Buying New Construction Vacation Home Out of State

We’re seriously considering buying a new construction vacation home in Verdi, Nevada. We’ve purchased an older home in Oakland in 2013 and sold it in 2023 so we only have experience purchasing older homes and are pretty clueless to the new construction process. We live in Alameda and plan to live here for 3-5 years before permanently moving to Nevada. We’ve already asked for a timeline from our sales agent, but we wanted to hear from others who have gone through this especially if you bought out of state. What is the typical timeline, some tips, things you wish you did or didn’t do in the process, and any other helpful information you’d like to share!

Regarding owning a vacation home, this is also a first for us. We don’t plan on renting it or as an airbnb because we’d like the freedom to stay there whenever we’d like. Any advice/tips on owning a vacation home in the sierra? We plan to stay in our home during spring, summer, and winter breaks, and periodically on the weekends.

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I lived in the Sierra for several years, here are some things I saw that you may want to take into account. 

If you have a second home in a place that gets a significant amount of snow, you must hire someone to do snow removal. Snow accumulation will damage the property and prevent access to your entranceway or driveway. When snow comes down people get out of their houses and furiously shovel because within a few hours it may become heavy like concrete.  A season of plowing service can be $2500 or more. If you don’t book with a service early enough, they might run out of spaces and you can’t hire plowing for the year. you may separately want to hire someone to shovel your entryway and/or garage, the plow will not cover those. in big years, you may also need to hire someone to shovel your roof and propane tank, which may explode if sealed by snow. If you have no experience purchasing a house in a place with big winter snow, find a realtor that will tell you the truth. Some of the neighbors I’ve seen had very unfortunate flat roofs that required a lot more hands on maintenance compared to a steep A-frame. North facing driveways will be caked in ice for half the year, and cause family members to smash their hips and wrists. These kind of things you only think of with live experience so find a realtor who actually lives there. You will undoubtably be purchasing in the spring and summer when things look super simple and nice only to be surprised once winter comes about. two winters ago the Sierra had a record-breaking snow year, so a lot of houses receive significant damage, especially second home is where owners were not monitoring the situation. beware that any sales happening now maybe people trying to dump their structurally compromised second homes. 

Single-family home or condo. In a single-family home, you will have to arrange all of the maintenance yourself. if you buy a condo, there will be exorbitant HOA fees, some places $1000 or more per month but the maintenance of snow and otherwise will be taken care of for you. for example, many places won’t have trash or recycling pick up. You must drive stuff to the dump yourself. An HOA may have a system in place for this. however, they may have strict rules, such as parking limits. In my experience, if you are rarely going to spend time there, the HOA management may be worth it. 

Despite the hard work, I loved the Sierra. if you can, I would maybe rent for a year or more to experience each season and get your preferences figured out before buying, lived experience is so important. Hope you find something you enjoy!