“To qualify for an investment loan, you’ll usually need at least 25 percent for a down payment, and interest rates will be about three-eighths of a percent higher. The debt-to-income ratio should be a maximum of 45 percent,” he said. “Lenders also usually require rent-loss insurance, which can be expensive, if you are using some of the rental income to qualify for the loan.”
Mr. Donnelly said most lenders typically want borrowers for an investment property or a second home to have a credit score of at least 720 to qualify for the best terms. Second-home buyers need cash reserves of at least two months, while investment properties require at least six months of mortgage payments for both properties.
“The concern is that if homeowners run into financial trouble, they are more likely to keep their first home and let the second home go,” Mr. Donnelly said.
He said he recently read a study that showed that a second home typically is a very small part of an overall retirement plan.
“Usually, consumers who own a second home that they will use for retirement have either paid off their first home or are paying cash for the second home rather than financing it,” Mr. Donnelly said. “If they are having trouble qualifying for both mortgage payments, this may be a sign that they should not be overextending themselves to buy another property.”
In addition to considering the impact of a second-home purchase on retirement finances, potential buyers must evaluate their lifestyle carefully.
“Some buyers focus so much on the fact that they want to be near the beach that they forget to think about where their furniture will fit in a beach home,” Ms. Kopp said.
“A lot of the homes here have a different floor plan, without a formal dining room or a formal living room. People also forget to think about storage, which can be a problem because many of the homes are designed for vacations rather than year-round living.” she said.
Ms. Kopp said buyers should consider the size of their home and whether they can accommodate visitors for the holidays or for summer vacations. Some buyers opt for a smaller home and intend to pay for a short-term rental for visitors.
“Prospective buyers also need to think about where they want to live,” Ms. Kopp said. “While everyone thinks they want to be right at the beach, it tends to clear out in the winter, and some people end up moving inland to a nearby planned community, which has more year-round residents.”
Though most pre-retirees prefer to think about retirement only in terms of fun, Ms. Kopp also suggested that buyers evaluate the potential to age in place.
“The most popular floor plans in this area are two-level homes with a first-floor master suite and guest rooms upstairs,” Ms. Kopp said, “but we also sell a lot of homes with elevators.”