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Turn Your Mountain Dreams into a Mountain Home

Elevations Credit Union answers your questions when it comes to buying your dream vacation home

Remember the last time you went for a mountain vacation? Coming back from a hike of sweeping vistas, you relax in a quaint mountain home and quietly think, “I can see myself owning a place like this.”

What if you did? 

What if that purchase happened to boost your equity to the mountaintops? Or if your short-term rental income flowed like the rapids? 

Humor aside, it could happen. And—you could even vacation in the place yourself.

To see if there’s something more to this dream, check in with the worlds of finance, security and real estate. 

Ideally you would also bring in a team of experts to see all sides of the question. Kelley Spight, mortgage loan officer at Elevations Credit Union, advised talking with a trusted financial advisor, tax advisor, realtor and lender. 

“When you have a lot of professional people in your corner, you’ll get the perspectives you need so you can make the best decisions for you,” Spight said.

To begin, consider these six questions and tips about the practicalities behind a vacation home.

Do you want a vacation home or investment property?

If you purchase a second home, will it primarily be a second home for you and your family to vacation or an investment property which you want to lease out for short-term rentals?

The two decisions come with a list of pros and cons. If you rent out your second property, you can look forward to additional income. However, you’ll also likely encounter:

  • Additional maintenance, planned and unplanned, due to tenant use

  • Unanticipated changes in occupancy

  • Wear-and-tear from tenants (think carelessness akin to wearing ski boots on hardwood floors)

Even when the home is occupied, the extra income will come with property management responsibilities. These can easily become a part-time job involving everything from customer issues to regular maintenance. If it’s in your budget, you can hire outside management for your short-term vacation rental. This adds to your budget but helps with those responsibilities.

As you pin down your goals for this property and look at your budget, include reserves that offer a comfortable cushion for these expenses. 

Once you define your goals for the property, you can be more strategic with your next decisions.

What location makes sense for your goals?

While it's important to feel inspired by a particular location or property, make sure you talk with a realtor who knows the area very well. If you’re just passing through, a more experienced perspective can help you make a smart choice about the locations that will get you a good return.

It will be very important to have a team of experts on your side as you find your property. Chat with real estate professionals, investors and mortgage specialists to get to know your market. They will have information on property taxes, neighborhood statistics and important financial advice. 

If you want to use your property as a short-term rental, put yourself in the shoes of potential vacationers. Will they want easy trail access? A family-friendly atmosphere? Or good restaurant options next to a vibrant downtown? 

Prioritizing these questions alongside your budget can help you find a property more likely to offer a return on your investment.

Estimate your investment return.

Consider your long-term goal for earning equity and/or rental income. Then, discuss that goal with your tax and financial advisor to get their input. Together, you can estimate how much you may spend per month on your mortgage and fees, including property taxes, HOA fees and maintenance. 

If you want to gain rental income, consider that next to your expenses. A key question: How often can you expect the property to be booked? You can look at similar vacation rentals in the area on Airbnb and Vrbo for reference. 

What borrowing options should you consider?

If you’re ready to manage a rental, start by chatting with a mortgage professional about loan options and interest rates that may be available to you. This step is crucial to help you narrow your property search and understand your borrowing limits.

A few lending tips if you’re considering purchasing a luxury home: 

  • Consider an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). This can help you save on interest and refinance later instead of paying a higher rate for longer. 

  • Buydown options can also be helpful, as you can get a lower interest rate for the first 1-3 years by using funds in escrow. This applies even if you refinance.

Stay excited, stay grounded.

An investment home is absolutely something to cheer for. At the same time, remember that returns on investment may be a long-term goal. 

Lastly, remember that success in rental property investment requires a balance of financial prudence, market knowledge and realistic expectations. Keep your feet on the ground and your eye on the prize.

You don’t have to go through the process alone.

An investment home is an exciting endeavor that comes with plenty of responsibilities. Instead of letting those overwhelm you, lean on experts who have your best interests at heart.

“It’s critical to have a mortgage lender like Elevations that’s going to be there for you before, during and after the transaction,” Spight said. “I truly, truly believe in our member-focused and community-driven approach.”

Visit to learn more about how investment properties and home-buying can help you save for the future.

Elevations Credit Union is an Equal Housing Opportunity lender, NMLS# 717246.

“When you have a lot of professional people in your corner, you’ll get the perspectives you need so you can make the best decisions for you." - Kelley Spight