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When Ranjit Tendolkar bought a villa in Lonavala, it was with the intention of spending some time every month, in the green environs of the area. “Many times, we would not visit the villa for weeks or months, owing to our busy office routines. As a result, when we did visit, there would be knee-high grass in the garden, dust all over the house and some electrical equipment in need of maintenance,” he recounted. Tendolkar’s bitter experience highlights some of the common problems faced by second home buyers, whose properties end up being less than they expected, or worse.
Main concerns about owning a second home
Second homes tend to fall into neglect, when not visited and used regularly.
Plumbing, fittings and fixtures can deteriorate with disuse and water leakages can damage the walls and furniture.
An unoccupied property may also invite the attention of burglars and anti-social elements.
Maintenance costs may also be high, especially in properties near hilly areas or near the sea shore. Apart from these costs, one will also have to pay property taxes on the second home.
Buying a second home, is not only an investment but also a responsibility, points out Kishor Pate, CMD of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. “If the property is in a remote location or in another city or town, the owner may not be able to visit it frequently. Consequently, maintenance issues that are not addressed immediately, may turn into big problems,” he warns.
Before buying a second home, one should check for seepages and the condition of the roof, doors, windows and fittings, adds Sushil Raheja, CEO, Raheja Homes Builders & Developers. Seepages that are not addressed in a timely manner, can affect the overall structure, while gas leaks can cause immense damage to your home. Similarly, electrical appliances that are not maintained properly, can increase your utility bills unnecessarily. A second home buyer should ensure that the property is well-maintained and safeguarded, even in his or her absence.
How buyers can safeguard their second home investment
Integrated townships: “It is more advantageous, if the second home is in an integrated township, as most of the facilities will be functional and ready for use. Security measures are likely to be in place and homes in such projects will also need comparatively lesser maintenance than independent villas or bungalows,” explains Ateev Gala, executive director, Vijay Group.
Individual bungalows or villas: Buyers who opt for such properties, can hire the services of professional property managers, to handle the property. “There are facility management agencies that undertake the maintenance of second home projects, although this is usually not done at a unit level. Such agencies are generally involved in luxury projects. However, we are now also seeing developers tying up with facility management agencies, for mid-income second home projects,” adds Santhosh Kumar, CEO – operations and international director, JLL India.
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The cost of maintaining a second home
Rohit Poddar, MD of Poddar Housing and Development Ltd, feels that more developers should adopt this practice. “Developers who are constructing flats and bungalows on the outskirts, should appoint a strong property management agency, for the benefit of buyers,” he maintains.
One may also be able to find local service providers, who take an annual charge, for services related to maintenance of buildings at the individual level. In Lonavala, Arif Khan, who is a property manager for six bungalows in Valvan says, “We do not have any company in the area that provides comprehensive services for small flats. Most of the people hire locals, who take care of the property. The maintenance charge for a flat of 750 sq ft, is around Rs 3,500-4,000. For bungalows, it varies between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 and it may even go up to Rs 50,000 per month, depending on the services that one needs.”
Points to consider, before investing in a second home
- Check all the overhead costs that you are going to incur.
- Opt for gated properties, which have staff and security for maintenance.
- Hire a caretaker or a professional agency, to maintain the house.
- Have minimum furniture and electronic items.
- Consider the responsibilities and groundwork that you will need to do, if you want to rent out your property.