Tips for Buying a Vacation Home in

Northwestern Wisconsin

Thinking of buying a vacation home in Northern Wisconsin? First off—congratulations and welcome to the Cable, WI community. The lifestyle here is certainly unbeatable, and we're sure you can't wait to immerse yourself in its amazing outdoor recreation. But before you get started, here are some important tips to consider before buying a vacation home.

Rent before you buy

Buying a vacation home is a huge financial decision. There are some pretty big benefits to owning versus renting, but before you make that decision you can rent first. To determine which is the right option for you, you'll definitely want to rent in the area you're considering buying, not only to make sure you love the area as a whole, but also to try out some different locations around that area. Do you want to be closer to Cable or Hayward? A lake or a trail? Town or the woods? Buying a home makes sense if you plan to stay for longer periods of time, or if you want to rent it out when you're not staying in it.

Choose location carefully

Choosing the perfect location for your second home is vitally important—it'll determine how you spend your time while you're on vacation! Consider your lifestyle and the lengths of time you plan to stay. Do you want to be close to town? Far out into the woods where you can’t even imagine hearing your neighbors’ noise? Consider how accessible your location is, its proximity to attractions and amenities, and whether or not you’d ever move here full-time (many vacation buyers do). You might like being secluded in the woods for a week… but does a 30-minute drive through snow to the closest store seem daunting if you have to do it once a week?

It’s also a good idea to talk to the locals, find out what they like about their particular location. It can’t hurt to act like a local, either—go to the grocery store, check out local providers (gas, electric, phone, internet, etc.), find the post office, local the local hardware store or plumber—things you might not think about on vacation but you’ll have to consider as an owner.

Buy well within your budget

Remember, it can be stressful to buy outside of your budget, especially if you’re still paying your first mortgage. Be sure to consider things like HOA fees, homeowners insurance, and property taxes—which will be different from your primary home. Consider, too, additional expenses, like paying someone to check or maintain your home while you’re away.

If you’re planning on renting out your home, remember that you’ll either need to find qualified tenants for your property, or pay a property management company to take care of your renting and maintenance. You will also be taxed on rental income, but can take advantage of numerous rental tax breaks, like furniture depreciation, utilities, and more.

Work with an experienced local agent

You might think you know enough about buying from the purchase of your first home, but it’s still highly recommended that you work with an agent. The Northwestern Wisconin market is a little different from other, more suburban or urban markets, and buying a vacation home also differs from buying a primary home. It's important to select an agent who's well-versed in the ins and outs of the local market (buying waterfront property, rural property, high-dollar luxury property, etc.) and who also has experience dealing with the finer details of buying a vacation home.

Need an agent who can ensure you find the perfect home in just the right spot—and at the right price? Find out more about what McKinney Realty can do for you.

Review all financing options

Applying for a mortgage for your second home (if you need one) is similar to the one you probably took out on your first home. However, there are a few variances, and you will likely be required to have outstanding credit and financial history. Additionally, you might have to pay a larger down payment—30% down payments on second homes aren't uncommon. It's possible to buy a vacation home for less than a 20% down payment, but it's very difficult. You do, however, have the option of using your primary home's equity line of credit as a way to obtain financing. Mortgages on investment properties may also have higher interest rates.

Get an inspection

Just like when you bought your first home, you'll want to get an inspection on your vacation home. You don't want to walk into any maintenance disasters, especially considering you likely won't be monitoring the property as frequently as you do your primary home. Additionally, the Cable area's unique landscape might require additional inspections or land surveys, particularly if you're buying a home near lakes or other water.

Still Have Questions or Ready to Get Started?

If you’re thinking of buying a vacation home in Northern Wisconsin, then it’s time to contact McKinney Realty. Not only can we answer all your buying questions, we can help connect you with the resources you need to make an informed decision so you’re sure to find your dream home at just the right price.