Beautiful, sunny Sarasota, Florida, home to some of the best beaches in the world, complete with natural scenery, plenty of outdoor recreation, and all kinds of things to see and do. It's biggest attraction, of course, is the weather. While most of the country is shivering away, shoveling snow, and scraping ice, most Sunshine State residents spend their days in tee-shirts, shorts, and sandals. Even during the winter months, temperatures are quite moderate, making outdoor recreation a possibility practically every day of the year.
It's these things which are moving the peninsula past New York in population, over the course of this year and next. About 1,000 people relocate here each and every day, and Sarasota and Manatee counties are among the most popular locations because of all those areas have to offer.
If you want to escape the cold and live a tropical lifestyle, at least for part of the year, you've probably seriously considered buying a vacation home on the gulf coast. Purchase price aside, you'll have to consider how you'll actually use the property you ultimately buy.
Vacation Home or Income Property?
Money is going to be a factor because the Internal Revenue Service makes that a reality. Basically, if you do rent out your vacation property and do so for more than 14 days of a calendar year, it will be considered a rental property. That means your taxes will be different. However, if you lease it out less than 14 days in a year, then that income isn't even considered taxable.
"Affordable housing in Sarasota was hard to come by during the real estate boom years. Like many resort areas throughout the country, Sarasota's beautiful beaches and natural scenery attracted speculative investors, driving up demand and home prices and spurring new development." --Front Door.com
That being said, should you decide on generating a passive income stream, renting your vacation property for a few or several months of the year, you can deduct a number of expenses, such as advertising, management costs, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, insurance, and mortgage interest. Because the home will be in a highly desirable vacation spot, that means you will have no problem leasing it out when you want. You can then use it during the fall and winter months as a vacation or second home, enjoying the wonderful weather and building equity all the while. Many second home owners in the area have opted to own for a few to several years, then permanently relocate at some point. Retirees find the area to be well-suited to the retirement lifestyle.
Buying a Vacation Home in Sarasota
When you decide to purchase a vacation or second home, the first thing you'll need to do is establish a budget and you can only do that after you have considered your options. You can use the money in your 401(k) or 403 (b), refinance your current home, or take out a mortgage. That will determine how much you are able to spend and it's very sound advice to purchase under your ceiling so not to add too much to your monthly expenses. Now, it's time to zero-in on the right property and here's how you do just that:
- Decide on a property type. In the area, you'll find plenty of choices, including single family homes, condominiums, townhomes, and villas. If you choose a single family or even a townhome, you're going to be purchasing under a fee simple ownership, that means the roof and landscaping are your responsibility. Condos and villas are typically different and you'll pay an association fee, along with your fellow residents, to maintain the property at-large.
- Narrow your list of must-haves. Everyone wants the beach with an unobstructed water view, with plenty of space, at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms, for a bargain basement price. Though prices are quite affordable, you might not find all your must-haves in your budget range.
- Research each property that interest you. After you've seen a few properties that interest you, take the time to learn a little about each one. Many of the homes here are under a homeowners association, so request copies of the bylaws. In addition ask current residents about their experiences.
- Be flexible about location. The good thing about living here is the beach is never far away. Even if the properties you can afford are "landlocked", don't let that discourage you because the beach is just moments away.
- Find an experienced real estate professional. You'd be wise not to just go with someone whose licensed but not very familiar with the area. Look for a professional that knows the area well and is familiar with the various neighborhoods.
In addition to these things, speak with your real estate professional about how you plan to use the property and your future plans. This will help to prevent you from purchasing a property that doesn't really fit your plans.