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5 Tips for Buying a Second Home

06/11/2013 12:33 EDT | Updated 08/11/2013 05:12 EDT

As the summer months approach, many of you will start dreaming about buying a summer cabin. But investing in a second home or recreational property is no easy feat. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Quality and Uniqueness

It's important to buy something well-built so you don't have any issues in the short or long-term. Look for a property that features durable materials that will weather well and require limited maintenance. Other things to look for: properties that are well-planned and aesthetically pleasing from a design perspective, something with porches or good storage or a family-friendly outdoor area. Your second home should have something that makes it unique, whether it's a built-in BBQ or doors that open up to a patio or a great view. Something that's different from your primary residence.

2. Location, location, location

Water is always a safe investment and will make your experience more enriching and enjoyable. But you want to be in the right place on a lake or on the right part of the lake. Your second home is both a monetary and a lifestyle investment because you are creating memories and a happy place. Finding a second home in the right location will allow you to find your own happy place at the same time as providing a likely increase in value.

3. Resale and appreciation

Again, location is key. Buy something that is rare (a waterfront cabin) or something that's a safe bet. Being on Okanagan Lake, for example, is a safe bet because there are so few waterfront homes left to purchase on the lake. Being on a hill above the water may be okay if you're retired, but for families, it's less user friendly and less likely to increase in value as quickly as waterfront property.

4. Ease of maintenance and security

You don't want to have to go up to the lake to paint or garden. If it's a second home, it's a getaway and you want it to be easy to use and maintain. Being part of a strata with a property management company in place will mean you don't have to worry who is taking care of your property. And it's important not to worry about someone breaking into your property. Buy a place you can lock and leave with no worries about your furniture going missing. Some helpful features include properties with a gate, like Boucherie Beach, to limit people coming in.

5. Rental opportunities and income potential

Renting can help people offset the expense and costs of buying a second home. So buying something that's easily accessible is important whether it's a short drive or a short flight from your primary residence. Kelowna and Palm Springs are two great choices because they're both a short flight from Vancouver and are located close to airports. If you buy into a development, make sure you have the ability to rent out your second home. And remember to consider buying something with things like lock-in closets and durable materials.