Here's some good news for Americans who might be dreaming about a bungalow on the beach or a cabin on the lake: The newest vacation-home hot spots are in some surprising — and surprisingly cheap — places, according to a new study conducted by Trulia.com.
"The primary thing we had noticed originally was the price trend," said Felipe Chacón, housing data analyst at Trulia. "People are shying away from the most expensive markets," he said. Trulia determined the hottest vacation-home markets by looking at where where searches for vacation homes grew the most, as well as where the number of homes that are only occupied part-time increased the fastest.
When the real estate site last looked for the hottest vacation-home markets three years ago, it found demand and prices both high in Northeastern beach towns, but this time, the three most expensive places to buy a vacation home — Harvey Cedars, NJ, East Hampton, NY, and Nantucket, Mass., where the median price was a whopping $1.8 million — don't even make the list.
Instead, the hottest vacation-home markets today skew more slopeside than sandy: In 2013, two Cape May County towns in New Jersey claimed the top two spots, and overall, New York and New Jersey took four spots on the list, all in beach towns. Today, the Garden State has vanished entirely, and the only New York hot spot is far from the ocean, in the Catskill Mountains of Delaware County.
The only New York hot spot is far from the ocean, in the Catskill Mountains of Delaware County.
With nearly half of the top 20 hottest markets at or below a median price of $200,000 for vacation homes, they're also cheaper. As the real estate market has recovered along the coasts, would-be buyers are looking elsewhere in response to rising prices. "It is true that the coastal regions have appreciated at a quicker rate than the middle of the country," Chacón said. " "It could just be that the mountainous areas are a little more inviting, price-wise."
One-quarter of the top 20 hottest vacation markets, according to Trulia's analysis, are in the Appalachian Mountains, with three destinations in Kentucky alone. The other two, both in Virginia, include the town of McGaheysville, which topped Trulia's list.
Kentucky also contributes the cheapest vacation destination to the list: Albany, where the median vacation home price is $95,000. Some unlikely Western destinations are enjoying increasing interest. Trulia's top 20 includes two spots in Idaho and even one in Alaska.
"They all have something to offer the vacation market — skiing, rafting and kayaking," Chacón said. "They're pretty nice looking areas."
Better yet, you won't have to take on a second job to afford the mortgage — which means it's more likely you'll actually be able to enjoy that retreat.