The summer season has started and what better time to check out some “under the radar” vacation markets? With the National Association of Realtors reporting that vacation home buyer activity is on the rise, Yuma has made a national list of places that are off the beaten path but packed with promise and value.
Taking a verse from “God Bless America,” ERA Real Estate took a look at four vacation markets: “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.”
And one of the “sweet homes” people are finding is right here in Yuma, the “prairie“ part of the exploration for ideal second homes.
The inclusion of Yuma is “very satisfying” to Ann Walker, spokeswoman for the Yuma Visitors Bureau. While Yuma is generally thought of as a mecca for winter visitors rather than summer vacationers, the community does indeed offer promise and excellent value, she noted.
“It’s a great place for a second home,” she said. “You get a lot of house for your money and it’s the sunniest place on Earth. March, April and May are beautiful and October is getting nice. So eight or nine months out of the year, Yuma is the perfect place to be.”
In talking to people, Walker said, she’s noticed an evolution. The first year people come to Yuma to see someone they know and stay a week or two. The next year, they stay longer. Then they’re here for the whole season and finally they buy a house and make this their home base, leaving to travel in the hottest months.
Walker also has noticed a significant number of people from San Diego who retire to Yuma, where housing prices are lower, there’s less traffic and it’s just a three-hour drive to the coast if they want to visit family and friends.
Here is what ERA Real Estate had to say about Yuma and other featured vacation markets:
From the Mountains: Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Snuggled at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tenn., is a gateway to all sorts of outdoor adventures such as whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, golfing, ziplining, horseback riding and biking.
This quaint mountain resort town offers a bounty of restaurants, galleries and shops, as well as family attractions including mini golf, water sports, arcades and amusement parks. Don’t miss Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the most visited aquarium in the country.
“Situated within half a day’s drive from half the country’s population, Gatlinburg is a year-round vacation destination, offering great return on investment for vacation home buyers,” said Larry Reece, broker/owner of ERA In the Smokies Realty and Rentals.
To the Prairies: Yuma, Ariz.
Heralded as the sunniest place on Earth, Yuma, Ariz., is equal distance between Phoenix and San Diego. This snowbird destination is also known for its low humidity, a boon in the summer months.
Located near the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers on the border of California and near the border of Mexico, this historic riverfront town offers water sports galore, plenty of bird-watching opportunities and ample avenues for even the most discerning history buffs. Over the years, Yuma has earned high marks from golf experts and amateurs alike.
“Yuma is a popular market and it is about to heat up even more,” said Michael Hall, broker of ERA Matt Fischer Realtor. “Homes are affordable with single-family residences selling at an average of $147,000. And Yuma was just identified by Business Insider as one of 14 great housing markets where prices are expected to rise over the next five years.”
Cultural offerings run the gamut from Arizona’s oldest pool hall and the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park to the Yuma Art Center. And a must see: the nearby Imperial Sand Dunes, which at times during the winter months attract more than 100,000 visitors on a weekend.
To the Oceans: Salisbury, Md.
Salisbury, Md., is a unique market located between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and just 30 miles from the lovely beaches at Ocean City, Md., and the National Seashore at Assateaque Island.
Salisbury won the prestigious “All American City” award in 2010. With close proximity to many rivers and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, hunting and fishing are very popular with both residents and vacationers.
According to Bill Martin, broker/owner of ERA Martin Associates, sales activity in his market is up nearly 23 percent over last year, with an average sales price around $158,000.
“A regional airport in Salisbury makes getting here by plane very convenient and a two- to three-hour drive gets you to major cities including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Norfolk, and Philadelphia, making this market attractive to retirees from these densely populated areas.”
White with Foam:Marco Island, Fla.
Marco Island, Fla., offers a Caribbean experience right here in the Unites States. The largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island is located in southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast, just south of Naples on the edge of the Everglades National Park.
The tropical climate provides the perfect backdrop for a variety of outdoor activities from shelling on the pristine beaches, exploring the Everglades in a swamp buggy, hitting the links for a round of golf, or taking in the abundant wildlife from the vantage point of a kayak or canoe — dolphins, rays, sea turtles and birds galore!
An abundance of restaurants provide a variety of cuisines from Florida-fresh seafood to an array of international options. Head to Olde Marco, the historic section of the island, for a great shopping excursion.
“Vacationers can enjoy all of Marco Island’s natural beauty and outdoor amenities at just about any price point,” said Marvin Needles, broker/owner of ERA Flagship Real Estate, which has been serving this vacation buyer community since 1973.