Lights off, gas in the tank, bags in the car… The vacation has begun!
Vacations are a treat for every busy family. Tensions ease and burdens feel smaller. You get a chance to unwind and reflect. The inherent value of recreation is what leads so many families to invest in vacation properties. Instead of frantically searching for places to stay that fit allotted times off, many choose to purchase a property, giving them freedom and flexibility.
There are a few key things to understand when you buy vacation properties, particularly rental properties. Taking a few preparatory steps will enable you to make the best investment possible for your wallet and your family. At the end of each section, we will apply the principles to a theoretical purchase at 123 Winter Lane at Silver Star Mountain, our local recreation hotspot! 123 Winter Lane is a 2-bedroom unit on the second floor of a five-storey building right beside the village. It was built less than 5 years ago and allows rentals during the busy seasons in the Spring and Summer, as well as longer-term rentals for shoulder seasons.
What Exactly Do You Need It For?
The first step when planning a vacation property purchase is to strip the process down to the basics and ask yourself as a family:
What does recreation mean to us? What does a property need to have to accommodate our needs?
This question, though basic, will get to the heart of your desire for a vacation property. Do you have four kids and need enough room to be comfortable? Well, a two-bedroom unit with one bathroom might not cut it then. Is it more enjoyable to have your coffee on the deck with a view? Well, a ground-level unit may not be the best choice.
Much too often, people begin the conversation about vacation property by talking about finances first. It’s natural to want to figure out finances before searching for property of any kind, but finances are not at the heart of most vacation property purchases. Buyers of these properties seek an escape, a suitable accompaniment to their lifestyle. The first best step to take is figuring out why you want one in the first place. These insights are then used to guide the next steps.
123 Winter Lane
Before even viewing this property, we figured out why we need it. Our family decided that they wanted a property on a ski hill because they love this family activity. We live in Vernon, and we needed somewhere close to home to avoid extensive winter travel.
Once you’ve figured out basic desires, you can move along to location concerns. You may have figured out the general geographical location of your vacation home, but what about the actual location? Does it support your lifestyle?
The first consideration with location is to ask your realtor about resale prospects and the general popularity of hyper-local areas. You may wish to know of upcoming developments so you can
avoid construction noise, or avoid buying a unit that will have its view blocked. You may not want to drive a vehicle during your vacation, so would want to know the proximity of local amenities. How accessible is your home, overall?
You also want to figure out how important location is versus price. Would you be willing to pay premiums for better views or a more central location?
123 Winter Lane
Not only did we desire a property up at Silver Star, but the location was also of utmost importance. With young children still learning how to carry equipment, we didn’t want to be too far away from the village. We did save some money by purchasing on the second level, as views from the top floor wasn’t a preference.
You’ve figured out where you want to buy, now let’s take a look at maintenance concerns.
How much effort and money do you want to expend to maintain this property? Some people prefer to enjoy their time away fully and want to avoid cleaning beyond the daily maintenance. This is the common experience at hotels, where it doesn’t matter if you make your bed before checking out and paying your bill.
There is also the concern of maintenance costs, and who pays for them. The owner of a unit in a strata building does not need to be concerned about the roof or parking lot maintenance, generally speaking. These costs are paid by the strata corporation. While you pay a monthly strata fee that helps cover such costs, you aren’t stuck worrying about so many incidental costs.
123 Winter Lane
It was important to us that we didn’t have to clean up the place before we left Silver Star and headed home. Our complex has on-site cleaners we pay to do this. To us, the cost is worth the saved effort. We also pay a monthly strata fee to avoid having to worry about those maintenance matters beyond our unit walls.
This is one of the most important considerations when planning to purchase a vacation property. Do you only plan to use the unit a handful of times during a given season? Be sure there aren’t rental obligations in the bylaws that limit such use. Do you want to manage your bookings, or have a representative of your building do so? Well, it’s very important to see what the rules are concerning such bookings.
Vacation properties are quite often in strata complexes with extensive bylaws and rules. These bylaws and rules serve to protect your investment. Without them, there could be no standardized building policy for you, or for visitors to your unit. However, you want to ensure that you aren’t too limited by these restrictions. Too many restrictions can affect your vacation freedom, and limit your ability to have fun.
Be sure to get a copy of the bylaws and rules before finalizing your purchase. Evaluate your needs and wants and cross-reference them with these restrictions to truly determine if it’s a good fit for your family.
123 Winter Lane
Our building had an option for concierge services, which we declined. We can handle our bookings and prefer to save on those costs. However, We didn’t want to be limited visitors-wise since we have out of town friends and family that we’d like to host. Our building does not limit overnight guests and has ample parking for them. We’ve found our perfect vacation home!
We started small, listing our basic needs and wants. We then expanded our horizons and explored the most important aspects of buying a vacation home, at Silver Star or abroad! These tips will keep your goals at the forefront. They provide you with ample opportunity to conduct due diligence and evaluate your needs over time.
Of course, you should always have a Realtor® in your corner! I’m always here to help you find the perfect vacation property, keeping your needs in focus and working within your budget. It’s always an adventure buying vacation property, as I’m available to come along for the ride, keeping you protected along the way.