An Old Idea is New Again: Second Homes in Oregon , By Fred Stewart, Stewart Group Realty Inc.

2011 may be the year buyers start considering second homes again. Our mountains, high desert and coastlines have long been considered legendary vacation destinations. Both urban dwelling Oregonians and people from out of state go home from visits to these places with a dream of returning as often as possible.

Owning a second home is a good idea – one that makes family life more enjoyable. It is the dream of many to finally have that special getaway. With the retraction of home values down to levels not seen in nearly 10 years, coupled with still historically low interest rates, this dream may once again be an opportunity whose time has come.

But of course, there is the flip side to this rosy picture: it has become increasingly difficult to obtain financing. And the barriers are even higher for second homes then they are for people seeking to finance their primary residence. Lenders and banks have taken a lot of losses over the past few years. A significant portion of these losses is due to the second home market that developed between 2003 and 2006. Because of this, expect a lot more work to get financing then what you may have experienced in the past. It is important that you work closely with a loan officer that has a lot of experience in residential lending and is working with a Mortgage Banker or Bank. However, you may have found a truly awesome deal and still be unable to prove yourself sufficiently to a lender. It is time to think about this in new ways.

Seller financing options such as land sales contracts and lease options should not be ignored. These options will sometimes be the only options that will allow a successful transaction to occur in the present financial climate. Do not hesitate to begin by speaking with a loan officer and exploring the possibility of traditional financing. At the same time, don’t waste precious time you begin to feel as if you are not making satisfactory progress. The “miracles” that good loan officers could pull off for borrowers in the past, are simply not happening these days.

If you have exhausted the bank loan route unsuccessfully, educate yourself about the various seller finance options. When you do reach mutually acceptable terms with your seller, be sure to draft an agreement that would last at least 3 to 5 years, if possible. It will take at least that long for lending to return to some normalcy and for you, the buyer, to develop a financial profile that would be encouraging for a lender or bank to work with them. Here your favorite loan officer can be of great assistance, and work with you during that time period to assist you in understanding and attaining eligibility for bank financing. Three to 5 years of good credit, stable employment and a healthy dedication to making the contract and mortgage payments on time will show the lender that you have the economic and character resources to deserve the credit for the loan. The three C’s (Capability, Creditworthiness and Character) will always be the basis of bank lending. What is different now is the stringency applied to each of these criteria.

As always when looking to buy an investment property or a second home you should talk to your tax and financial advisors and get their opinion on how this will affect your tax exposure and your financial planning. A real estate purchase properly structured and managed will improve your financial standing. A second home can be a wonderful and satisfying improvement on your lifestyle.


Fred Stewart
Stewart Group Realty Inc.