People acquire multiple homes for various practical reasons. It could be driven by a desire for a countryside retreat while working in the city, or a need for a convenient midweek stay near the workplace. Jobs requiring travel across different regions may also prompt the purchase of a second home.
The property could serve as a holiday retreat, generate rental income, or be viewed as a strategic investment to capitalize on potential appreciation. Whether for long-term residence or short-term property development, clarifying your primary reasons upfront is crucial in guiding your selection of the second home.
What is a second home?
In strict terms, a second home is a property acquired by a homeowner for additional residency alongside their primary residence. This purchase is often associated with obtaining a holiday home or a place to live while working away, with the primary residence being the main abode.
Occasionally, individuals may acquire a second home for family members to inhabit without rental obligations. However, it’s worth noting that the term “second home” is also used, albeit potentially inaccurately, to denote a property purchased for investment, such as in buy-to-let scenarios. In this context, owning a second property is more accurately labeled as holding an investment property rather than a second home.
Why do people decide on owning a second home?
The ONS 2018/2019 survey revealed an increase in homeowners with second homes from 572,000 to 772,000 since the 2008-2009 survey. The reported reasons for owning a second home include 39% for holiday homes, 35% as long-term investments, 16% were former main residences, 9% for future retirement, 5% for working away, 3% for someone living away, 1% due to a marital breakup, and 11% for other reasons. Now, let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of owning a second home.
The pros and cons of owning a second home in the UK
Let’s start with the advantages.
Pros of owning a second home in the UK
Advantages of owning a second home in the UK include the potential for long-term investment growth, the ability to use it as a personal holiday home or share it with friends and family, and the potential for reduced council tax in some areas. Additionally, owning a second property can provide rental income if you choose to let it out. Now, let’s explore the potential drawbacks.
Cons of owning a second home in the UK
- Obtaining mortgages is challenging in the current economic climate due to the high cost of living, elevated interest rates, and the looming recession, prompting lenders to reassess affordability criteria.
- Second-home mortgage interest rates are typically higher than those for primary residences, reflecting the added risk associated with such properties.
- There may be a 3% stamp duty incurred when purchasing a second home.
- Significant maintenance costs, especially for rental properties, should be anticipated.
- Reselling the property could subject you to capital gains tax.
The costs of owning a second property
Owning a second home in the UK comes with responsibilities, involving both management and financial considerations. Here are key aspects to ponder:
- Stamp Duty: A 3% surcharge may apply.
- Minimum Deposit: A 5% minimum deposit, escalating to 25% for buy-to-let properties.
- Special Mortgage: Buy-to-let properties may necessitate a distinct mortgage.
- Affordability Criteria: Strict criteria apply for mortgage approval.
- Interest Rates: Second mortgages typically incur higher interest rates.
- Maintenance Costs: Expect ongoing property maintenance expenses.
- Capital Gains Tax: Selling may subject you to capital gains tax.
Why do you want a second property?
- City-Country Balance: Individuals often find themselves torn between the hustle and bustle of city life and the desire for a peaceful retreat in the countryside. A second home provides the perfect solution, offering the best of both worlds. It allows them to maintain a city residence for work while enjoying the tranquility of a country home during weekends or whenever they need a break.
- Weekend Retreat: Many homeowners seek a haven away from the stresses of daily life, opting for a second home as their weekend retreat. This provides a space where they can unwind, breathe in fresh air, and recharge, creating a clear distinction between the demands of work and the serenity of their personal sanctuary.
- Work-Related Travel: Certain professions require frequent travel to different parts of the country. In such cases, having a second home strategically located can serve as a convenient base, reducing the challenges associated with constant relocation. This ensures a comfortable and familiar living space, even when work takes them far from their primary residence.
- Holiday Home: For those who cherish specific holiday destinations, owning a second home in these preferred locations becomes an attractive option. It provides a dedicated space for vacations, eliminating the need for temporary accommodations and offering the comfort of a familiar environment during holiday getaways.
- Rental Income: Some homeowners view their second property as a potential source of additional income. By renting out the property periodically, they can generate revenue while ensuring the home remains actively used. This dual-purpose approach allows for financial gain without compromising the personal utility of the property.
- Investment: Individuals with significant financial resources often choose to invest in real estate. By sinking a large sum into a property, they aim to reap the benefits of practical use and potential appreciation over time. This strategic investment approach aligns with the goal of both enjoying the property and securing a positive return on investment.
- Short-Term Ventures: For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, a second home becomes a canvas for short-term ventures such as property development. This approach allows individuals to leverage the property market, engaging in projects that aim to enhance the property’s value and contribute to profitable outcomes.
Is it worth buying a second home to rent out UK?
The UK property market has shown consistent growth, with average house prices climbing from £150,000 in 2005 to over £250,000 in 2022, as reported by the HM Land Registry. Although the market experienced a dip during the financial crash of 2007-2009, it swiftly recovered. This upward trajectory suggests that property ownership can serve as a viable long-term investment, despite potential challenges related to liquidity.
A persistent debate revolves around choosing between investing in buy-to-let properties and opting for a pension. The advantage of pensions becomes evident at the age of 55, offering access to a 25% tax-free lump sum. Additionally, in terms of pension growth, unlike the appreciation seen in owning a second house, pensions are not subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This consideration adds a layer of financial advantage for those weighing the pros and cons of property versus pension investments.
What’s the best option – buying or renting?
The immediate response to the rent vs. buy dilemma often leans towards buying, seen as a long-term investment compared to the perceived money drain of renting. Renters, it’s argued, miss out on potential gains from inflation and market growth, as they don’t own the asset.
However, the path to buying a house, especially a first one, is no walk in the park. The challenge of saving for a deposit requires careful financial planning. The experience gained from owning a primary residence lays a foundation for understanding the nuances of owning a second home in the UK.
For those grappling with the rent vs. buy decision on a limited budget, renting may emerge as the practical choice. It eliminates the hurdle of accumulating a hefty deposit, freeing up funds that could be invested elsewhere—perhaps in a stocks and shares ISA or a general investment account. These alternative investments may pave the way for future property purchases.
How to buy a second home in the UK
The most pragmatic approach to acquiring a second home involves settling the mortgage on your primary residence. Financial burdens, especially mortgages, can be substantial, with a mortgage often constituting a significant portion of one’s debts. Venturing into a second mortgage can potentially amplify financial strain. Opting to invest in a mortgage after clearing the first one alleviates some of the financial pressures associated with owning a second home.