Vacation Real Estate Market Perks

By MARILYN ALVA INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

The Meredith Bay, N.H., resort community is among several Southworth Development picked up in recent years, anticipating vacation buyers.

When the housing market falls, vacation homes fall harder. They’re discretionary purchases that can be put off for another day.

That day may be here or near. Sensing a possible bottom, second-home buyers are returning, say real estate agents in vacation spots from Cape Cod to Lake Tahoe.

Nationwide, vacation sales rose 7% in 2011 to 502,000 homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. They made up 11% of total sales. And commentary from the NAR’s resort and second-home committee indicates continued momentum this year, says NAR spokesman Walter Molony.

“We’ve heard positive reports from Las Vegas, Telluride, Col., Lake Tahoe, Naples, Fla., and some areas of California,” he said. “We’ve been seeing a little bit of unleashing of pent-up demand.”

Higher-End Homes Sell

While the number of transactions is on the rise, home prices are still not generally appreciating. But many second-home buyers are opting for upper-end properties.

“We’re seeing significant increases in sales of homes in excess of $500,000,” said Neal Hanks, president of Beverly-Hanks Realtors in Asheville, N.C., a second-home market in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In Southwest Florida, dollar-volume sales are also up from last year, says broker associate Jennifer Calenda of Michael Saunders & Co., a large regional real estate firm.

“It’s not that prices are going up,” she said. “But we’re seeing people buying properties in the $200,000s, $300,000s and $400,000s where they used to be buying in the $200,000s and $100,000s.”

What’s changed? Industry insiders point to discretionary buyers’ growing confidence levels….

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