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Vacation-Home Demand Down to Pre-Pandemic Low

Vacation-home buyers have been hurt by economic changes and a new fee, plus higher pandemic-era demand may have resulted in less current demand.

SEATTLE  – Demand for vacation homes has fallen below the pre-pandemic baseline for the first time in two years, with mortgage-rate locks for second homes down 4% from before the pandemic in May, according to a report from Redfin. That’s down from a revised rate of 3% above pre-pandemic levels a month earlier, and 70% above pre-pandemic levels a year earlier.

Vacation-home demand declined for a number of reasons, including higher home prices, mortgage rates that rapidly rose to nearly 6% and a slumping stock market – the same factors cooling the rest of the housing market.

However, one change is unique to second-home buyers: The federal government increased loan fees for second homes in April, adding roughly $13,500 to the cost of purchasing a $400,000 home.

“Skyrocketing monthly payments, along with higher loan fees, have priced many second-home buyers out of the market,” says Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “Many would-be second-home buyers are also deterred by turmoil in the stock markets, high inflation and recession fears, and they can be quicker to pull back from the market because vacation homes aren’t a necessity the way primary homes are.”

Marr things the vacation home cool-down “is likely to continue as long as mortgage rates are elevated and the stock market is slumping.”

The drop in vacation-home demand marks a drastic change compared to the prime pandemic years, from the second half of 2020 and 2021. During lockdowns, mortgage-rate locks for second homes skyrocketed due to record-low mortgage rates, the flexibility to work from anywhere thanks to remote work and a desire by many to get out of cramped city apartments.

Vacation-home demand peaked in March 2021, when it was about 90% above pre-pandemic levels.

Interest in vacation homes started declining sharply in February of this year as mortgage rates began their ascent. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate reached 5.81% in the week ending June 23.

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