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The process of finding, buying, owning and maintaining one home can be a commitment. But, many individuals find themselves looking into purchasing a second residence. According to a study done by the National Association of Home Builders in 2016, 7.4 million own second homes. That accounts for 5.6% of the total housing stock.

Brian Cantrall, vice president of Chestnut Hill Realty in Beachwood, and Peggy Garr, Realtor with Howard Hanna in Pepper Pike, said people buy a second home for many reasons.

“In my experience with Cleveland and Clevelanders, we’re a practical group of people,” Cantrall said. “Typically, we run into someone buying a second home as an investment, or someone that has grown up here and has family here, and their local home is going to be their summer home, and then they’ll go somewhere else for the winter. There are different criteria for each situation, especially for people who plan to split time between locations.”

Garr said the process is similar to buying a first home, but the goal is different.

“It’s all about weighing the pros and cons,” she explained. “ If you’re looking somewhere that you will go a lot, owning a second home makes sense. But, if it’s just once or twice, maybe just rent. You have to make sure you’re using it and connecting with the right agent. You don’t want to buy something you won’t be able to resell as life changes. You don’t want to be stuck.”

Finding balance is key when searching for and owning a second residence, Cantrall stated.

“It’s important to have someone taking care of the place when you’re not there, but it is also a balance between how much you pay in the monthly homeowners association fee, even if you’re not there,” he noted. “If it is too expensive, it can get onerous. Finding that balance between what you’re comfortable with is important.”

In order to buy a second home, Garr said having a solid reason is important. Buying a second home on a whim could spell for disaster if the reasoning behind it is faulty.

“We get a lot of snowbirds looking for second homes, but I have also gotten clients that go for second homes when they just want to get away for a little bit,” she said. “Then, I have the kinds of clients where families move to be closer to younger family members for a time, like grandchildren. Even hobbyists that want to be close to their hobbies. You just want the reasoning to be long term, not short term.”

Using a real estate agent in this process is key, the professionals said.

“I think there is a side of it that is an investment as well,” Cantrall said. “For us, the way we look at ourselves is we’re advisers all the way through. If you want to do some remodeling, we can always give you the angle on how this is going to affect resale. Also, getting into the search process, we can explain the trends and how risky the investment may be down the line.”

Garr said real estate agents can also connect clients to counterparts in the communities where they may be seeking a second home.

“The first thing I do is give them a good relocation agent wherever they plan to go,” she said. “I talk to that agent and explain the life (the client) has here and what they want out of a second home and their life there. To go to another location and go by the seat of your pants is a mistake. It’s important to have an agent who knows the area and knows what you want to accomplish.”

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