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harbormaster You’ve discovered Heritage Harbor and you had a great time in Starved Rock Country (or if you haven’t visited us yet, you want to). You now have the desire to go back any time you want and serve as the arbiter of great vacations for others. And hey, if you make some money along the way, there’s nothing wrong with that. Congratulations…you’ve taken your first step toward buying a vacation home.

Let’s look at 9 ways to make the most of your vacation home investment.

#9 Buy Only What You Can Afford
It’s not hard these days to figure out what you can afford. The internet is virtually choked with mortgage calculators to help you figure that out. You simply enter what you make and what you owe, and the calculator will tell you how much more the banks will lend you.

The lending environment has changed substantially over the past decade. At Heritage Harbor you can choose your own lender or use one of our preferred lenders that can help you meet your goals.

harbormasterEven if you view the vacation home as a potential way to earn income, don’t count on that income to help you pay for the house. Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy the ultimate or largest home right away. It’s OK to start small and within the resort there are multiple opportunities to ‘step up’.

#8 Factor In Extra Costs
Once you know what you can afford for the loan, take another look at total costs for running the house.

At the very least, you’ll have to cover taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities. The Homeowner’s Association allows for low-maintenance of the care of your home. The selection of building materials used on the homes was designed so that you have to do little care and no worries.

#7 Existing Vs. Vacant Land
The idea of building a house to suit your dreams is very appealing. To build a house from the ground up, we are here to help you through the process of dealing with local building trades and authorities. You can make the home as you want it. We will also make sure the association approval process is quick and easy.

But if you find that you are someone that doesn’t want to go through the process of building there is an inventory of homes all ready to buy. Regardless, you have to decide which one works best for you.

#6 Work With Someone That Knows the Area
You drive to Ottawa, and sure, it looks great. It’s picturesque. The boats bob gently in the Harbor. The little corner grocery carries your groceries out. But do you know where to go to church, where to shop and where to eat?

Your HHO Lifestyle Consultant would know that. They are a great resource for little-known information on hidden bonds, community events and special interest group.

#5 Make Sure the Home and Location Make for a Good Rental (if that’s your goal)
Ideally, vacation renters are looking for somewhere different to bring their families…a place close to activities, close to dining, for boaters–close to the marina, close to restaurant, comfortable furniture and a place to create memories. Think of your vacations and what made your stay special. If renting is important to you, view the home as if you were renting it for yourself….would it feel homey, would you be comfortable? Decide if you will rent it yourself (VRBO) or if you want a property management company. Set goals for yourself on how much you want to be able to use it personally and how much you want it in the rental pool. HHO has a flexible, on-site property management program you can research as an option.

#4 Research All Four Seasons Before Buying
It’s a good idea to visit the area or discuss with your sales person what the resort is like during every season. Heritage Harbor is open all year round and has an array of warm weather activities, but also in the winter the restaurant remains open, special events occur and a regulation ice skating rink will be within the resort. This helps ensure that you know how the community fares as the calendar unfolds.

#3 Make Sure Your Vacation Home is Easily Accessible.
If you love Mexico, plan a vacation there. If you’re purchasing a vacation home, though, you want to be able to use it more often than twice a year. Juggling kid’s schedules, traffic and long travel times will only add to your already stressful life…buying and enjoying a vacation home should eliminate those fears and allow you time to enjoy the things you work so hard for.

#2 Consider Joint Venture with Family or Friends
If owning a second home on your own doesn’t seem feasible, consider partnering with friends and/or family. These types of agreements can be beneficial for all parties involved, but make sure all your goals are in line about buying, selling, renting and using the property, then build a few precautions into your contract.

First, set down some rules about the percentages of ownership accorded each party and what rights those percentages confer. If you put in 70 percent of the money, does that mean you’re entitled to 70 percent of the proceeds from rent? And if the property is sold, do you get 70 percent of the sale price? It stands to reason that you would, but just to be on the safe side, get it in writing. Sometimes people remember numbers differently when money is involved.

Also, are you allowed to sell your share of the property? If so, can you sell it to anyone you want?

In any event, you want to make sure you know your partners in the deal very well, and make sure they’re willing to spell out every detail of the rights and privileges accorded with joint ownership.

#1 View the Home as a Form of recreation, Not Only an Investment
Be sure you’re buying a vacation home for the right reasons — a place for your family to gather for years to come is priceless.

Investment experts will be the first people to tell you that you’ll never make the money on a vacation house that you could make on other investments. So if you buy one, make sure, above all, that this is a house and an area you enjoy. It will be worth the cost if you spend as much time there as possible, put your heart and soul into caring for it or plan to keep the home in the family for future generations. You can’t put a price on that.

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