If you are considering a second-home purchase and are retired or nearing retirement age, here are several things to think about:
Accessibility. Home features, such as a first-floor bedroom and a safety-enhanced bathroom with grab bars and no-slip floors, make a second home safer and easier to navigate as you enter your golden years. Many homes in Charleston are elevated to meet flood-proofing standards, so finding a home with an elevator or installing one will make things easier as well. Even if you’re not currently worried about mobility, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead, as it could become an issue in the future. And an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! (On a related note, making accessibility upgrades as needed will be easier as your home appreciates and/or draws income. See Investment section below.)
Another accessibility concern centers around your home’s vicinity to local hospitals and emergency services. This is one reason why choosing an extremely rural locale might not be the best option for retirees. Sure, it might be nice to get away from it all, but what if something unexpected happened? You don’t want to have to wait two hours for emergency services.
Furthermore, do you intend on driving to your second home for vacation, or do you prefer to fly? If you’ll be hopping on a plane, then it’s a good idea to consider a locale with an airport within a hour of your home so you don’t have to drive too far after an already exhausting plane trip. Many homes in the Charleston area are within a half-hour drive of the airport.
Investment. Obviously, you have to have a bit of disposable income to purchase a second home, but that doesn’t mean you want to throw away your money. It’s always a good idea to do some due diligence on a property to make sure that real estate in the area is likely to gain value over the years rather than depreciate. An experienced Realtor who knows the market well can help give you insights into different properties and help you steer clear of common pitfalls.
And if you’re planning on some rental income, several factors can increase your chances of maximizing your profits. If you purchase a home in an area that only has a single rental season, then your home is likely to sit unrented throughout the offseason, but you’ll still be paying for upkeep and possibly the mortgage (if you financed the home). The best way to maximize rental income is to find an area that is lively year round. Or, as pointed out in our statistics page, areas with a large college-student population are smart ideas as well. The Charleston area has both a large student population and a lively year-round tourist season. There is always something happening here, restaurants stay open all year and as of April 2012, our hotel occupancy rates were hitting near-record levels with downtown hotels 91.9% full.
If you’re worried about taxes, here is a quick rundown of general rules and deductions, but these things change all the time, and it is imperative to meet with a tax professional to make sure you’re not shortchanging yourself or Uncle Sam.
Want some prices? A college student wanting to live downtown near the College of Charleston could be looking at a rent of $1,000 a month or more just for a room, a shared bathroom and shared kitchen privileges. If you have a child who is of college age, you could purchase a second home as lodging for your student and move in several paying roommates for much cheaper than rent, and the home would be an investment — not wasted rent money. Vacation homes on the Isle of Palms rent for anywhere from just under $2,000 a week on up to $6,500 a week. Next time you want to come to the beach, consider how much more economical it would be to invest in owning a property instead. You’d be the one collecting the high weekly rental fees instead of paying them!