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Is 2nd home a wise investment?

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POSTED December 20, 2013 6:38 p.m.

Happy Holidays Real Estate Boys: Our question is simple yet complex.  Has highs and also lows.  It can be hot or cold, dry and wet.  A little dangerous but has great beauty mostly.  OK, enough of the word games.  The last of my husband’s parents has recently passed away and we have inherited a goodly amount of cash and stuff.  My husband and I have always wanted a second home in the mountains, not up too high or down too low.  Not to hot and not to cold.  But just right, if you know what I mean?  So, the question is, can we buy this investment and write it off on our taxes?  Is buying a second home wise? 

— Goldie Locks

Goldie, first off thank you for taking the time to write us with your question and then thank you for reminding the Boys to say Happy Holidays to all our readers. It is really fun to read and then answer the questions you readers get to us.  Lloyd and I say thank you for another great year in real estate for Turlock.  Lloyd, take it from here please.

Thanks Lar! Well Goldie, we’re going to be a bit more general in our answer, general in the sense that you can buy a rental or second home in the mountains or on the coast with the same results.  But we’ll use your mountain dream for the start.  The short and quick answer is yes you can buy your dream home as a rental and write it off on your taxes BUT before you run out this weekend and make an offer please make an appointment to meet with your CPA or tax attorney.  You need to get this done right in the beginning, not next December or January 2015.  I have enough knowledge to say that you can use your “rental” only when repairs are needed like cleaning it after a renter leaves or hubby needs to replace the stove/oven your last renter used as a clothes dryer and their sweater caught fire on the oven door or they boiled the porridge too long.  Then there is also a tax code law that says you as the owner may use the rental for something like 15 days a year for your pleasure.  Then, after a fair amount of time, if you decide that you and hubby want to move to your retreat in the hills you may turn the rental to your full time home without a ton of tax problems.  But again, you need to make sure of all this with a tax professional.  Lar, it’s your turn to type.

Thanks Lloyd, and I must say some good advice there sir.  From experience I can tell you having a second  home is a lot of work, but also I enjoyed every moment we spent up on the hill.  Goldie, you and your husband Bear will also enjoy the peaceful living in the mountains.  My wife and I have had both mountain homes and a coastal home and again, loved both places. This is where association living and buying a home on a small acreage are different. Check it out first!  But for me, the mountain home gave me a peace that the coast could not offer.  Check it out first! 

Here are a few ‘Larry thinks’ for you both to ponder:  First, find a place within an hour or so of home.  If you have to drive two hours or more, going there on weekends becomes a chore.  Spending four or more hours on the road for fun becomes more of a burden.  Our hill home was exactly 70 minutes from our driveway, just enough road time to leave the home and be in heaven before dark and just enough time for me to get in the weekend mode, relaxed.  Then leave on Sundays after the late Niners game.  Then, on Saturday and Sunday, I would be raking the grounds for pine needles and burning them.  Hours of fun for me, really.  When I was not allowed to burn them I would rake them in little, neat rows, north to south. There always seemed to be just enough pleasant work to keep me busy and again, relaxed.  Shoveling snow in the winter was also fun.  The snow never kept us from our weekend retreat.  Like your question said, not too high or too low, rather just right. There were a few times when the pipes froze but honestly, that was part of the fun.  It was different from living in the valley.  We also had great neighbors who watched the place during the week.  We did rent it out and when we sold it we did an IRS 1031 Exchange to buy the coastal home.  That is another story and a bad time in my life.  The beach home was 10 hours from home.  That made for a very long drive and then not much to do when I got there.  We have friends who had a cabin at Pine Mountain and loved it so much they now live there full time.  Pine Mt. has the things they like to do, golf, the restaurant for fine dining and the lake, which offers fun and games on weekends along with boating.  And it was only a little over an hour to get there from home.  They moved there full time just this year.  I think what I’m trying to say is that it sounds good to say we want a place to enjoy, but sitting on the front pouch does get boring after a while.   You’ll need something to pass the days. 

Lastly, there’s nothing like sitting on the deck at the end of the day and seeing a deer run by or the raccoons that come out at night and look at us through the glass front door.  But Goldie, be aware of taking a nap in the afternoon and waking to the sound of a family of bears in your house.  And, yes, we had one on the porch once! Friend of yours perhaps?

— A little about us, Lloyd is a retired farmer of 27 years and a realtor for about 10 years.  Lloyd is an active member of the Central Valley Association of Realtors and sits on the CVAR Board of Directors.  Lloyd is a long time member of CVAR’s Master Club for his sales production.   

Larry has been involved in Turlock real estate for 30 years and has been a broker for almost 27 years.  He is also active in CVAR activities and is a past president of CVAR.  If you have questions please call Lloyd at 531-4853 or Larry at 484-4216.  E-mail questions for future columns to: or

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