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Searching for Homes During the Polar Vortex

When winter strikes, home searches rise. For every ten-degree drop in temperature, searches increase by 2.6% nationally, 4.4% for homes in warm regions, and 5.5% for homes in warm vacation areas.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
January 27, 2014

Brrr. It’s cold outside – still. Winter has been rough for much of the United States, with temperatures plummeting far below normal. Here in San Francisco, where Trulia is headquartered, we’re setting record highs, not lows, but we sympathize with the rest of you. In fact, our economics team hails entirely from the lake-effect snow belt of upstate New York, so we know what it’s like to suffer through the cold and snow.

And while our Trulia team members have up and moved to California, leaving the brutal winters of our childhoods behind, it’s apparent that many of you are also dreaming of warmer locales. We analyzed search traffic on Trulia between December 1, 2013, and January 21, 2014, to see how daily temperature fluctuations affected home-search patterns (see note below). It’s clear as a bone-chilling winter morning: when the cold wind blows, home searches increase – especially for homes in warmer parts of the country.

Searching for Warmth When the Mercury Drops
Nationally, home searches increased by 2.6% overall for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature dropped. Why? In part because cold weather keeps people inside where they do more indoor activities, including searching for real estate online. But cold weather doesn’t simply cause people to do more of everything to an equal degree. When temperatures plummet, searches for homes within the searcher’s own metro rise 2.2%, while searches for homes outside the searcher’s own metro rise 2.9%.

And the colder it gets, the better warm looks. For every 10-degree temperature drop that occurs where a house hunter resides, we see a 4.4% increase in searches for homes in warm regions, which is bigger than the increase in searches overall. While some of this searching might reflect the desire to move to a warmer place and leave winter behind permanently, the increase in searches for homes in sunny vacation spots is even higher: a 5.5% jump for every 10-degree temperature decline. In other words, searches for homes in warm vacation destinations increase more than twice as much as home searches overall. 

National Search Patterns When the Temperature Drops

Searches for homes in:

Increase in searches for each 10-degree drop where the searcher is

U.S. overall

2.6%

Within searcher’s own metro

2.2%

Outside searcher’s own metro

2.9%

Outside searcher’s own metro, warm regions only

4.4%

Outside searcher’s own metro, warm vacation areas only

5.5%

Based on searches by people in the colder regions of the country.

Honey, I’m Freezing. Let’s Move to Miami.
Breaking these search patterns down further, we can see which metro’s homes get the biggest search boost when winter weather strikes. Miami benefits most, with a 7.3% climb in searches for every 10-degree temperature drop in wintry regions, followed by Phoenix and Jacksonville. And among the 10 metros that get the biggest rise in searches when temperatures plunge, only one – Dayton, OH – is outside the South and West.  … continue reading

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Where Americans Look for Vacation Homes Visualization Preview

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Where Americans Look for Vacation Homes

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

08226

Ocean City Cape May, NJ

$525,000

2

08260

North Wildwood Cape May, NJ

$289,000

3

34747

Kissimmee Osceola, FL

$298,800

4

21842

Ocean City Worcester, MD

$275,000

5

34145

Marco Island Collier, FL

$499,000

6

92315

Big Bear Lake San Bernardino, CA

$335,000

7

92352

Lake Arrowhead San Bernardino, CA

$399,000

8

32413

Panama City Beach Bay, FL

$294,245

9

37738

Gatlinburg Sevier, TN

$179,600

10

29582

Cherry Grove Beach Horry, SC

$219,900

11

32459

Santa Rosa Beach Walton, FL

$525,000

12

08008

Harvey Cedars Ocean, NJ

$887,500

13

36542

Fort Morgan Baldwin, AL

$255,000

14

96150

South Lake Tahoe El Dorado, CA

$365,000

15

96161

Truckee Nevada, CA

$499,000

16

11937

East Hampton Suffolk, NY

$1,250,000

17

92264

Palm Springs Riverside, CA

$309,000

18

78597

South Padre Island Cameron, TX

$289,000

19

32541

Destin Okaloosa, FL

$475,000

20

02554

Nantucket Nantucket, MA

$1,799,999

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.

… continue reading

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