How to Work with Second-Home Buyers

Christy Murdock Edgar

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We may think of second home buying as the purview of the wealthy, focusing on luxury, vacation, and resort properties. However, there are a variety of reasons for purchasing a second home and a variety of ways your clients may choose to use that home. Understanding the specific needs of the second-home buyer and the variety of financing options available to them will help you provide better service and market yourself more effectively.

Marketing to second-home buyers

Second-home buyers may be in the market for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • They may be looking for a permanent vacation home or secondary residence. This has become especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as buyers seek greater security and control over their space while vacationing.
  • They may be looking for an in-town commuter apartment or condo with the primary home located out of town. This is especially useful for people who work primarily from home but occasionally have to spend time in the city for meetings or collaborative projects.
  • They may be looking for a home for an elderly family member or for a college student. This will often be a small condo or townhome in a distant market.
  • They may be looking for an investment property to rent out either full-time or seasonally. They may later seek to convert this property into a retirement home for themselves or a family member.

Because there are so many reasons that a home buyer could choose to purchase a second home, there is no one-size-fits-all way to market to them. However, providing value-added information about the buying and financing process for a second home—either through a blog, video channel, podcast, email blast, or direct mail—is a great way to put this option on the radar of homeowners in your geographic farm or your sphere of influence.

Remember, many homeowners may never have thought about purchasing a second home. The more you can provide practical information and services that streamline the process, the more compelling your marketing will be.

Questions to ask second-home buyers

Just as with a primary home purchase, there are a number of things you’ll need to know in order to better serve your clients. What’s more, there are questions they need to ask themselves, so a thorough discussion is good for both of you.

1. How often do you plan to use this home?

Many people fall in love with an area while on vacation and decide on impulse to purchase a vacation home there. It’s important to talk through the client’s lifestyle and help them determine how often they’ll realistically use the property. While you don’t want to discourage them, of course, you also don’t want them to grapple with buyer’s remorse or jump into something that they can’t see through to a satisfactory conclusion.

2. How do you envision spending your time when you are on the property?

Do your clients want to spend time exploring the nearest town? Do they want to become members of a country club in the area or are they looking for a community with club-style amenities? Alternatively, do they want a private retreat where they can spend time alone or with only their close friends and family? Your clients will need a clear idea of the way they’ll use the property in order to identify the right one.

3. Are you planning to rent or loan out the home to others?

If your clients are planning to share their property or make it available for seasonal or short-term rentals, they’ll no doubt need property management, housekeeping services, a linen service, and other logistical assistance. If, on the other hand, they plan to use it only for themselves, they may need property management along with a housekeeper during the time that they are in residence or grocery deliveries before their arrival.

4. What are your long-term plans for this property?

If your clients are holding a home for just a few years—say, while their children are in school or only until their own retirement—it’s important to know that so you can look for a market that will provide adequate appreciation during that time. If they are planning to hold the property long-term, however, or are purchasing it outright for cash, they may be less concerned about short-term equity growth.

Financing for second-home buyers

Second-home buyers may choose to tap into existing value in their current home, especially given the record-high levels of equity many homeowners are currently enjoying. Alternatively, some buyers may have money saved that they want to invest in a property or they may be seeking to finance their second home alongside their current primary residence.

Talk to your favorite lender and develop some talking points around second-home financing options. This will allow you to create more compelling content, answer questions, and provide a reliable referral to a lender well-qualified to help your clients make their goals a reality.

Value-added services you can provide

You can do more than help your clients with the purchase transaction for their second home. Let them know that you are available to help them find associated professionals who can make their second-home purchase and ownership experience the best it can be. These include:

  • Referrals to out-of-town agents or brokers in their preferred vacation market, college town, or retirement community
  • Referrals to property management companies
  • Referrals to lawn care services, contractors, and housekeeping services
  • Referrals to interior designers and landscape architects

Your professional network is a valuable resource for the clients you serve. Be generous with your time and make needed email introductions so that second-home buyers will feel right at home in their new community, even before moving day.

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Written by Christy Murdock Edgar

Christy Murdock Edgar is a seasoned real estate writer and frequent columnist for Inman. Her expertise in the realm of real estate has helped agents all over the world improve their content marketing strategies.