According to the latest National Association of Realtors Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, vacation-home sales rose 7.0 percent in 2011. Investment property purchases were up a staggering 64.5 percent. Many of these were distressed properties being sold at steep discounts.
In comparison to the total sales, vacation-homes were 11 percent of all transactions for 2011, up a healthy 10 percent in 2010.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said investors with cash took advantage of market conditions in 2011. "During the past year investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices," he said. "Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks as an added inducement. In addition, 41 percent of investment buyers purchased more than one property."
These investment buyers are pulling out the cash as they look into buying these rental properties. Forty-nine percent of investment buyers paid cash in 2011. Forty-two percent of vacation-home buyers did the same.
"Clearly we're looking at investors with financial resources who see real estate as a good investment and who aren't hesitant to use cash," Yun said. "Of buyers who financed their purchase with a mortgage, large downpayments were typical. The median downpayment for both investment- and vacation-home buyers in 2011 was 27 percent."
What types of buyers are scooping up today's vacation homes? The NAR survey said lifestyle factors are the leading motivator. These homes are more likely found in suburban and rural areas.
The median vacation-home price was down 19.1 percent from 2010 to $121,300. The NAR reports, "The typical vacation-home buyer was 50 years old, had a median household income of $88,600 and purchased a property that was a median distance of 305 miles from the primary residence; 35 percent of vacation homes were within 100 miles and 37 percent were more than 500 miles. Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of 10 years."
Additionally, 16 percent of vacation buyers bought the property for a family member (such as a child going attending school), friend, or relative to use.
Regionally, 42 percent of vacation home were purchased in the South, 30 percent in the West, 15 percent in the Northeast, and 12 percent in the Midwest.
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