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Low prices lure vacation-home buyers

September 6, 2011

At $200,000, the condo unit was a bargain considering it had been priced at more than $400,000 in the past, said Barton, 52. Plus, since the couple rent out the home when the family isn’t using it, they’re able to cover their mortgage payments and all their expenses —and make a profit.

 

Lately, more people are wondering if the market is ripe for turning the dream of owning a vacation retreat into a reality. Prices on vacation homes have fallen even more sharply than on primary homes. Last year alone the median price of a vacation home fell 11%, while the price of a typical primary residence fell 5%, according to the National Association of Realtors’ annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, which includes information from about 1,900 buyers.

 

In some cases, people are scooping up cabins in the woods for less than $100,000, said Charlie Young, president and chief executive of ERA Real Estate, a residential real-estate brokerage franchiser. Even some individuals who rent their primary residences are looking to buy a vacation property in a more affordable market, Young said. But unlike a primary residence, a vacation home is a discretionary purchase, and in times of financial uncertainty, people are reluctant to shell out unnecessary funds.

 

It’s wise to think about a vacation-home purchase carefully, looking at the financial and tax implications, and monthly maintenance costs, said Michael Kay, president of Financial Focus, an investment advisory firm in Livingston, N.J. Potential buyers also should consider the opportunity cost of making the purchase, or the benefits of investing the money elsewhere, he said.


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