||Second Home Ownership Big
in La Jolla
According to the National Association of Realtors, an astounding 40% of all homes sold in 2005 were second homes. Of those homes, 28% were bought for investment, and 12% were purchased for vacation homes. Even during recent economic woes, second home purchases remained popular in 2008. La Jolla, California has been a favorite for many second home buyers for years, due to its perfect climate, amazing topography, and steady, if not spectacular, appreciation in value.
A Vacant Home Creates Many Important Issues
Besides the obvious financial challenges of owning a second home, there are other considerations. By definition, a second home means that the homeowner will not be living there full time. That means that the home will either be rented, occupied by someone, or left vacant. The prospect of a vacant home worries many potential home buyers, and as a result, their second home choice is limited to a condo, which requires less attention. However, with the overbuilding of the condo market over the past decade, it is questionable whether condos represent favorable long-term investment outcomes. Single family homes usually offer the best long-term returns, but a home which is not properly attended to is, and should be a concern to all potential buyers. Especially with single family homes, absentee owners must tend to a number of important issues including landscaping, house cleaning, security, consistent visits to check the inside of the home for malfunctions or just to flush toilets and turn on water faucets, lighting timers, mail left, newspapers or circulars left in front which can signal a vacant home to intruders, watering flowers or plants, and pest control. In addition, someone must be home to take care of deliveries, construction, home repairs and maintenance, furnishing, and other important items. Absentee owners cannot handle all of these items from afar, so many of them give up on the idea of investing in a vacation, investment, or retirement home.
What is a House Manager
A little-known service which has cropped up in desirable second home communities is the "house manager" - a person or company responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the home when the owner is absentee or when the owner takes extended vacations for a couple weeks or months at a time.
||The best house managers will offer a variety of different services and offer a range of different pricing schedules to fit your needs. For instance, a condo owner may need a once a week visit to check everything and be there for cleaning and/or utility maintenance, while a home owner may need a bi-weekly service contract. Did you order some furniture that will arrive when you are away? The manager will arrange for its delivery. Does your home need painting? You can depend on your manager to obtain at least 3 bids, help you make the right choice, and be there to supervise and watch over the job so it is done to your satisfaction. And after painting or other construction, you may want your manager to hire a carpet cleaner and then a house cleaning crew so the home sparkles before your next arrival. When the security alarm goes off in the middle of the night and you are hundreds or thousands of miles away, your manager will receive the alarm notification and be there to meet the police, reset the alarm, and lock up your home.
Some house managers go beyond the necessary items. Prior to the arrival of an absentee owner, the best managers arrange for flower arrangements in the kitchen, turn on the outdoor water fountain, prepare a fully stocked fridge, heat the pool, or even arrange for your pick-up at the airport. He can make reservations at the local restaurants or obtain tickets for the latest concert; in some ways acting like your local concierge. Hiring the right person is essential, as you do not want to entrust your home and investment to someone who is not responsible. It is essential to meet in person before hiring – you want to make sure that you have a good feeling about him before you make a final decision. Ask for a copy of the person or company’s insurance, and ask for local references for you to check. Most importantly – call them! Your home and belongings are valuable assets – you want to make sure that the right person is in charge while you are away!
Jeff Lhuillier, owner of Home Alone Estate Care, specializes in home management services in the La Jolla area for some of the finest homes (and people) in town. If you would like to learn more, you may call or write for a no obligation, FREE consultation. Call 1-800-805-8280 or email Jeff at: