At a certain point, it’s almost a rite of passage for a Minnesotan to consider buying a vacation home, a.k.a. a cabin. If you’ve come to that time, we’ve put together a list of 10 things to ask yourself as you embark on the next stage of home ownership.
- How far are you willing to drive?
Oftentimes vacation homes are for weekends or summers. One of your first considerations should be how far are you willing to drive, possibly routinely, for your get-away? Also consider spontaneous trips for maintenance. Minnesota and Wisconsin have no shortage of hideaways near and far.
- Are you going to try and rent it?
If you’re hoping to purchase a vacation home and rent it out, do your research on location. Make sure you buy in a popular destination where there is a need for rental properties.
- How will financing work?
Before you start looking at places, we recommend your first step be talking to your lender. Discuss how financing will work for a second home, and how much you will need to put down (usually it is a greater percentage), etc.
- How will you maintain the property?
Consider how you’ll upkeep the property. Can you maintain it yourself, or will you need to hire people out? If you want to hire the work out, are there local people you could hire to do the work?
- Do you know how taxes will work?
Consult an accountant and be aware of state laws on how second homes are taxed. Certain rules apply, for instance you are able to write of the interest of a second home.
- When is the best time to buy a cabin?
The best time to buy for the best price is end of the season. Buying in the beginning of the summer you won’t be able to negotiate the price as much, but you will have more of a selection. Decide which trade-off is more important to you.
- Have you researched lakes?
If your goal is to be on a lake, make sure you research the lake if you aren’t 100% familiar with it. For example, some lakes have motor restrictions or recreational regulations that you’ll want to be aware of. Are you more interested in good fishing or lake fun? Also, think about how important it is for you to be able to boat to restaurants and gas.
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
Besides your family, will entire guest families be coming to visit and do you want areas to put everyone comfortably? Is it more important to have space and less important to have a lot of lakeshore, or even be directly on the lake but have access? Or, maybe you want to stay small and cozy. Think about not only your family but if you want your place to house in-laws, extended families and friends.
- Do you want a fixer upper or not?
If you’re willing to put in the work to get what you want or are simply looking for more of a project, do you have relationships with vendors in the area to do the work? Do your research and make contacts to make sure you can get the help you need.
- Do you know what you truly want?
With any real estate decision, understanding what you really want will lead you to your home. Buying a vacation home is a huge and rewarding step, and often more of a decision of the heart and lifestyle. Identify where you want to be and don’t rush the process.