Take Steps Toward Your Second Home

Physician's Money Digest, August15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 15

Married for 11 years, Dr. Bob Dudek, an anesthesiologist,

and Dr. Gina Dado, an obstetrician, seem to agree on just about everything—from what to have for

dinner to what kind of car to buy. And as this Scottsdale, Ariz, couple watched mortgage

interest rates drop and the stock market turn into a roller coaster, they both

agreed the time was right to invest in a second home.

Throughout the home buying process, Drs. Dudek and Dado

placed importance on different factors. In the end, they settled on building a custom

home in Torreon, a family-oriented golf community in the northern Arizona

enclave of Show Low, Ariz. In this article, the couple shares their advice for

other physicians considering the purchase of a second home.


Buying a second home is something we always knew we would do, but we thought we would do it much later in life, when our children were older and we felt financially secure. With mortgage interest rates so low, we decided to weigh the pros and cons of buying a second home. We know that real estate is an increasingly smart investment vs stocks, and that's vital to us, considering we have 2 young children.

Once we made the decision to buy a second home, we had to decide on a location. We wanted to build somewhere that wouldn't take us all day to get to but that was definitely cooler than Phoenix in the summer. We looked throughout northern and eastern Arizona, but were disappointed. We agreed that there was too much commercialization and not enough forest, and didn't consider the areas to be very family-friendly environments.

It took some time, but we did our research and found the right mix at Torreon, a small, family-oriented community in the White Mountains surrounded by fishing holes, recreational activities, and a 27-hole championship golf course. In addition, we were able to meet our distance requirement. Torreon is a reasonable distance from our home in Scottsdale. It's just 2 1/2 hours away and a good 20 to 25 degrees cooler.

Amenities played a huge part in our decision. We specifically looked for a community that not only had a golf clubhouse for adults but also a family recreation center where children could play. Torreon has an entire recreational complex devoted to family activities. There's a playground, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and a separate kids' clubhouse with a media room and games.


Once we knew we liked Torreon, we had to consider what type of home we wanted. Of course, no matter how well a couple gets along, there will always be differences in opinion, especially when it comes to style. We both had different ideas of what type of home we wanted (ie, either comfortable casual or comfortable rustic), but both agreed a screened-in porch and backyard deck were must-haves. We also agreed on a guest room and a playroom for the kids.



Once we were able to agree on a style we both liked, we faced our biggest challenge: finding a builder. Since we weren't always able to be at the site during the construction phase, we needed a builder who was reliable and who would help us create the vacation home of our dreams. Since our home site was surrounded by big trees and a national forest, we knew that we needed a builder who shared our vision of preserving as much of the site as possible. Collect referrals and choose a builder who is based in the city in which you're building.


Before you decide to purchase a second home, the most important factor to consider is whether it will be worth the effort. If you don't think your busy schedule will allow you time to visit your other home, a second home really isn't a practical decision. You also have to make sure it's something you can afford. Ideally, we would have waited to buy a second home, but with the high rate of appreciation on residential real estate and the drop in interest rates, we opted to buy earlier.

There are always a lot of factors that come into play when you're considering a second home as an investment. For example, we bought a second home that is low-maintenance so that upkeep isn't an issue and we can just relax and have fun while we're there. So for us, the pieces fit together perfectly. We got exactly the home we wanted, in a family-friendly community, at a time when we could financially afford to buy a second home and commit the time to enjoying it with our children.