Ever had that moment when you’re relaxing, with a glass of something cool and sparkling, looking out over your favourite beach; it’s sunset and you’re filled with a sense of peace about the earth? It’s one of those times when you utter the fateful words: “maybe we should buy a property here”.
We’ve all done it. But before you end up making a decision you could regret later, let’s take a cold, hard look at the reasons why buying a holiday house as an investment is generally not a good idea.
A holiday house rarely works as a golden investment property.
1. Emotion rarely gets you a top investment
All property investments need to be solidly backed up with hard data and proven research.
Yes you love visiting the area but your own personal tastes may blind you to the reality of the region’s actual worth as an investment. For example, Gippsland and Geelong in Victoria, are both big tourist drawcards and prime holiday destinations. Yet, RP Data reports that for the September quarter of 2016 the house prices for both areas fell by five percent and one percent respectively. All property investments need to be solidly backed up with hard data and proven research. You may have found an idyllic house on the coast, but if the area is in decline with no infrastructure, a poor local economy and a waning population this leads to a lack of demand and poor capital growth. Meaning you could be left with a property lemon.
2. You won’t really be able to use the property to holiday in.
The main reason you purchased a holiday investment was so you could use it. However it’s unlikely you’ll get to do so. This is because the times you’ll want to visit – Christmas, school holidays, summer – is also the peak period when tenants will want to rent it out. Do you keep the place vacant for yourself and then forgo all that sizable rental income? Or does it become a holiday house you only ever visit in winter?
No investor wants an empty property as you’re losing money.
3. Fluctuating rental income
As mentioned above, holiday spots tend to be in demand in certain times of the year. This means you may make a very tidy rental income over the holiday season but may have an empty property for the rest of the year. You also won’t have consistent long term tenants. Instead you’ll have lots of short term tenants which means a high turnover and more property management. Your rental income will also be at the mercy of other holiday spots in the same area so prices may fluctuate depending on demand and competition.
Holiday guests demand more from properties than normal tenants. For example, they’ll usually want a home that’s fully furnished. They may also expect features such as barbecues, TVs, DVD players and WiFi. All these are an additional financial burden to establish and to maintain. The more guests you have coming through can mean more wear and tear on all the items. Which means it can end up being an expensive exercise.
In order to craft a winning investment plan you need as much certainty as possible.
5. Hard to have a long term strategy
As you won’t have consistent tenants this makes it very difficult to have a long term plan. And good property investment is always about plans. If you know that you’re guaranteed a certain yearly rental income from your property then you can strategise for other things; such as building a portfolio or paying off the existing investment. But if you’re simply going from tenant to tenant that’s not an effective long term strategy, that’s just desperately keeping your head above water.
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6. Holiday areas themselves are fickle
People’s attitudes towards holiday areas have changed from twenty years ago where families would be fiercely loyal to the one area and go there every season. Nowadays holiday guests are more adventurous and curious. They are more likely to want to try something different. This means you can’t rely on a hard core group of renters as trends change. Plus, we’re now living in the age of Airbnb and many other internet based rental options. These are very attractive flexible options for holiday guests and only add to the competition.
So, as tempting as it is to buy a property in your favourite tranquil, coastal setting or bush retreat, put on your investor’s hat and do the research first. You will likely be much better off just renting a place yourself a few weeks a year and putting your hard earned cash somewhere else.