Something to think about when buying that dream second home
Country life — even just for the weekend— needs careful consideration. That cosy cottage might look just the ticket for a wintry escape, but could it be more trouble than it's worth?
Address what you want from your second home?
Picturesque cottages are always tempting, but consider how you will spend your time once you're there.
James Greenwood, at search agent Stacks Property, says: 'The social aspects of your second home are paramount. There are some obvious examples — sailors flock to Aldeburgh in Suffolk and Seaview in the Isle of Wight, tennis lovers to Frinton, while hunters and shooters head for the Shires.'
You may love surfing in Cornwall, but if you live in London and it takes you six hours to drive there, are you going to visit every month?
Guy Shaw, at agency John D. Wood & Co in Oxford, says: 'If you plan to travel to your weekend house on a Friday evening, be absolutely clear how long the journey will take at that time.
'I have seen a number of people slowly give up on their second home because the commute became too long.' This especially applies during the dark winter months.
If your holiday home requires driving over icy or snowy moors in Derbyshire or Yorkshire, for example, you may even find yourself unable to visit.
Conversely, if you pick a holiday hotspot, you may find your village overrun with tourists.
Most people will want a holiday home to lock up and leave, and will not wish to spend their weekends ruined with DIY tasks.
The same applies for cooking, so make sure there are places to eat nearby. Remember that unoccupied homes are obvious targets for burglars.
Susi Morgan, of consultancy Morgan & Associates, says: 'I would recommend a home with good modern conveniences. When you arrive, you want instant central heating and hot water so you can relax in a nice bath.'
It might sound obvious — but it's crucial to do your sums. Think about how much it will cost to maintain or repair the house, especially if it is listed, has a thatched roof or is off the gas mains.
Kate Faulkner, at advice service Designs on Property, says: 'Add up the cost of buying and owning a second home versus staying in a hotel. Can you afford another mortgage, stamp duty and all the bills and maintenance costs?'
Buying with friends and family makes it more affordable, although it's vital to get good legal advice and set clear 'house rules'.
Some locals in tourist hotspots consider second-home owners to be a nuisance. Conversely, most second-home owners rely on neighbours to keep an eye on their property, so it's worth getting involved in local life.
Mary Stanley, of The Country Property Group, says: 'Prospective buyers should think about a community in which they can cultivate good relationships with neighbours, who could become key-holders in the case of an emergency.'