Across the country, spring is finally making an appearance and for many Americans this means one thing: vacation time. And according to the Arkansas Realtors® Association more and more people could be taking that vacation in their second home.

“Before you start the process of looking for a vacation home, you should think about what kind of home you want,” said Bill Ladd, 2014 ARA President. “Are you looking for a condo or a house? Do you want a cabin in the woods or a bungalow on the beach? Knowing what you want to get from your home can help establish a price range and location you can use to begin your search.”

Once you have a general idea of the area and type of vacation home you want, your next step is to contact a Realtor®. “Whether you’re going to buy a vacation home across the country or across the street, working with a Realtor® can save you time, money and a lot of stress,” said Ladd. “A Realtor® who lives and works where you want to buy can provide valuable insight into the local market. He or she can help you determine what you can afford and what neighborhoods fit your wish list.”

A Realtor® will also have insights into the area’s current real estate values, utility costs, municipal services, taxes and facilities, and zoning laws that may affect your property.

You may want to interview a number of Realtors® before deciding on the one best suited to your needs. Ask how many vacation home listings they have, how many years they’ve worked in the industry and about any particular specialties. “Look for a Realtor® who has earned the Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification,” said Ladd. “This means that they have specialized training in buying and selling second homes.”

Are you considering renting your vacation home when you are not using it? If so, ask your Realtor® about renting your vacation home to others – he or she can advise you on potential restrictions, advantages and disadvantages, and tips for making your vacation home a top-notch investment as well as a fun retreat for your family.

“The wonderful thing about a vacation home is that it’s a great getaway and a good long-term investment,” said Ladd. “Vacation homes often become retirement homes, so your purchase really is an investment in your future.”

House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.