Want a vacation home? Prices are falling

Posted March 30 at 3:41 p.m.

Been dreaming of a vacation home? Somewhere warm to get away? Or maybe a cabin in the woods? Prices are right if you can afford it.

The median price of a vacation home was $150,000 in 2010, down 11.2 percent from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. In contrast, the national median for primary residences fell only 4.5 percent in 2010, according to NAR.

“The fall in prices has opened opportunities for more families to enter the second-home market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Still, vacation homes accounted for just 10 percent of all sales last year, and investment properties made up another 17 oercent.

Those percentages were little changed for 2010 as home sales declined across the board. There were 543,000 vacation homes sold, down from 553,000 in 2009; investment purchases fell to 867,000 from 940,000.

One factor depressing sales was the difficulty in getting mortgages due to tight credit markets. Buyers often did an end-around this problem by paying cash. Nearly 40 percent of vacation home sales were cash deals, while nearly 60 percent of investment deals were handled that way.

Those buyers who did get mortgages brought big down payments to the closing tables, according to Walter Molony, a NAR spokesman. For vacation homes, the average was 30 percent, far more than the standard 20 percent down. Investment buyers with financing paid an average of 32 percent down.

Many of the second homebuyers targeted distressed properties. About 17 percent of investment purchases were foreclosures, while vacation homebuyers chose distressed prosperities 10 percent of the time, NAR said. Only 10 percent of families buying primary residences last year went with foreclosures.

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