When the real-estate bubble burst, some of the hardest-hit markets were sunny destinations. That means there are some serious bargains out there for vacation homes.
“A lot of those markets — Florida, Nevada, Arizona and even some markets in California — were also foreclosure hot spots and overbuilt, so there are home bargains galore in those areas, many of which are actually newer housing stock,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator for real-estate site Trulia.com.
Home prices rose temporarily in 2009 and 2010 due to the homebuyer tax credits offered by the federal government, but since they expired, prices have gone back down and are now where they were in about 2003, Nelson said.
So where are some of the best deals? Trulia crunched the numbers, starting with AAA’s list of the top vacation destinations and then calculatedthe decline, in percent terms, of home prices in those markets from the peak in the second quarter of 2006 through the fourth quarter of 2010, the most recent data available. And when Nelson said there were bargains galore, she wasn’t kidding: The decline in home prices on this list ranges from 31 percent to 55 percent.
Here are the top 10 places to buy a vacation home in the United States.
By Cindy Perman
Posted 11 March 2011
Median Home Price: $134,200
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -31%
Florida was one of the hardest hit real-estate markets and it shows: Five of the top 10 cities on this list are in Florida.
Coming in at No. 10 is Jacksonville. The median home price here has dropped 31 percent from its peak of $194,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are currently about 10,000 resale or new homes on the market here, plus 8,000 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida, both by population and by area. It’s located in the northeast corner of the state, so it offers relaxation with 20 miles of wide, sandy beaches along the coast, plus all the perks of a big city — great dining, shopping and nightlife. Several festivals are held here annually, including a jazz festival in April and film festival in May. The weather here is mild, with high temperatures between 64 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.
Median Home Price: $187,300
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -32%
Coming in at No. 9 is another coastal Florida market — Miami. The median home price here has dropped 32 percent from its peak of $275,000 in the second quarter of 2006. Here there are actually more foreclosures than regular homes on the market: 11,000 regular homes, and over 14,000 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
Miami’s allure is also that city life-beach combo with a sunny, mild climate. It’s nicknamed the “Cruise Capital of the World,” and Miami’s South Beach, a playground for the rich and famous, was named by the Travel Channel as Florida’s top beach. In 2008, Miami was named “America’s Cleanest City” by Forbes magazine.
Median Home Price: $131,600
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -33%
No. 8 is Tampa, a Gulf Coast city in Florida, where the median home price has dropped 33 percent from its peak of $195,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are about 7,000 homes on the market as well as 6,700 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
It’s been recognized on various lists as a top city for outdoor life as well as a top city for 20-somethings. The climate is mild, with temperatures ranging from 50 to 90 degrees year round. The all-time high has never hit 100; the highest was 99 in 1985. It’s also got that great city action, relaxing beach combo and is home to Busch Gardens, an African-themed park near the University of South Florida. Also notable is the city’s annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, a mock pirate invasion. It’s only fitting then, that their football team is the Buccaneers. Yar!
Median Home Price: $340,400
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -35%
California, also hard hit in the real-estate bust, has two entries on the list. Coming in at No. 7 is Los Angeles, where the median home price has dropped 35 percent from its peak of $521,000 in the second quarter of 2006, according to Trulia.
The average listing price here is close to $1 million but as you can see, the median sale price is significantly lower — in the $300,000s.
Of course, the allure here is the combination of the sun and beaches, the big city and the proximity to Hollywood. Plus, it’s not far from Disneyland. Whether you’re looking to make your big break in LA real estate or just get a little Goofy, now is your chance!
Median Home Price: $307,000
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -37%
California’s other entry on the list is San Diego, where the median home price has dropped 37 percent from its peak of $490,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are more than 6,000 homes for sale and nearly 7,000 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
It may not have the glamour of Hollywood, but San Diego, further down the California coast, ranks on top 10 lists for everything from wealthiest and safest cities to live to overall one of the best places to live. It’s got beaches, parks and a river runs through it. It’s known for its dry, mild weather, with more than 200 days of the year above 70 degrees. It’s popular with families, since it's home to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, and it’s the location of the annual Comic-Con festival.
Median Home Price: $177,700
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -38%
Back to Florida for No. 5 — West Palm Beach. The median home price here has dropped 38 percent from its peak of $286,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are 3,100 homes on the market and nearly 6,000 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
This coastal city in southeastern Florida has sunny skies and “nearly perfect year-round weather,” according to Trip Advisor, with a variety of outdoor and cultural attractions — everything from golf to spas, nature centers and even a Lion Country Safari. And, of course the gorgeous beaches. Downtown West Palm Beach is known for its shopping with a lot of designer boutiques, and nightlife.
Median Home Price: $150,000
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -46%
Coming in at No. 4 is the Vegas of the east — Atlantic City, N.J. The median home price here has dropped 46 percent from its peak of $280,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are 705 homes on the market and more than 250 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
Atlantic City actually goes one better than Vegas, offering beaches and its famous boardwalk in addition to its casinos. If you’re not willing to roll the dice, there’s a ton more to do, including golf and parasailing. Plus, a ton of shopping and two words: saltwater taffy.
Median Home Price: $132,300
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -50%
Arizona also took a beating from this housing crisis, and Phoenix comes in at No. 3. The median home price here has dropped 50 percent from its peak of $264,000 in the second quarter of 2006. Over 9,500 homes are for sale plus nearly 19,000 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
It’s one of the top golf destinations in the world, according to Trip Advisor, with “nearly perfect year-round weather.” It’s also a popular destination for rock climbing, hot-air ballooning and desert jeep tours. Plus, it’s got a lot of culture, including a Native American museum. It’s got several professional sports teams and is where 15 major league baseball teams conduct their spring training.
Median Home Price: $118,000
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -54%
The fifth of Florida’s five entries is Fort Myers, coming in at No. 2 on the list. The median home price here has dropped 54 percent from its peak of $258,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are over 5,400 homes for sale, plus 3,200 foreclosures, according to Trulia.
The “City of Palms,” as it is known, is in southwestern Florida, slightly inland but located on the Caloosahatchee River. It’s a popular destination for deep-sea fishing, according to Trip Advisor, as well as its golf courses. And, of course the gorgeous beaches. Plus, it has a bustling downtown with restaurants, shopping, nightlife and cultural attractions. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison both had their winter homes here , and they’re now tourist attractions.
Median Home Price: $134,200
Decline Since 2006 Peak: -55%
Coming in at No. 1 is … viva, Las Vegas! Vivar (to live) there is actually pretty cheap right now: The median home price has dropped a whopping 55 percent from its peak of $300,000 in the second quarter of 2006. There are nearly 13,000 regular homes for sale here, and a whopping 38,000 foreclosures, according to Trulia.I’m not a betting woman, but those are some pretty good odds you’ll find a real-estate bargain here.
Of course, casinos are the main reason people come herebut the sheer grandeur — and gaudiness — of some of the hotels is worth the visit alone. Glittery interpretations of New York, Paris, Egypt and Italy, plus exotic animals, dancing fountains and even a sinking pirate ship are sure to make you go “wow” at least once! There’s also a lot of great high-end shopping here and for the adventurous, jeep tours of the red rock canyons nearby.