Residential Investments vs. Second Home

We frequently get asked about residential investments vs. second homes. In most cases our borrower’s are looking to purchase a second home that they would potentially rent, but have for their personal use most of the time.

The answer is that lenders require you to state how you will be using the home. You must choose primary, second home, or
investment property; lenders do not allow mixed occupancy. A second home is not income from a lenders perspective; you either do it as an investment property or a second home.

The majority of lenders offer the best rates for investment properties with 25-30% down however; some lenders allow you to put as little as 20% down but the rate will certainly be higher. Second home rates tend to be about ½% lower than investment properties.

Often times our borrowers will buy a home as a second home or even a primary and then change the occupancy in future years. This is a possibility, however if you try to refinance a home that you bought as a second home and you have rental income on your tax returns it will be considered an investment property, even if it is only a small percentage of usage as a rental.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!


Area Market Stats

FORE our schools – and you!

It was a fabulous winter – and you can still ski the backcountry and Squaw and Alpine on in to June.  But for most of our area, spring has sprung.  Lawn mowers, instead of snow plows, are the sounds that will soon be filling the air.  And NOW is the time to get your Golfing for Schools card.  Most courses will be open between mid-May and mid-June.  The cards are fully transferable and make great gifts – clients, Mother’s Day Father’s Day, graduation, etc. Just $325 affords you one round of 18 holes of play at seven area courses – Coyote Moon, Gray’s Crossing, Old Greenwood, Tahoe Donner, Resort at Squaw Creek, Northstar and Tahoe City.

Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation is a non-profit foundation that enhances public education and strengthens the student learning experience within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Each year, the Foundation partners with local businesses and the community to raise money and provide over $250,000 in classroom grants, resources, and partnerships to benefit students and teachers in a school district that encompasses 12 schools in a geographic area of 720 square miles. The 2016-17 school year marks the Foundation’s 30th year of supporting local educational efforts.

For more information or to purchase, follow the link above.


2016logofinalcolor2As many are aware, a number of films have been made in the Tahoe area over the years – from a Charlie Chaplin silent to “The Godfather” Hollywood and Tahoe have had a long history. Many Hollywood royalty have graced the slopes and boated on the clear blue waters of our area since Hollywood began.  And now, a new partnership is emerging between the two.  Our area is now the host site for a very up and coming film festival. 

The Tahoe Film Festival, now in its second year,  has scored a number of top tier films – even award winners from film festivals all over the world.  It will also see visits by a number of directors and actors from the films. The festival begins today, December 1st , and runs through this weekend, with screenings in Incline Village and at the Village at Northstar.  Twenty-three films will be screened over the course of the four days.  The festival supports the local non-profit, Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships (SWEP), and while many of the films focus on the environment, there are also a wide range of award winning independent films to view.

Films include “Before the Flood”, an environmental documentary presented by National Geographic magazine, produced by Martin Scorsese, and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk, and others.  There are also award winners, such as “Certain Women”, starring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern, winner of the Best Film award at the London Film Festival, and “When Two Worlds Collide”, a Sundance Film Festival winner. 

SWEP partners with teachers and community organizations to bring messages of conservation and environmental stewardship to the classroom. 

This is a fabulous opportunity for Tahoe locals and visitors alike to catch an early glimpse of films that rarely make an appearance in our local theaters.  For a complete list of films and showings, and to purchase tickets, visit the Tahoe Film Fest site.

See you at the movies!

Winter is Coming

winter-blog-small-1000x659Ol’ Man Winter is lurking around the corner. Here are some easy steps you can take to keep your home as toasty warm as possible without breaking the bank.




  1. Replace any old or single pane windows. Windows are one of the major ways heat leaks out of your house.
  2. Seal off drafty windows and patio doors with clear plastic.
  3. If you have doors to the outside that leak air, try sealing a few off using plastic or caulk putty.
  4. How old is your furnace?  If over 10 years old, there’s a chance it’s costing you a lot of money because it wastes a lot of fuel. Consider upgrading to a newer one.
  5. Insulate the hot water lines around your hot water heater and turn down the temperature of the water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F). If leaving your home for extended periods, turn it to the “vacation” setting.
  6. Consider “blanketing” your water heater with faced fiberglass insulation. (Do not do this if you have a gas-powered water heater)
  7. Wrap any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house. Also, you can insulate cold water pipes to help prevent them from freezing during the winter.
  8. Replace your furnace filter at the start of the furnace season and then about every 3 months.
  9. Make sure cold air returns aren’t blocked.  Your furnace needs these to operate efficiently.
  10. Try replacing the weather stripping around the doors in your home.
  11. Use a programmable thermostat to reduce heating costs when no one is at home.
  12. Uncover all south-facing windows to let all possible sunlight in your home.
  13. Keep all vents and baseboard heaters clean.
  14. If you have a fireplace, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  15. If the damper is old or doesn’t close well, try putting some insulation in it to seal it off. Just remember to take it out before using it!
  16. If you like using a fireplace, consider getting an insert that will direct the heat into your house instead of just sending it up the chimney.
  17. Consider replacing all of your lightbulbs with energy-saving CFL bulbs.
  18. Install a timer on your water heater so it isn’t heating a whole tank of water when you don’t need it.
  19. Install foam insulators behind the face plates of light switches and electrical outlets.
  20. Check the insulation in the walls of your home. It might need some work in order to keep heat in efficiently.
  21. Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to push hot air downward and delay it from escaping the house.
  22. Consider hanging thermal curtains to help prevent drafts.
  23. Install a dryer vent seal to prevent cold air from traveling back into your home.
  24. There are attachments to vent your dryer inside your home so you don’t waste the heat and humidity. (Don’t try this if you have a gas-powered dryer).
  25. Check windows for leaks. Windows with wooden frames often warp and become inefficient.
  26. Caulk both sides of the trim around your windows.  This is an area where a lot of air can get in.
  27. Try not to use space heaters to heat large areas of your house. If you spend most of your time in one room in a large house, consider setting your thermostat low and using a small heater to heat where you are going to be.
  28. Keep all closet doors closed when possible. There’s no need to heat space that isn’t in use as long as it doesn’t contain water pipes.
  29. Make sure that your garage isn’t too drafty.
  30. Try to use the clothes dryer for consecutive loads of laundry. This conserves the energy that would be needed to heat up the dryer several times.
  31. Replace the caulking around any bathtubs or showers.
  32. If your home has folding attic stairs, consider insulating the door with a cover of some sort.
  33. If your home has a sliding glass door, check the seal on the bottom to make sure it isn’t letting in cold air.
  34. If your water heater needs to be upgraded, consider installing a tankless water heater.
  35. Use the oven for baking during colder hours of the day to help heat your home.
  36. Install storm doors to help keep out drafts.
  37. Use an energy monitor to tell you what appliances are using the most energy. This might help pinpoint areas where you can cut back on energy usage.
  38. Make sure that your duct system is working properly.
  39. Look into installing a geothermal heating system. While it is a bit expensive, initially, the energy savings provide a long-term cost benefit.
  40. Make sure that there aren’t any drafts coming in under doors. If there are, consider using a rubber strip to seal them off.
  41. Replace worn or missing shingles.
  42. Seal any cracks in the foundation of your house.
  43. Install a programmable Energy Star thermostat that will lower the temperature at night and when no one is at home.
  44. Close off rooms that aren’t used and shut the vents.
  45. Clean your shower head.  Tying a bag filled with white vinegar around the shower head overnight will greatly increase your water pressure and its efficiency.
  46. Change out the batteries in CO and smoke detectors!  Wintertime means increased risk from the dangers of fire or carbon monoxide due to increased use of heaters, fireplaces and candles.
  47. Wash your windows. By some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20%. That’s a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.

Our local PUD has more great energy saving tips and a wonderful rebate program on everything from light bulbs to geothermal heat systems.  You can even schedule a free energy survey of your home to find out exactly where your home may be working against your pocketbook.  Find out more here.

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