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July 2021

Pandemic prompted remote workers to snatch up vacation homes

July 7, 2021

Vacation home purchases skyrocketed during 2020, with the trend continuing this year, according to a report from the National Association Realtors®. Workers with the ability to log on from anywhere are credited with spurring the surge.

"Vacation homes are a hot commodity at the moment," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "With many businesses and employers still extending an option to work remotely to workers, vacation housing and second homes will remain a popular choice among buyers."

Vacation HomesIn its 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report, NAR said the share of vacation home sales to total existing-home sales increased to 5.5% in 2020 versus 5% in 2019. Sales of vacation homes jumped 16.4%, easily outpacing the 5.6% overall growth in existing-home sales.

NAR also reported the share of vacation home sales to existing-home sales rose to 6.7% from January to April 2021. Sales of homes in this category jumped 57.2% year-over-year compared to 20% YOY growth in total existing-home sales.

An analysis of top vacation home destination ranked Lee County, Florida, on top. Located in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast, it includes Cape Coral and Fort Meyers.

Rounding out the list of top 10 counties were: Oscoda County, Michigan; Swain County, North Carolina; Collier County, Florida; Dukes County, Massachusetts; Alleghany County, North Carolina; Garrett County, Maryland; Barnstable County, Massachusetts; Alcona County, Michigan; and Macon County, North Carolina.

NAR researchers also analyzed prices. The median existing-home sales price typically rose by 14.2% in vacation home counties, compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties. Notably, vacation home buyers are more likely to pay all cash.

NAR classifies a county as a vacation home county if the vacant housing for seasonal/occasional/recreational use accounted for at least 20% of the housing stock. Based on Census Bureau data for 2019, NAR identified 323 out of 3,143 counties (or about 10.3%) as vacation home counties.

NAR based its analysis on Multiple Listing Service data in 1,205 counties, survey data from the monthly REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey, and publicly available data from the US Census Bureau.