The pandemic gave homebuyers the freedom to venture far from urban centers, and that seems to have benefited second-home markets in unlikely places.
Franklin County, on the Florida panhandle, saw the largest year-over-year increase in second-home purchases of any U.S. county through the first 10 months of 2021, according to an analysis of mortgage rate locks by Pacaso.
As of October, more than half of all mortgage rate locks in the Sunshine State’s third-least-populous county were for second homes, according to Pacaso, at an average cost of $877,000. The share of second-home rate locks in the market jumped 11.5 percent compared to 2020.
Pacaso, which sells shares of luxury second homes to aspirational buyers, ranked the markets by the year-over-year increase in second-home rate locks — a proxy and leading indicator for sales — as a percentage of overall mortgage rate locks. When applying, buyers have to specify whether they’re looking to purchase a primary home, secondary home or investment property.
Sevier County in Tennessee, adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park — the setting of famed author Cormac McCarthy’s early novels — was second on the list, with a 9.7 percent increase, followed by Kentucky’s Trigg County, with a 9.3 percent gain. The average price for second homes in the two markets is $574,000 and $409,000, respectively.
Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, ranked fourth, with an 8.2 percent increase in rate locks and an average second-home price of just $188,000.
Popular second-home markets that skew to the luxury segment saw significant declines in sales activity. Dukes County in Massachusetts, which includes Martha’s Vineyard and where the average second-home price is $1.6 million, recorded the largest year-over-year decline in the percentage of second-home rate locks — a 19.4 percent drop.
Wyoming’s Teton County, home to the ski mecca of Jackson Hole, and where the average second-home price is $3.4 million, saw the share of second-home mortgage rate locks decline 7.9 percent.
“Price increases and limited inventory may have contributed to the annual decrease, as well as the emergence of other, more affordable markets with more inventory,” Pacaso said in its report.
Optimal Blue, a real estate analytics firm, provided the mortgage rate lock data. Counties that did not register at least 50 second-home sales were excluded.