One of the more common ways consumers suddenly find they’re real estate investors comes soon after a vacation. When visiting a beach or resort area, some of the best places to stay aren’t in a chain hotel near the city but in a beach front homeinvesting in vacation property or condo. Ocean views, sea gulls in the sky above crystalline waters. It’s the only way to vacation, right?

Lots of people think so, renting a beach front condo with sand as your front lawn. And when you check out, you notice a sign that says, “Beach condo for sale, inquire within.” So you do. You’re still giddy from your vacation and you start to think of all the possibilities. Especially when you begin to talk to the sales agent.

“You can buy this condo and have the vacationers pay your mortgage for you. We collect the rental payments, screen the tenants and maintain the property. And you get to own the condo and all the tax deductions that go along with it!”

It’s a pretty good pitch. And after a few days of thought, you decide to take the leap and buy that beach front condo. Before you do, call your bank and let them know your intentions and find out what your financing options are. Here’s what you can expect:

For long term financing, you’ll apply for a conventional loan. Loans for vacation homes are treated very much the same as your primary residence. Your rate will be very competitive and you can put down as little as 10 percent while 20 percent will void any need for private mortgage insurance.

The condo will need to be previously approved by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, asking for documentation from the condominium association such as sufficient insurance for the common areas, the project has been completed and so on. If the project is not yet approved, ask your lender for a “streamline” approval, which will require the minimum 20 percent down.

Other than that, it’s a straightforward affair and your bank will proceed to finance the purchase just like any other loan. And you get a sun tan out of the deal, too!