The Seacoast BankNote

Buying a Second Home in Florida: Mortgage, Down Payment & Loans

 woman in her new second home

The lure of warm weather during winter months and leading a snowbird lifestyle is certainly an American dream many of us still hold on to as we step into our retirement years. The good news is our modern lifestyles make snowbird living an attainable dream. If you’re considering purchasing a second home to lead a snowbird lifestyle then you’ve landed on the right webpage. In this article, we’re going to share important things you need to know before jumping into a snowbird lifestyle.

What is a Snowbird?

Snowbirding, typically carried out by retirees or distributed workers is a lifestyle where residents migrate from their primary residences during winter or colder months to warmer climates. According to, snowbirds have been traveling to Florida to escape brittle weather for over 100 years.

Should I Buy or Rent a Second Home in Florida?

A common question when implementing a snowbird lifestyle is whether or not you should rent or buy a second home. Homeownership, in general, is a huge responsibility. However, there are obvious benefits for purchasing a second home. This includes:

    • Planning to age in place, you may decide to live in warmer climates as you get older
    • Building a long-term relationship with other community members in the area
    • Profit potential (note investment properties and second homes differ in that second homes are not considered rental properties or properties owned for profit)


In contrast, owning a second home also comes with added responsibility. Some considerations include:

      • Increased expenses (maintenance and repair)
      • Increased liabilities (mortgage payments)


That being said, owning a second home is certainly feasible and adds a great deal of convenience for those seeking the comfort of warm weather during the cold winter months.

Mortgages Requirements for Owning a Second Home

If you decide to venture down the path of owning a second home as a snowbird, then it’s important to understand second home mortgage requirements. For example, to qualify for a second home mortgage loan in Florida the property you are purchasing should not be used for profit. This means, if you plan to rent the property while you are away then it does not meet the second home mortgage requirements in Florida. These property type distinctions often impact mortgage rates and should be discussed with your lender.

Other distinctions between primary, second home, and investment mortgages include:

      • The vicinity of a property to the primary residence. Typically, state regulations will specify the eligible proximity between a primary and secondary residence.
      • Down payment requirements are typically higher than first-time homeowners.
      • Second-home mortgage rates are also typically higher than primary-home mortgage rates.

Before deciding on a financing option be sure to discuss your plans with your preferred banker to discuss all the available options.

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Home Equity Line of Credit for a Second Home

Another common option for purchasing a vacation home is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). This may be a great option if you have substantial equity built up in your current home. More importantly, using your equity as a line of credit can definitely be a financially-savvy approach to increasing your assets.

Let’s explore this concept a bit further. Typically, home equity is hard to access. Meaning there are limited circumstances that allow you to use your home equity. In contrast, savings or liquid assets are more accessible. In this case, using a HELOC allows you to leverage spending power that’s not easy to access on a daily basis. While allowing you more liquid assets like cash or savings to continue to grow unimpeded.

Furthermore, since vacation homes are typically viewed as long-term purchases this often alleviates the risk of needing to sell the property quickly to access your equity.

Other Considerations When Owning a Second Home

Maintaining two homes will require regular upkeep, even while you’re away. As such, you will need to develop a plan to manage and maintain both homes. This might mean installing remote monitoring systems and hiring someone to maintain the property while you are away.

      • Cost considerations
        • Hurricane insurance
        • Additional utility payments
      • Travel arrangements
        • Secondary transportation needs
        • Airfare or traveling to and from properties
      • Home security while you are way
        • Hardware
        • Software
        • Home monitoring services
      • Property maintenance
        • General maintenance & upkeep
        • Renovation costs

The important takeaway here is that a well-planned and executed second home strategy is essential to enjoying the warm weather. Are you interested in financing a second home to lead a snowbird lifestyle? If so, take a look at some of our personal lending options or get in touch with a Seacoast representative today.

Ready to start planning for your dream second home? Calculate your monthly loan payment with our Mortgage Loan Calculator to help determine how much home you can afford.


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