Vacation home sales increase toward end of 2011’s fourth quarter

Tired of the snow all year round? Need an escape? Consider buying a vacation home in the Las Vegas area. A second home can offer a family or couple the relaxing time away from the daily grind, as well as provide additional income by renting it out to other vacationers when not in use.

According to CNN, the sale of investment properties and vacation homes increased greatly in 2011, as consumers with spare cash bought up homes in downtrodden markets. Vacation homebuyers made up 7 percent of 2011’s total property sales to 502,000 purchases. The median down payment for this investment was 27 percent of the total asking price.

"Investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks."

Absentee buyers, largely made up of investors and vacation homebuyers, have been significantly involved in the current Las Vegas housing market. According to San Diego-based DataQuick, a real estate research company, these consumers made up 48.2 percent of all of Las Vegas-area homes sold in February 2012. This is slightly down from the 49.1 percent in January and the 49.7 percent experienced a year earlier. The record high was 49.9 percent March last year in 2011.

These absentee buyers paid a median $90,000 in February 2012, the same as in January. However, this is a drop from just the previous year in 2011 when the average price was $97,563, according to the source.

CNN reports that this is lower than the median home price paid for vacation properties. The National Association of Realtors reports that figure at $121,300 – down 19 percent from 2010. In contrast, the median price for a vacation home was $200,000 just six years earlier in 2004. This drastic drop in price is indicative of the current housing market. Now, investors and homebuyers are stirring, lured by the promise of sunny weather and low prices.

The Las Vegas housing data shows positive repercussions from these buyers, most who plan to use the properties as vacation homes or rental properties for the next five years, in contrast to previous trends of flipping it. Consider buying a vacation home now to take advantage of historically low prices.