Yet the market for vacation homes, based on local sales data, appears to be booming. The comeback, NAR economist Lawrence Yun said, has been helped by gains in the stock market and an improving economy, which have made wealthier Americans more upbeat about the future.

Sales in many vacation communities across the U.S. soared last year to levels not seen since boom times, driven by deep discounts, cash purchases and buyers’ rising stock portfolios.On Mercer Island, Wash., waterfront sales nearly tripled in 2010, compared with a year earlier, reaching par with 2006 volume there. Sales on Hilton Head Island, S.C., rose 14% for the year. Palm Beach, Fla., experienced a 40% annual increase and a 54% increase in homes under contract, indicating an especially strong fourth quarter. Palm Beach sales volume now is comparable to its 2007 peak. These figures were gleaned by brokers in each locale."The proverbial train has left the station," said Ned Monell, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Palm Beach. "We haven’t felt energy like this in a long time. Buyers sense that they’ve been on the sidelines long enough."The question now is whether the momentum will last. The strength of second-home sales paints a stark contrast to the overall housing market, which is expected to worsen in 2011.
By S. Mitra Kalita, Jan. 10, 2011 WSJ

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01/10/11 WSJ