Northern California Vacation Home Sales Are Riding a Wave

Vacation destinations in Northern California are seeing strong growth in second-home sales as the economy continues to improve and homeowners regain equity in their primary residences.

Scenic Lake TahoeVacation homes account for most sales in Pacific Union’s Tahoe/Truckee region, and the real estate market there has been especially active since the middle of last year.

“Most of our buyers are from the Bay Area, and after several years of caution they’re comfortable now buying property in Tahoe,” one of Pacific Union’s top real estate professionals in the region says. “Right now we’ve got buyers standing by, waiting for quality inventory to hit the market in the spring.”

Vacation getaways are also increasingly popular in the Bay Area. In the Wine Country, our Sonoma Valley region saw fewer purchases by investors during the first quarter of 2014 offset by an increase in contracts for second homes.

Nationwide, sales of vacation homes jumped 30 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors, and second-home purchases made up their biggest share of the housing market since 2006.

“Growth in the equity markets has greatly benefited high-net-worth households, thereby providing the wherewithal and confidence to purchase recreational property,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

In a survey conducted by NAR, more than 80 percent of second-home buyers said now is a good time to buy.

The typical vacation-home buyer was 43 years old, had a median household income of $85,600, and purchased a property that was a median distance of 180 miles from his or her primary residence.

Buyers listed many reasons for purchasing a vacation home:

  • 87 percent want to use the property for vacations or as a family retreat
  • 31 percent plan to use it as their primary home in the future
  • 28 percent want to diversify their investments or saw a good investment opportunity
  • 23 percent plan to rent to others
  • 22 percent intend it for use by a family member or friend.

(Image: Flickr/Reno Tahoe)

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