Second homes

Despite economic challenges over the past year, consumers continue to invest in second home properties.

Perfect Vacation Home
Via Flickr: Vijay Gunda
Many Americans purchase second homes either as vacation retreats or investment properties. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2010 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, vacation-home sales rose 7.9 percent to 553,000 last year, up from 513,000 in 2008.

Prices also rose. The median price of a vacation home was $169,000 in 2009, compared with $150,000 in 2008. From my experience I find second home purchases are typically influenced by lifestyle or financial considerations.

Consumers appreciate the value of home ownership – so much that many of them own second homes, either as vacation retreats or investment properties. 

According to the NAR, there are about 7.9 million vacation homes and 41.1 million investment properties in the U.S. compared with 75.0 million owner-occupied homes. Vacation homes are in every state, with the most popular locations by the water or in the mountains. Vacation-home owners prefer close proximity to areas they spend recreational time or to natural attractions.

Half of vacation homes purchased last year were in the South, 21 percent in the West, 17 percent in the Midwest and 12 percent in the Northeast.

Statistics show that the typical vacation-home buyer in 2009 was 46 years old, earned a median household income of $87,500 and purchased a property that was a median of 348 miles from his or her primary home; about one-third of vacation homes purchased were within 100 miles of the primary residence.


Investment homes sales accounted for 17 percent of the overall market in 2009, down from 21 percent in 2008. The median investment home sold for $105,000 in 2009, which is 2.8 percent below 2008. Most investors purchased a home that was fairly close to their primary residence – about 24 miles.

So, it appears that the long-term demand for second homes looks good.

Demand for second homes will likely increase over the next decade. About 40.1 million people in the U.S. are ages 50-59, which are some of the prime years for buying a second home. If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home, get to know the area if you’re not familiar with it, and give me a call so that I can provide valuable insight into the local marketplace.