This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Can You Afford a Second Home?

NEW YORK ( BankingMyWay) -- With more and more signs that the housing market is inching off the bottom, homeowners with good credit and lots of resources are once again asking the question: Can I afford a second home?

There's something irresistible about the dream of a vacation place at the beach, lake or in the mountains. Summer vacations, the clan gathering for holidays, a place to pass down through the generations.... It's the American Dream, Act II.

The problem, of course, is coming up with the money. If you don't have a trunk full of cash, the next easiest option is to borrow against your primary residence, thus avoiding the complex issues raised by a loan application specifically to buy a second home. But to borrow against your main home it must be worth substantially more than you owe on a mortgage or home equity loan.

To take out a new loan to buy a second home you will have to convince the lender you are an especially good risk. That's because lenders know that people are more likely to default on payments for a second home than a primary residence, or to skimp on maintenance or fall behind on property taxes or insurance.

So the first issue is your debt-to-income ratio, figured by dividing your total monthly debt payments for everything -- existing mortgage, the new mortgage, car and credit card payments, and so on -- by your gross monthly income. If the figure is less than 36%, you have a fair shot at a loan, if your payment history and credit rating are good. Some lenders will approve applicants with higher ratios; you'll have to shop around.

Also expect lenders to demand a down payment of at least 20%, possibly twice that much, or even more. A large down payment reduces the loan-to-value ratio, figured by dividing the loan amount by the property's current value, estimated by an appraiser approved by the lender. The smaller the loan relative to the value, the more likely the lender would recover what it is owed if you default and the lender must foreclose and sell the property.

You're also likely to pay a higher interest rate on a mortgage for a second home - again, to offset the greater risk to the lender.

Discouraged yet? Don't be. After all, even if lenders are more conservative these days, they make money only if they approve loans.

To make all this easier, try this calculator from The Mortgage Professor website. In the Occupancy Type window click Second Home. Note that in the Monthly Debt Payments window you should include your current mortgage payment if you will add a new mortgage for the second home.

Also play with this calculator from SmartMoney.

Before going too far down the road, check with some lenders for down payment requirements and interest rates on second-home loans. Until then, experiment with down payments of 20%, 30% and 40%, and add 0.5 to 1 percentage points to the mortgage rates from the Bankingmyway.com survey.

For a sense of how lenders approach second-home applications, look at this site from Wells Fargo. It shows, for example, that it is difficult to get potential rental income included in the loan qualification calculation, a key consideration if you plan to rent out your second home part of the time.

Even if a lender will approve your loan, think about how comfortable you would be with this new financial obligation. You'll need a healthy financial cushion for unexpected repairs and upkeep, a drop in your pay, a shortfall in rental income or a jump in taxes or insurance fees.

Finally, give your dream a reality check. Many people find, for example, that they lose interest in vacationing at the same place all the time. And a second home can someday become a bone of contention among the buyer's children or grandchildren.

More on real estate:

Buying a vacation home

Buying a second home? Not so fast

Research mortgage rates

--By Jeff Brown

Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AAPL $131.78 -0.20%
FB $80.14 -0.50%
GOOG $539.78 -0.00%
TSLA $251.45 1.62%
YHOO $43.07 -0.71%

Markets

DOW 18,126.12 -36.87 -0.20%
S&P 500 2,120.79 -2.69 -0.13%
NASDAQ 5,097.9760 -8.6170 -0.17%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs