We all do it. Who can resist a glimpse at the listings in the estate agent window while on holiday? But if you have your heart set on a second home where you can escape for weekends away or summer-long staycations then the peak holiday season isnt necessarily the time to buy.
Sellers in popular UK holiday destinations try to time their sale so the home is on the market just as the season begins. So, it stands to reason that this is when the asking price will be highest.
As the summer months draw to a close, vendors who havent sold could be left with a choice. Do they keep their home on the market in the hope someone will pay the full asking price? Do they reduce the price? Or do they remove it during winter and try again the following year.
Were truly spoilt for choice in County Durham and Teesside when it comes to places to buy a second home within a short drive of home. In a couple of hours, you could be in the Lakes, on the Northumberland coast, or simply further inland in the picturesque Durham Dales.
Its tempting then, to leap in and purchase during the warmer months, in a bid to extend the holiday feeling. But, as autumn and winter set in, and the mercury levels fall, it could be a better time to buy.
Check whether the property youre interested in is still available and whether the asking price is still the same. The average time it takes to sell a house in the North East is around 10 weeks, while in the North West, it is eight weeks. On average, asking prices are reduced by between four and five per cent to achieve a sale.
So, it may well be that if your dream home has been on the market for longer than that, the vendors are now willing to accept a lower offer.
Its also vital to visit the area youre looking at out of season. It is likely to have a completely different atmosphere. It may be that you like the feeling of solitude which comes after the tourist hoards have left, or it could be that it is too quiet for your liking.
Arrange another viewing. See if you still love the house as much when the sun isnt shining. Take a good walk and drive around the local area. Are all the farm shops, restaurants and attractions that you love still open during the winter? Look at whats on guides and noticeboards. Is there still enough going on in the local community.
If you love the home as much in winter as you did while on holiday during the summer, then maybe it is meant to be.
Before you leap, however, think about not just purchasing the property, but exactly what you are going to use it for. Are you intending to rent it out while you arent using it? Do you need to find a lettings agent? Have you considered the tax implications of adding to your income?
Also, think about any future sale. Are you planning to pass on your second home so generation after generation of your family can enjoy their holidays in your favourite staycation spot. Or do you intend to sell at a later date? You may have to pay capital gains tax if you make a profit when you sell a property which is not your main home.
Buying a second home during the months when you would not usually take a holiday there, could allow you to weigh up whether you really have fallen in love with it enough to buy it, or whether you were simply swept away with the summer holiday atmosphere.