10 Tips for Buying a Second Home (Part 2)

Buying a second home - Part 2

Buyers looking for a Second Home have important matters to consider before making a decision about where, when and how to buy that property. What you specifically want and need in that second home is a critical discussion.

These issues may differ from decisions you made for your primary home purchase. Consider what these differences might be before you get too far along. This will help you be more effective in your search and planning.

Here’s what was discussed in Part 1 in case you missed it:

  • Lifestyle issues (e.g., will your second home lifestyle differ from the way you live now?).
  • Financial considerations (e.g., cash versus financing: the added costs of a second home).
  • Rentability (e.g., do you want to rent the property when not in use; are there any rental restrictions?).
  • Maintenance (e.g., things you have to do as a homeowner – how will you handle maintenance at your second home. DIY? A paid management company?).
  • Location (e.g., where do you want this home to be relative to where you live; how far are you willing to drive or fly?).

Here are 5 other matters to think about in your second home search.

Life at the Beach in a Second Home


The issue of security is often an important one. This may be even more relevant since you won’t be living there all the time. The area itself where your home is located is always something to evaluate, but perhaps more so for part-time living.

(1) Do you want someone to check on your property regularly?

(2) Do you want a security system?

(3) Is a lock-and-go type of condo building, or a gated community, desired for enhanced security?

Also be sure to check into the specifics of your home owner’s insurance since you won’t be living there.


Are pets an important part of your life? Will you have them with you at your second home? Of course you need to think about transporting them – easy for a short car ride. But the other question is are there are restrictions in the home owner’s association regarding type of pet, size, and how many you can have?

If you can’t take your pet, or prefer not to, one option is a pet or house sitter when away. In addition to have your pet taken care of, you have the reassurance someone is watching your home when you are absent.


Unless you buy a furnished second home (not always easy to do), plan on the costs and personal time for furnishing your home.

(1) Will you furnish your second home differently than your primary home?  

(2) Do you want a completely furnished kitchen like at home?  

(3) Will you be eating out more than cooking?

(4) Do you need all new furniture or will you use furniture from your primary home? 

If you are planning to rent your second home consider the quality of the furniture, and accessories that tenants might expect. Spending too much on expensive personal furnishings when you will be renting regularly could be a waste of money. Some second home owners use a locked closet or storage area to store valuables and personal items when renting.


As with a primary home purchase the condition of your second home is an important consideration. Do you want a home that is turn-key so you can start enjoying it immediately. Or are you willing to deal with a fixer to get it in the condition you want it to be. 

Think about whether you want to be living with construction, or doing projects every time you are using the home. It might be the right decision to put up with remodeling to get the house you want, and make it your own.

Move-in ready might be your ideal. But finding something turn-key that checks off all the boxes may not be possible within your budget. Be willing to be flexible around doing cosmetics so the property will work for you as a second home.


Searching for a second home can be different depending on where you are looking for the property. This is especially true if it’s an area you don’t know as well as where you live. Furthermore, when the desired area is far from your home you can’t easily explore homes or communities in person without taking a trip. But to get the right house and neighborhood, it’s worth the time, effort and expense.

Working with a knowledgeable agent who understands the local market conditions (inventory, pricing), the communities, and how to assist buyers from a distance works to your advantage. Education is key, as market conditions and pricing may be very different from where you live. As with any home purchase you need to understand how these issues impact your decision making, and budget.

If you are searching in another state the paperwork, and even the purchase process, may be different from what you are familiar with. It’s important to understand these issues early on in the process. The right agent will provide the education you need and answer all of your questions.

I am happy to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about purchasing a second home in the Carlsbad or North San Diego County area, especially along the coast. Please give me a call at (760) 840-1360. Then we can discuss your particular needs and budget, and address any questions or concerns.

I can create a custom search direct from the MLS for you once we discuss your particular needs, budget, and location interests.

If you are interested in other areas I can still help. I have a large network of agents I know personally around the country. I can help you find the right person to assist in your second home search and purchase in most areas.