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Right now, there are more people 65 and up in the United States than there have been at any other time in our nation's history. Currently, that figure stands at 15.1 percent. Granted, not all people in their mid-60s are retired. (According to stats from 2017, 19 percent of the 65-plus crowd are still working). Nonetheless, many people who have the chance to retire or who get older and decide it's time to cross items off their bucket list, start taking more vacations -- and many are diving into the investment of purchasing a vacation home. And that can be a very good thing. Taking a vacation has been shown to lower stress, improve your cardiovascular system, and even strengthen your marriage. If you're a retiree in the market for a vacation home, here are some tips and advice to consider.
Many of us idealize retirement as a time of globetrotting and time-sharing on beaches as soft as powdered sugar, free of all worries about money. But since 14.5 percent of seniors in the US, who should be basking in retirement, live below the federal poverty line, that story isn’t as realistic as we’d like to think. For the vast majority of us, no matter how old we are, money is still a consideration. Just because you’ve escaped the 9-to-5 daily grind doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ponder these questions when looking for a vacation spot:
- Where is the best place to buy? (Think about how close it is to you or how often you’ll go there.)
- Can you afford a second home?
- Is this a good investment, or will your money better serve you if it’s parked elsewhere?
Square all this away, and you’ll be able to relax a lot more after you get the papers signed.
Doing Your Research
Now that you’ve got your finances in order, think about your desired area, and then do your research. As with searching for any property, it’s best to scroll through online databases, talk to a trusted realtor, or both. Expect a property’s asking price to fluctuate depending on where it is. Keep in mind that if you don’t have the cash to pay for a vacation home outright, you’ll need to take out a mortgage to get it — and if you’re already a homeowner, that won’t be your only home loan. If you can afford it, great! But if not, don’t be afraid to pull out of that plan. In the long run, you’ll feel far better in retirement if you’re not stressed out.
If you’re using a secondary property as a vacation rental, you might need to think about how to store some of your possessions. If you have heirlooms you want to be secured or anything you want to protect from accidental breakage, consider adding a storage building or garage to your property. Many people go with steel when constructing these buildings, as they are relatively easy to assemble and designed for durability. If you need more information, Armstrong Steel has an informative guide to the world of steel buildings.
Holding Down the Fort
Before you pull the trigger on buying your vacation home, read up on all the hidden costs that you’re likely to encounter. These include tax implications and stricter mortgage terms, as well as the cost of maintaining it when you’re not there. If you buy a condo or a townhouse, your homeowners association fees should cover your expenses in this regard. But if you have a single-family home, you’re on the hook for all repairs, great or small. If you hire a property management company, you’ll probably shell out at least $75 per month (not including repairs). Meanwhile, there’s also homeowner's insurance to consider.
Here are some ways to keep those costs in check:
- Remember that premiums for new homes are generally lower than for old homes.
- Install storm shutters, impact-resistant glass, and a fire-resistant roof.
- Find and install the right security system for your needs — a step that you should take both for your safety and for your wallet.
Buying a vacation home in retirement is an investment, but it’s one that could make this next chapter of your life even more exciting. Know what you can afford, research your ideal area, and make plans for upkeep and maintenance, and you’ll be able to make the most of your new home away from home.
Image via Unsplash
Are you thinking of renting out your home? In that case, you need to ask these 10 questions to anyone wanting to rent your house:
1. When are you planning to move in?
This is the question that shapes the rest of your engagement with the potential tenant. The answer here will help you determine whether or not the tenant’s timelines synchronize with yours. If, for example, a tenant wants to move in a month from now but you want to rent it out sooner than that, then there is no point in engaging the person any further.
2. Why are you relocating?
If the tenant is moving into your property after falling out with their previous landlord, you need to know what led to the fallout. Was it because of dishonoring their rent obligations? Was it because of neglecting their other tenant responsibilities as per the lease agreement? The answers they give will tell you whether or not to let them rent your property. In the same vein, ask them how long they have lived in the previous apartment and how long they intend to live in yours. If you establish that they have a habit of hopping from one apartment to another within unreasonably short durations, politely decline their application.
3. Have you ever been evicted for any reason?
This question seeks to clarify the #2 question even further. Maybe they weren’t evicted in their immediate former home, but you cannot conclude that they have never been evicted in the past. Ensure that they give you sufficient details about their journey since they started renting.
4. How stable are you financially?
If they are unstable, chances are that they will give you problems with the rent. Experts say that a good tenant is the one whose monthly rent doesn’t exceed 40% of their total monthly earnings. That is to say that if you expect the tenant to pay $1000 in monthly rent, they should be earning at least $2500 per month. And because monthly income isn’t a perfect indicator of financial stability, make a point of running a credit check to determine how much debt the tenant is in. If your new tenant is in the Gig economy, you might want to ask more questions if they are financially stable.
5. How many people will you be living with?
The last thing you want is to rent your house out to an individual, only to realize later that he brought in his extended family and some of his friends to live with him. There is nothing wrong with housing a needy friend or relative, except that more people mean more wear and tear to your property. Besides, overcrowding in homes is listed by most fire departments and health professionals as a major health and safety risk.
6. Do you own any pets or support animals?
If yes, how many do you have? This is important to know if you have a renting policy that doesn’t allow pet ownership. If you have a set monthly/annual deposit for pets or a limit as to how many pets a tenant can have, make it clear to them beforehand.
7. How clean is your criminal record?
As a tenant’s credit history is significant to your property’s financial future, so is their criminal history to your - as well as your other tenants' - security. Don’t underestimate the number of ex-convicts looking for rental homes in the US today. In 2015, a tenant screening by SmartMove showed that at least 22% of all tenants-to-be had a criminal record. Even if you don’t have a problem renting out to an ex-convict, having this information with you is necessary when planning your rental unit's overall security.
8. Are you prepared to pay all moving costs upfront?
Some landlords require tenants to pay a security deposit, one month rent deposit, and first month rent in full upon signing the lease. If you are such a tenant, or if there are other moving costs attached to your house, then let the tenant know beforehand.
9. What kind of a neighbor can you describe yourself as?
A new tenant can be so unruly that they force their neighbors to end their lease earlier than intended. If they like to play loud music or bring home too many friends, you need to know so that you can append a rule within the lease that will keep their unruly behavior in check.
10. Do you have any follow-up questions?
This sounds obvious but it is very important. You need the tenant as much as they need your property, so you will be wrong not to give them the chance to ask you the follow-up questions they could have. This presents you with the opportunity to appeal to the tenant.
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