You’ve just had a bluebird powder day in Jackson Hole, caught the perfect wave in Hanalei
Bay, or made a bunch of birdies on the back nine at Bandon Dunes, and it suddenly becomes
crystal clear: you need to spend more time here. Even better — you need to own a piece of this
paradise. Swept up in the moment and under the spell of vacation, you feel like a second home
is a really good idea. But is it?
Maybe, if the pull toward the “home” part is genuine and strong. “Owning a second home
is a decision that can largely be based on wanting to become part of the experience in another
community,” says Marin County realtor Tracy McLaughlin, who owns a second home in Aspen.
“Dropping into hotels or Airbnbs is great short term, but really doesn’t allow you to become
connected to people who live there,” she adds. “I also think you can create great traditions that
become a fabric of your own family by celebrating year after year in one location.”
The practical advantages of owning of a second home are clear: it’s a potential asset that
could appreciate; you can style the property to your taste and drop in any time; you can ditch the
heavy luggage and leave your gear there; you can rent or swap it out, host family reunions, make
new friends and discover a new locale. Sounds good, right? But there are hard, cold realities to
consider too, like unexpected expenses, two mortgages, HOA fees, property tax, maintenance,
headaches with renters or unfamiliar property managers, guilt for not using the place enough
or feeling obligated to use it rather than travel someplace new.
Many real estate experts believe you should only buy a second home if your first home is paid
off or if you have the cash to pay for the new one, so you are not taking out another loan. “Second
homes should only be for people who have the wealth to be unconcerned with the expense of
owning a second home for the short periods they are going to use it, “says San Francisco developer Rich Singer. “And keep in mind that this expense includes the considerable time and energy
You’ve dreamed of owning a second home, but
is that option right for you? If the answer is yes,
here are four vetted options to consider.
BY ANN WYCOFF, KASIA PAWLOWSKA AND NIKKI WOOD