Today’s luxury real estate buyers are looking for the same things in a vacation home that they prioritize in their main residences: beautiful surroundings, vibrant neighborhoods, and enough room to relax and entertain. When it comes to advising your clients on their next vacation property, having a finger on the pulse of nearby micro markets can set you up as a valuable resource.
As with primary residences, picking the perfect location for a vacation home is key, as inaccessible destinations tend to fall out of favor with their owners. “Some clients become enamored with exotic locations, but I find that in many cases, when they purchase a home that is difficult to get to easily, they end up not using it,” notes Linda Supron, Broker Associate with Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty in Rhode Island. In place of properties that may sit empty, here are five of the best vacation markets for your luxury clients that aren’t too far from home.
The charming, historic center of South Carolina culture, Charleston is a coastal gem whose secluded beaches and islands give it all the benefits today’s luxury buyers are looking for. “We have a number of fabulous beach communities here, including Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, the more rustic Folly Beach, and the gated resort communities of Kiawah and Seabrook,” says Ruthie Ravenel, a Real Estate Professional with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty. “Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms are doing very well right now due to their close proximity to downtown Charleston.”
A variety of new constructions and top-quality renovations are bringing buyers to the region, and South Carolina is well positioned as an alternative to Florida for clients looking to spend their winter months in warmer climates within easy distance of home.
While this increasing interest makes for busier seaside communities, there are still hidden treasures within this market. “I think the best kept secret in our region is Prince George, just south of Pawleys Island,” says Ravenel. “It’s a high-end gated community with nice amenities and a very quiet and private feel. Historically part of a plantation, much of the community is protected green space and there is a beautiful private beach with lovely oceanfront homes.”
South Carolina’s near neighbor, Georgia keeps a lower profile than some other popular vacation markets, but that just adds to the appeal of its age-old seaport-turned-cultural-capital, Savannah.
“I’ve had many clients trying to decide between Savannah and Charleston, or Hilton Head and Palm Beach, but the draw for our area is that we still very much have affordable luxury,” says Rachel Umbreit, REALTOR? and ABR? with Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty. “The lifestyle and amenity options are often just as appealing, with greater privacy and a better value. I encourage anyone considering a vacation home in a larger market to look nearby at the smaller markets with similar offerings.”
In Savannah, there are two areas people turn to most often for vacation properties. “We have a stunning downtown historic district that is highly walkable and urban — but still with that slow, southern pace — and full of beautiful architecture and great restaurants,” says Umbreit. “Then there’s the beach community at Tybee Island, with vintage charm for those who want to relax on the seaside or engage in water-based activities. Quiet beach towns are increasing in popularity.”
3. Napa Valley
The west coast has prime vacation real estate, which is sought after by its high-net-worth buyers in the business, technology, and venture capital sectors. “The luxury buyers in Silicon Valley are looking for vacation homes that are within driving distance or have easy and established airlift options,” says Dulcy Freeman, Sales Associate at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.
As such, Napa Valley’s wine country has become the go-to for those looking to secure covetable and comfortable vacation properties that are in proximity to nature and close to cultural excursions. The Napa Film Festival attracts A-listers and Oscar contenders each November, while events like Auction Napa Valley and BottleRock ensure that visitors’ social calendars remain full. Likewise, Sonoma is also growing in popularity, and is noted for being the original viticulture hub in California.
4. The Rhode Island coast
For buyers looking for a taste of The Hamptons, Nantucket, and the Cape at a more achievable price point, the Rhode Island coast offers much to be admired. Supron is seeing her buyers discover the region as a rewarding alternative to other more competitive markets.
“The Rhode Island coast has been an undiscovered gem, but is rapidly attracting attention because of its spectacular scenery, miles of incredible waterfront, and rolling farmland,” says Supron. “The coast is easy to get to, and with an abundance of breweries, wineries, and arts festivals, there is something for everyone. We are finding that generations of families are coming back to share their vacations together.”
Easy access to a revitalized Providence means that whether visitors are searching for theater or fine dining, all the amenities of a Rhode Island vacation are close at hand.
5. Cabo San Lucas and Hawaii
Located on the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Cabo is a perennial paradise. And for a vacation property that’s still technically part of the United States — albeit 2,500 miles away — Hawaii’s bucolic islands are another popular destination whose appeal is unlikely to depreciate any time soon.
“Infrastructure and weather are paramount to making a great vacation experience and are not always easily or quickly replicated,” says Freeman. “The tried-and-true destinations, like Cabo and Hawaii, will always be relevant.”
It’s true that some of the classic vacation markets have become very built out, leading some to wonder whether these areas are oversaturated. But by Freeman’s estimations, they’re not — and likely never will be.
“I continue to see newer and better residences within these destinations being developed, or in some cases redeveloped, and these improved resorts cater more specifically to what the luxury buyer is desiring: amenities, service, brand, and instant community,” she says. “When I see this, it dawns on me that there absolutely is room for the so-called ‘saturated’ markets to iterate, improve, and stay relevant. Some destinations are precisely tried-and-true because they have great weather, great natural resources to enjoy, and great travel routes already established.”
Clients seeking their next home away from home need not venture into the unknown. Next time your buyer expresses interest in acquiring a vacation property, exceed their expectations by having these insider recommendations at hand.
About Sotheby’s International Realty
Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.
The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.
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