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Time for a Getaway? The Vacation Home Market is Holding its Own

Looking for miles across tree-covered mountains and valleys. Heading up the slopes for a bracing day of skiing. Buyers who have long entertained dreams of finding that ideal New England vacation home are discovering some great opportunities in today’s market.

In its annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found this spring that condominiums have become an increasingly important part of the vacation-home mix, rising from 21 percent to 29 percent of sales over the past year. And while purchases by investment buyers dropped by 28 percent over the past year, vacation-home purchaseshave increased by nearly 5 percent, the NAR said. In a scenario repeated from the Maine seacoast to the Berkshire mountains, vacation homes continue to lure buyers chasing their getaway dreams.

James Fitzgerald Jr. of Coldwell Residential Brokerage in Kennebunk, Maine, said that while the subprime problem has hit the overall real estate market, and getting financing can still be a challenge for some buyers, vacation home sales are holding their own.

The mortgage problem has primarily affected investor-buyers and investor-focused properties such as condos that are rental-oriented and regulate length of stays. But for the true second-home market, loosening restrictions by the federal loan programs, Fannie Mae andFreddie Mac, seem to be permitting more people to qualify for loans, Fitzgerald said.

At the same time, he added, “Baby boomers are the largest population buying second homes, and a lot of them are buying with cash. They have money from investments, and they’re not afraid to use it. Right now, only seven percent of baby boomers own vacation homes. The market is shifting as these empty-nesters think about bringing the family back together and look at resort areas as a means to that end. When you have a place that’s attractive enough— when you buy a place in Kennebunkport— everyone wants to visit.”

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