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April 9th, 2013

Vacation-home sales are heating up

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condosMore second homes were sold as vacation getaways last year, according to a new National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey.

A total of 553,000 new and existing vacation homes were sold in 2012, up 10.1 percent compared with 502,000 such homes sold in 2011.

Vacation homes are recreational properties purchased primarily for the buyer’s or his or her family’s personal use. These homes accounted for 11 percent of homes sold last year, a proportion unchanged from the prior year.

In a statement, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, suggested the stock market recovery and lower prices of vacation homes prompted more people to buy.

Vacation home sales

The median price of a vacation home was $150,000 in 2012, up from $121,300 in 2011. The increase reflected the sale of a greater number of more expensive properties last year, the NAR said.

Forty-six percent of vacation home buyers paid cash in 2012. For those who financed their purchase, the median down payment was 27 percent, the same as in 2011.

Seventy-eight percent of second home buyers said the current period was a good time to buy a home. That figure was slightly higher than the 68 percent of primary residence buyers who said the timing was fortuitous.

“This suggests that second-home buyers tend to be a step ahead of general buyers in sensing a market recovery,” Yun said.

Vacation home buyers

The typical vacation-home buyer was 47 years old, had a median household income of $92,100 and purchased a property that was a median distance of 435 miles from their primary residence. Thirty-four percent of vacation homes purchased were within 100 miles of the buyer’s primary residence, and 46 percent were more than 500 miles away from that residence, the survey reported.

Buyers said they planned to own their vacation home for a median of 10 years.

Buyers were motivated primarily by lifestyle factors. Eighty percent said they planned to use their property for vacations or as a family retreat. Twenty-seven percent said they planned to convert the property to their primary residence in the future. Twenty-three percent said they intended to rent the property to others, and 23 percent said they wanted to diversify their investments or perceived it as an attractive investment opportunity.

Eleven percent purchased the property for a family member, friend or relative, oftentimes a son or daughter attending school, to use.

Vacation home hotspots

Forty-five percent of vacation homes purchased were in the South. Twenty-five percent were in the West. Seventeen percent were in the Northeast, and 12 percent were in the Midwest.

Examples of vacation-home hotspots, according to a Reuters news report, include:

  • Avalon, N.J.
  • Aspen, Colo.
  • The Hamptons, N.Y.
  • Hilton Head, S.C.
  • Lake Geneva, Wis.
  • Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Santa Barbara and South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
  • Sun Valley, Idaho

According a NAR analysis of Census Bureau data, there are 75.2 million owner-occupied primary residences, 43.7 million residential investment properties and 7.9 million vacation homes in the U.S.

Maybe one of those vacation homes could be yours.

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One Response to “Vacation-home sales are heating up”

  1. Mark Hide Says: April 14th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Interesting article. I am a real estate agent in Orlando and we are definately noticing an increase in sales from both resale and new build vacation homes.

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Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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