Thanks in large part to the rise of remote work over the last 18 months, vacation homes exploded in popularity last year. That trend is continuing in earnest in 2021.
According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, sales of vacation homes increased “expeditiously” in 2020. And they’re still rising in 2021.
The NAR report shows that vacation home sales increased by 16.4% in 2020, rising nearly three times as much as overall existing home sales, which increased by 5.6%.
The difference is even more dramatic when looking at home sales data from 2021. According to NAR’s report, vacation home sales were up by a staggering 57.2% over the first four months of 2021, compared to 20% growth in total existing home sales.
The reasons for the increase are pretty simple. With an increase in people being able to work remotely, those who no longer need to be tied to a particular location for their job are choosing to move to a more exotic or interesting locale.
"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."
According to the report, prices for homes in vacation markets, which NAR defines as areas where vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational-use housing account for at least 20% of homes, are also increasing faster than non-vacation markets.
Per NAR’s report, median existing-home sale prices in vacation counties increased by 14.2% compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties.
Interestingly, despite the increased demand, homes in these vacation markets sold slower than their counterparts. According to the report, homes in vacation markets stayed on the market for 59 days in 2020, compared to 30 days in other markets.
The report notes that the number of people moving into these vacation markets increased in 2020. According to the report, the median number of net movers into vacation home counties increased from 78,114 in 2019 to 98,279 in 2020.
The report also revealed the top 10 vacation counties in terms of home sales. According to the report, the top 10 vacation counties for home sales in 2020 were: Lee County, Florida; 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.
Beyond that, Yun expects the popularity of vacation homes continue to increase over time.
"The enduring opportunity for remote work will continue to raise the already high demand for property in these counties, particularly in those counties with reliable broadband internet service," Yun said.