Buying a ski home: Everything you need to know
After almost a year cooped up indoors, you’re probably not the only one looking for some excitement and adrenaline this winter. One way to get both, and to ensure you’ve always got a spot on the slopes, is by purchasing a winter vacation home to call your own. But if you’re thinking about going after that ski home you’ve always dreamed of there can be a lot to consider. We break down everything you need to know.
Be clear about ALL the costs of owning your ski home
Before you can pull the trigger on a new ski home, it’s important to do some calculations to make sure you can afford that wintry wonderland. To start, you’ll want to make sure you have enough funds set aside to cover a down payment, closings costs and reserves, as well as get a clear understanding of the total monthly costs for operating your ski home (including your principal, interest, taxes and insurance costs on its mortgage).
There are also all those easy-to-forget expenses that come with outfitting and operating a second home, including utilities, snow maintenance, travel costs to reach your ski home (multiplied by the rough number of times you intend to visit), as well as housewares (…unless you plan on eating take-out every single night).
There’s also the matter of seasonal ski passes. There are several tips and tricks to help score a discount there, like looking out for early-bird discounts or identifying pass subscriptions that bundle access to several different resorts and mountains into one seasonal pass.
Location, location, location (part 1)
It’s important to not underestimate the difference between a three-hour drive and an eight-hour flight. An accessible vacation home will definitely be frequented much more often than a remote residence that requires much more time to get to. Now depending on what part of the country you live in, you might not have the luxury of a ski mountain that’s a couple hours drive away—that’s ok, but just be realistic with how many times you think you’ll visit each year if doing so requires a plane ride.
Location… (part 2)
One other location-based consideration when looking at your soon-to-be ski chalet is its proximity to the slopes. Many larger resorts will often have a greater number of ‘ski-in’ condos, apartments or townhouses that allow you to easily walk to one of the lifts or trails.
Once you’ve purchased your home and want to rent it out to generate income (more on that below), it’s valuable to know the role location can play. A ski-in property will typically rent at a much higher rate than a comparable home that would require you to drive. So, ski-in homes can be a great investment if you’re planning to principally rent out your property for most of the season.
How much for you, how much for them?
Unless you live close by your intended ski destination and expect to be visiting most weekends during the season, one important decision you’ll have to make is how much (and when) to rent it out. Finding a rental price for your property can be a bit tricky, but a good rule of thumb is to research what similar properties around you are charging, and use that to determine an appropriate range.
If one of your chief goals in purchasing a ski house is to maximize your rental income, that will mean turning over the space to renters during the peak periods (which often coincide with the best conditions). However, if you’re looking to just bring in a handful of renters to help supplement the costs on the property, you can keep greater control over the schedule and keep more of those prime dates for your own use.
What’s your summer plan?
Finally, if you’re planning to focus on rental income, take some time to research what the area you’re searching offers in terms of summer vacations. A lot of stellar ski mountain also double as top-notch climbing, biking or fishing destinations—meaning your ski getaway could wind up turning a rental profit all year round!