Friday, January 2, 2009

Top Ten For A Second Home

The top 10 towns for second-home investments identified popular second-home destinations that appreciated at least 10% a year in value between 1998 and 2002 and which may have further to go.

The results are based on their own listings for real estate in these communities. Listings arent sales, though, and doesnt reflect the whole market. In fact, real estate professionals in some of these towns (Asheville, N.C., for example) say sales were never that hot, while those in others (Park City, Utah, and Sunriver, Ore.) say appreciation has slowed in recent years.

Where possible, Ive included price appreciation figures compiled by the federal Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which oversees housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and which compiles housing sales data for larger metropolitan areas.

With all those caveats aside, here are the Top 10 second-home investment markets:
Asheville, N.C. This mountain town boasts the Biltmore Estate and a thriving arts and crafts community. Home prices are up 35% in the past five years, compared with the national median growth of 27.8%.

Park City, Utah. The Olympics-related frenzy has cooled, but Park City is still a preferred destination for skiers and other winter sports fanatics. Prices this year are up between 5% and 7%, according to real estate broker Mike Sloan, statistician for the areas Board of Realtors.

Ashland, Ore. Lovely weather, lovelier scenery and cultural cachet combine in Ashland. Located about halfway between Portland and San Francisco, the town is also home to Southern Oregon University and the highly regarded Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Ashlands home values have exploded in recent years. Home prices in the region that includes Ashland and nearby Medford have risen at least 40% since 1998, according to federal figures, while a local appraiser puts Ashlands average home price growth closer to 70% in that period.

Port Townsend, Wash. This picture-perfect Victorian seaport lay nearly untouched for most of its long history until being discovered by Seattle yuppies in the 1990s. Its still quaint, but relatively mild weather and proximity to Olympic Peninsula attractions have increased its appeal for retirees and urban refugees.

Beaufort, S.C. You know Beaufort, even if youve never been there. Youve seen it in movies like The Big Chill and Forrest Gump, and youve read about it in the pages of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini by one-time Beaufort resident Pat Conroy. Fishing, shrimping and a National Historic Landmark District are features of The Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands.

South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Though it shared Americas largest alpine lake with the more glamorous Lake Tahoe, Nev., this community was long the dowdy little sister. No more. Two new Marriotts have replaced a strip of decaying old motels along the main drag, and theres talk of a convention center. Median home prices are up 21% from last year, said Madeleine Gutierrez, vice president of the South Lake Tahoe Association of Realtors.

Daytona Beach, Fla. Nineteenth-century industrial barons popularized Daytona, which is probably best known for the international raceway built in 1959 and the Daytona 500 auto race. Eight million visitors pour through annually. Home prices are up 44% in the past five years and nearly 9% in the last year alone.

Sunriver, Ore. This central Oregon resort area is near Bend and the Mt. Bachelor ski resort, about four hours from Portland and two hours east of Eugene. Whitewater rafting, hiking and skiing are favorite pastimes. Prices on some properties are about double what they were eight years ago, realtors say, but appreciation has slowed down in recent years along with the economy.

Myrtle Beach, S.C. The beaches along The Grand Strand -- and the areas 120 golf courses -- draw 14 million visitors annually. Despite the crush, Myrtle Beach consistently winds up in various listings of the nations best beaches and best retirement towns, with home prices rising at an 8% annual clip.

Charlevoix, Mich. This little town lies between the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix in northern Michigan. The population of the town and surrounding area is 8,500 full-time residents -- which climbs to 30,000 in the summer. Golf courses and water fun are the main attractions.

Liz Pulliam Weston's column appears every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money