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SECOND HOMES

Think about renting the getaway to friends

June 10, 2007|Tom Kelly | Special to The Times

The best time to buy a family getaway often is during the "off season," when general cleanup chores and less than ideal weather cloud the sellers' wonderful memories. Of course, when that off-season is will vary depending on if you are looking for a place in the mountains, at the beach or in the desert.

Take a weekend and revisit your favorite getaway area. A second home is an investment that can bring some of the most pleasant memories of your life, and you won't necessarily have to rent to strangers to make it work financially. Consider renting only to family, friends and neighbors. In a nutshell, get renters you trust who will give you less hassle and are more likely to leave your place in the condition in which they found it.

Second-home owners often underestimate the large pool of potential renters among neighbors and friends near their primary residence as well as their second home. These two separate sources can produce more than enough folks to fill a rental calendar.

Think about how many weeks you realistically will have available to rent out. Why rent to a stranger who has contacted you by way of the Internet when a family from your child's school or the parish church would die to rent the week you can't use before Labor Day? In fact, the church bulletin is an inexpensive, local advertising outlet for finding good prospects.

Remember, good friends, or friends of friends, know the going rate and usually expect to pay -- so charge them. If your place has the best dock, lakefront view and feather beds, your friends and neighbors will be prepared to pay top dollar for your top spot. (Family sometimes can be a different matter.)

If you are renting to people you know, chances are you probably won't sign a rental agreement. One of the most important things to do is to set some ground rules before they move in. Discuss any issues (broken pipes, best place to park the boat trailer, nasty lifeguard at the pool) that you think could arise while they occupy your place. Preparation helps prevent awkward situations down the road.

If you're visiting an area that's always been attractive to you, write down the real estate agent's name on that nearby for-sale sign and call. After all, why shouldn't you be having great memories and financial rewards? If you hold the property long enough, it will appreciate -- in more ways than one.

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Questions can be sent to news@tomkelly.com.

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