Special Report

25 Hottest Markets for Second Homes


Conventional wisdom suggests that a second home, one where owners may spend weekends or entire seasons, is prohibitively expensive for the majority of Americans. However, a report published by Trulia, an online real estate database, suggests that this is often not the case. This year, the second home markets growing fastest in popularity are in lesser-known, mostly inexpensive areas.

In order to determine the hottest markets for second homes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed “Where the Nation Vacations,” Trulia’s report on where Americans are purchasing, or planning to purchase, a vacation home. The hottest markets were in areas with a high share of seasonal or second homes that also had the greatest year over year increase in Trulia database searches from other parts of the country.

The median home value in Nantucket, Massachusetts, is over $880,000. In East Hampton, New York, the typical home is worth at least a million dollars. While these areas are iconic destinations, for a majority of people looking to buy a second home, they are prohibitively expensive. In stark contrast, the cost of a typical home in 23 of the 25 hottest markets falls below half a million dollars. In nine of the same communities, the cost is actually less than the national median home value of $173,900.

Click here to see the hottest markets for second homes.

In addition to being inexpensive, many of the most popular markets for second homes are not in especially well known areas. While typical vacation destinations, including four communities in Florida and two in North Carolina, make the list, there are just as non-traditional locations. Among the areas identified in the Trulia report are four communities in Southern Kentucky and three in Idaho.

Despite the relative obscurity of some markets for second homes, each of the 25 zip codes on the list have obvious attractions — either for those seeking a regular weekend getaway, or those relocating for an entire season. Some areas, like Saint George Island, Florida, and Sunset Beach, North Carolina, are coastal communities that offer beaches and warmer climates for those escaping cold winters. Other areas, like Dagsboro, Delaware, offer relatively easy access to destinations like Cape May, New Jersey, at a fraction of the housing cost.

An outsized share of the most popular areas for second homes are in relatively remote areas. Such places, like Obsidian, Idaho, and Jamestown, Kentucky, feature easy access to protected park lands, forests, mountain ranges, or rivers and lakes.

To identify the hottest markets in the country for second homes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Trulia’s report, “Where the Nation Vacations.” To be considered, at least 5% of homes had to be vacant for a majority of the year. Only zip codes with over 3,000 housing units were considered. Areas were ranked based on increases in the number of seasonally vacant properties between five year estimates from 2011 to 2014 from the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) and on year over year increases in property searches within the Trulia database from different metro areas only.

These are the 25 hottest markets for second homes.

25. Stover, MO (65078)
> County: Morgan
> Share of vacation homes: 34.9%
> Median home price: $95,000

Nearly 35% of homes in Stover are vacant for most of the year. Within driving distance of Kansas City and St. Louis, and with a typical home costing only $95,000, Stover is an inexpensive area to own a second home for a weekend getaway.

24. Frontenac, NY (13624)
> County: Jefferson
> Share of vacation homes: 40.7%
> Median home price: $198,500

Accessible only by water, Frontenac is a small island located in the St. Lawrence River, roughly 100 miles north of Syracuse. Aside from its physical remoteness, the island is likely appealing as a vacation destination for its relatively low median home price. A typical Frontenac home is worth $198,500, far less than the statewide median home value of $277,600.

23. Obsidian, ID (83340)
> County: Blaine
> Share of vacation homes: 45.6%
> Median home price: $787,624

Situated in the Sawtooth National Forest, less than 150 miles from Boise, Idaho’s largest city, Obsidian is one of the most popular markets for second homes in the country. With all the scenic beauty and natural amenities of a protected forest, a typical home in Obsidian is worth over three quarters of a million dollars.

22. Burkesville, KY (42717)
> County: Cumberland
> Share of vacation homes: 9.2%
> Median home price: $139,000

In Burkesville, a small city within driving distance of Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, a typical home costs only $139,000, roughly $35,000 less than the nationwide median home value. With the Cumberland River going through Burkesville, and the Daniel Boone National Forest located just over an hour east, there are plenty of natural attractions for retirees and vacationers to enjoy.

21. Sand Lake, FL (32819)
> County: Orange
> Share of vacation homes: 19.1%
> Median home price: $295,000

Located in the Orlando metro area, vacationers in Sand Lake have easy access to such popular destinations as Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. The Orlando area is an especially popular, and relatively affordable, area for New York City residents to own a second home.

20. Friendship, WI (53934)
> County: Adams
> Share of vacation homes: 46.4%
> Median home price: $109,604

Friendship is situated at the Western end of Friendship Lake, a body of water with fishing and a sandy beach. Property in the village is relatively inexpensive, with a typical home costing less than $110,000.

19. Walton, NY (13856)
> County: Delaware
> Share of vacation homes: 21.3%
> Median home price: $119,000

Walton is a small town situated along the Delaware River, just west of the Catskill Mountains. Along with its seclusion and scenic beauty, vacationers are also likely attracted by low property costs. A typical area home costs only $119,000, well below the statewide median value of $277,600.

18. Kissimmee, FL (34747)
> County: Osceola
> Share of vacation homes: 63.7%
> Median home price: $269,900

Kissimmee is one of only three of the top vacation destinations where over half of all homes are vacant for part of the year. Located only a half hour from the Orlando airport, Kissimmee is especially popular among vacationing and retired New Yorkers.

17. Lake Lure, NC (28746)
> County: Rutherford
> Share of vacation homes: 53.7%
> Median home price: $259,000

Vacationers in Lake Lure have easy access to the lake of the same name, as well as Chimney Rock State Park, an area known for its hiking trails and rock climbing. Though Lake Lure is relatively secluded, vacationers can benefit from the cultural amenities of an urban area, as Asheville is less than 30 miles away.

16. Vashon, WA (98070)
> County: King
> Share of vacation homes: 12.3%
> Median home price: $529,000

Vashon is an island located in the Puget Sound. Vacationers can access the island by ferry from several points, including Seattle and Tacoma. Vashon is known for its beaches, shops, and restaurants. The area is not especially cheap, however. A typical area home costs more than half a million dollars.

15. Sagle, ID (83860)
> County: Bonner
> Share of vacation homes: 25.6%
> Median home price: $398,469

Located along the Pend Oreille River and Pend Oreille Lake, Sagle is also only a couple of miles from two national forests. With so many natural attractions close by, Sagle is a destination for outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting.

14. Ocean Park, WA (98640)
> County: Pacific
> Share of vacation homes: 50.6%
> Median home price: $165,000

Ocean Park is located in the middle of a peninsula separating the Pacific Ocean from the Willapa Bay. The area features 28 miles of beach and wildlife refuges and Ocean Park real estate is relatively inexpensive.

13. Albany, KY (42602)
> County: Clinton
> Share of vacation homes: 8.9%
> Median home price: $95,000

The typical home in Albany, Kentucky, costs only $95,000, about $79,000 less than a typical home nationwide. Inexpensive real estate is not the only draw to Albany. The city is also a short drive from the Daniel Boone National Forest.

12. Alum Ridge, VA (24091)
> County: Floyd
> Share of vacation homes: 7.2%
> Median home price: $199,000

Alum Ridge is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a road featuring such spectacular views, it is often a destination in itself for many travelers. Second home owners in Alum Ridge have easy access to a winery, a country club, and Rocky Knob Recreation Area, which features hiking, camping, picnic areas, and scenic lookouts.

11. Lake Louisa/Clermont, FL (34714)
> County: Lake
> Share of vacation homes: 21.6%
> Median home price: $200,000

Located less than an hour from the Orlando airport, Lake Louisa is especially popular among vacationing and retired New Yorkers. Those escaping harsh northern winters have easy access to multiple lakes and state parks.

10. Hallettsville, TX (77964)
> County: Lavaca
> Share of vacation homes: 12.5%
> Median home price: $200,157

With Houston 100 miles to the east and San Antonio 100 miles to the west, Hallettsville may be an ideal area for second-home owners looking to escape a major city. Hallettsville is steeped in cultural history and hosts events year-round, including an antique tractor pull, a beauty pageant, and the world’s largest fiddle contest.

9. Dagsboro, DE (19939)
> County: Sussex
> Share of vacation homes: 15.5%
> Median home price: $289,900

A small town of only 850 residents, Dagsboro is just 11 miles from the beach, along Delaware’s Atlantic shoreline, and less than 25 miles from Ocean City, Maryland. Vacationers in Dagsboro are also a short drive and ferry ride away from the popular summer getaways in New Jersey, including Cape May and Wildwood.

8. Saint George Island, FL (32328)
> County: Franklin
> Share of vacation homes: 49.9%
> Median home price: $469,000

While the Keys are perhaps Florida’s most iconic island vacation destination, there are other islands in the state that cater mostly to vacation home owners. Saint George Island is located in the Northern Gulf, just off shore from Tate’s Hell State Forest. Roughly half of the island’s homes are vacation or second homes.

7. Nancy, KY (42544)
> County: Pulaski
> Share of vacation homes: 29.8%
> Median home price: $130,000

Vacationers and second home owners in Nancy are within driving distance of Nashville, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, and Daniel Boone National Forest. They also benefit from inexpensive real estate, as the typical area home costs nearly $45,000 less than the nationwide median home value.

6. McCall, ID (83638)
> County: Valley
> Share of vacation homes: 49.2%
> Median home price: $299,900

With a local airport and easy access to outdoor sports venues, including golf courses and ski areas, McCall is an ideal area for many to keep a second home. In addition to man-made outdoor attractions, McCall is partially comprised of parts of Ponderosa State Park and borders Payette Lake.

5. Ketchikan, AK (99901)
> County: Ketchikan Gateway
> Share of vacation homes: 6.1%
> Median home price: $271,934

Ketchikan is a coastal town amidst a cluster of islands in the southernmost part of the Alaska. The area is notable for its scenic beauty, Native American history, and access to outdoor activities in the nearby Tongass National Forest and Misty Fjords National Monument.

4. Jamestown, KY (42629)
> County: Russell
> Share of vacation homes: 22.6%
> Median home price: $139,900

Real estate is relatively inexpensive in Jamestown, as the typical home costs about $35,000 less than the nationwide median home value. People with seasonal and weekend homes in the area have easy access to Lake Cumberland State Resort Park.

3. Hinckley, MN (55037)
> County: Pine
> Share of vacation homes: 38.4%
> Median home price: $118,308

Weekend and seasonal homes are common in Hinckley. The area boasts a PGA certified golf course, a casino, a spa, and a host of areas for outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, biking and ATVing.

2. Sunset Beach, NC (28468)
> County: Brunswick
> Share of vacation homes: 46.9%
> Median home price: $215,000

Nearly half of all homes in Sunset Beach are either weekend or seasonal homes. Multiple wildlife sanctuaries, a golf course, and a beach along the Atlantic Coast are all likely reasons many find the area to be ideal for a vacation or second home.

1. McGaheysville, VA (22840)
> County: Rockingham
> Share of vacation homes: 49.4%
> Median home price: $224,900

McGaheysville is situated between Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. WIth easy access to both the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, the area is likely a popular vacation destination for its seclusion, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation.

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