Vacation home buyers hit pause in 2016 while real estate investors turned up the volume.
That is according to a just-released survey of second-home and investment property buyers by the National Association of Realtors.
Highlights from the survey:
• Vacation and investment buyers last year were more likely to take out a mortgage and use their property as a short-term rental.
• Last year there were an estimated 721,000 vacation home purchases, a 21.6 percent decline from 2015 and the lowest since 2013 (717,000).
• Sales of investment homes increased 4.5 percent to 1.14 million.
• The median price of a vacation home was $200,000, a 4.2 percent increase from 2015 and the highest since 2006 when the median also hit $200,000.
• The median investment-home sales price was $155,000, an 8.0 percent increase from the previous year and the highest since 2005 when the median was $183,500
• Only 28 percent of vacation buyers paid cash (compared with 38 percent in 2015).
• Vacation sales accounted for 12 percent of all transactions in 2016, the lowest share since 2012 (11 percent) and down from 16 percent in 2015.
• The portion of investment sales remained unchanged for the third consecutive year at 19 percent, and owner-occupied purchases increased to 70 percent (65 percent in 2015).
• Because of the popularity of short-term rentals, the south was the most popular region for buyers.
• Top two reasons for buying a vacation home: Use for vacations or as a family retreat (42 percent) and for future retirement (18 percent).
Analysis from Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist:
• In several markets in the South and West — the two most popular destinations for vacation home buyers — house prices have soared because demand has outstripped supply.
• With fewer bargain-priced properties to choose from and a growing number of traditional buyers, finding a home for vacation purposes became more difficult and less affordable last year.
• The volatility of the financial markets in late 2015 through the early part of last year put a dent in sales as some affluent households with money in stocks refrained from buying or delayed plans until after the election.
• “Sales to individual investors reached their highest level since 2012 (1.20 million) as investors took advantage of record low mortgage rates and recognized the sizable demand for renting in their market as renters struggle to become homeowners … the ability to generate rental income or remodel a home to put back on a market with tight inventory is giving investors increased confidence in their ability to see strong returns in their home purchase.”