The top markets for vacation homes

Consumers looking for a more permanent escape have been snatching up vacation homes in the middle of the great outdoors over the past year. 

As mortgage rates dropped across the board in 2020, homeowners were drawn to locations from Palm Springs, California, to Kissimmee, Florida, according to Vacasa’s “Top 25 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home” report. 

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There was a range of locations with a plethora of outdoor activities, indicating that families were “capitalizing on outdoor pursuits” during the tumultuous year. 

Big Sky, Montana, was deemed the top market for vacation homes, with a median home sale price of about $541,842. 

A home located on Old Toby Road in Big Sky, Montana  (Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty)

“Many of those who buy in Big Sky live in other parts of the U.S. but want the opportunity to come to Big Sky multiple times a year to use their properties,” broker Callie Pecunies of Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty told FOX Business. “They aren’t looking for a true investment property in the traditional sense of the word, but a place they can use while having some rental income to help pay for it.” 

Additionally, with more direct flights into Bozeman Airport in the past few years, it has become even easier to get to the area. As a result, agents are seeing both buyers and visitors “spanning from east to west,” Pecunies added. 

In fact, only a few of the homes Pecunies sold in the past couple of years became permanent residences. 

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The second place on the list was Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with a median home sale price of about $379,248, followed by the Poconos in Pennsylvania with a median home sale price of about $200,190.

Rounding out the top five were Dauphin Island, Alabama, followed by Corolla, North Carolina.  

A home located on Old Toby Road in Big Sky, Montanna  (Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty)

“Since mid-pandemic buyers have decided to adopt second homes that directly impact their well-being…seeking open space, less direct neighbor interaction and outdoor activities that are less restrictive,” agent Bradley Bux of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty told FOX Business. This ultimately changed what was once a “low-key Pocono market,” he said. 

Additionally, “the prices in the PA [Pennsylvania] Poconos are very attractive in comparison to the New Jersey shore points. Waterfront properties are less than half price, and buyers have just as much fun on lakes and enjoy skiing in the winter.”

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According to Vacasa’s list, a growing trend is “drive-to destinations,” which are considered homes within two to two-and-a-half hours from major metro areas.

However, that’s not the only determining factor when settling on a vacation home, according to Harlan Goldberg, senior managing director and head of Bespoke Florida at Bespoke Real Estate. 

A big draw is a familiarity, Goldberg told FOX Business. With families and friends spread out across the country now more than ever, potential homeowners are given a chance to not only visit a new market but experience it from the “point of view of a resident” and moreover, a “person that they know and trust.” 

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After a while, rather than just visiting, they may decide to buy a place themselves, according to Goldberg. 

“Nowadays, people are coming down with a completely different mindset,” he said. “So you have destinations that were purely vacation spots that are now being looked at through the eyes of a long-term opportunity.” 

Here are the top 10 vacation home markets according to Vacasa: 

  1. Big Sky, Montana
  2. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
  3. Poconos, Pennsylvania
  4. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  5. Dauphin Island, Alabama
  6. Corolla, North Carolina
  7. Conway, New Hampshire
  8. Palm Springs, California
  9. Ellijay, Georgia
  10. Blue Ridge, Georgia