A new report from short-term rental management giant Vacasa shows that more than a third of vacation home buyers would considering picking up a property sight unseen, and that many consumers are looking to nab their first-ever vacation rental.

The report specifically notes that in 2021, 37 percent of vacation rental home consumers were willing to consider buying without seeing a property in person first. That’s up from 25 percent in 2020, and Vacasa speculates in the report that the change is “likely due to travel restrictions and limited inventory.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic might have changed buyer motivations for the foreseeable future, pushing more people on the fence into actually making their first investment,” the report adds.

Credit: Vacasa

Overall, millennials were the most willing to consider buying sight unseen, with 51 percent indicating they’d be on board. Among generation X, 38 percent said they’d buy sight unseen.

The report goes on to say that 58 percent of homeowners today want a vacation rental, while 42 percent want an investment property. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of potential buyers are middle class; the report shows that 31 percent make between $50,000 and $99,000 per year, while another 35 percent make between $100,000 and $149,999.

Perhaps even more notable is the report’s finding that many buyers are younger and newer to the investment game than the stereotypical image of a second-home buyer might suggest. For instance, the report points out that this year “nearly 70 percent of buyers will make their first dive into investing in rental properties, a significant jump over 46 percent who were first-time buyers in 2019.”

Moreover, 73 percent of vacation rental buyers are either millennials or members of generation X. By contrast, baby boomers make up just 22 percent of vacation rental buyers.

A graphic from Vacasa’s report shows the generational breakdown of vacation rental consumers. Credit: Vacasa

The report also highlights generational breakdowns in what people are looking for. For example, among millennials, 52 percent were interested in properties located in cities. On the other hand 55 percent of baby boomers were interested in beach locations.

Majorities of all generations also indicated a preference for standalone houses, as opposed to apartments, condos and townhomes.

Vacasa — which manages both individual rentals as well as entire vacation-oriented communities on behalf of owners — based the report on a March survey of 700 consumers who had indicated a desire to buy a property beyond their primary residence.

The report ultimately concludes that “opportunity is everywhere,” and notes that consumers “need real estate partners who can provide both local and industry analysis, as well as the financial know-how to factor in variables like cap rate and return on investment.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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