Things to know before buying a vacation home

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Nationally, home sales declined 4.1 percent in 2006 from 2005. But, vacation-home sales rose 4.7 percent in 2006 to a record 1.07 million sales, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The increased interest in buying vacation homes for personal use rather than rental is expected to continue throughout this decade. The annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey from NAR found that vacation-home buyers intend to hold on to their property for a median of 10 years. Thirty-eight percent of respondents plan to keep their property for 11 years or more. With a long-term horizon in mind, it's important to make sure that the home you buy lives up to your expectations. To complicate matters, residential real estate is an intensely localized business. Many vacation-home buyers buy outside of their local area. The NAR survey revealed that the typical vacation-home buyer in 2006 bought a property that was a median of 215 miles from his or her primary residence...