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 Massachusetts’ Vacation Counties Welcome the Masses
May 17, 2021

Massachusetts’ Vacation Counties Welcome the Masses

by The CE Shop Team

Massachusetts’ Coastal Communities Are Popping

COVID-19 has made an impact in American homes that most didn’t anticipate, creating a mass interest in vacation homes. This surge in households interested in a vacation home retreat has real estate in coastal Massachusetts counties flying off the shelves. Massachusetts’ real estate market had record-breaking numbers up and down the coast, with home sales hitting a 16-year high during the pandemic. Real estate experts in the Bay State were not expecting this surge after a sharp decline in active listings and sales at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, experts are concerned about the lack of homes available, creating a feeding frenzy on open listings.

Massachusetts’ Vacation Market Demographic

There are a number of reasons people consider buying a vacation home. Most often, people love to visit a certain area, they plan on retiring soon, or they’re hoping to generate rental income. Regardless, the most important factor in any vacation home, true to real estate, is its location. Thanks to, you can see which counties are receiving the highest interest in a visual map of the top 10 Massachusetts cities. What’s noteworthy here is the Massachusetts home prices and which tiers have received the most appreciation and interest. Buyers in Massachusetts are not afraid to pay top dollar for their dream vacation home, and it shows.

To no surprise, the Baby Boomer demographic currently dominates the fields of renters, buyers, and sellers of vacation properties. With work flexibility becoming a new norm, millennials and younger generations are starting to explore renting and buying more vacation homes while working remotely. There’s a growing trend of millennials purchasing luxury real estate, which is the opposite of what experts projected for the millennial homebuyer market.

The Bay State’s Vacation Market Boom


Massachusetts’ coastal counties are some of the most sought-after vacation home markets in the U.S. Some counties, like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, have the largest percentage of vacation homes in the U.S., each with 56% of their properties being identified as second homes. Last year, the National Association of REALTORS® released its U.S. Vacation Home Counties Report, which highlights counties in the U.S. that have 20% or more of their properties identified as seasonal and occasional-use homes. These counties are identified as vacation counties, and the report’s results might surprise you. Counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Michigan have the highest percentage of vacation homes. These counties are also some of the most popular vacation home destinations.

  • Martha’s Vineyard’s real estate market exploded in 2020 with the number of transactions increasing 34% for the year, the most ever recorded. The average sales prices rose 9%, which became another record-breaking high.
  • Nantucket’s real estate market similarly surged throughout 2020. The number of transactions increased 125%, year over year, and the average sales price increased 15%.

While these markets have long been popular among vacationers, the pandemic has pushed American homeowners to leave their crowded cityscapes and venture out for more space. With remote work becoming the new norm, changes in home functionality needs left many households re-assessing their family’s needs.

“As millions of office workers transitioned to working from home during the pandemic, many of them reconsidered where they might like to live now that the commute no longer mattered,” said Jeff Tucker, a chief economist for Zillow.

“Vacation towns beckoned to many buyers, offering natural amenities like proximity to the ocean and mountains, along with robust retail and restaurant industries to serve traditional seasonal visitors. Owning a second home in a traditional vacation area provides a lot of long-term flexibility.”

How Agents Can Capitalize on Massachusetts’ Vacation Market

Whether you’re interested in branching out into a new niche market or buying a vacation home for yourself, there are important decisions you should make before moving forward. Vacations require planning and logistics, and so will buying or selling a vacation home.

If you’re interested in getting into the vacation home market, consider pursuing NAR’s Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist Certification. It’s also important to know which locations are popular for investors right now so you can hone your marketing collateral and strategy appropriately:

  • 34% purchased properties in a suburb or subdivision
  • 33% purchased properties in a beach area
  • 24% purchased properties in a small town
  • 21% purchased properties on a lake
  • 19% purchased properties in an urban area
  • 15% purchased properties in a rural area

Selling a second home that may double as an investment requires a different skill set than selling a typical family home — primarily an in-depth knowledge of the tax implications that second homes carry. Additionally, clients looking to purchase a vacation home are more focused on the resale value, rental income, and taxes owed than they are on school zones and luxury kitchens. So, do your research, explore your local vacation market, and you’re shore to make a splash!

Take On 2021 With the Best Massachusetts Real Estate Courses From The CE Shop

Enroll in our Pre-Licensing program now to get your career started and begin connecting your fellow residents with the home of their dreams. Or keep going strong with one of our comprehensive, 100% online Continuing Education packages. Want to stay up to date on everything in Massachusetts? Join the New England Real Estate Facebook Group!