Vacation home markets going on sale?

NAR economist hints at buying frenzy as 'prices are down substantially' in coastal, ski areas

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 29, 2012

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With 2012 being an election year, Woodard doesn't expect the Hilton Head market to come back in a big way until 2013.

Over in Jackson Hole, a well-known and high-end ski town, that market, too, collapsed very unevenly. Many properties under $500,000 lost 50 percent of value, but the market for anything at $1 million and over was more stable. Those properties held onto value "reasonably well," said William Van Gelder, an agent with Jackson Hole Sotheby's International Realty.

The worst year was 2009 when there were almost no transactions, Van Gelder said. "Then things picked up slightly in 2010, improved again in 2011, and this year is on pace to do better than the prior year in terms of dollar volume and number of transactions."

Jackson Hole didn't suffer a surfeit of foreclosures as did Hilton Head. Van Gelder guesses the worst year was 2010, when there were just under 100 foreclosures. Last year, there were 31.

"Even at the bottom of the downturn, foreclosures were never more than 20 percent of the market," he said.

Ironically, one of Van Gelder's most recent deals was a luxury condo foreclosure. The unit was originally marketed at $1.65 million, but Van Gelder's buyer got it for less than half that price.

On the other hand, another recent deal by Van Gelder was for a single-family home that was listed for $699,000. It sold almost immediately at $692,000.

"Prices are still rolled back, but the story in 2012 is lack of inventory," Van Gelder said. "The average stay on the market is less than seven days from the time of listing."

Looking at the national picture, Bishop is optimistic the vacation home market could snap back fairly quickly for a number of apparent reasons.

"The economy is picking up and we are past the worst of the recession; this will add to consumer confidence," he said. "Secondly, there have been a lot of vacation home buyers sitting on the sidelines over the last few years simply because they weren't certain they wanted to make the discretionary purchase. Thirdly, it looks like a good time to buy. Prices are down substantially from where they were so opportunistic buyers will sweep up the beachfront houses or condos in a ski area."

Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on

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