Saturday, December 25, 2004

Holiday shopping for a home? Don't sign that contract too soon

Here's are a few quick tips before we all go off on our Christmas/New Year holiday vacation.

They're from Kortney Stringer of the Wall Street Journal. She lists the biggest errors made by buyers of second homes, along with advice on how to avoid such mistakes.

Note -- I'm listing just brief summaries:

Get to Know Your Market Firsthand

This may seem obvious, but given the number of people who ignore it, it bears repeating: Research the local market properly. 'A lot of people vacation somewhere for a week or two and think they want to live there, but they don't know anything about the area,' says Tim Richards, an Ocean City, Md., real-estate agent who specializes in second homes.....

Don't Settle for Less Than What You Really Want

Sometimes people make sacrifices when buying a primary residence....But a second home should be about pure enjoyment. It's important to get it exactly right.

Look Into Zoning and Other Restrictions

Become familiar with local politics, laws and other peculiarities. Many communities, particularly those in coastal areas, have special zoning requirements and other ordinances of interest....

Bone Up on Mortgages, Insurance and Contractors

Lenders historically have charged higher rates for second-home mortgages; they view second homes as a greater risk because they're often the first thing to go when borrowers need to tighten their belts....

Is It a Fixer-Upper?

Maintenance issues in second homes can be a bigger concern than they are for a primary residence....You don't want to spend your getaway weekends doing a lot of chores....

Don't Expect a Cash Cow

For second-home owners using their property as an investment, experts warn not to depend on rental income to cover their mortgage and other expenses...."

Read Kortney's full report here.

Have a great holiday! I'll be back Jan. 1 with a first-hand report on the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts.


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