brown and black wooden house

If you’re blessed enough to own a second home, you know just how challenging it can be to take care of it. And the further you live from the property, the more difficult it becomes. It’s important that you come up with a plan to protect your investment and ensure it continues to provide maximum value for you and your family.

 Management Tips for Second Homes

There are many advantages to owning a second home. For starters, it gives you two places to travel between (making life more interesting). Secondly, it allows you to simultaneously build equity in two homes. On top of that, it can serve as a cash-flowing property when rented on a short-term basis. But there are also some challenges that come with owning a home in a city or state where you aren’t located.

One of the biggest challenges of owning a second home is maintaining it so that it withstands the test of time. Here are several helpful tips for doing just that:

1. Purchase a Home Warranty

It may be a good idea to purchase a home warranty for your second home, which can help address some of the financial burdens you may face when major appliances or systems break down. These warranties typically cover things like large appliances, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. They usually do not cover structural features, windows, doors, or flooring.

Home warranties are different from insurance. While insurance covers you against loss or damage due to natural disasters, fire, flooding, and other serious issues, a home warranty is designed to address specific parts of the home that may deteriorate or break over time. 

“If you’re buying a previously owned home, you might want to consider getting a home warranty, and one from a reputable company, especially if your home inspection reveals that several of the home’s appliances and systems are nearing their lifespan,” Bankrate advises. “Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the home warranty, how long the coverage lasts, and what it will and will not cover.”

While costs vary based on the provider and type of home, you’ll usually pay somewhere between $600 to $1,800 per year for a home warranty. On top of that, you’ll dish out a flat payment of $75 to $125 per service call. 

2. Hire a Property Manager

If the property is a rental property, we highly recommend hiring a professional property management company to oversee the investment and help with things like tenant screening, drafting lease agreements, collecting rent, scheduling repairs, etc.

When hiring a property manager, think in terms of fit. You need the right service for your property. There are some property management companies that specialize in middle-class properties, some that specialize in vacation rentals, some that specialize in luxury properties, etc. For the best service, choose accordingly!

A good property management service should have a local presence in the area. It’s also smart to evaluate how long they’ve been in business and what ancillary services they provide. There’s something to be said for having a “one-stop shop” for all of your real estate needs.

3. Develop Local Relationships

Even with a property management company, it’s helpful to have “boots on the ground.” Do your best to develop relationships with locals – including nearby neighbors – who can keep an eye on your home when you aren’t there and alert you to anything questionable going on.

4. Invest in Preventive Maintenance

Don’t underestimate the value of preventive maintenance. Even with a home warranty company, investing in preventive maintenance can help you avoid breakdowns, disrepair, and expensive future fixes. It’s especially important to invest in preventive maintenance for appliances and systems (like HVAC, plumbing, and electrical).

5. Visit Regularly

While you’ll be in pretty decent shape with a property manager and some other local connections, don’t underestimate the importance of regularly visiting so that you can put your own eyeballs on the property and make sure it’s in good working order.

Assuming the property isn’t being occupied by a long-term tenant, you should make time to regularly stay at the property – at least once every couple of months. When you stay overnight on the property, you’ll get a much better feel for the state of things. 

Putting it All Together

Owning a second home affords you a number of unique benefits. However, it also commands your attention, focus, and discipline. You can’t neglect the property and only tend to it when visiting. You must be a good steward on an ongoing basis. Use some of the tips highlighted above to proactively take control.

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