5 Tips for Buying a Second Home

Considering owning your own home-away-from-home? Here's what to keep in mind before you buy

Credit: iStock / Toprawman

Location and ease of access are both critical considerations for your second home, especially if you’re looking for waterfront property

Owning a summer home or recreational property can enhance your lifestyle and investment portfolio, while providing guaranteed accommodations whenever you need a quick getaway

But buying a second home requires very different considerations than your primary residence.

You’ll want your recreational home to be unique, well-situated and easy to maintain.

Here are 5 key considerations you’ll want to make before the keys are handed over on your vacation property.

Think Durability

Summer cabins may be synonymous with all that is rickety and rustic, but when you’re investing in a property, you want to focus on quality over quaintness.

Look for a property built with durable materials that will weather well and require limited maintenance, especially if you’re not going to be there to maintain it year-round.

Other favourable features include properties that are well-planned with aesthetically pleasing design, a porch or family-friendly outdoor area and storage facilities.

Invest in Location

Your second home is both a financial and a lifestyle investment, so consider locations that will make you happy while you’re there, and make it worth the money.

Water is always a safe investment and will make your experience more enriching and enjoyable, if you can secure the right location on a lake, or with a water view.

Buy for Resale

If you can, opt for rare-find property like a waterfront cabin. Being on Okanagan Lake, for example, is a safe bet because there are so few waterfront homes left to purchase there.

Being on a hill above the water may be okay if you’re retired, but for families, it’s less user friendly and less likely to increase in value as quickly as waterfront property.

Ensure Maintenance and Security

You don’t want to escape to your summer home just to have to paint or garden. Your second home should be a fuss-free getaway.

Being part of a strata with a property management company means you don’t have to worry about property maintenance. And it gives you some peace of mind about break-ins. Buy a place you can lock and leave with no worries about your furniture going missing.  

Consider Rental Opportunities

Renting your property can offset the expense of buying a second home, so buying something that’s easily accessible is important – both for you and for your renters. If you buy into a development, make sure it allows for renters.

Rob Chetner is a Vancouver developer with decades of experience, both personally and professionally, dreaming, designing, building and buying second homes. His first project as a developer, The Waterfront, was on the Kelowna lakefront and won many awards. He owns one of those homes and spends most of his summers there with his family. His second lakefront Kelowna development, Boucherie Beach, is for sale now.