Take Two

0506_taketwoReal estate experts offer tips for the growing number of people who are investing in second homes

Written by Michelle Feder
Photograph courtesy Kevin M. Knudson

Buying a second home was once the province of the wealthy, but it’s become less exclusive in the past 20 years. With baby boomers fueling the trend, the number of second homes–both vacation homes and investment properties–has more than doubled, according to research conducted by Windermere Real Estate.

More affordable than ever

“There are so many people right now who can afford it,” says Windermere president Jill Jacobi Wood. She credits the trend in this region to real estate appreciation. As homeowners’ equity in their primary residences increases, many choose to refinance, borrowing against the first home to buy the second. “A lot of people are buying second homes on interest-only loans because, in destination areas, the appreciation is so great as well,” Jacobi Wood notes.

Vacation homes as investments

Some second-home buyers use vacation homes as investments; in a 2006 survey, Windermere found that 27 percent of responding Puget Sound homeowners who own a vacation home rent it out when they’re not using it. About 36 percent were considering a move to their vacation home when they retire.

Second homes

Another new development in vacation-home ownership is the number of people who telecommute from their second homes. People who work from their getaways are looking for good cell-phone reception and Internet access. Technology allows time-crunched people to leave on a Friday morning for a weekend of skiing or golfing?and work.

Seeking R&R

Terry Allen, a Realtor specializing in luxury properties for Coldwell Banker Bain, says his second-home clients are primarily seeking R&R, and he’s seeing a trend toward places that are family friendly, with a small-town feel and plentiful year-round activities. “Lake Chelan is the hot spot for Seattleites,” he says. “It is easy to get to, and property values have doubled in the last two years.”

To read the rest of the article, pick up a copy of the May issue of Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, on newsstands now.