Buyers get serious about vacation homes

Brokers are reporting more and more inquiries into vacation homes than they have in years, the Wall Street Journal reported, and now may indeed be the time to buy.

The median sales price for a second home was $150,000 in 2010, down 11 percent from 2009 and about 25 percent from 2006, according to data from the National Association of Realtors, but prices have held up better on the luxury end. “At the top of the market, particularly luxury homes, prices have proven very elastic, and have sprung upward quickly,” said Douglas Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae.

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Buyers are paying attention: On Palm Beach Island, sales were up 50 percent in the year ending June 30, in the Hamptons, transactions jumped 59 percent and in Aspen, sales were up 10 percent. Foot traffic is also seeing an uptick. In Vail and Palm Beach, it increased by at least 30 percent this year, according to local real estate agents.

In places like Miami, Fla.,  bargains abound as sellers slash their asking prices or accept less to unload foreclosed properties. In March, a three-bedroom home on Palm Beach Island, Fla., listed for $4.6 million sold for only $2.5 million, the Journal said.

Many second-home buyers are cash-fluid enough to pay in cash, avoiding the consuming mortgage process. Last year, 36 percent of vacation-home transactions were all-cash deals, a jump from 29 percent in 2009. [WSJ]