Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Vacation Home Market Rises

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Vacation Home Market Rises

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- The waning summer season probably planted the question in many vacationers' minds while they sat on the sunwashed porch of that beachtown condo or breezy mountain cabin: Isn't it time I got my own piece of this?

More and more people, from retirees to baby boomers, think it's time.

From the trout rivers of Montana to the green Ozark hills to the beaches of Florida, some of the strongest real estate markets in recent years have been in weekend and vacation spots.

"Demand is definitely going up," said Linda Traverso, an agent in Sanibel, Fla. "They're getting it now, while you still can."

The slump in the stock market might have added to the demand, as many people see real estate, including vacation property, as a better investment.

If that slump becomes prolonged, the market for vacation properties could sink as money for investment and for second homes - - not to mention first homes -- dries up. But the National Association of Realtors hasn't detected that happening yet and is bullish for the next decade.

The realty group estimates there were 415,000 second-home sales last year, an increase of 40 percent since 1995, when there were 296,000 second homes sold. It confidently predicts: "The demographic impact alone from large numbers of people in their 40s and 50s entering the second home market will add 100,000 to 150,000 housing starts each year through 2010."

Its survey showed the average buyer was 43 years old, married, with a yearly income of $69,000. In Sanibel, where condos on those wedding cake-white beaches average about $500,000, Traverso doesn't see buyers in that income bracket. Hers are likely to make at least six figures. But she does deal with "the 40-year-old, I'm starting to see them buy."

In a very high-end market like hers, where properties rent from $2,500 to $3,500 a week in the high winter season, buyers can expect rental income to cover half the mortgage and expenses, she said. They also expect certain tax write-offs and, because of increasing demand, a fairly steady appreciation of the property's worth.

However, most vacation homes aren't in posh resorts with sky- high rentals. …

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