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The nuts and bolts of adding to your property portfolio

Times Staff Writer

IN “Buying a Second Home,” author Craig Venezia shows how to purchase the property that’s right for you, whether you’re an investor, vacationer or future retiree.

Will you be able to afford a second home, and what kind of income can you expect if you rent it out? Venezia’s readable, clearly organized and thorough guide eliminates the guesswork and helps answer those questions.

He looks at the decisions you need to make and breaks them down to help you identify precisely what you want, how to pay for it and how to navigate the buying process. He also talks about purchasing a fixer-upper, being a landlord and dealing with taxes and maintenance. He outlines what you need to know to buy with others.

For a book covering such broad territory, he offers a surprising amount of detail.

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Worksheets, checklists and website referrals give the book (which comes with a CD-ROM) an interactive feel. A streamlined, pleasing design keeps readers moving through chapters, which are broken up with sidebars, charts and fact boxes. Information specific to investors, vacationers and future retirees is labeled to help readers quickly find what they need.

When deciding what kind of home you want and where, Venezia suggests looking at three things: price, privacy and property maintenance.

How much can you comfortably spend? He shows how to analyze your budget to find out. How much privacy do you or your renters need? A condo gives less, a rural getaway more. Do you plan to keep up the property yourself or pay someone to do it? Hiring a company to manage the property will cost you, but he charts how such a firm can pay for itself by keeping the unit rented and your income steady.

If you’re choosing a location for a vacation home that you plan to rent out, he writes, think about recreational activities, cultural and commercial offerings, off-season atmosphere and crime rates.

And if you’re looking for a place in which to retire, consider climate, activities such as classes and sports, cost of living, and proximity to family, medical care and public transportation. You also may want to select a home that can be made wheelchair- or walker-accessible, with wide doorways and wall space for handrails and grips.

He writes that many retirees are lured to states with no income tax because they want to protect their investment income. He urges those buyers to dig deeper and find out if there are property and sales taxes that could have a greater effect on their finances.

Venezia, a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle’s real estate section, formerly worked for a Cambridge, Mass., financial services firm setting up private loans between family and friends. He got the idea for this book after noticing that many of the loans were being used to help buy second homes.

Here, he shows how to structure a private home loan so that it works financially for everyone and stands up to legal scrutiny.

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Venezia also gives a crash course in what to expect from the mortgage process, with many specific tools and tips.

The author packs a lot of excellent information into the book and keeps the discussion accessible to the general reader. “Buying a Second Home” is a good place to start if you’re considering such a purchase.

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anne.colby@latimes.com

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