Saturday, February 19, 2005

Will Eager Shoppers Become 2d Home Buyers?

"Nearly 82 percent of respondents plan to buy a second home." There's a headline that grabs the attention of anyone in the vacation real estate business.

It's from a survey by the San Francisco-based, an online marketplace. And it bears careful scrutiny.

For one thing, says the audience it polled via e-mail consisted of 4,665 visitors to its Web site -- in other words, these were people who had already demonstrated their interest in second homes.

Of those 4,665, there were 363 responses -- a 7.8 percent response rate. It's reasonable to assume that people who took the time to respond were even keener on the subject.

David Hehman, the company president acknowledged that the poll is skewed in favor of the most eager potential buyers. "You have to be careful, but you can see we're capturing a part of the bigger trend," Hehman told MarketWatch. "It's a proxy for what's happening in the larger market."

Among the respondents, 41 percent say they will "definitely buy within the next 2 years, while only 24 percent had that conviction" in's 2003 survey.

The skeptic in me says that desire for a second home does not necessarily translate into a purchase. I hope follows up to see of these 363 respondents do eventually buy.

Also, it seems as though a significant number of potential buyers are more interested in making money than in changing their lifestyle. The survey says 29 percent plan to buy a second home for investment.

And 26 percent would buy for "retirement purposes", with only 18 percent seeking a pure "vacation home." That contrasts with the 2003 survey, in which respondents "were equally split between these three categories." notes that this shift "is also reflected in the attributes people want in their second home destination," -- recreation, warm climate and a strong rental market" topped the list.

On Monday, I'll discuss two other key findings in this interesting survey.


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