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with boomers, a (second) home is where the heart is

boomers lead spike in vacation home sales

When it comes to buying second homes, Boomers are making waves.

A survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that vacation home sales have risen 57.4 percent from 717,000 in 2013, reaching the highest numbers since 2003, when the survey began.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributes that rise to Boomers, whose numbers reach more than 75 million. “Affluent households have greatly benefited from strong growth in the stock market in recent years, and the steady rise in home prices has likely given them reassurance that real estate remains an attractive long-term investment," he said. “Furthermore, last year's impressive increase also reflects long-term growth in the numbers of baby Boomers moving closer to retirement and buying second homes to convert into their primary home in a few years."

A look at the numbers reveals that Boomers are preparing very desirable second homes; beach resorts in the south and west are particularly popular. In fact, buyers in 2014 were more comfortable moving further away from their primary homes, with a median distance of 200 miles, than their counterparts in 2013, averaging 180 miles. About a third of these will be used as vacation homes, while 13 percent were purchased specifically as investments.

But not all Boomers are created equal in their quest for vacation homes. According to a survey by Caldwell Banker, only 22 percent of older baby Boomers are interested in purchasing a vacation home, compared to 34 percent of younger Boomers.

"The baby Boomer generation has driven the U.S. economy for years, and like many Americans, they may be anxious about their next real estate decision," Jim Gillespie, CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. "I know baby Boomers are a very diverse group and cannot be described in generalities, but our survey clearly indicates that those Boomers who are financially secure are actively seeking to buy their retirement home, or a second home, and they are taking advantage of the opportunities and value available in today's market."

Though the NAR has discovered that Millennials make up the bulk of recent home buyers overall, when it comes to vacation homes, Boomers have the market cornered.