The robust housing landscape in Washington exists for more than just primary residences. A number of second-home markets have seen an increase in popularity in the past few years across a wide variety of destinations — from waterfront communities to mountain retreats.
Well take a closer look at three such markets that are showing clear signs of increased demand among Washingtonians seeking a getaway.
The Eastern Shore of Maryland
Maryland’s picturesque Eastern Shore has long been a second-home destination for Mid-Atlantic city dwellers, but its popularity has reached new heights within the past two years.
Homes on the Eastern Shore are selling in half the amount of time that they were when the country was coming out of the recession, with median days on the market dropping from more than 100 in most months of the year from 2007 to 2013. Now, the days on the market is more likely to be under 75, even hitting a record low of 45 in June 2016 and 46 in May.
The number of closed sales per month keeps climbing on the Eastern Shore, with even the winter months of the past two years seeing approximately the same number of sales as the peak spring selling months of just a few years prior. While there’s an active market, the area still provides value.
The median sales price for homes here has stayed steadily between $200,000 and $250,000 for the past nine years. However, with all other indicators showing a return to demand, we expect prices to increase over the next year or two.
Shenandoah County, Va.
For those looking for an escape near the mountains, the Shenandoah region’s real estate market is showing signs of renewed strength. The number of active listings has plummeted, even though the number of new listings coming on the market has stayed roughly the same for the past several years.
This trend suggests that although new listings are coming onto the market, they are selling quickly and therefore don’t remain active for long. Every month for the past two and a half years, the number of active listings has decreased compared with the same month for the year prior and, more notable, the size of the decrease has grown to percentages in the double digits over the past year.
Correspondingly, the number of days on the market has started to tick downward, moving from 100 in the past two years and staying under 80 for the majority of months. Median sales prices have also trended upward over the past year, settling in around $175,000 this past spring.
This is part of the slow but steady climb from the low point during 2010, when prices were closer to $125,000, after reaching peaks of more than $250,000 during the boom years around 2007.
Garrett County, Md.
One location Washingtonians should keep an eye on is Garrett County, Md. Approximately three hours from Washington, this county borders West Virginia and contains Deep Creek Lake — the largest man-made lake in Maryland. Fly-fishing, boating and white-water rafting are common summer activities, and during the winter Wisp Resort attracts skiers and snowboarders to the slopes.
This region has started to show all the signs of a market on the cusp of becoming highly competitive. Prices have made a noticeable rebound by crossing the $300,000 mark (after a few post-recession years when they dipped to $150,000), and the median days the on market has dropped by more than a half, from more than 200 just a few years ago to as low as 54 in July 2016.
The surest sign that this market is getting hot is that homes are just now getting back to the point of selling close to their asking prices. After a few years when sellers were getting only about 80 to 85 percent of their asking price, Garrett County has crossed into the 95 percent category. This shows that buyers are more motivated than ever to own a home in this community.
With median prices well below those of homes in the Washington region, all three of these markets are poised for growth, and properties in these areas could be a wise investment for the right buyer. Local real estate agents can help identify the best neighborhoods and specific properties, and talk more in detail about these recent trends.
They can help you find the right vacation home at the right price, especially when shopping for a home from out of town.
The fact that a number of second-home destinations continue to see a rise in popularity is yet another sign of renewed health for the housing market in and around Washington. Whether it is mountain trails or the water’s edge that appeals to a vacation-home buyer, our region has a tremendous variety for everyone across the price spectrum.
David Charron, chief strategy officer of Rockville-based multiple-listing service Bright MLS, writes an occasional column about the Washington-area real estate market.