Any thoughts on purchasing a Tahoe vacation home? Still on the fence!

9 Replies

I know no one can answer this but I guess I'm looking for advice or prior experience with this. I recently retired at the age of 55 and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Financially, I'm secure with a guaranteed retirement income for the rest of my life, I also have my last child almost out of college without any loans and our current home ($600,000 value) is almost paid off. 

Since retiring I've found that I'm easily able to save $2,000. a month for no real reason. I already have around $750,000 in cash and stock investments which I don't for see needing since I already have a comfortable retirement package. Once our house is paid off I'll have another $1,100. a month that's available.

My wife and I have always vacationed in the Lake Tahoe area and always thought about buying a second home there. The only problem is I hate the idea of starting a mortgage again but at the same time I could certainly use the mortgage deduction. I'd love to be able buy a place (single family cabin or condo) and keep my housing costs (mortgage, taxes, HOA) under $2,000 a month. This put's me in the $350,000 price range.

Having been a saver all my life I'm now in a position to spend it but I'm a little hesitant of jumping into a second home that comes with all the pro's and con's of home ownership of a vacation home. Has anyone else out there been in this same dilemma? The more I look into this the more I hear stories from people that have had bad experiences. Thanks for any thoughts.

How often and for how long will you use the home? 

The math is easy. If you want a lower payment, put more money down. With guaranteed monthly income, why do you care about taking out another mortgage? 

Do it if you will use it, otherwise rent when you go.

With the advent of places like airbnb.com and vrbo.com you'd have to really want a place of your own.  For about $100 / night you can rent houses and condos all day long and never have to clean, maintain, insure, etc.  And obviously you'd be able travel to many places instead of one place.  I mean it sounds like you're not going to own this place to make money on (by renting out), right?

I'm guessing ski season will be pricey though... can you share the condo with friends / family?

I haven't yet looked into the tax deductions of owning a second home, but spending $2k a month to get what in return is the question I guess.

Drake,

My wife and I purchased a condo about a year ago up by Heavenly and it has been a great investment so far.  The condo is very similar to the one you might look for.  It cost us about $300,000.  We were expecting it to average $2,500 a month in profits but that has not panned out.  During the summer and winter we have averaged $2,000 to $3,000 (after all expenses) but during the spring and fall we have been breaking even at best and losing $1,100 at worst.  I haven't done all the math yet but I bet we are averaging about $1,000 a month in profit.  We were planning for more but there have been more costs than anticipated.  We have been averaging about $3,000 a month in expenses.

My wife manages the property and spends about an hour a day replying to e-mails, organizing cleanings, answering phone calls...  It is easy work but constant so sometimes my wife gets sick of it.  We looked into property management but they charge so much all the profits are taken.

Overall it has been a great learning opportunity and it has been a blast having the the property to visit ourselves.  I anticipate our profits to improve next year because of what we learned this year.  

Thanks for the comments. Although I thought about renting it to help off set the costs, I'd rather just keep it for our use and for close friends/relatives if possible. My wife works out of the house so we figured we could easily just flip flop between our house in the Bay Area and the Tahoe place as long as she has an internet connection so she can still work.

I've also given the thought of just renting a place when we want one (like we have always done) vs buying a place. Obviously it's a lot cheaper to just rent one when we need it. 

@Jared Adamson 

I would love to hear more about your Tahoe rental. I am looking to start our vacation property adventure  in about 18 months! 

Yeah, sounds like it's a personal decision.  If you have the money and you think it is worth it sort of thing.  If it makes you happier to have a vacation home vs having the extra money then go for it.

Not everything is an investment decision.  I spend a lot of money and energy on climbing and I don't get any green pieces of paper back : )

Also, from talking to people who do the vacation rental thing, it sounds like a part time job.  Why do it if you don't want to and don't need to?  

Ski pass + personal house within 5 minutes of resort with no other obligations?  Sounds like a winner to me : )

Are you going to live on the NV or CA side?

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I am new here, and of course the first search I did was Lake Tahoe!  Hopefully my insight might help some.  We also live in the Bay Area and have a home in South Lake Tahoe.  When we originally purchased it in 1998, we rented it out as a vacation rental.  We did not make much profit at that time, doing this so we turned it into a long-term rental after having it for about 2 years, although the initial plan was to keep as vacation rental.  My husband and I really love with the Tahoe area are are finally going to take it off the market next year and start going back and forth.    We usually go up 1 or 2 a year to check on property.  We use McKinney Coldwell Banker as our property management.  

Drake,

I just wanted to see if you ever bought a property. If you ever need a place to stay we would love to help you out.  (link removed by admin)

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