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Lifestyle considerations are the single most important factor in the vacation home market. "People are buying weekend homes or recreational property to use themselves or for a family retreat - investment considerations are secondary for most vacation-home buyers with relatively modest interest in renting.
The typical vacation-home buyer in 2008 was 46 years old, had a median household income of $97,200, and purchased a property that was a median of 316 miles from their primary residence; 35 percent were within 100 miles and 36 percent were 500 miles or more.
When asked about their reasons for purchasing a vacation home, 89 percent of buyers wanted to use the home for vacation or as a family retreat; 27 percent to diversify investments; 27 percent to rent to others; 26 percent to use as a primary residence in the future; and 17 percent for use by a
family member, friend or relative.
In terms of location, 26 percent of vacation homes were purchased in small towns, 23 percent in a rural area, 23 percent in resorts, 20 percent in a suburb, and 8 percent in an urban area or central city.
Seventy percent of vacation homes purchased in 2008 were detached single-family homes, 18 percent condos, 5 percent townhouses or rowhouses, and 7 percent other.
Sixty-nine percent of vacation home buyers and 84 percent of investment home buyers purchased existing homes; the rest purchased new homes.
Investment-home buyers in 2008 had a median age of 47, earned $85,000, and bought a home that was fairly close to their primary residence - a median distance of 19 miles.
When asked about the most important reasons for purchasing an investment home, 58 percent said to provide rental income; 38 percent to diversify investments; 19 percent for use by a family member, friend or relative; and 15 percent to use for vacations or as a family retreat.
Twenty-eight percent of investment homes were purchased in a suburb and another 20 percent in an urban or central city area, 23 percent in a rural area, 22 percent in a small town, and 6 percent in a resort area.
Sixty-four percent of investment homes purchased in 2008 were detached single-family homes, 22 percent condos, 8 percent townhouses or rowhouses, and 6 percent other.
Vacation-home buyers plan to keep their property for a median of 12 years; 58 percent plan to keep their vacation home for 11 years or more. Investment buyers plan to hold their property for a median of five years.
Eight in 10 second-home buyers consider it a good time to invest in real estate, compared with 71 percent of primary residence buyers.
The size of the second-home market is significant. NAR's analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows there are 8.1 million vacation homes and 40.5 million investment units in the United States, compared with 75.5 million owner-occupied homes.
NAR's 2008 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, conducted in March 2009, includes answers from 1,924 usable responses. The survey controlled for age and income, based on information from the larger 2008 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, to limit any biases in the characteristics of respondents.