Getting Started: Owning a Second Home

Owning a second home is an exciting prospect, but it can be daunting. Our guide should help you get started!

Can I afford two mortgages?

If you aren’t paying cash -- and not many people can do that! -- there are a variety of options for financing. Contact your mortgage lender to discuss your best options. You may be able to use some of the equity in your primary residence, but keep in mind that your debt to income ratio will be very important. Lenders need to know you can pay two mortgages. Take a look at our mortgage calculator to see what you can afford.

What are the property taxes on my second home?

In some states, they’re higher than the taxes on your primary residence. Call a qualified tax professional and find out exactly what you're getting into. You’ll need to know how many days a year you stay there. and how many days you’ll rent it to others.

Can I rent out my second home to help with the mortgage?

You can. Depending on how often it’s rented, you may need to treat your property as an investment, paying taxes on your rental income.

Is my second home a personal residence or an investment property?

The number of days you stay there. If you rent it for less than 14 days a year, it’s a personal residence. If you stay there for more than 14 days a year, or more than 10 percent of the days it’s rented, your property is an investment property, and your rental income will be taxed.

How can I find a real estate agent to help me find a second home?

If possible, get a referral from someone in the area. You may also want to drive around and see who’s listing homes. Before you decide, check with the state licensing board to see if there are any red flags.

Are you ready to get started? Take a look at all of our posts about buying owning a second home to learn more.