There are quite a few things to consider in order to make the vacation home buying experience a happy one. (Photo: Ian Keefe/Unsplash).

Duane Duggan, Realtor and Author RE/MAX of Boulder

Have you been thinking about buying a vacation home in ski country for you and your family to enjoy? There are quite a few things to consider in order to make the vacation home buying experience a happy one. In my previous article, Part 1 of this two-part series, I discussed goals for your ski home, rental income, and professional property management. In this article, I will outline further considerations that will help guide you toward your purchase.

Should I rent the vacation home long term?
In order to have a vacation home for the future, some families have bought a home and immediately leased it to a long-term tenant, say for a year or more. This is because a long-term tenant right now will help pay for the current expenses of owning it. Then later down the road, say in 10 years, you can stop renting it out and use it for yourself as a vacation home, or maybe even as your retirement home.

If it is treated as an investment, are there any tax benefits or ramifications?
As with any investment, it is a good idea to discuss with your tax advisor if there are any tax issues to consider. 2018 brought about key changes in tax reform. Be sure to ask how those changes might affect your ski home purchase.

A few questions might be:

Can I deduct the mortgage interest?
Can I take depreciation?
If it is an investment, is there a limit on the number of personal days I can use it for?
What expenses of running the property can I deduct?
If it’s a rental, and I want to depreciate it, what is the maximum number of days it can be used personally?

House trading possibilities?
Vacation homeowners will often buy a property for the possibility to use as “currency” to trade for other places to vacation. This helps keep lodging costs down at the places you might like to vacation in. Swap homes with your friends and networks — or check out various websites that enable you to trade homes in destinations across the world.

Is financing different for a vacation home?
Most any 1- to 4-unit mortgage lender can help you finance a vacation home. They will typically qualify you under normal underwriting guidelines. However, it is usually a good idea to use a lender that is familiar with vacation properties.

Can I buy a vacation home with my IRA?
I get asked this question a lot. Yes, you can buy a vacation home with funds from your IRA. You just can’t use it personally. You also need to set up a self-directed IRA account. So why would you want to do that? Let’s say you live in Boulder and eventually want to retire in Summit County. You can buy a condo in Summit County with your IRA and rent it out full time as an investment for your IRA. Then when it comes time to move in, you need to disburse it from your IRA, pay any applicable taxes, and you can use it personally. There are a lot more details you need to consider here. In future articles, I will cover investing in real estate using your IRA.

Exit strategy or succession planning?
The idea of having a ski home can be very exciting, nevertheless, some planning needs to be done with regard to selling the property when your family is done with it — or figuring out how to keep the property in the family. If a couple, for example, owns a vacation home and they have 4 kids, when the couple passes away, suddenly the property has 4 owners. Those kids will have their own children and in just 3 generations there could be 10 to 20 owners. With 10 to 20 owners, you can imagine there can be many different opinions as to what to do with the property. Some of the new owners may view the ownership more as a burden than a benefit. Taking some time to create a succession plan is worth the time and effort. Generally, it is a good idea to find an attorney with experience in creating succession plans for vacation homes. They will listen to the family’s needs and goals and create a plan that works.

There are many details to evaluate when buying a ski country getaway or vacation property. As you examine the idea of purchasing a vacation home, I recommend you pull together a team that includes a mortgage loan officer, tax accountant, financial planner, property manager, insurance agent, Realtor – and possibly an estate planning lawyer – to consult with.

By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail [email protected], call 303.441.5611 or visit