June 17, 2014 // Franchising.com // MADISON, N.J. - On the heels of a long, cold winter, summer is top of mind for Americans, many of whom are looking for a new home away from home. Global real estate franchisor ERA Real Estate has identified four under-the-radar U.S. vacation home markets that deliver the same attractions and amenities as the pricier destinations – but with greater affordability.
Close proximity to both Las Vegas and a number of national parks gives Cedar City its "something-for-everyone" feel. Home to Southern Utah University, the small college town is often referred to as the "Festival City" thanks to a variety of prestigious art, music and theatre festivals, including a renowned Shakespeare Festival. There are a wealth of outdoor options in Cedar City no matter the season, including golf courses nestled among the mountains and ski slopes to enjoy in the winter.
"Options abound in Cedar City – for an average of $160,500 in the first quarter of 2014, prospective homebuyers have their pick of cabins, condos and townhomes," said Heather Roundy, broker with ERA Realty Center. "Our market was somewhat insulated from the volatility in many metros around the country – our inventory is solid, though there is an uptick in building because much of our inventory is older. Outdoor spaces for entertaining are what buyers look for here, along with space. Thanks to the small population of Cedar City we have plenty of space, making this a great option for city dwellers looking for a second home to spread out in during their down time."
Voted Smithsonian’s Best Small Town to Visit in 2014, Chautauqua is situated on a beautiful lake and home to the Chautauqua Institution, a lakefront community with activities to suit any interest – from arts and entertainment, recreational activities and a cultural center that operates a 9-week season during the summer. Location is key for those looking to buy a second home in Chautauqua, thanks to close proximity to a number of major metro markets, including Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Toronto.
Prices run the gamut depending on the home and location to the lake. Single family homes near the lake or with a lakefront view can range anywhere from $150,000 to more than a million dollars – but the majority in the Chautauqua community fall within the range of $200,000-$500,000.
Bill Soffel, broker with ERA Team VP Real Estate, attributes the attraction of Chautauqua to its wide variety of offerings. "While we offer the more traditional vacation amenities like a lake and skiing, it’s the arts and cultural aspect that the Institution offers combined with the beautiful countryside and wineries that round out Chautauqua. There’s no commercial feel here; visitors appreciate that they can golf and fish but also take a pottery class, hit up the local wineries or drive out to Amish country."
A year-round resort town, nearly every home in Virginia Beach provides easy access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia Beach is also a history buff’s dream, just a short drive away from both Jamestown and Williamsburg, two of the earliest towns in the nation. Plus, Virginia Beach’s military roots run deep with three military bases – a number of which are open for tours of ships and planes.
"Similar to most of the country, inventory is tight for the $250,000 to $400,000 range but there are a lot of options for the waterfront residences above the $600,000 threshold," said Betsy Atkinson, broker with Atkinson Realty, Inc.-ERA. "Crystal clean beaches, a seemingly endless boardwalk and some of the nation’s best historical sites in the near vicinity make this a great option for east coasters looking for a second home."
Also a year-round destination for vacationers thanks to an average of 270 days of sunshine, Jacksonville is centered on the banks of the St. John’s River with beaches on the Atlantic Coast. Considered Florida’s largest city, Jacksonville is home to the largest urban park system in the country, with 10 state and national parks ripe with adventure. Younger vacation home buyers will feel at home too in Jacksonville, with the city’s young median age of 35.
"Second home purchases are picking up in Jacksonville," said Jim Linn, broker with ERA Davis & Linn. "Following the housing bubble, prices are lower making it a great time to take the plunge into buying a vacation home. Buyers can expect to pay within the range of $200,000 to $400,000 for an older, oceanfront condo in Jacksonville."
ERA Real Estate is an innovative franchising leader in the residential real estate industry with more than 40 years of experience in developing consumer-oriented products and services. The ERA network includes approximately 31,000 brokers and independent sales associates and approximately 2,300 offices throughout the United States and 33 countries and territories. Each office is independently owned and operated. ERA Real Estate is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE:RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services.
SOURCE ERA Real Estate