The Joys of Second Home Ownership


Since the 1940s, owning a seasonal home has been a common dream shared by many Americans and, according to the Historical Census of Housing, just over 3% of American homeowners have a vacation retreat to call their own. There are several destinations in and near Virginia that offer tremendous appeal to those who seek the benefits of owning a second home.

Northern Neck

One of the most accessible second home destinations to Richmond area residents is the Northern Neck. “The Northern Neck is ideal for getting to your vacation house for a day or a weekend,” says Katie Horsley Dew, a third-generation broker with IsaBell K. Horsley Real Estate, one of the Northern Neck’s and Middle Peninsula’s leading residential real estate firms. “The market is really good right now,” she adds. “You can still find a good deal here.”  Housing options run from high-end mansions to waterfront cottages.

If you’re wondering where the best places are to look for homes in the Northern Neck, Dew says it all depends on the lifestyle you prefer. “Deltaville for boating and sailing. Mathews is a sweet little waterfront town with great beaches. It’s good for fishing, crabbing and growing oysters. More quaint getaways include Kilmarnock and Irvington.”

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is the state’s most popular Oceanside destination. It’s perfect for those who like their water wilder and beaches wider.  For many, it’s a lifestyle that consists of mornings on the beach, surfside meals at Waterman’s Grille or Salacia Prime and a night along the main strip. However, during the spring and summer months, the population influx demands an expensive admission for its visitors, which makes the entire region a perfect area for an investment property. Companies like Air BNB and VRBO make it easy for owners to rent their homes when they’re not enjoying it themselves.

One of the most popular spots in Virginia Beach for those who enjoy oceanfront condo living is in Sandbridge, which offers all the amenities of the beach but without the hubbub of the strip. Sandbridge is located in the city of Virginia Beach, but it’s also at the northernmost tip of the Outer Banks and offers that unique OBX feel without having to leave the state.

North Carolina

Of course, North Carolina and its Outer Banks is also a great place to consider purchasing a second home. During the early 1700s, the Outer Banks was a frequent stop for pirates like “Calico” Jack Rackham and Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. While the pirate spirit lives on in restaurants and novelty drinks, areas like Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head have come to represent a “you should never be too far from a beach” philosophy.

Whether it is a house on stilts with ocean views or a cottage in the quaint town of Manteo, Kelly Dean, a realtor with Buy the Beach Realty, says the housing market offers unique qualities.

“The Outer Banks is one of the few places you can actually have an ocean front pool,” Dean says, “not to mention beachfront houses with fences that allow privacy all along the ocean front.”

For those looking for an investment property, Dean adds that the region is unique in its offerings. “We’re one of the few areas you can purchase a year-round, cash-flow investment that will cover expenses and overhead due to our season being longer than most.” She adds that the Outer Banks has long been an attractive area to retirees “We see a lot of people approaching retirement, purchase a property a few years beforehand for the extra income before moving in full time,” she says. With fall fishing and summer trips to the beach, this vacation destination to the south might be the perfect spot for your second home.

Hopping from the ocean to the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge is Virginia’s premier skiing destination, Wintergreen Resort. This popular destination has grown beyond its snowy reputation to offer a luxurious year-round mountain-living experience. For beer and wine enthusiasts, the area is only a short distance away from several of Virginia’s top wineries and breweries. Closer still is golf, tennis and a number of highly rated restaurants right on site.

Blue Ridge Mountains

If the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its spectacular views, sounds like a place for you to settle but you’re still in need of a shoreline, then head about 100 miles southwest to Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford and Franklin Counties. Nicknamed the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” the lake covers 40 miles and over 20,000 acres. Initially, it was created for electricity generation, however, now it is a popular boating and fishing locale. Richmonder Jim Morgan and his family have owned a house on the lake for the better part of 20 years, and, especially this time of year, they continue to be drawn back to their home away from home.

“In the fall and winter, it’s the quiet that is most appealing,” Morgan reveals. “The buzz of boats and jet skis are gone and you can enjoy some peaceful time on the dock with a book and a warm beverage.”

Through second home ownership, Morgan’s house is a year-round retreat, not just a one-week-a-year getaway. “Just knowing that there is someplace away that you can escape to at a moment’s notice is certainly a top benefit,’’ he says.

IF you find yourself becoming enticed by all the beauty that awaits along the river, by the sea or up in the hills, we’d advise you to consult a financial adviser before making the second-home plunge. However, if the old adage “Home is where your story begins” is true, then maybe that second home is where your story starts to get really exciting.

Zach Brown
Author: Zach Brown