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Pandemic-Driven Demand for Vacation Homes Surges

February 11, 2021

More buyers are eyeing a vacation home during the pandemic. Mortgage applications for second homes jumped 84% year over year in January. In September 2020, they surged by an even greater amount: 118% year over year.

“Although demand is down slightly from the fall peak, the fact that nearly twice as many second-home buyers submitted applications in January as the year before means the popularity of vacation towns is not a fad,” says Taylor Marr, an economist for real estate brokerage Redfin. “Many Americans have realized remote work is here to stay, allowing some fortunate people to work from a lakefront cabin or ski condo indefinitely.”

The annual rise in second-home applications is more than double the increase in applications for primary homes, according to an analysis of nationwide mortgage applications conducted by Redfin. In response, home prices in vacation hotspots are rising, with many seeing double-digit yearly growth. But inventory remains tight.

“There’s just as much desire for vacation homes as ever, but inventory is so low that fewer people are actually able to submit offers and apply for mortgages,” says Jaime Moore, a Redfin real estate pro in Las Vegas. “The market is still highly competitive, and almost all the buyers are people from the San Francisco area purchasing their second home. The only time I see a buyer looking to purchase a primary residence is when they already live here in a rental, and they’re looking for something more permanent.”