Real Estate

Where to Buy a Weekend House—on a Budget

Plus what to know if you plan on renting it out.

Second-House Hunting

Where to buy, on three different budgets.

$500,000 Max

Colonial Beach, Virginia

Just sold: A 2,000-square-foot house with a water view plus three bedrooms and baths for $269,900.

Lost River, West Virginia

Just sold: A luxurious 3,200-square-foot house on eight acres with sweeping views for $460,000.


$1,000,000 Max

Wintergreen, Virginia

Just sold: A three-level, five-bedroom, four-bath mountain house for $700,000.

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Just sold: A five-bedroom Wisp Mountain house with lake views and a hot tub for $835,000.


What’s a Budget?

Bethany Beach, Delaware

Just sold: A completely renovated, five-bedroom, three-bath house within a quick walk of the beach and town for $1.65 million.

St. Michaels, Maryland

Just sold: A 16-acre estate with 2,000 feet of shoreline, a pool, and a 5,718-square-foot home for $2.89 million.

The Fee Factor

If you’re planning to rent out your weekend place, count on these costs.

How much of a cut do Airbnb and VRBO take?

About 3 to 5 percent of each booking fee. HomeAway, the parent company of VRBO and VacationRentals.com, also offers a flat annual fee of $499.

How much does a property manager cost?

It varies, but it would be smart to count on spending about 30 percent of your rental income.

What about credit-card fees?

You’ll likely pay a 3-percent processing fee for every transaction with your guests.

How much should I budget for cleaning if my property manager doesn’t cover it?

Some homeowners pass the cost on to their guests—charging cleaning fees ranging from $50 to $375—so you’re off the hook.

Do I need a license?

Depending on local laws, you might. For example, property-rental licenses are required in Bethany Beach and cost $100 annually.

Do I need to pay taxes on the rental income?

Yes, but the amount varies based on how often you use the house and how often you rent it. In short, you should work this out with your accountant. Also, some jurisdictions charge a separate lodging tax.

This article appears in the February 2020 issue of Washingtonian.

Looking to Buy? Get Our Real Estate Newsletter

Looking to buy? Get a weekly list of the DC area’s best houses on the market.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Michele Lerner

Michele Lerner ([email protected]) covers real estate, interior design, and personal finance.