The "work from home" (WFH) phenomenon that was prompted by the pandemic has now morphed into the "work from anywhere" trend, with buyers and renters seeking out new homes based on lifestyle rather than office proximity.
The ability to live virtually anywhere has created a boom in towns and areas that were previously seen primarily as resort communities. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales in vacation towns were up by 30,000 homes year after year from May to September 2020. Some people are still buying second homes as escapes from city living. Others are choosing communities previously known as vacation spots.
Not only does this offer buyers and renters more flexibility than ever before, but investors, brokers, and realtors are widening their territories and finding opportunities in areas that may have previously been viewed as seasonal or remote.
The Heat Has Moved to the Hamptons
The Hamptons area (one of the vacation spots closest to New York City) is having a record year. Although this area has always been somewhat popular, home prices are now at record prices, and inventory is extremely low. Homes at all price points are moving rapidly, sale prices are up more than 30%, and inventory is down 40%.
But New York is not the only part of the United States seeing this trend. Lake areas, ski resorts and even national parks are realizing an uptick in new residents. Many people have been calling these "Zoom towns" because residents can conduct business remotely via video chat.
Other Booming Resort Markets to Explore
Among the areas that are attracting new year-round residents, according to research from Forbes, are:
- Butte, Montana
- Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts
- Aspen, Colorado
- Lewisburg, Tennesee
- Kingston, New York
How Brokers and Agents Can Respond
Because inventory is so low these days in traditionally popular communities, real estate professionals have an opportunity to introduce buyers, renters and investors to areas that they might not normally consider. Here are a few ways they can make this happen:
- Use automated tools to research these up-and-coming areas and be prepared to share data with prospective buyers and renters. Clients may have more questions about school systems, crime rates and local services than buyers and renters in established areas, so study up on trends in those areas. People are enrolling their children in school in what have previously been weekend-only communities. Real estate agents in these areas should be ready to step up and provide more services to this new group of year-round residents.
- Market the benefits of a resort community lifestyle such as proximity to parklands and recreation features, the ability to have more land around one's home, and the relaxed environment that some of these areas provide.
Opportunities for Flippers
Flippers may have more opportunities than ever to convert summer or winter cottages into homes with year-round appeal. As you estimate your rehab costs, factor in improvements such as weatherproofing and upgrades to appliances. Year-rounders will be looking for different home amenities than people just spending a few days a week in a house.
Is the Resort Living Trend Here to Stay?
According to a survey from Blind, an anonymous professional network, a whopping 64% of workers say they would take a job that allows them to work from home rather than accepting a $30K pay raise. What's more, freelancers are expected to make up 51% of the U.S. working population by 2027. In other words, the remote workforce is only going to keep growing.
Another important last point is to consider that new home buyers who might not afford their dream homes — due to low inventory and high prices — are looking to new communities and selecting regions based on lifestyle and not proximity to work. Smart real estate professionals and investors will keep their eye on the shifting tides of migration trends and look for opportunities near beaches, mountains, woods, and other areas where people can easily work, play, and relax.