Looking to buy a country home while still renting in the city? Read this first

Share this Article

Over on,  one Brooklynite tells of his experience buying a 10-acre (!) former dairy farm in the Catskills, while still renting a 700-square foot apartment in for himself and his family Brooklyn for the weekdays.

It's an idea most New York renters consider at some point or another, especially given that the author spent less than the cost of most Brooklyn studios ($260,000 to be exact) for a whole farmhouse on "a stunning piece of land" three hours from the city.

But there are several things to consider:

How will the mortgage work? The author of the piece says he got a 6 percent interest rate on his $200,000 loan (and recently refinanced to 4 percent). The bank didn't look at it as a second-home purchase, he writes, because they didn't own their first home.

Julie Teitel, a senior loan officer at Everbank, tells us that it's no harder to qualify for a vacation home than it is an apartment. "As long as the income, assets and credit work," she says.

Interest rates for secondary homes (anything more than 50 miles from your work address), are also about the same as those for primary homes, she says, though the bank may add .125% to the interest rate.

Is your rent on your primary home cheap enough that you won't be too stretched? The author explains that he compromised on a below-market-rate apartment in order to afford his house outside the city. "That advice is first and foremost," says John Gasdaska of Corcoran , who rents in the city and has a second home in the Hudson Valley. "Both homes must be within your means. You don't want to stretch yourself to the point that you're working every waking minute to support your homes." He offers another tip: If you plan to eventually buy in the city, too, make sure you're not claiming your secondary home as a primary residence, or else the apartment you buy in the city could be considered a pied-a-terre, something that comes with tax liabilities and is restricted by some co-op boards outright.

Are you ready for the responsibilities — and attendant costs — of house maintenance? Basements flood, roofs leak. Keep those costs in mind when you figure out your budget.

Do you know the area? Before you buy your piece of paradise, Tom Freda of Matthew J. Freda Real Estate in Callicoon, a town in the foothills of the Catskills, suggests potential buyers spend some time in the locale, renting during both summer and winter. "In our area, [there are] three or four distinct kinds of properties — some are by the mountains, some are by the water, some are kind of in between, and you want to know the topography."

Freda says about 98 percent of his customers come from the greater New York city area. "Many people buy here , start to telecommute, and little by little start spending a lot more time here." Tempted? Start here:

The Berkshires: Four-bedroom, two-bath lakeside house in a private lake community in Copake, New York.  It's two hours from the city and minutes from the ski slopes. Asking price: $275,000.

The Catskills: Five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house with vaulted ceilings, a fireplace and built-in bookshelves, in Monticello, New York. Asking price: $299,800.

North Fork: Three-bedroom, two-bath ranch, with a chef's kitchen and an open floor plan, in Southold, New York. Asking price: $499,000.


How to hunt for a vacation home outside the city

Also Around the Web