Many are tempted, but fewer have good ideas starting out how to maintain two homes efficiently. If you’ve ever been tempted to own a second home there are considerations to remember that can help you own and maintain two properties.
Before You Buy
If you are looking for a second home to purchase and need to buy on a budget, remember that government-backed mortgages such as FHA loans, USDA mortgages, and VA home loans all require that the property you are purchasing be your primary residence. You will be required to certify that the new-to-you property you are purchasing with the new loan is going to be your home address. Government-backed loans are not approved for occasional occupancy properties including vacation homes, timeshares, etc.
Conventional mortgages don’t necessarily carry these same requirements, but you’ll want to research the type of mortgage you are eligible for depending on the nature of your new purchase.
Day-to-Day Operations When Owning Two Houses
Properties that sit vacant for too long can develop problems including vandalism, theft, squatting, and other issues. If you spend more time at one house than the other, consider getting a house manager, also known as a property manager, for the location you spend the least time at.
A more affordable option is to pay or otherwise compensate a trusted friend or associate to look in on the property on a regular basis. When doing so, it helps to offer food, free wi-fi, and other perks to sweeten the deal; a friend who spends the weekend looking after your place should at least have the option to raid your fridge and use your internet.
Wondering who will take care of the house may not be appealing to you. But money… is always appealing. Why not consider renting? You could rent the home whenever you’re not there using platforms such as Airbnb. If this is the route you choose, make sure you investigate your city and state laws that may regulate how such enterprises must be run, and be sure to pay your taxes on any income received through renting your second property.
Maintain Two Homes Efficiently While You’re Away
Installing a smart home system that allows you to remotely adjust thermostat settings and other features is an excellent idea for a second property. You definitely want to be able to control the climate in your second home while you are not using it. Neglecting this can lead to unnecessarily high utility bills, potential mold and other issues, plus you will want to be able to adjust the settings in anticipation of your arrival or the arrival of a guest or property manager so that the house is comfortable when you/they show up to use the home.
A must for any part-time occupancy property? Getting a good alarm system. Yes, you COULD simply resort to placing signs announcing you have an alarm system and do it on the cheap–believe it or not, some “how-to” articles discussing ownership of two properties actually advise people to place the signs as the “econo version” of a reliable alarm system. But this is actually BAD ADVICE.
Why? Ask yourself how much you are spending to purchase and maintain the second property. With those figures in mind, are you really going to skimp on the security of your home? No, you do NOT want to do so.
Joe Wallace is a writer and editor from Illinois. He was an editor and producer for Air Force Television News for 13 years, and has served as Managing Editor for publications including Gearwire.com, and Associate Editor for FHANewsBlog.com. He is also an experienced book and script editor specializing in non-fiction and documentary filmmaking.