Sales of Second Homes Slowed then Surged in Pandemic

Washington, DC, August 21, 2020-While in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, sales of second and vacation homes effectively ceased, builders of these high-end homes are now seeing a surge in demand, though the impact varies widely by market, reports Builder Online.

“‘After the initial phase, when everyone was unsure of what was going to happen and there was no activity on the market for four to six weeks, things got compressed,’ says Michael Ziman, founder of Long Beach Island, N.J.–based Ziman Development, which builds approximately a dozen high-end custom second or vacation homes annually with multimillion-dollar price tags for ultrahigh net worth individuals. ‘Then, you had people living in Manhattan or other cities who felt like they had to get out to feel safe. So after the first wave, those people who were sitting on the sidelines realized life is short. They started asking, ‘What am I waiting for?’’

“The result was a two- to three-time surge in interest and demand for the homes Ziman builds. ‘People are making that decision based on possibly not traveling to Europe or traveling overseas for an extended period, and being able to have a house within an hour or two of their primary residence,’ he notes.

“On the other side of the country, the pace has picked up considerably as well. ‘The second-home market is hot,’ says Dave Nielsen, president of Southwest Utah–based Cole West Home, which closed 180 homes in 2019. ‘The excess elbow space has promoted Southern Utah as a place of safety for many during the pandemic.’

“But it isn’t just on the ultrahigh end that builders are seeing a resurgence of activity among potential second and vacation home buyers. At Chantilly, Va.–based Evergreene Homes, where second and vacation homes account for roughly one-third of the company’s sales mix and start as low as the mid $500s at the Delaware beaches and Virginia and North Carolina lake communities, buyers are also back.

“‘I’d say seven out of the 10 people I talked to on March 15 when things shut down have already called me back in the last two weeks to try to get things going again,’ says Tim Naughton, president of Evergreene’s Delaware and Maryland division. The firm ranks No. 159 on the latest Builder 100. ‘The second-home market is somewhat tied to the stock market, so as everybody’s portfolios came back, they got more comfortable with looking at a second home again.’”