Millennials: Ready to Buy a Second Home and Rent Out Your First?

You’re ready to move on, but that doesn’t mean you have to let go of your first property.

There comes a time in many homeowners’ lives when it’s just time to move on to the next home. Maybe it’s because of a job change, the arrival of a kid (or more kids), a marriage or divorce, or you just don’t like where you live anymore.

Many millennial homeowners — who represent half of all home buyers these days, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report  — are ready for that next home purchase. Maybe that describes you.

So, now you have a decision to make: Do you sell your first home, or hang on to it and rent it out?

Kate Currett, a millennial homeowner, rented out her first home in Utah for three years while living in her second home in Ohio. Her goal, like most who rent out a property, was to earn additional income.

Sounds simple enough, but there are many factors that you should weigh when making this big decision.

Financial perks and considerations

In addition to having the potential to make some money on renting a house, buying a second home and renting the first is one way to build a real estate investment portfolio.

Millennials, in particular, are typically in a good position to do this: You can convert your primary residence into a rental and “leave your owner-occupied mortgage intact, which was likely (and hopefully) obtained with a down payment and the most favorable mortgage interest rate, as low as 3.5 percent,” says Kelly Hannah, a certified residential specialist at Eightline Real Estate.

Purchasing a non-owner-occupied property (that is, a house that you’re purchasing specifically to rent out) generally requires a 20- to 25-percent down payment and has an interest rate .375 percent to .75 percent higher than you’d get for an owner-occupied property.

Bottom line, it will likely cost less to convert the house you live in now into a rental and buy a second home to use as your primary residence than to purchase a second home to use as a rental property.

The financial hurdle you will have to leap is qualifying for a second mortgage. “In the beginning, [it was difficult] making sure we could qualify for a dual loan,” Currett admits.

But if you have a lease in place on your first home prior to closing on your second home, “your lender may allow a portion of those future rents to count as income in their calculation of your debt-to-income ratios,” Hannah says.

However, lenders “prefer to see that you have property management experience in order to count those future rents as income,” he warns.

Tax advantages

As for tax advantages to renting out one of your properties, Leigh Anne Bernal, a property consultant with cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, advises making it a priority to speak with an accountant, as tax rules can be complicated when renting out a property.

Generally, “the most substantial tax advantages to converting your current home into a rental come in the form of depreciating that property, the deduction of maintenance expenses, and the deduction of your mortgage interest,” Hannah explains.

The ideal rental property

Before you make any moves toward converting your home into a rental, you need to assess whether or not your home is  rentable.

Generally speaking, a “one- to three-bedroom home is going to be easier [to rent] than a larger home,” Bernal notes.

She suggests researching who the renters are in your city and the types of properties they rent. “The broader the appeal, the more luck you will have,” Bernal says.

Hannah adds that the best way to determine whether your home is an ideal rental property is to meet with a professional and “create a comprehensive strategy tailored to your individual situation and specific market.”

How to assess rental fees

Needless to say, rental rates vary greatly, “especially with respect to single-family homes and condominiums,” Hannah says, as rental rates for privately owned homes are not easily tracked.

Currett agrees, and notes that a tough part of owning a home while renting out another was balancing having a competitive rental rate and still making a profit.

However, a reliable way to determine the rent for your first home is to search the rental market for homes similar to yours.

“This will allow you to see what rental rates are in real time and space, and price your rental competitively,” Hannah notes.

“Do your homework,” Bernal says. “Take all of the costs into consideration, including property taxes and insurance.”

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of renting a property is being a landlord for the first time. Costs can come at you from all sides, from repairs to late or unpaid rent from tenants to property damage. Go in planning on incurring expenses beyond the mortgage payment.

“Some of this can be handled with a property management company, but that comes at a price, so make sure you have that included in your math,” Bernal advises.

Words of wisdom

When it comes to renting out your extra home, “Do it,” is Hannah’s advice. “Buy and hold is almost always a good idea.”

But Bernal recommends really analyzing your situation before making a leap: “If you’re in a seller’s market, that can make it tougher to get into your new home without cashing out the equity in your first home. You may be able to refinance your first home to get some of that equity out.”

Get more Landlord Resources or check out our Guide to Rental Property Management.

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Source: zillow.com

Second Home vs. Investment Property: What’s the Difference?

You hear these terms thrown around all the time: Second home, investment property, vacation home, rental property. But is there any real difference among them? And does it even matter what you call it?

As it turns out, there are some very big differences between second homes and investment properties, especially if you are financing it.

“Both are fantastic ways to build wealth over time by capturing the appreciation of a real asset,” says Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate in Denver. However, “both come with inherent risks and expenses that should be carefully considered when making a purchase.”

As with any real estate transaction, you’ll want to do your homework and make a smart choice for your wallet, no matter which path you go down. We chatted with experts to get the scoop.

What is a second home?

A second home is just that: a second property where you and your family spend time, away from your primary home. You might also hear a second home referred to as a vacation property. You may rent it out for a few days each year on Airbnb or VRBO, but you primarily use it yourself.

Buying a second home makes financial sense if there’s one particular vacation spot you visit regularly. Why spend a fortune on hotels or Airbnb when you can own your own piece of paradise that will hopefully appreciate in value over time?

“Let’s say you live in San Francisco, but you are an avid skier in the winter and like to hike in the summer,” says Rachel Olsen, a real estate agent in California. “If you spend many weekends and vacations in Lake Tahoe, it may make sense to purchase a second home there.”

What is an investment property?

An investment property, on the other hand, is one that you purchase with the explicit intention of generating income. The investment property could be right next door to your own home, or it could be in another state—it doesn’t really matter. You’ll be playing the role of landlord, with long-term or short-term renters paying cash to stay in the home.

“Never forget that an investment property is all about the Benjamins,” says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of financial services firm Noel Taylor Agency. “The entire point is to turn a profit. No emotions, no affection.”

Before making an offer on an investment property, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a solid investment. Similarly, consider what factors will be important to prospective tenants (e.g., access to public transportation, good schools, parking, and low crime rates).

How to finance a second home or investment property

If you’re paying cash, you can skip this section. But if you need a mortgage for your new property, you should know that financing a second home or investment property is very different from financing a primary residence. And, while mortgages on second homes and investment properties have some similarities, there are also some key differences.

  • Interest rate: You can expect to see a higher interest rate for both second homes or investment properties than for primary homes. Why? Because lenders view those transactions as riskier. If you get into a tight spot with money, you’re far more likely to stop paying the mortgage for your second/investment property than for your primary home.
  • Qualifying: Whether you’re buying a second home or an investment property, you might need to do some extra legwork in order to qualify for that second loan. Your bank may require you to prove that you have healthy cash reserves (so it knows you can afford both mortgages). It’ll take a long, hard look at your overall financial situation, so be sure everything is on the up and up before you apply.
  • Down payment: Depending on your situation and the lender, you might also need to bring a larger down payment to the table for an investment property or second home, typically 15% to 25%. Again, this is because the bank wants a bigger cushion to fall back on in case you default.
  • Rental income: If you’re buying an investment property, your lender might allow you to show that anticipated rental income will help cover the mortgage payments. However, proving how much rental income the home will generate can be complicated. Prepare to pay for a specialized appraisal that takes into account comparable rents in your area.
  • Location: Your lender may require a second home to be 50 to 100 miles away from your primary home. An investment property, however, can be anywhere in comparison to your primary home, even next door.
  • Taxes: Federal income tax rules are different for vacation homes and investment properties. Generally, you’ll treat your second home just as you would your first home when it comes to taxes—if you itemize, you can deduct the mortgage interest you paid up to a certain limit. (The rules vary if you rent out your second home for part of the year.) If you own an investment property, you get to deduct the mortgage interest, plus many of the expenses that come with operating a rental business, but you also have to report your rental income, too.

Why it’s important to not confuse the two

It’s important that you’re totally clear about the difference and not use the terms “second home” and “investment property” interchangeably. Some people try to pass off their investment property as a second home to get more favorable financing, but you should never do this.

If you lie on your loan application, you could be committing mortgage fraud, which is a federal offense.

Your lender’s underwriting team is aware of this possibility, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. They’ll take the big picture into account when deciding what loan terms to offer you, says real estate attorney David Reischer.

“A single-family residence by a lake that is located in a completely different state from the borrower’s primary residence is much more acceptable to be categorized as a second home by a bank underwriter,” he says. “A multifamily-unit property with rental income in an urban area is likely to be treated as an investment property.”

Bottom line: Keep everything aboveboard, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

Source: realtor.com

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