"Strong demand for second homes is one of the key drivers in the U.S. luxury market, according to a new report from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS). “People who were living near their job now have the flexibility to live elsewhere,” says Christy Budnick, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Many who have migrated to new areas are rediscovering their love of fresh air and green spaces, often spending more time than ever in their second or third homes.”
Among the nation’s hottest second-home markets are Cape Cod, the Jersey Shore, Palm Springs South Florida, and Sun Valley, Idaho, according to BHHS’ 2021 Global Luxury Landscape Report, which covered the pandemic’s impact on consumer behaviors in regards to the automotive, yachting, artwork and private jet markets, as well as real estate.
“I believe the luxury market is going to continue to remain strong through 2022,” Budnick says. “Increases in interest rates don’t affect that sector as much as the lower price points, and inventory continues to remain extremely tight.”
As a result of the pandemic, second homes have become one-and-a-half homes, as wealthy owners spend most of their time in a non-primary residence, Budnick says. But rather than owning two or three different vacation homes, they are combining their assets and moving into one of those homes, while enjoying the flexibility to work from anywhere.
“We are also seeing owners selling a primary residence and scaling down to a condominium so that they still have a residence in the city where they work,” she adds. “But the bulk of their time is being spent in their vacation home whatever it may be.”
Budnick says one of the surprising points in the report was the popularity of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which ranked No. 1 of the 10 emerging U.S. housing markets reported in The Wall Street Journal. “I’ve always thought very highly of Coeur d’Alene as a beautiful place to visit, but not necessarily as a housing market,” she says. “I think that’s really exciting for the people who live there, and to be able to claim that is pretty special.”
Return to the cities
While vacation markets around the U.S. continue to be popular with luxury buyers, urban areas like New York City are bouncing back after a downturn last year in the pandemic. A gradual increase in international buyers, along with domestic buyers who value a city lifestyle – at least part time – are increasing demand for urban residences.
“We absolutely expect cities to bounce back over time as they safely reopen,” Budnick says. “Right now, the majority of people are working from home. But that pendulum will swing back to a balance of in-office and remote work, and that could determine where people choose to live at that point.”