If you’re fortunate enough to be considering buying a second home, but not sure about using it as a vacation house or as an investment property to generate income, understanding the differences between the two types of property is important to determine how much you’ll pay to finance and own it.

A second home is a vacation home, while an investment property is rented out with the goal of generating income. If you’re considering renting out the property occasionally, defining it depends on how much time you spend in it. If you use the property for 14 days or less during a year, it would be considered a rental property and the income earned would be taxable, but you would also deduct the expenses associated with the property.

The distinction between a second home and an investment property is important not only for tax purposes but also when seeking financing for the home. Investment properties usually have more stringent underwriting guidelines than second homes and primary residences because there is an assumed greater risk of default on properties that borrowers don’t occupy. The stricter standards for an investment property might also include a larger down payment requirement.

The tax implications for second homes and investment properties are also different. Mortgage interest is fully tax-deductible for investment properties, and owners can also deduct many expenses related to the property. In contrast, if you have more than $750,000 in mortgage debt between two or more properties, you’ve maxed out the amount you can use to deduct interest.

Homeowners who own a second home can only deduct mortgage interest if it falls within the $750,000 total debt limit. In summary, accurately defining a property as a second home or investment property is crucial to understand the financing and tax implications. Homeowners who wish to purchase an investment property should be prepared for stricter underwriting standards and a larger down payment requirement. Meanwhile, owning a second home is easier to finance, but tax deductions are limited.

To see how much you qualify and borrowing costs for today’s market fill out our quick purchase analyzer on our website.

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