The top vacation spots for home searches range from expensive Nantucket to affordable Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. People look for vacation homes nearby, rather than across the country.
Every year, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer vacation season. As people across the country start planning their summertime escapes, we analyzed search traffic on Trulia to discover the most popular areas for vacation homes. (See note at end about methodology.) We found that median prices in the most popular vacation spots in America span a huge range, from just under $180,000 in Gatlinburg, TN, to ten times that much in Nantucket. We also found that people tend to look at vacation areas close to home rather than across the country.
America’s Top Vacation-Home Spots
The two most-searched vacation ZIP codes in America are both in Cape May, NJ: Ocean City and North Wildwood. The top vacation areas also include Kissimmee, Marco Island, and Panama City Beach, all in Florida. In California, the most popular locations for a vacation home are Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead near Los Angeles, and in the north, Truckee and South Lake Tahoe.
America’s Top 20 Vacation-Home ZIP Codes
|#||ZIP code||Neighborhood||County||Median price|
|1||Ocean City||Cape May, NJ||
|2||North Wildwood||Cape May, NJ||
|4||Ocean City||Worcester, MD||
|5||Marco Island||Collier, FL||
|6||Big Bear Lake||San Bernardino, CA||
|7||Lake Arrowhead||San Bernardino, CA||
|8||Panama City Beach||Bay, FL||
|10||Cherry Grove Beach||Horry, SC||
|11||Santa Rosa Beach||Walton, FL||
|12||Harvey Cedars||Ocean, NJ||
|13||Fort Morgan||Baldwin, AL||
|14||South Lake Tahoe||El Dorado, CA||
|16||East Hampton||Suffolk, NY||
|17||Palm Springs||Riverside, CA||
|18||South Padre Island||Cameron, TX||
Among the top 20 vacation ZIP codes, the most expensive are Nantucket and East Hampton, where the median asking price is well over a million. The least expensive are in the South: Gatlinburg, TN, at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Cherry Grove Beach, near Myrtle Beach, SC.0 comments
Consumers look for homes most in March and April. However, peak-search season happens now in Hawaii and Florida, but is six months away in Montana and Oregon.
As winter’s end approaches, the housing market wakes up. All key measures of housing activity–searches, prices, starts, sales, and inventories–typically hit their annual lows in December or January. But at the start of each year, would-be buyers come out of hibernation first: search behavior starts to pick up in January, reaching its peak in March and remaining strong through August. Sales and inventories then peak later in the year. But local housing markets have their own rhythms. To see when each state’s housing market heats up, we looked at six years of search history on Trulia – January 2007 to December 2012 – for properties in every state. (This is based on the state where the property is located, which is not necessarily where the person searching is located.) Of course, Trulia’s site traffic has grown dramatically over these years, so we used a seasonal adjustment model to strip out the upward trend and uncover the regular seasonal rhythms of search behavior across the country.
Nationally, the peak months of search activity are March and April. After a slight dip in May, there’s a second peak in the summer months of June and July. As the year ends, search activity drops off. December is the slowest month, followed by November. At the state level, though, the peak month for search activity ranges from as early as January to as late as August. This month, January, is Hawaii’s peak month for search activity. Next month, February, is the top month for search traffic in Florida. In these warm states, winter weather is good for home searches and going to open houses. Across much of the country, though, home search activity peaks in the springtime, including in the Midwest, the Plains, and much of the West and Northeast. The summertime – June through August – is the peak for most of the South and a few states in the Northwest and northern New England. No state enjoys peak season in September, October, November, or December.
Even though the earliest two states to peak each year–Florida and Hawaii–are warm, southerly states, and the last two states — Montana and Oregon – are northernly, home searches generally peak later in the South than in the Northeast, Midwest, and Plains. Why do Minnesotans search most in March and April, rather than in the warmer summer? And why do Mississippians look most in June and July, rather than in the milder spring? To avoid the rain: in most of the Northeast, Midwest, and Plains, it rains less in the spring than in the height of summer, but in many Southern states, it rains less in the summer than in the spring. The punchline: warm weather is good for search traffic, but dry weather helps, too.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening right now. The interactive map shows, for each state, whether search activity is above or below the annual average for that state. (That means every state is above its own annual average in some months and below in other months.) In January, search activity in most states is already out of the winter slump and is above the annual average. In Florida and Hawaii, January search traffic is more than 10% above each state’s annual average. January search traffic is below the annual average only in four New England states – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island – plus North Dakota and the District of Columbia.
Click on the February button at the top of the interactive map, and you’ll see that Florida, Arizona, and Wisconsin are more than 10% above their annual average. In every month from March through July, all (or all but one) states are above their annual average in search traffic. By October, every state is at least a little below its annual average of search activity, and in December every state is 10% or more below its annual average.
It’s clear that housing swings with the seasons in every state. But where are the swings biggest? Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and Ohio have the largest changes in search traffic throughout the year. In contrast, search traffic fluctuates least over the year in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Hawaii, and Idaho. So whether you’re looking to buy or sell, get in sync with the rhythms of your local housing market. Home sellers looking for the most buyers should list when search traffic peaks. Home buyers, however, should think about searching off-season – they might find less competition.0 comments
Marketing psychology, tradition, and superstition can sneak into home prices. Here are the secrets to setting a “lucky” asking price for your home.
What tricks do sellers and their agents use when setting the price of a home? To find out, we looked at the asking prices of homes for sale on Trulia since October 2011, excluding foreclosures, to see whether certain numbers show up in home prices more than others. We found that some numbers are a lot more popular than others, and different lucky numbers turn up in home prices in different regions of country.
Of course, lucky numbers aren’t the only factor sellers and their agents use in setting asking prices. A seller who loves the number 54 isn’t going to price a home at $540,000 if it’s really worth $200,000. But they might work “54” somewhere into the price without straying too much from the home’s expected value, such as pricing at $200,540.
To find patterns, we looked for numbers that appeared anywhere in the asking price, and we paid special attention to the “last non-zero digit” in the price. For instance, in the above example, the last non-zero digit of $200,540 is 4, and the last non-zero digit is 9 in $149,999, $259,900, and $11,900,000. Nearly all home prices – 96% – end in 0, and the vast majority – 91% – end in 00. The last non-zero digit is the number that “costs” the least to set based on marketing psychology, tradition, or superstition because it won’t change the value of the home as much as digits further up in the price. It turns out that 9 is, by far, the most popular last non-zero digit in asking prices, so let’s start there.
The Power of 9
The number 9 shows up in a lot of everyday prices. A Ronco knife set costs $39.99, the featured product on Trader Joe’s website last week was roasted & mashed sweet potatoes for $2.49, and my 16-gig iPad mini is $329. Why do prices of goods so often end in 9? One theory is that people rarely have exact change when a price ends in 9, and in a traditional retail store the cashier needs to open the register to make change, and therefore can’t cheat the storeowner by pocketing the cash and not recording the sale. Of course, that’s irrelevant in a world of credit cards, debit cards, and online shopping, so another reason prices end in 9 is perception: those Ronco knives sound like a much better deal at $39.99 than at $40 because the price is in the $30 range, rather than in the $40 range.
Do home prices use the same psychology? Absolutely. Even though the vast majority of home prices end in 0, the most common last non-zero digit is 9: more than half – 53% – of home prices have 9 as their last non-zero digit. The next most common is 5, which is a nice halfway point between round numbers. No other digit comes close to 9 and 5.0 comments
Believe it or not, a home’s address suffix can mean a 36% difference in its asking price.
Ever wonder if the homes on “avenues” are typically more expensive than the homes on “streets”? We have. Using our very own database of homes for sale on Trulia, we analyzed the median price per square foot for different types of address suffixes. In this analysis, we limited the results to only address suffixes that currently have at least 10,000 homes for sale (which comprise 97% of the sample). Here’s what we found:
As it turns out, homes on “boulevard” ($117) are the most expensive while the cheapest are those on “street” ($86) – that’s a 36% price difference! Although saying you live on “Whatchamacallit Road” may not sound that fancy, at $109 per square foot, homes located there are actually the third most expensive of any suffix type. In fact, the median home on a “road” is respectively 8% and 9% more expensive than those located on seemingly more upscale-sounding “court” and “circle.”0 comments
You can get a lot of house for practically pennies OR very little house for way too much money depending on where you’re looking.
Sure seems like everyone is looking for a deal these days, especially when it comes to buying a home. But the truth of the matter is that where a local market ranks on the value scale depends a LOT on its location.
Why is that? Well, consider this real estate fact of life — a “bargain bin” home in New York City’s got nothing on the dirt cheap real estate in Detroit. But, what happens when we look at the price of a home on a per square foot basis? It levels the playing field and allows us to see how much of a bargain homebuyers can really get in different cities. And those numbers are definitely surprising.
To help shine a little spotlight on this very important data point that every homebuyer and seller needs to consider, we charted out the median square footage for the 100 largest U.S. cities, and then sorted everything by the price per square foot. Check it out.0 comments