By Robert Meisner

Many of you have already or are considering the purchase of a second home, presumably in a locale with pleasant year round temperatures. Buying a condominium or a second home in a location other than where you live as a primary residence can offer interesting challenges. There is always a tendency to buy on the spur of the moment while on a vacation or in an otherwise relaxed state of mind. The tendency is to overlook some of the basic attributes that one should consider in purchasing any real estate, regardless of its location.

Buying a second home in California or Arizona, by way of example, requires the same degree of expertise and insight as would be the case in the purchase of any other type of residence. Indeed, my experience over the years has been that absentee ownership creates additional problems for the prospective purchaser. First, you may not be familiar with the laws of the jurisdiction in which you are involved, and relying solely on a real estate broker may not be enough to satisfy the particular legal requirements of the purchase. Additionally, when buying a condominium, by way of example, you must consider all of the issues relevant to the normal purchase of a condo, including the deed restrictions which may impose limitations on your ability to have animals, to lease the unit, or to make any modifications to your condominium unit. Additionally, as with any other situation, you must be as fully apprised as much as possible of the economic conditions surrounding the developer and/or the Community Association, itself, in which you are becoming a member. Is the Association in litigation with the developer or are there other issues that have arisen which could adversely impact your ability to resell the condominium or, for that matter, live in it in a peaceful and habitable fashion? Are the assessments that are being levied realistic, and have you been given all the relevant documents to review? It is best to retain the services of an attorney in the jurisdiction where you are purchasing your home to ensure that your rights are being protected.

Buying a second home can be an enjoyable experience. However, not living in the home year-round and not being available to participate in the management of the Community Association creates additional potential problems. The quality of management, therefore, of the Association in which your second home is located is extremely important, and you are best advised to ascertain whether in fact your Community Association and your home are being properly managed. In simple terms, don’t sign the Purchase Agreement unless and until you have done a thorough investigation of the issues which are likely to arise in purchasing a second home out of state.