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How Selling a Vacation Home Differs From a Primary Residence

How Selling a Vacation Home Differs From a Primary Residence

Choose the right real estate agent to simplify selling a vacation homeSelling a vacation home is not necessarily more difficult than selling a primary residence, but there are different concerns and considerations, both logistical and financial, that are important to understand.

Find the Right Agent

First and foremost, assuming the vacation property is too far away to visit daily or even regularly, selecting the right real estate professional becomes imperative. Look for an agent with proven experience and local knowledge, a person who will keep you "in the loop" regarding developments, and a person you feel comfortable with. A resourceful, well-informed agent will be a resource for local needs, as well as knowing about market conditions and real estate trends.

Vacation-Only or Four-Season Home

While there may be no prime time for selling a four-season home in a popular vacation destination in Florida, Arizona, Southern California, or Colorado, location can be a major factor for marketing a mountain lodge in the Carolinas, a fishing cabin in Montana or a summer place on the Maine coast.

If a summer vacation home is normally winterized, keeping utilities on during the winter may be impractical, and the pool of potential buyers will be substantially reduced. Some locales are hard to reach during the off-season, and maintenance costs required to keep a seasonal home in show-ready condition can be high. As a seller, rely on the experience and advice of a real estate agent, and weigh the pros and cons of your decision.

Other Concerns

Additional things to consider before setting a price and signing the listing agreement include:

Tax Consequences:

Buena Park owners must determine not only the federal tax consequences, but also be aware of state regulations governing sale of vacation properties. Requirements differ from one state to the next, and out-of-state owners must comply with both states' requirements. It is normal procedure in some states to withhold a percentage of the sales price at closing, while others require payment of a transfer tax. In some cases, financial obligations don't come due until year-end tax returns are filed, but owners should check with both a personal attorney and tax accountant for definitive answers.

Landscaping, Maintenance and Repairs, Cleaning:

Take care of ongoing maintenance and minor repairs prior to listing. Authorize the real estate agent to handle any emergencies during the listing term. Even minor annoyances like a dripping faucet should be addressed, and periodic cleaning is always recommended to keep a listed property in tip-top shape. Keep utilities on, and maintain the home at a comfortable temperature.


If the vacation home is located in a community, there might be no need for additional security. But a service that picks up advertising flyers, checks for burned out exterior bulbs and regularly tests door and window locks can be worth the fee. Also, it is advisable to have a service check for damage following severe weather, and to check interiors periodically for pest damage or insect infestation.

Closing and Moving:

As soon as you are notified of an offer, begin to develop a timeline, in conjunction with your real estate agent. With required inspections and contingencies, you should have ample time to schedule a visit if you plan to move furniture or remove personal belongings. If you just want to spend a last few days vacationing in "your home," schedule the visit as soon as is practical. Leaving final details until the last minute is unwise.

In most states, a seller can close by mail as well as in person, and long-distance closings are perfectly legal and efficient. If you have made the proper preparations prior to listing a vacation property, your agent will have the necessary documentation, and everything should proceed smoothly.

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