up to a certain amount. Your accountant can help you understand how the mortgage deduction will work before you buy the house. Call your accountant before getting into the home purchase process, so you can be fully aware of the tax implications before finalizing the purchase.
Know What You Want
Sit down with your family before you start shopping for a home. Have discussions that will focus your search. Ask questions like: Where do we want to buy? How big will the house be? How large should the lot be? Answering these questions in advance will help you narrow your search and keep it focused on houses that are likely to make you happy.
Research the Real Estate Market
Are homes competitive in the area where you'd like to buy? Do they go fast? Must you act quickly? What's the price range of homes you'd like to buy? What's the forecast for real estate in the area? Having answers to these questions will help you make decisions that will inform your home buying process. Some of this information can be found online, but the best and most accurate way to get a lot of this information is to work with a reputable real estate professional.
Plan at Least One or Two Trips
Much of the home buying process can be done remotely. PDF document signing technology has made it easy to make offers and send documents to home buyers from out of state or even out of the country. However, it's still advisable to make at least one trip to the area and see the house you'd like to buy in-person before making an offer.
Very likely, you won't find the house you want to buy in the first trip. Plan to make at least one (and possibly two or more) trips to the area where you'd like to purchase. Plan your trips carefully to ensure each trip is productive. Make a list of properties to see before leaving. Communicate your list of properties with your real estate agent in advance, so your real estate professional can make appointments to see homes before you arrive.
Find the Right Real Estate Professional
Work with a real estate agent who has facilitated long distance purchases in the past, and who has strategies for helping out of town buyers. To find a real estate agent, interview reputable candidates before settling on the right one for you. The real estate professional you choose should be friendly, communicative and confident in their ability to help. Working with the right real estate agent, you'll be able to get the job done, even when you're not in town.