How to begin planning for your camp or vacation home purchase

Looking to get away this summer to one of Maine’s many lakes, mountains, or our beautiful coast? Purchasing a year-round vacation home or seasonal camp is a dream for many of us. Here are a couple things to keep in mind as you begin planning to purchase your vacation property

Location - With the real estate market being incredibly competitive, it’s more important than ever before to carefully consider a property’s location and how you plan to use it.  An area you love to visit in the summer may be inaccessible in the winter, which of course would significantly limit your season to use the home.  Also, consider if you want to use the property solely for personal enjoyment or if you want to rent it out part-time for additional income. If there’s the possibility that you may use the property partially as a short-term vacation rental, be sure to look for properties in areas that provide a reasonable level of demand for vacation rentals. A quick way to determine this is by searching for weekly camps or home rentals on sites like Airbnb or VRBO. If multiple properties appear with limited availability, then a property in that area may provide enough short-term rental income in a couple of months to cover your annual expenses, so you can enjoy it cost-free for the remainder of the year.

Lastly, with the real estate market continuing to have low inventory, be open to new areas of our beautiful state of Maine. There may not be any vacation properties available to purchase in your dream destination today, but you may find something similar in an area you haven’t explored yet.

Work with a trusted real estate agent - Working with a real estate agent with experience is crucial.  In Maine, vacation properties are consistently in high demand.  An experienced, local agent may be attuned to properties that are coming on the market before they are officially listed, giving you a competitive advantage. A local realtor will also be able to help connect you with local resources to help care for your property while you're away such as property management companies, lawn care, snow removal, and repair services. 

Financing - Securing financing for a second home or camp property are different from that of a regular residential property.  Most lenders require a larger down payment and will have specific requirements for funding a vacation property. One of the most common challenges buyers often face in Maine is financing seasonal or off-grid properties. Financing such properties with national banks or online mortgage brokers can be very frustrating and in many cases may not even be possible as these types of properties may not meet their underwriting requirements. When looking for financing on a second home, it is often a much easier and smoother process to partner with a local, community bank. Find a local lender who knows your desired area and makes themselves readily available to answer your calls and questions.

Purchasing a vacation property can be very exciting. Whether you’re looking for a camp to enjoy in the summer or ski-in ski-out condo, a little foresight and consideration can go a long way in ensuring that you make a wise investment. Keep these tips in mind when looking for a second home to make your purchase process as smooth as possible so you can start relaxing at your new property sooner! At Skowhegan Savings, we offer financing for all types of vacation properties including seasonal, off-grid, and modular. Reach out to any of our community bankers with questions and to get started.

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