Woman lying on a beach Can you imagine sitting on the beach, your toes digging into warm sand, your mind relaxing at the sound of ocean waves? A gentle breeze is blowing and overhead, the seagulls are screeching.  Minutes away is your home. It’s your second home – the place you chose to “get away from it all. ” Charleston is no stranger to homebuyers looking for a second home property, and many of those homebuyers are from out of state. The warm weather and laid-back lifestyle of this coastal city have an allure that’s hard to resist. Whether you are nearing retirement or just looking for that perfect place to create a lifetime of vacation memories with your family, there are some things to keep in mind before you start your search.

As you begin searching for your second home, you’re probably running down a similar checklist as you did when buying your primary residence. However, with a second home property, and as a buyer from out-of-state, there’s a few things to keep top of mind.

Here are our tips for buying a home out-of-state and for making sure your next investment is the perfect one … so you can keep your mind focused on the beach!


1. Go Local with Your Real Estate Agent

Find an agent that works in, and is knowledgeable about, the area you want to buy your second home. Here’s the reason: They know the local market better. They can tell you which homes are located in the right areas, what kind of traffic you’ll face, what amenities you’ll have, and so on. On top of this, they’ll be licensed in the state you’re buying real estate. They’ll have working knowledge of local laws and understand the procedure better than an out‐of‐state agent.


2. Get Video Tours of Real Estate Listings

If you’re already looking online at homes for sale, great! Since you’re buying from out-of-state, you probably don’t have as much time to go and see the homes in person. Our suggestion is to use a real estate website, browse through the photos, and get to know which properties (or styles) you like.

But here’s the real tip: Look for video tours. Some real estate agents offer video tours of highlighted listings. We certainly do – have a look. Take the time to watch them and see for yourself just what it’s like to experience the lifestyle. If there isn’t a video tour available, ask your agent to make a visit to the property and do one. These are huge time savers and they let you easily see if the house is right for you. Plus, you can get the agent’s input as they walk through the property. Then you and your agent can talk about the home on a more intimate level.


3. Consider Cost of Living Differences

Depending on where you move from, the cost of living could be higher or lower in your destination city. It’s always a good idea to know how much it costs to live in a new area. Taxes might be different. In Charleston for example, second home taxes are significantly higher than primary residence property taxes. “Run costs, ” or monthly utility expenses could be cheaper – or more expensive. Before you commit to living in the area, understand all of the costs associated.


4. Brush Up on the Tax Implications

Taxes. It’s never a fun topic, but neither is losing money to the IRS. Your tax situation will vary, depending on whether you use the real estate property as a second home or if you’re renting it out. To get started, check to see if you can deduct property taxes on your second house. If you intend to rent the property part of the time, taxes get a little more complicated (if you rent for more than 14 days). For more details, be sure to consult with your real estate agent.


5. Pick a Day (or Days) to See Houses

Before you buy, it’s always recommended to see the home in person. You are more than likely going to have to plan a trip specifically for the purpose of looking at properties, so plan your time efficiently,  make sure you line up your favorite houses and schedule back‐to‐back showings with your agent. This is why researching online and requesting video tours in advance is extremely helpful. Doing the extra legwork, so you know which properties you like and what financial situation they present, can help make the home search quick and seamless.

Have Questions? Ask a Local Agent.

NOTE: Buying a second home is a big decision, and if you have any questions, we’re here to help. We offer a great deal of information and the more you know, the more confident you’ll be in your decision … and that makes for happier living.

Interested in Learning More?

Our expert teams - from development, investment, real estate, and property management - have experienced it all and have the insight to help you along the way.

Find Out More