Although it may seem to be at odds with convention, a growing number of renters are buying second, vacation properties even before they purchase their primary residence.
Real estate industry watchers say the trend is borne from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that with remote work now a permanent fixture of many people’s lives, they’re taking advantage of market opportunities to buy small getaway homes that they intend to use primarily for vacations.
Apartment Therapy reported that many of these second-home first buyers are drawn to country cottages and cabin lodge-style homes even while they continue to rent an apartment or home in the city as their primary residence. One factor driving this is that the housing market is red-hot right now and there’s a very limited supply of homes in many markets. But that isn’t always true for some more remote destinations that may serve as an appealing getaway for many urban dwellers.
Jamie Manning, who runs the real estate blog Exposed Brick DC, told Apartment Therapy that she never expected to buy her vacation home in Charlottesville, Va., before purchasing a primary residence in the Washington D.C. area, where she lives. She said she and her partner see their new property as a “true second home” where they can spend weekends and possibly work remotely during the week, whenever they want a break from the city.
“This idea had been on our radar because real estate costs are so high in D.C. that we felt buying here may not be realistic,” Manning told Apartment Therapy. “We have been diligent and saved and were anxious to make some kind of real estate investment. We were craving a change of scenery and a different pace of life.”
The Mortgage Source reported that many buyers are hoping to buy now due to the low interest rates on most mortgages, that some experts say may not last. But they may be priced out of buying in the area they lives due to escalating home prices in competitive markets.
So the idea of buying a second home first means that first-time buyers can invest in real estate while they continue to live in the city, renting a home there. While people would obviously need a large enough income to be able to pay off a mortgage and rent at the same time, Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant, told The Mortgage Source there are some financial benefits to be had from such a situation. For example, buyers can deduct the mortgage interest on a vacation home just as it's possible to do so on a primary residence, and then deduct property taxes up to the cap, Greene-Lewis said.
Another benefit for second home buyers is that they can rent out those properties when they’re not using them themselves as a source of supplemental income.
Real estate professional John Coleman told Apartment Therapy that many of his first-time buyer clients were excited to purchase a home during the pandemic because their travel options elsewhere are very limited.
“Buying and renting out on Airbnb has been very lucrative for some, and it will be interesting to see if that can hold up moving forward,” Coleman said.