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Field Guide to Vacation, Resort, and Second Homes

(Updated March 2015)

In 2013, the share of buyers who purchased a primary residence rose from 65% to 67%. The share of vacation home buyers rose slightly, to an overall share of 13%. The share of investment buyers declined slightly from 24% to 20%. Buyers of primary residences usually purchase homes because of their wish to be a home owner or as the result of a job relocation, buyers of vacation and investment homes are motivated by other factors. Eighty-seven percent of vacation home buyers plan to use their property for vacations or as a family retreat, 31% intent on converting their vacation home to their primary residence in the future, and 28% bought to diversify their investments and because it was a good investment opportunity. Here you will find information on the activity in the vacation/second home market as well as tips on working with the vacation/second home buyer. You'll also uncover a variety of resources available from the National Association in addition to updates on the RSPS certification. (K. Bartlett Walsh, Senior Quality Assurance/Customer Advocate)


Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.

Buyer Motivation and Expectations: ​Vacation Properties vs. Investment Properties

To use for vacations or as a family retreat

  • Vacation Properties - 87%
  • Investment Properties - 29%

To use as a principal residence in the future

  • Vacation Properties - 31%
  • Investment Properties - 9%

To diversify investments/good investment opportunity

  • Vacation Properties - 28%
  • Investment Properties - 34%

To rent to others

  • Vacation Properties - 23%
  • Investment Properties - 50%

For a family member, friend or relative

  • Vacation Properties - 22%
  • Investment Properties - 22%

Because the buyer had extra money to spend

  • Vacation Properties - 13%
  • Investment Properties - 8%

For the tax benefits

  • Vacation Properties - 13%
  • Investment Properties - 17%

Source: 2014 NAR Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey

Vacation/Second Hom​e Market Activity

Vacation Homes Sizzle as Investment Homes Fizzle, (National Mortgage Professional, Oct. 14, 2014).

NAR Talking Points – How to Talk About the Second Home Market (National Association of REALTORS®, May 2014).

Vacation Home Sales Surge in 2013, Investment Property Declines, (National Association of REALTORS®, Apr. 2, 2014).

America’s Best Retreats (Barron’s, Mar. 4, 2013). Q

Tax Deductions for Vacation Homes, (HouseLogic.com, Dec. 21, 2012).

Mansion – Sea Changes In the Caribbean – Navigating the ups and downs of the island market, where slashed prices and a vast stock of empty luxury condos are attracting vacation home buyers looking for deals (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 21, 2012). Q

Turning a One-Room Schoolhouse Into a Vacation Home:  the Changing Times (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, June 2012). Q

Vacation Home Market (Realty Times, June 19, 2012).

Real Estate Outlook: Vacation Sales Surge (Realty Times, Apr. 9, 2012).

Home Sweet Second Home (American Agent & Broker, Mar. 2012). Q

U.S. News:  More Investors, Vacationers Snap up Homes (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2012). Q

Easy on the wallet and the earth, miniscule houses are winning fans, (CottageDigest, 2011).

Bed and Breakfast Inns being sold as vacation homes, (The New York Times, Feb. 24, 2011).

Market for vacation homes is on the rise, (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10, 2011). Q

Tax Rules for Second Homes, (Kiplinger.com, Sept. 2010).

The Shrinking Second Home - Real estate resorts pitch cabins, cottages as 'affordable housing' for the affluent, (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2010). Q

Tax Deductions for Vacation Homes, (HouseLogic.com, Dec. 21, 2012).

Working With Vacation/Second Home Buyers

The Master Series, Second Home Specialist John Resor, (REALTOR® Magazine, 2014).

Keeping Up With the R&R Crowd, (REALTOR® Magazine, May 2014).

Vacation Home Buyers Face Financing Hurdles (REALTOR® Magazine Online, Feb. 15, 2013).

Steal This House! (Money, June 2012). Q

Vacation Home Buyers are Back (REALTOR® Magazine Online, June 18, 2012).

Vacation Home Buyers Stay Close to Home (REALTOR® Magazine Online, June 3, 2012).

Second Home Buyers Stay Close to Home (REALTOR® Magazine Online, May 3, 2012).

More Buyers See Opportunity in Vacation Homes (REALTOR® Magazine Online, Apr. 4, 2012).

Resort life blog, (National Association of REALTORS®, 2013).

U.S. Tax compliance requirements for nonresident aliens and their entities, (Tax Management International Journal, Mar. 11, 2011).  Q

Foreign buyers snatch up U.S. Property, (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 5, 2010).

RSPS (Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist)

RSPS Certification (National Association of REALTORS®, 2014).

Find a RSPS Specialist (National Association of REALTORS®, 2014).

Resort Area and Second Home Specialty, (National Association of REALTORS®, 2014).

NAR Education Matrix—Resort and Second Home Markets, (National Association of REALTORS®, 2014).

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Buying a Second Home (Adobe EPUB and Adobe PDF)

The Complete Guide to Buying a Second Home or Real Estate in Mexico (Adobe PDF, Overdrive)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Central. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Investing in a vacation home for pleasure and profit, (Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western, 2006). HD 1341 B69

How a second home can be your best investment, (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2004). HD 1341 K28

REBAC roundtable 2004, volume II, resort, vacation and second home markets, (Chicago, IL: Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, Inc., 2004). CD016

Making money from a second home: a practical guide to buying and managing a property for long lets, holiday lets or university accommodation, (United Kingdom: HowTo Books, Ltd., 2004). HD 1341 P26

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Hotel/Motel Properties

Field Guide to Investing in Real Estate

Field Guide to Foreign Investment Trends in the U.S.

Field Guide to Listing & Selling Luxury Properties

Field Guide to Short-Term Rental Restrictions

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