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Sales of Vacation Homes Rise

Real estate: Californians seek second houses in such areas as Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe. Latest results mark turnaround from first half of 2001.


Sales of California vacation homes surged during the first half of 2002 as consumers--especially baby boomers--jumped back into the rapidly appreciating leisure property market.

Sales of second homes climbed 18% from the same period a year earlier to a total of 6,925, according to a report released Tuesday by DataQuick Information Systems Inc., a LaJolla firm that tracks real estate trends.

Prices for vacation homes, ranging from million-dollar estates to modest cottages, rose nearly 20% to a median price of $171,000, DataQuick said.

The latest results marked a turnaround from the first half of last year, when sales had dropped more than 17% from 2000. That decline broke a string of robust sales years, as rising incomes, an aging population and favorable tax laws fueled consumer demand for multiple residences.

From January through June, sales in such well-known resort areas as Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe and Big Bear rose by double-digit rates from a year earlier. Still, the increases remain below totals posted in 1999 and 2000.

The DataQuick analyst who completed the report, John Karevoll, attributed the increase to several factors. A growing number of people are looking for the convenience of a vacation residence that can be easily reached from their primary homes.

Consumers see such homes as a secure investment, in contrast to the shaky stock market, he said. And sliding mortgage rates have made purchases less costly for borrowers.

Other analysts are also bullish on second homes as baby boomers--those born between 1946 and 1964--enter their prime earning years and their homeownership rates rise. Irvine consultant John Burns completed a study earlier this year that found grayer buyers will boost growth of upscale and vacation homes in Southern California.

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