New York — More people are buying a second house, not only to have a place to get away but also as an investment.
Americans own 5.1 million vacation homes, reports the National Association of Realtors. That figure includes 445,000 purchased last year.
People buy second homes for various reasons: as a real estate investment, to have a place to retire or as a way to take vacations without paying high rental prices.
For others, it's all three, plus a way to make extra cash by renting the home out to other vacationers.
But before you buy a second home, here are some costs to factor in, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance.
Insurance rates tend to be about 20 percent higher than those on your first home. Factor in additional coverage if the house is located in an area prone to natural disasters, such as hurricanes. And if you plan to rent out the home, expect to pay even more for liability insurance.
Mortgage and loan rates also tend to be higher than those on your first home. Rates may be a percentage point higher, and lenders may ask that you make a down payment of 20 percent to 35 percent.
On the plus side, however, you can search for lenders in your hometown or in the area where the vacation house is located.
Whether you keep the home for your own use or rent it out, remember that you'll need to maintain the property. That can be difficult if you live far away, so you may need to hire a property manager. Your renters also may ask for specific features such as DVD players or high-tech kitchens, so be prepared to pay for the "extras" that attract renters.