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Own a Piece of Paradise


Four tips for buying a second home in the Four Corners region.
By Jodi Helmer

Illustration by Nate Padavick.

Forget renting a condo or checking into a hotel room. Buying a vacation home allows you to take advantage of all of the recreational activities in the Southwest, no reservations required.

“Buyers come here looking for more than a home — they want a lifestyle,” says David Dougherty of Santa Fe-based Dougherty Real Estate Co. A robust second-home market is attracting buyers from as far away as New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, according to Dougherty — but that doesn’t mean finding real estate in the Four Corners region is as simple as arriving in town and making an offer. Follow these tips to turn your favorite vacation destination into your home away from home.

  1. Focus on Location:

    In the Four Corners region, the real estate market is as diverse as the landscape. Before touring homes, decide whether your ideal second home is a historical condo near restaurants and galleries, a lodge on the slopes or a ranch in the desert. “Think of the life you want to have when you’re here and let that guide your home search,” Dougherty says.

  2. Ask the Experts:

    There is no substitute for local expertise. A real estate agent will help identify suitable properties, negotiate the best price and make recommendations for home inspectors and other professionals to help ease the transition to owning a home in the area.

  3. Run the Numbers:

    Look beyond the purchase price when budgeting for a second home. Although 38 percent of buyers paid cash for vacation homes, according to the National Association of Realtors, there are still annual costs to consider, including taxes, insurance and maintenance. You may also need to hire a caretaker to monitor the property when you’re out of town. “Insurance companies don’t want to insure vacant homes because of the liability,” Dougherty says.

  4. Assess the Rental Potential:

    Renting out your second home can help offset the cost of owning it. Remember, though, the rental market in the Four Corners region is seasonal: There is more demand in Durango during ski season while summer is peak rental season in Santa Fe. If you plan to rent, you may need to sacrifice a few weeks during high season to accommodate rental requests.

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