Consider these factors when purchasing a second residence
As longtime residents of the Empire State and devoted Mets fans, Robert and Susan Heiferman initially objected to being called “part-time Yankees.” After more than twenty years of traveling between New York and The Cliffs, they now embrace the moniker and the neighbors who coined it.
There are obvious challenges to having two homes 750 miles apart, but some of the same issues apply to the short commute between downtown Greenville and Lake Keowee. From taxes to Tupperware, there are many things to consider with the addition of another residence.
While other industries were reeling from the pandemic, real estate boomed. For some, a second home was a getaway and a haven for extended family and friends. David Hurst of Coldwell Banker Caine says, “Typically, there are hundreds of properties along the 380 miles of shoreline on Lake Keowee. Right now, there are maybe twenty.” Amy Hammond of Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty had the best year of her career in 2021. “People were tired of looking at the same walls,” she says.
According to the South Carolina Department of Revenue, primary residences are taxed at 4 percent and second homes at 6 percent. Mortgage interest rates may also be higher. Additionally, potential buyers should be aware of any ongoing charges a community may levy for groundskeeping and other amenities such as dining clubs, green fees, or docking costs.
Resale value may be more important for a vacation home than a second home that will become the primary residence after retirement. “It should be more than a novelty. You need to be sure you and your family will use and enjoy it,” Hurst says. He also advises buyers to note whether the area has enough activities for family members of all ages and to determine if it’s close enough to things like grocery stores and health care providers. Some homeowners cover expenses by listing properties with Airbnb, but it’s crucial to check restrictions on short-term rentals.
As a former assistant superintendent of a school district, Susan was accustomed to management, but handling two homes was a different story. “I remember thinking it would be a cakewalk now that I was retired, but I was overwhelmed,” she says. “For me, simplification is the key.”
She began with a list of people who could help with tasks such as housekeeping and made a chart to organize services such as telephone, garbage pickup, and cable that would be dormant for part of the year. Calendar reminders also helped, and although the couple fully stocked the mountain home with sheets, dishes, etc., a “to bring” list is always a good idea when they leave one house for the other.
Making it Home
Still, Susan says organization isn’t everything. “I had good friends in one place and great prospects in the other, but I felt so alone. I also knew no one would feel sorry for me . . . ‘Poor Suzi, she has one too many homes.’”
One day, it all clicked when Siri spoke the name Susan had given their Cliffs Valley house: “Home South.” The relevant word was “home,” and the second one couldn’t be an afterthought. “I had to allow people to see me for who I was, even though I didn’t always know because my identity had been so intertwined with my career.” Relationships eventually transcended logistics during a transitional time. “Maintaining multiple houses is a feat,” she admits, “but it works when the heart is truly at home.”