2 Maryland counties are tops for vacation homes

Statistics on vacation home sales have been unprecedented, and the gains have continued into this spring — even after most pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions have ended.

Vacation home sales are especially strong in the most popular regions, in vacation home counties, which the National Association of Realtors defines as counties where at least 20% of the houses and condos are seasonal, occasional or recreational use. Vacation home sales in those 145 counties have risen 24.2% in the past year.

From January to April 2021, the share of vacation home sales compared to total existing home sales climbed to 6.7%. Overall vacation home sales are up 57.2% in the last year, compared to 20% annual growth for all existing home sales.

NAR has compiled a list of top vacation home counties, and two are in Maryland: Garrett and Worcester counties.

“That is the county where you have Ocean City. A great spot. On the other hand, Garrett County, Maryland, is in the most western part of Maryland, and here you are really going to a destination that is in the Appalachian Mountains,” said NAR Director of Housing and Commercial Research Gay Cororaton.

In Worcester County, 56% of homes are vacation homes, and it ranks eighth for counties in actual number of homes for seasonal and recreational use.

Vacation homebuyers are paying more for them. In 2020, the median sales price in vacation home counties rose 14.2%, compared to 10.1% for non-vacation home counties.

What do vacation homebuyers have in common? Generally, more wealth.

“A typical vacation homebuyer is someone who has the ability to pay cash. About 60% of vacation homebuyers pay cash,” Cororaton said. “Across all homebuyers, it is about 25%. It is realistic also that someone who is buying a vacation home has a family and wants to spend more time with them at a vacation home.”

NAR’s full vacation home sales report is online. Below are the top vacation home counties in the U.S., courtesy of NAR.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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