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By Frank Dolski Associate Broker | Agent in 18901
  • Is Purchasing a vacation property right for me?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Orlando, Financing in Orlando, Investment Properties in Orlando  |  February 14, 2014 7:55 AM  |  323 views  |  No comments

    Is that year end bonus burning a hole in your pocket?  Thinking of a way to spend your tax refund or did your accountant tell you that you must invest in something because you made too much money? When considering how to invest your money, you may be considering upgrades to your current home, whether it be finishing your basement, adding square footage to your home, or updating your kitchen or bath. When considering the options you need to be wary to not over improve a home, so use some discretion.  Alternatively, have you considered taking those same dollars and putting them down on another property? 
    You wouldn't be alone if you were considering purchasing that vacation home. Sales of second homes increased 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. During this vacation-home buying boom, the median price for these properties went through the roof – up 23 percent, to $150,000.

    Does a Second Home Makes Financial Sense

    Resist the urge to impulse buy, you may end up with a second home you cannot afford or that does not fit your needs.
    Whether or not you consider yourself an investor, you'll want your second home purchase to be a sound financial decision. Consider all the costs, not just the purchase price, but ongoing routine expenses as well as unforeseen expenses. You'll want to tally up your likely expenses and build up your cash reserve. For home maintenance, a good rule of thumb is to set aside 2 percent of the home’s value per year for upkeep and repairs. If you plan on renting out the property, determine how much you can expect from rental income (it's often not enough to cover your monthly costs).

    A few questions to ask yourself:

    • Do you plan to vacation in the same place year after year? Does it match your lifestyle?
    • Do you plan to hold onto the property for at least 5 years?
    • Is the real estate market now favorable to buyers?
    • Are you certain that you’ll be able to afford the extra expenses over the long term?
      If you answer yes to these, it probably is a good choice for you. However if you’re not sure how long you’ll enjoy that location or if you’re unsure of your future income, it is best not to commit yourself just yet.

      Location: Where & What Type of Home to Buy

      More than 80 percent of second-home owners purchase their home within driving proximity to their primary residence, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). What distance do you feel comfortable with?  The average buyer purchases a vacation home within 375 miles of his or her primary residence, with 31 percent buying within 100 miles. Get out a map and draw 100 mile and 400 mile circles to help pinpoint the areas where you should be looking. Then identify the areas that best suit your needs. You'll need to rely on both market research and your own personal preferences - be realistic about what type of second home fits your lifestyle, focusing on quality-of-life amenities as you envision what a second home could mean for your family. With 34 percent of vacation-home buyers eventually using the property as a primary residence, make sure it’s somewhere you can see yourself spending a significant amount of time. Don't go it alone - team up with a Realtor to look into factors such as the strength of the local economy, trends in resale values, conveniences and amenities, property taxes, quality of local schools and medical care, as well as others. Visit the area that you're interested in during all four seasons of the year in order to get a complete picture. A well placed home will aid in the ease of renting and ensure long term enjoyment.
      Once you've zeroed in on where you want to be, you need to decide on the type of home that would best suit your needs. The costs and demands of owning a single-family home are different from those of owning a condominium, townhouse, or co-op. Buyers who only plan on visiting their homes occasionally may be better suited to condos, townhouses, or co-ops as they typically require less outdoor maintenance, as these areas will be governed and maintained by a community association. If your idea of solace includes privacy, stick with a single-family home.

      A note on renting; even if you have no plans to rent your vacation home, it is a good idea to weigh out the home's 'rental potential'. Renters want access to amenities, places for a group of people to sleep, and being in the thick of things. Homes that can be rented are more valuable and can offer you more options should your plans change in the future.


      Second-home owners need to worry about both property taxes (which vary by state and locality) and, if renting out the home for more than 14 days per year, income tax. Researching the taxes during the house-hunting process can save you thousands of dollars a year by purchasing a home in a favorable tax situation.  If you're renting out a vacation property, the amount of days you yourself spend there can make a difference in how much you'll owe in income tax or the potential benefits you can reap such as deductions for property management and rental expenses.


      Most people pay for their home with 'traditional financing',  a combination of a down payment and a loan for the remaining amount. The higher your down payment, you should aim for 20%, the lower the loan, and the more house you can therefore afford.

      Most buyers will also need to secure a loan to help with the rest of the financing. Your Realtor can provide you with some references - those whom they've had a good experience and have had a successful track record.  Review the various mortgage options and sample payment schedules and compare them to your own short- and long-term goals, to find a mortgage that best fits your needs.

      Alternatively, some buyers wish to forgo the traditional mortgage route and instead opt to borrow directly from parents, siblings, or close friends. This option saves you tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage and keeps the property within your circle, rather than handing it over to a bank.

      Another money-saving approach is to partner with another purchaser, a growing trend known as 'shared ownership'. You'll want to start by determining whether co-ownership with a particular person is likely to work. If so, draft a written agreement to spell out how ongoing costs will be split and deal with other potential sources of contention, such as what happens if one of you wants out after a few years or how to deal with improvements or maintenance over the long term.

      Protect Your Investment

      From the beginning, prior to purchasing, you'll want to get a proper home inspection, so as to deal with some repair issues up front, and get a sense of what other repairs may be looming.

      Your lender typically requires you to purchase title insurance in case problems such as past ownership or debt claims on the property surface after the purchase. I would suggest this in all cases as you do not want a past lien to now be your responsibility!

      Your lender is likely to also require that you carry hazard insurance, protect your property against damage from theft, fire, flooding, etc. The cost of insurance for second homes can be higher than your primary residence. You will probably want to add liability insurance, covering you and members of your household for accidental injuries to your visitors. Consider buying a home warranty as if you are renting your home, others may not treat it the same as you would or major items like your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical and more may need repair. In all cases, protect your investment as you would your primary home.

      Please feel free to contact me for assistance in purchasing a 2nd, or 3rd  home even a primary residence in the greater Philadelphia area.  I have the reources for helping you to find the best Realtor and financing nationally and internationally as well. My services to assist you are free!

      Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
      Associate Broker
      Certified Relocation Specialist 
      Previews Luxury Home Specialist
      Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
      Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
      2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
      2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
      215-803-3237 (mobile)
      215-794-1070 x-103

  • Why Should Buyers Consider Using A Realtor To Represent Them On The Purchase Of New Construction?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Orlando, Home Buying in Orlando, Financing in Orlando  |  February 7, 2013 6:32 AM  |  321 views  |  2 comments

    The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has indicated that new construction increased in 2012 and will only continue to increase in 2013. So as a buyer, what is the process and how are you represented in the purchase of new construction?

    In the state of Pennsylvania, the Consumer Notice clearly defines agency which includes the definition of a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent, a dual agent and a transactional licensee.  In the case of new construction, the builder is represented by a seller’s agent. They only represent the builder and do not represent the buyer as clearly defined in the Consumer Notice.  My recommendation is that anyone who is considering buying or even looking at new construction strongly consider employing the services of a buyer’s agent, who is typically “free” to buyers! You should do this prior to your first visit to a any new construction site and your Realtor® should also accompany you.

    What are the benefits of buyer representation? My name is Frank Dolski and I am an Associate Broker/Realtor with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors located in Bucks County, PA. I represent buyers in areas such as Buckingham, Doylestown, New Hope, Newtown, Furlong, Jamison, and many areas in Bucks and Montgomery counties.  There are many reasons why I encourage buyer representation on new construction and I will site a few reasons to do so:

    A buyer’s agent will represent you from start to finish in every aspect of the transaction. That means from the signing of the agreement of sale to settlement. They will help you to negotiate the best possible price for the property including options, lot premiums, and overall price.

    I review all contract verbiage to insure that there is no “hidden verbiage” and insure where applicable that some be added where warranted. Keep in mind most new construction contracts are written by attorneys who represent the builder and these contracts are therefore heavily weighted in favor of the builder. A Buyer's Agent with assist in evaluating alternatives to a particular new construction development (may include showing other homes, visiting other new construction sites, gathering info on other options).  Also included is evaluating the selection of building lots, especially for future resale value. Some options can be deferred until after construction and some are critical which may not able to be done at a later time. All this helps buyers to make an informed and confident decision.

    A buyer's agent can assist the in directing you to the appropriate Township to look at plans regarding  easement restrictions and future development surrounding the area. This is critical because you may want to put in an in-ground pool on a lot that will be restricted by the township or you may own wooded areas where you may never be able to thin out the trees to expand your yard. Builders are required to disclose plot plans, easements and other disclosures, but it is always best to have a Realtor represent you to review all of these documents as you are executing the contract or better yet, prior to execution..

    As a buyer’s agent, I also recommend that at a minimum, a pre-drywall home inspection is down to insure that there are no obvious defects which could not be seen after the drywall goes up. I also
    recommend a final inspection as any new home purchase is a huge investment.

    Assist the buyer in attaining financing and a review of the financitng paperwork, settlement charges on the HUD1 settlement sheet. I also help the buyer to select a title company with various options.

    Attend a pre-settlement walk-through to help determine a punch list and the give a second opinion for any obvious defects.

    My objective as a buyer’s agent for new construction or resale is to help the buyers make informed decisions during every step of the process.  Again, I strongly encourage all buyers to consider using a Realtor® to represent them when purchasing a newly constructed home. Most if not all builders rely on Realtors to help to sell their inventory. It is our responsibility as a "Buyers Agent" to get you the best possible deal and represent you every step of the way!

    Frank Dolski
       MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
    2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103

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