Vacation home demand soars during coronavirus pandemic

Home sales are booming in popular vacation spots, as the pandemic leads more Americans to seek places to work or relax within driving distance of home.

In traditional vacation destinations such as Key West, Fla., Ocean City, N.J., and Traverse City, Mich., online house shopping and pending sales are up relative to the country overall, according to a new analysis by Zillow Group Inc.

CONDOS COULD MAKE COMEBACK IN HOUSING MARKET IF SINGLE-FAMILY HOME PRICES KEEP RISING 

Similar to the recent rise in interest for suburban and rural homes that are a car ride from major cities, the growth in demand for homes in vacation towns shows how Covid-19 is reshaping home shoppers’ priorities, said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow.

“Home shoppers are particularly motivated to shop for a home in these markets because right now they have the freedom to probably work from home in many cases and even have their kids go to school from home,” he said. “They would get a lot more time to actually enjoy the natural amenities in these locations.”

In the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest share of vacation homes, page views of for-sale listings on Zillow in August rose more than 50% from a year earlier, while nationwide page views rose 37% in the same month.

In 12 of those markets, including Hilton Head, S.C., and East Stroudsburg, Pa., in the Poconos region, pending sales in the week ended Sept. 26 were up more than 30% from a year earlier. Nationally, pending sales rose 22% year-over-year in the same week, Zillow said.

The pandemic-driven recession has deepened the country’s economic divisions. Many higher-wage workers who are able to work from home can put money they would have spent on entertainment or international travel toward buying a home. Home sales around the country have risen to the highest level since 2006, buoyed by record-low interest rates.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN GET FOR $1 MILLION AROUND LAKE NORMAN, NORTH CAROLINA

Second or vacation homes are rising as a percentage of all mortgages. Mortgage-rate locks for second-home purchases made up 5.3% of all locks for purchases in the week ended Oct. 9, up from 3.9% at the start of the year and 4% in the same week last year, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

U.S. home prices have risen 3.1% since February, according to Zillow. Some vacation spots have posted stronger gains, including Ocean City, up 6.4% in the same period, and Sevierville, Tenn., up 4.9%, according to Zillow.

In the Panama City, Fla., metro area, Zillow page views in August were up 74% from a year earlier. Pending sales in the week ended Sept. 26 rose almost 24% year-over-year, Zillow said.

COLORADO TOWN TO PAY VISITORS $100 TO TRAVEL THERE

“We’ve always been a drive-to destination, which during this pandemic has been vital for people” who want to travel while

Read more

Vacation Home Demand Soars During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Home sales are booming in popular vacation spots, as the pandemic leads more Americans to seek places to work or relax within driving distance of home.

In traditional vacation destinations such as Key West, Fla., Ocean City, N.J., and Traverse City, Mich., online house shopping and pending sales are up relative to the country overall, according to a new analysis by

Zillow Group Inc.

Similar to the recent rise in interest for suburban and rural homes that are a car ride from major cities, the growth in demand for homes in vacation towns shows how Covid-19 is reshaping home shoppers’ priorities, said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow.

“Home shoppers are particularly motivated to shop for a home in these markets because right now they have the freedom to probably work from home in many cases and even have their kids go to school from home,” he said. “They would get a lot more time to actually enjoy the natural amenities in these locations.”

In the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest share of vacation homes, page views of for-sale listings on Zillow in August rose more than 50% from a year earlier, while nationwide page views rose 37% in the same month.

In 12 of those markets, including Hilton Head, S.C., and East Stroudsburg, Pa., in the Poconos region, pending sales in the week ended Sept. 26 were up more than 30% from a year earlier. Nationally, pending sales rose 22% year-over-year in the same week, Zillow said.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Have you bought or sold a home during the pandemic? Share your experience. Join the conversation below.

The pandemic-driven recession has deepened the country’s economic divisions. Many higher-wage workers who are able to work from home can put money they would have spent on entertainment or international travel toward buying a home. Home sales around the country have risen to the highest level since 2006, buoyed by record-low interest rates.

Second or vacation homes are rising as a percentage of all mortgages. Mortgage-rate locks for second-home purchases made up 5.3% of all locks for purchases in the week ended Oct. 9, up from 3.9% at the start of the year and 4% in the same week last year, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

U.S. home prices have risen 3.1% since February, according to Zillow. Some vacation spots have posted stronger gains, including Ocean City, up 6.4% in the same period, and Sevierville, Tenn., up 4.9%, according to Zillow.

In the Panama City, Fla., metro area, Zillow page views in August were up 74% from a year earlier. Pending sales in the week ended Sept. 26 rose almost 24% year-over-year, Zillow said.

“We’ve always been a drive-to destination, which during this pandemic has been vital for people” who want to travel while staying distanced from strangers, said Jonathan Spears, a team leader at Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, which sells homes in the Panama City area. “We’ve never seen a market like this, and it’s specifically due to

Read more

Greece: 225-pound heroin stash found in vacation home

ATHENS, Greece — Police in Greece Tuesday said they have found 102 kilograms (225 pounds) of heroin in a vacation-rental apartment in central Athens.

The drugs, in shrink-wrapped packages and stored in four duffel bags, were found when police raided the apartment near the city’s main train station.

The apartment had been rented since Sept. 24 and was raided Sunday. No one was present and no arrests have been made.

rn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup-optimizely/start"},{"id":"limit-signup","count":12,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":{"template":"{% extends "grid" %}rnrn{% block heading_text %}Youu2019ve read your 10 free articles for this 30 day period. Sign up now for local coverage you wonu2019t find anywhere else, special sections and your favorite columnists. StarTribune puts Minnesota and the world right at your fingertips. {% endblock %}rnrn{% block last %}rn{{ parent() }}rn{# limit Krux pixel from https://www.squishlist.com/strib/customshop/328/ #}rnrnrn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup/start"},{"id":"meter-desktop-331","count":10,"action":"ignore","mute":false,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/meter-desktop-331/start"},{"id":"PDA991499opt","count":9,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/PDA991499opt/start"},{"id":"limit","count":8,"action":"inject","mute":false,"action_config":{"template":"

Read more

Turn Your Home Into a High-Tech Hotel Room

Every once in a while, especially during vacations, families, and friends would check in at a fancy resort or hotel. Ideally, these luxury hotel rooms would be able to fascinate you with all their high-tech gadgets, widescreen televisions, automated doors and more. Any hotel that provides this service would often be costly. Why spend a lot to go to fancy hotel rooms when you can bring that experience to your very own home? There are many ways to turn homes into high-tech hotel-like rooms and those with the budget can start by getting these items:

Smart TV’s

Smart TV’s are not uncommon in the market. In fact, visiting the nearest electronics store will display their latest smart TV’s available. Aesthetically, a large smart TV would be the ideal option to make your homes look like a luxury hotel. Almost the options across different brands are similar so you have the freedom to choose which suits you best. Some allow you to browse through the net through voice activations. Others will detect specific hand gestures to operate commands.These smart TV’s will only get better as the years pass by.

Digital Keys

Hotels either have the usual physical keys for their locks or card keys that you can swipe. However, these can be a hassle especially in the case where they get misplaced. Fancier hotels, on the other hand, use digital keys that can be accessed usually through phones. There are two ways this can work. The first is similar to the concept of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Instead of actually having the card, an app of the phone can imitate that concept so you would not need the actual card. The second way would be through Bluetooth. There are high-tech locks that will automatically open once they detect your phone’s Bluetooth ID nearby so you can just walk right in without doing much.

Voice-Activated Rooms

So once you get into your home without touching anything, the next thing you might want to do is to turn on the lights still without touching anything. How? Voice activation. It is popular in the movies and fancy hotels. With just a short speech command, anything with that is voice-enabled will do its job. It is the step towards making Jarvis, artificial intelligence (AI) assistant of Tony Stark in popular comic book and movie, Iron Man. Wynn Las Vegas just recently integrated about 5,000 of their rooms with Echo, a voice-controlled speaker, allowing guests to easily communicate with the front desk or turn appliances on by simply telling it to do so.

Automation

In line with the voice-activated rooms, automation enabled by robots or AI, just like Echo, will further provide efficiency for anyone in the room. Automation is usually defined as something that turns on and off by itself. However, it goes beyond. Automation really is about technology allowing itself to be engaged only when needed to. To an extent, getting your room automated can even save a lot of money on the …

Read more

Vacation Apartment Rentals – Traveling With a Touch of Home

Seasoned travelers often tire of the standard routine of airplane, hotel, restaurant and visiting museums and cultural attractions. So as an alternative, some of these travelers look for ways to get more in touch with the local culture of the place they’re visiting. One way of doing this is short term, vacation apartment rentals.

Thanks to the Internet, renting a private apartment for a few days or a few weeks is fairly easy. What was once a niche market of rental properties available only in specialized catalogs, classified ads and by word of mouth, has grown into a cottage industry. Nowadays many landlords make their rental properties available only for short-term business or vacation rentals. Entire agencies are devoted to this market niche as well.

In fact finding accommodation in a private residence during your trip is quite easy. An Internet search turns up hundreds of available properties and dozens of agencies. In fact, the biggest challenge is not finding the apartments, it’s finding something that suits you, for a reasonable price, that is available when you need it.

Once you find a place, you’ll also want to have some way of knowing that what you see is what you’ll really get, so many travelers choose to work with reputable agencies or via a vacation rentals website. That way they will at least have some neutral authority to give them recommendations on their particular needs, as well as some recourse in the event of problems.

Of course, finding a rental apartment in a city you’ve never seen presents its own particular set of challenges. Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure that you do research on the neighborhood that you’ll be living in. In many large cities, neighborhoods can change dramatically in the space of just a few blocks. Doing your homework up front will help to make sure that your stay is an enjoyable one. Additionally, you need to try to have a basic idea of what you want from your vacation rental. Will it just be a place to sleep, or will your trip be a stay at home getaway for rest and relaxation. Different situations require different amenities, so be sure to ask about such things up front.

All in all, renting an apartment for a short period of time during a vacation is a sure way to a unique and rewarding travel experience. And one that let’s you get closer to the culture than you would by staying in a hotel.…

Read more

A Guide to Vacation Rental Home Options

You might just be planning a short holiday – in which case you’ll likely be weighing up the pros and cons of staying in a hotel room versus renting private accommodation. The decision you make here is dependent on a number of factors, namely how long you’re going to be away for.

If your stay spans only two or three nights, a hotel room may be worth consideration – especially if you’re going to be out and about during the day. Hotels can provide a great solution for individuals or couples, as long as you’re prepared to eat out at restaurants or order room service.

If you’re travelling in a larger group or as a family, however, hotel rooms can be very limiting in terms of space. The same applies if you’re planning on being away for more than a couple of days, as a hotel stay can feel very restrictive.

The one major plus side of staying in a hotel is the access to a range of services – such as cleaning, laundry and having your meals cooked by a professional chef. Having these things taken care of can make the holiday feel more like a luxury break and frees you up to enjoy quality time.

What many people don’t know is that there are many private rental options that offer these same services. For example, you and your family could stay in a fully managed condo, where full maid, bar, chef and even butler services could be at hand.

By choosing a managed rental home, you will take the day-to-day stresses out of your holiday, whilst enjoying more space and privacy. These domestic services may be available in a whole range of rental homes – apartments, villas and houses for instance – so it’s worth looking into if you don’t want to stay in a hotel.

Villas are often the ultimate go-to accommodation for luxury retreats. This is often because they are vast and roomy, as well as being found in secluded locations. Many will have gardens or grounds, as well as an outdoor pool.

Villas are available from 1 or 2 bedrooms up to 8 or 10, so can provide an ideal solution for any number of guests. How large your villa is and its unique features will obviously depend on what you need for your holiday. It’s a good idea to talk this over with an experienced travel adviser.

Apartments are often smaller, but can be ideal if you’re travelling individually or with a partner. Many people would rather not to stay in hotel rooms when they are travelling alone, preferring the peace, tranquillity and solitude of a private rental home.

Holiday apartments can be great if you’re looking for a place to cook meals as well as sleep and use the bathroom facilities. Those looking to rent longer term but still adhere to a limited budget may benefit from an apartment more than a condo or villa.

Condos provide a happy medium between a hotel …

Read more

What Vacationers Should Look for When Choosing a Vacation Home

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a vacation home that’s right for you, your family, or your sports or sales team. Before you settle on the lowest price or the most glamorous home, consider what you expect your vacation home to provide. Here are a few tips to help you make the choice.

Location, Location

As in all real estate, even though you’re not buying the property, location is key. The vacation home you’re considering should be close to the venue, attraction or resort where you plan on spending most of your time. It should be within walking distance of local stores and restaurants. Public/private transportation-buses, shuttles, taxis-should be readily available. Finally consider, too, any negative location factors, like excessive traffic noise, nearby construction activity, or proximity to unpleasant odors (too close to a fishery or industrial/chemical area).

Size and Floorplan

When evaluating a specific vacation home, make sure it has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your family, sports team or sales team. Families with smaller children or same sex children can double up in one bedroom. Everyone else (adults) will want their own bedroom. There should be plenty of bathrooms (with showers) for everyone, as well. You should also consider the importance of a large living room for meetings, and a large dinning room with a dinner table big enough to seat everyone in your family or group.

Large, Fully Equipped Kitchen

One of the main advantages of a vacation home is the convenience and economy of preparing and eating at “home.” For that, you’ll need a fully equipped and well-stocked kitchen. It should have a dishwasher, a double oven with microwave, toaster/toaster oven, coffee maker, tea kettle and a full selection of eating utensils, flatware, glasses, pots, pans, and just about everything else you’d find in a large kitchen.

Clean, Stylish and Comfortable

The home’s furniture should be clean and look fairly stylish. There should be plenty of relaxing soft furniture-couches, chairs, sectionals-that look fairly new and clean. Counters, tubs, showers and floors should be clean and dust free. Bedding and towels should be spotless and fresh. And there should be no unpleasant odors (cooking or otherwise) in any room. In warmer locations, check the AC unit and make sure it cools down the home fairly quickly without a lot of noise or dust. The same holds true for colder locations-turn on the heat and make sure it heats up the entire home quickly.

Entertainment/Connectivity

There should be at least one large screen TV and DVD player in the main living area. TVs in bedrooms are optional. Make sure the home is wired for Internet access and cable. As for phones, land lines are not necessary, since most people have cell phones now.

Closets/Storage Space

There should be plenty of storage space for your belongings, including large closets and dressers in each bedroom. Bedside tables and lamps should be in every bedroom for bedtime reading. If the home has an attached garage, make …

Read more

What You Need to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home As a Retiree

Retirees look forward to spending time relaxing, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Often, they combine these activities into purchasing a vacation home. But, making this sort of purchase can be a huge step for people who are living on a fixed income or who aren’t sure about taking on a mortgage in their later years. If you’re thinking about making this type of purchasing now that you have retired, carefully consider the following when making your decision.

1. Can You Afford a Vacation Home?

Your first consideration must be the cost. If you are a retiree whose primary residence is paid off, you are in a better position to make a purchase because you have equity in your current home and may be able to use it to get a home equity loan to help pay for your vacation property.

Keep in mind that a larger down payment often results in a lower mortgage interest rate and lower monthly payments, so the more you can afford upfront for your vacation property, the better.

Another option that may make this option more affordable is working with a credit union rather than your traditional financial institution. Credit unions often offer members lower mortgage interest rates, so it’s worth shopping around for a mortgage before you commit to the bank that held your primary residence mortgage.

Keep in mind, however, that the mortgage for a vacation home will not be your only expense. You’ll also need to be able to afford homeowners insurance, energy and other utility bills, regular maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and potential property management fees, particularly if your vacation property is a significant distance from your primary residence.

2. Do You Have Enough Time to Commit to a Vacation Home?

Retirees often retire assuming they will have all the time in the world to do whatever they want. However, they often find themselves even busier in retirement because they travel to visit family, spend time with grandchildren and help with babysitting, devote time to getting in shape, attend more doctor appointments, and volunteer.

Scheduling time at your home is a must, so you can take care of the property and make it worth your investment. If you already find that you have difficulty making time for all that you want to do, purchasing this type of retirement property may not be for you.

3. Will Your Vacation Home Accommodate Your Family?

Many retirees address the issue of having time to visit a retirement property and family by purchasing a second residence that appeals to their family and serves as a vacation hub for everyone. The trouble is, the larger the property, the more expensive it is. You’ll need to find a home option that can accommodate your family and your budget, and that often means a home with large bedrooms or a finished basement that can hold inflatable mattresses or pull-out couches for visitors.

You’ll also want to be sure you have plenty of bathrooms and a …

Read more

Why You Should Buy a Vacation Home in Florida

Florida is one of the most popular holiday spots in the country, welcoming millions of tourists every year. While there are several reasonable accommodation options available throughout the state, there are some good reasons to acquire your own vacation house in Florida.

Excellent Climate

Florida is the Sunshine State and not for nothing. It boasts of warm weather for most of the year, which means people from all over the US flock to its beaches for some sunshine. You can enjoy lots of natural beauty if you have a winter home in Florida. In fact, some famous Americans such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison have had a winter home in the state. Miami Beach is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida where thousands of tourists like to spend the winter months, away from the chill and snow in the rest of the country.

Peace of mind

Peace of mind is necessary if you are planning a vacation, especially a long one. If you own a second home here in Florida, you will have convenient access to the warm weather and beautiful beaches all year. You can drop in any time and be sure of having a comfortable place to stay. Having your own home in Florida is also beneficial because you get the freedom to set it up according to your specific needs and lifestyle. You can come in and leave any time of the day without feeling guilty of bothering the owners.

Make your vacation home an investment

The best thing about having your own vacation home in Florida is that if you can use it as an investment. Florida is amongst the most popular holiday destinations in the country and is full of visitors all year. Tourists do not only need beaches and the sunshine, they need a nice, safe place to stay. If you choose to rent out your property to holidaymakers, you can be sure of full occupancy throughout the year. There are several agents in Florida who will market your property easily to visitors looking for a nice place to lodge.

Rent and tax savings

Acquiring your own holiday home is a sensible decision if you are a frequent visitor to Florida. It will save you the hassle of dealing with agents at the last-minute and feeling anxious about getting a poor bargain on holiday lodging. What’s more, you will no longer have to worry about rental expenses on holiday. You will also save on taxes because you can claim the amount of annual depreciation as a deduction against your taxable rental income, just the way loans work. Thus, you can continue to invest in the upkeep and renovation of your property to keep it up with the times.

A good vacation home is a smart decision because of the convenience and other monetary benefits it brings. Having your own Florida home will allow you to spend your holidays without the stress of paying rent. What’s more, you will even be …

Read more