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The housing recovery may be faltering a bit this spring, but vacation home sales are surging back. Sales of these second homes jumped nearly 30 percent in 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors, and activity this year began climbing in advance of the summer season.
Homes sales in the toney Hamptons on the far end of New York's Long Island were significantly higher in the first quarter of this year, according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate in conjunction with Miller Samuel, an appraisal firm. Closings jumped over 50 percent from 2013, with the highest-end homes doing especially well. The median price also rose, by nearly 19 percent year-over-year.
"The faster market pace resulted in less negotiability and shorter marketing times," according to the report.
Vacation home sales accounted for 13 percent of all transactions last year, according to the Realtors. That is their highest market share since 2006.
"Growth in the equity markets has greatly benefited high net-worth households, thereby providing the wherewithal and confidence to purchase recreational property," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors. "However, vacation-home sales are still about one-third below the peak activity seen in 2006."
The median vacation-home price was $168,700, up 12.5 percent from $150,000 in 2012. Thirty-eight percent of vacation-home buyers paid cash. All vacation homes and vacation markets, are of course not alike; some offer more bang for the buck, while others make buyers pay through the nose for a little stretch of serenity.
On Friday, CNBC reporters fanned out to seven different markets, and each displayed one home priced at about $1 million. They didn't disclose their locations, but documented the interiors, exteriors, marketed features and one unique bonus of each home. Hint: Think beach!
- By CNBC's Diana Olick