By Dan Hechtkopf and Reid Heidenry
1. View the home as a form of recreation, not an investment.
If you buy one, make sure, above all, that this is a house and an area you enjoy. It will be worth the cost if you spend as much time there as possible, put your heart and soul into caring for it or plan to keep the home in the family for future generations.
2. Approach joint property investments carefully.
These types of agreements can start wars even in the warmest families. Set down some rules about the percentage of ownership accorded each party and what rights those percentages confer.
3. Don’t buy outside the country.
In other countries, rules about title and ownership are not as clear as they are in the United States. In many countries, you run the risk of your property being ransacked or nationalized.
4. Research all four seasons before you buy.
It’s a good idea to visit the area in which you plan to buy during every season.
5. Make sure the house and location make a good rental.
If you’re really going to work to rent out the property, make sure it’s well suited for vacationers.
6. Work with an agent who knows the area.
The agent can also be a great resource for little-known information on hidden bonds and community events.
7. Don’t buy a timeshare.
Even in good economy, it’s hard to sell a timeshare.
8. Buy an existing home instead of land.
To build a house from the ground up, you may have to deal with coastal authorities, local building restrictions, aggressive homeowners associations and sketchy contractors.
9. Factor in extra costs.
In additional to the loan, you’ll have to cover taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities. If you live more than an hour away, you might have to factor in the cost of a caretake or property manager.
10. Buy only what you can afford.
You simply enter what you make and what you owe, and the calculator will take you much more the banks will lend you.