Second Home vs. Investment Property: What’s the Difference?

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You hear these terms thrown around all the time: Second home, investment property, vacation home, rental property. But is there any real difference among them? And does it even matter what you call it?

As it turns out, there are some very big differences between second homes and investment properties, especially if you are financing it.

“Both are fantastic ways to build wealth over time by capturing the appreciation of a real asset,” says Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate in Denver. However, “both come with inherent risks and expenses that should be carefully considered when making a purchase.”

As with any real estate transaction, you’ll want to do your homework and make a smart choice for your wallet, no matter which path you go down. We chatted with experts to get the scoop.

What is a second home?

A second home is just that: a second property where you and your family spend time, away from your primary home. You might also hear a second home referred to as a vacation property. You may rent it out for a few days each year on Airbnb or VRBO, but you primarily use it yourself.

Buying a second home makes financial sense if there’s one particular vacation spot you visit regularly. Why spend a fortune on hotels or Airbnb when you can own your own piece of paradise that will hopefully appreciate in value over time?

“Let’s say you live in San Francisco, but you are an avid skier in the winter and like to hike in the summer,” says Rachel Olsen, a real estate agent in California. “If you spend many weekends and vacations in Lake Tahoe, it may make sense to purchase a second home there.”

What is an investment property?

An investment property, on the other hand, is one that you purchase with the explicit intention of generating income. The investment property could be right next door to your own home, or it could be in another state—it doesn’t really matter. You’ll be playing the role of landlord, with long-term or short-term renters paying cash to stay in the home.

“Never forget that an investment property is all about the Benjamins,” says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of financial services firm Noel Taylor Agency. “The entire point is to turn a profit. No emotions, no affection.”

Before making an offer on an investment property, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a solid investment. Similarly, consider what factors will be important to prospective tenants (e.g., access to public transportation, good schools, parking, and low crime rates).

How to finance a second home or investment property

If you’re paying cash, you can skip this section. But if you need a mortgage for your new property, you should know that financing a second home or investment property is very different from financing a primary residence. And, while mortgages on second homes and investment properties have some similarities, there are also some key differences.

  • Interest rate: You can expect to see a higher interest rate for both second homes or investment properties than for primary homes. Why? Because lenders view those transactions as riskier. If you get into a tight spot with money, you’re far more likely to stop paying the mortgage for your second/investment property than for your primary home.
  • Qualifying: Whether you’re buying a second home or an investment property, you might need to do some extra legwork in order to qualify for that second loan. Your bank may require you to prove that you have healthy cash reserves (so it knows you can afford both mortgages). It’ll take a long, hard look at your overall financial situation, so be sure everything is on the up and up before you apply.
  • Down payment: Depending on your situation and the lender, you might also need to bring a larger down payment to the table for an investment property or second home, typically 15% to 25%. Again, this is because the bank wants a bigger cushion to fall back on in case you default.
  • Rental income: If you’re buying an investment property, your lender might allow you to show that anticipated rental income will help cover the mortgage payments. However, proving how much rental income the home will generate can be complicated. Prepare to pay for a specialized appraisal that takes into account comparable rents in your area.
  • Location: Your lender may require a second home to be 50 to 100 miles away from your primary home. An investment property, however, can be anywhere in comparison to your primary home, even next door.
  • Taxes: Federal income tax rules are different for vacation homes and investment properties. Generally, you’ll treat your second home just as you would your first home when it comes to taxes—if you itemize, you can deduct the mortgage interest you paid up to a certain limit. (The rules vary if you rent out your second home for part of the year.) If you own an investment property, you get to deduct the mortgage interest, plus many of the expenses that come with operating a rental business, but you also have to report your rental income, too.

Why it’s important to not confuse the two

It’s important that you’re totally clear about the difference and not use the terms “second home” and “investment property” interchangeably. Some people try to pass off their investment property as a second home to get more favorable financing, but you should never do this.

If you lie on your loan application, you could be committing mortgage fraud, which is a federal offense.

Your lender’s underwriting team is aware of this possibility, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. They’ll take the big picture into account when deciding what loan terms to offer you, says real estate attorney David Reischer.

“A single-family residence by a lake that is located in a completely different state from the borrower’s primary residence is much more acceptable to be categorized as a second home by a bank underwriter,” he says. “A multifamily-unit property with rental income in an urban area is likely to be treated as an investment property.”

Bottom line: Keep everything aboveboard, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

The post Second Home vs. Investment Property: What’s the Difference? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Bundle Up! Winter’s Home-Buying Game Has Changed. Here’s How To Win

How to buy a house this winterViktoriia Hnatiuk / Getty Images

Savvy home buyers know that winter is typically a good time to embark on a house hunt, since much of their competition stays holed up at home until spring. But this winter, buyers might notice that despite the cold and the holidays, they’ve got company.

Lots of it, in fact.

“Normally winter is a good time for buyers,” says realtor.com® chief economist Danielle Hale. However, since the coronavirus kept buyers on lockdown for much of spring, many are making up for lost time by home shopping hard right now.

“This year’s unusual seasonal pattern means that buyers aren’t getting the usual break from the market frenzy that they typically do in the cooler weather,” Hale explains.

As a result, this winter is shaping up to be a seller’s market, with low real estate inventory, high prices, and bidding wars that could give buyers a major run for their money.

This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel—just that you’ll have to hone your house hunt in new ways to suit the times. Here are some tactics that will keep you ahead of the pack so you’ll be sitting in a new home by the new year.

Secure your financing as soon as possible

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage and securing financing are an essential first step when buying a home. It gives you a clear picture of how much house you can afford, and lets you make an offer as soon as you find your dream home.

Matt van Winkle, a real estate broker and owner at Re/Max Northwest Realtors in Seattle, says this process is more important now than ever.

“Getting pre-approved for a loan is obviously important, but is there anything else they can do to put themselves in a good position?” he says. “Buyers need to be ready to buy a house before they start looking.”

Too often, buyers don’t line up their financing until they find a home they want to buy, van Winkle says. In the current competitive market, waiting to get pre-approval means you could lose out on purchasing a home you love.

“That creates a mad dash and stress to get everything lined up under pressure,” he says. “Get all your financing secured and ready before you look, that way when you find the right home you’re 100% ready.”

Starting early could also help you lock in an ultralow interest rate, which could affect your monthly mortgage payment and mean you could afford a more expensive home. As of Oct. 22, Freddie Mac listed rates at 2.8% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Know what you want before you house hunt

COVID-19 has changed how we live and work. We’re spending much more time at home, and people are looking for different features in their living spaces.

Make a list of your must-haves before you start house shopping—and share your needs with your real estate agent.

Simon Isaacs, broker and owner of Simon Isaacs Real Estate in Palm Beach, FL, says it helps cut down on the number of homes you’ll have to view before finding the right one.

“I would suggest buyers not look at 25 homes,” he says. “If the agent is showing them that many houses, the agent doesn’t know what they want.”

In such a competitive landscape, knowing exactly what you want enables you to act fast when you want to make an offer.

Tour homes virtually first

More real estate agents are embracing virtual tours and remote showings to ease coronavirus safety concerns. In some cases, they’re even limiting in-person showings to the most serious buyers—those with financing already secured, for example.

“Real estate agents in our local market are adjusting to the client’s needs by continuing to provide in-person showings with precautions and also assisting buyers virtually with their home purchases,” says Matt Curtis, owner of Matt Curtis Real Estate in Huntsville, AL.

Virtual home tours, using Zoom or FaceTime, let you view the home from anywhere, and depending on the setup, you might be able to ask questions in real time. So you can narrow down the homes you’re most interested in and physically visit only the ones that best meet your needs.

Don’t dawdle if you want to make an offer

In September, there were nearly 40% fewer homes on the market than during the same month last year, according to a realtor.com report. At the same time, buyer demand has increased, creating an incredibly competitive marketplace. Homes were on the market for an average of 54 days in September, 12 fewer days than last year.

Tracy Jones, a real estate agent with Re/Max Platinum Realty in Sarasota, FL, says the buyers she’s worked with lately have had just a few homes to consider. And, with all the other buyers in a location also looking at those same houses, you’ll need to act fast if you’re interested.

The challenge, she says, is potential buyers have little time to mull things over, and they are pitted against one another.

Isaacs is seeing a similar situation. Wait too long to submit an offer, and another buyer is likely to swoop in with an offer of their own.

“I would say don’t deliberate on buying,” he says. “I’ve had too many clients who were [saying], ‘Should we, shouldn’t we.’ I would say if it’s something that you want to do, do it.”

Make your offer stand out

Since inventory is so low, sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes these days. To make sure yours gets accepted, you’ll need to make it stand out.

Cash offers and inspection waivers are some ways to make your offer more appealing, Curtis says.

A cash offer, if you can afford it, is attractive to sellers because it eliminates dealing with a mortgage lender and often speeds up closings. An inspection waiver comes with lots of risks, since you’re essentially agreeing to purchase a home as is, but the waiver removes any repair negotiations and helps you close faster.

For competitive markets, where you know you’ll be competing directly with many buyers, Jones suggests talking to your agent about escalation clauses. This is a contract addendum where you agree to pay more than other offers (up to a maximum you set).

Bottom line: “Find a strategy to help make your offer stand out amongst the 10, 20, or more offers that may come in on your dream home,” Curtis says.

The post Bundle Up! Winter’s Home-Buying Game Has Changed. Here’s How To Win appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

3 Big Reasons Your Home Offer Was Rejected—and How To Play It Right Next Time

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For first-time home buyers, finding the perfect place to settle down is hard enough. But then to have the offer you’ve made on it rejected? You might be tempted to start reconsidering this whole homeownership thing altogether.

But hold on! Having your home offer rejected doesn’t have to mean it’s back to renting. In fact, if you play your cards right, you might just be able to turn that rejection around—or at least learn from the experience and come back a stronger candidate the next time.

The most important aspect of a rejected offer is understanding why it was rejected, and for that we turned to the experts. Here are a few common reasons your home offer might have been rejected, and a few helpful tips on what you can do about it.

3 common reasons sellers reject home offers

Home offers are rejected for myriad reasons. Here are some of the most common ones, as explained by the experts.

1. Your offer was too low

The first and most obvious reason your home offer could have been rejected is if the dollar amount didn’t meet the seller’s expectations. This might mean your offer was insultingly low, or that it was just low compared with other offers.

Often, buyers “believe the best way to start a negotiation is with an offer that’s lower than what they’re willing to pay,” says Colby Hager, owner of CapstoneHomebuyers. “This can work, but it can also backfire. When a seller is considering multiple offers, the low offer seems less serious and could indicate further negotiating headaches down the road.”

Keep in mind that sellers are looking for a good deal just as much as you are, and you should plan on working with your real estate agent to make sure the sellers at least feel like they’re getting one.

2. Your earnest money deposit was too ‘cheap’

If there’s one part of the offer you shouldn’t cheap out on, it’s the earnest money deposit. This deposit (also called an EMD or “good faith” deposit) basically signifies how interested you are in the home and that you plan on moving forward with the deal, all the way to its closing.

“Believe it or not, there are buyers who get cold feet and walk away from a transaction days before closing,” says Shannon Hall, broker and owner of Dwellings by Rudy & Hall. “The EMD should be enough to let a seller know you’re very interested, and also uncomfortable with the idea of leaving it on the table.”

Since many contracts stipulate that a seller can keep the earnest money deposit when a buyer walks at the last minute, you should feel certain about the house—and then convey this certainty by leaving a significant deposit.

Hager recommends putting down at least 1% of the purchase price to show sellers you mean business.

3. You asked for too many contingencies

Sellers don’t just want the best price for their home; they also want the easiest deal—which means no complications.

“Sellers like the least number of contingencies,” stresses Hall.

“But that’s not to say that a buyer should waive the due diligence period,” she adds. “Make it shorter, but don’t waive it. And if you need multiple contingencies, that’s fine; but look for a home that’s been on the market for at least 30 days.”

Since sellers are generally more willing to make concessions on a home they’ve been trying to sell for several weeks, this is a good approach to take if you’re a picky buyer with multiple contingencies.

“Sellers also don’t like to give away their money to help someone get into a home,” says Hall.

Make your deal an easier and more appealing one for sellers by sticking to the fewest number of contingencies possible, getting due diligence done quickly, or targeting homes that have been on the market for longer.

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Watch: 5 Things You Should Never Do When Buying a Home

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What to do if your home offer is rejected

The first step is understanding why the offer was rejected in the first place.

“If an offer was rejected, a buyer can try again, depending on the reason it was rejected,” explains Karen Parnes, broker and owner of NextHome Your Way.

“If you need a certain home sale contingency, for instance, and can’t remove it, then move on,” Parnes says. “But if you can pay more and the market warrants it, resubmit a better offer.”

How to avoid future home offer rejections

Although rejection is sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to increase your chances of making a successful home offer.

For instance, “a buyer should come into the market already aware that he or she will have competition,” Hall says.

In addition to putting your best foot forward, you should be sure you’re working with an agent who has the skills to close the deal.

“A good real estate agent can help by guiding the buyer on the expected norms of offers in their area,” says Hager.  “A real estate agent will also know the market and help you figure out if starting with a lower offer is advisable—or if a strong offer out of the gate will get the best results.”

One final bit of advice: Work with an agent who understands seller interests.

“The buyer’s agents who most often win the day are the ones who reach out to sellers before submitting an offer,” says Hager. “They have the best chance of not being rejected because they took the time to understand the seller’s situation.”

And if your home offer still gets dismissed, don’t be too disappointed. In a seller’s market, “buyers are bound to have their offers rejected,” says Parnes. “Homes are coming off the market quickly, and sellers’ expectations are high.”

If your offer gets rejected, work with an agent to fix it or simply move on to the next home. Then make an offer the seller can’t resist.

The post 3 Big Reasons Your Home Offer Was Rejected—and How To Play It Right Next Time appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com