Top second home markets in every state: Hidden gems and hot spots

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Pacaso Crew

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More people are buying second homes than ever before. Although the pandemic-induced buying frenzy slowed in 2021, second homes purchases remain historically high. In popular vacation destinations across the country, demand continues to rise, as do prices, with nearly all top markets seeing double-digit price appreciation in summer 2021. States like Florida and California are perennial second home destinations with multiple vacation markets, but where are the hot spots in other regions? To find out, we broke down the data to determine the top second home market in every state, from Alabama to Wyoming (and everywhere in between).  To determine the top markets, Pacaso analyzed second home mortgage rate lock data, an indicator of second home buying activity. The analysis reveals which county in each U.S. state had the highest percentage of second home mortgage rate locks from January through October 2021. “We know that the pandemic fueled a major surge in second home buying demand, and that national demand peaked in the spring of 2021,” said Pacaso CEO and Co-founder Austin Allison. “But what’s been less obvious is how and where that demand has impacted local markets across the U.S., especially outside of well-known second home destinations.”

Rural southeast counties had highest rates of growth

In addition to revealing the top second home market in every state, the analysis also highlights the percentage of growth each market has seen over the past year. Perhaps surprisingly, the 10 markets with the biggest increases in second home rate locks are largely regional, lesser-known destinations, and the top 5 are located in the southeastern U.S. 
  • Franklin County, Florida, topped the list, with an 11.5% annual increase in its share of second home mortgage rate locks. Known as the “Forgotten Coast,” this area is nestled in the panhandle of Florida, and is home to a stretch of beautiful, pristine Gulf Coast beaches.  
  • Sevier County, Tennessee, ranked second with a 9.7% increase in rate locks. Sevier County is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the country. 
  • Coming in third at 9.3%, Trigg County, Kentucky, also saw significant increases in its share of second homes. The county is known for its expansive Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which is situated on a peninsula between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, and features more than 170,000 acres of breathtaking nature. 

Top 10 markets with biggest increases in share of second home rate locks in 2021

1. Florida: Franklin County
  • 11.5% increase
  • $877K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Apalachicola, Alligator Point, St. George Island
2. Tennessee: Sevier County
  • 9.7% increase
  • $574K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood
3. Kentucky: Trigg County
  • 9.3% increase
  • $409K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Cadiz, Land Between the Lakes Recreational Area
4. Mississippi: Oktibbeha County
  • 8.2% increase
  • $188K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Starkville, Tombigbee National Forest, Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
5. West Virginia: Hardy County
  • 7.4% increase
  • $281K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Moorefield, Potomac River, George Washington National Forest
6. Washington: Pacific County
  • 4.9% increase
  • $385K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Long Beach, Columbia River, Willapa Bay
7. Maryland: Garrett County
  • 3.9% increase
  • $587K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Mountain Lake Park, Deep Creek Lake, Allegheny Mountains
8. Nebraska: Saunders County
  • 3.7% increase
  • $572K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Ashland, Wahoo, Platte River
9. Vermont: Windham County
  • 3.5% increase
  • $503K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Brattleboro, Stratton Mountain, Mount Snow
10. Colorado: Grand County
  • 3.4% increase
  • $750K avg. second home price
  • Cities and points of interest: Winter Park, Hot Sulphur Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park
See the full report.

High-priced markets more likely to see declines in rate locks

Some markets, despite their popularity, experienced significant declines in their share of second home sales. Dukes County, which includes Martha’s Vineyard and 10 other islands off the southeast coast of Massachusetts, is the top second home market in that state. Still, it saw the biggest year-over-year decline in second home share among all top 50 markets that made the list, down 19.4% from last year. With an average second home price of $1.6 million, Dukes County is also one of the most expensive markets. Price increases and limited inventory may have contributed to the annual decrease, as well as the emergence of other, more affordable markets with more inventory. Teton County, Wyoming — home to the popular Jackson Hole ski resort — has the highest average second home sale price of all the markets on the list: $3.4 million. It also saw a moderate dip in the share of second home mortgage rate locks, down 7.9% from last year. 

Find your second home with Pacaso

With prices and demand for second homes continuing to rise in many areas, co-ownership offers a more accessible, simpler option for would-be buyers. Pacaso has co-ownership listings in destinations across the U.S. and in Spain, and is rapidly expanding to new markets. Browse available second homes.

Methodology

Pacaso identified the top second home market per state by selecting the county with the highest total percentage of second home mortgage rate locks between January 1 and October 13, 2021, in each state. Counties without at least 50 second home transactions in the period were excluded from the analysis. Mortgage rate lock data is an indicator of second home buying activity. When applying for a mortgage rate lock, a home buyer must specify whether they are securing a mortgage rate for a primary home, secondary home or an investment property. Approximately 80% of mortgage rate locks result in home purchases. Mortgage rate lock data was provided by real estate analytics firm Optimal Blue and includes a sizable share of the market that is taken to be representative of the whole. Second home mortgage rate lock transactions and average second home purchase price data were sourced at the county level. 

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