The market for a place at the lake is hopping.
Sales of vacation homes jumped nearly 30% in 2013, the National Assn. of Realtors reported Wednesday, and second-home purchases made up their biggest share of the housing market since 2006.
"Growth in the equity markets has greatly benefited high net-worth households, thereby providing the wherewithal and confidence to purchase recreational property," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, though he noted that vacation home sales remain one-third below their peak in 2006.
There were an estimated 717,000 vacation homes purchased last year, according to NAR, up from 553,000 in 2012. The median price of these homes was $168,700, up 12.5% from the year prior. They were most likely to be located in the South -- home to 41% of vacation homes -- followed by the West at 28%, 18% in the Northeast and 14% in the Midwest.
And NAR found signs that more people are treating vacation homes at least in part as an investment. The median buyer surveyed plans to own the house for six years, down from 10 years in the 2012 survey, and 5% of vacation home buyers have already sold their newly bought house, with 9% planning to sell it this year.
NAR also found that investor purchases of homes fell 8.5%, in large part due to higher prices in much of the country. That figure does not include institutional investor purchases, which have also fallen sharply.