Most popular destinations for vacation homes

USA TODAY - With the worst of the economic crisis behind us, many Americans are re-entering the market for vacation homes. A new snapshot of the second-home market provides rankings of the most popular areas for online searches for vacation homes for sale or rent on the real estate website Trulia. The site also provides some guidelines for what you can expect to pay.

Bargain hunters will find the best deals in Gatlinburg, Tenn., near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the resort town of Pigeon Forge, where the median home on the market lists for $179,600. Other relative bargains are in East Coast beach towns, including Myrtle Beach, S.C. ($219,000), and Ocean City, Md. ($275,000).

If you're seeking a second home in Nantucket, the vacation island off the coast of Massachusetts, better bring a dinghy full of cash. The median home price is a whopping $1.79M, more even than tony East Hampton, N.Y. (1.25M). Of the top 20 markets, Harvey Cedars on the Jersey Shore is the third most expensive at $887,500.

A look at the top 20 list below reveals predictable places, including the Jersey Shore, Lake Tahoe, Kissimmee, Fla. (near Disney World) and South Padre Island, Texas.

America's top 20 vacation-home ZIP codes

08226 - Ocean City - Cape May, N.J. - $525,000
08260-North Wildwood-Cape May, N.J.-$289,000
34747-Kissimmee-Osceola, Fla.-$298,800
21842-Ocean City-Worcester, Md.-$275,000
34145-Marco Island-Collier, Fla.-$499,000
92315-Big Bear Lake-San Bernardino, Calif.-$335,000
92352-Lake Arrowhead-San Bernardino, Calif.-$399,000
32413-Panama City Beach-Bay, Fla.-$294,245
37738-Gatlinburg-Sevier, Tenn.-$179,600
29582-Cherry Grove Beach-Horry, S.C.-$219,900
32459-Santa Rosa Beach-Walton, Fla. $525,000
08008-Harvey Cedars-Ocean, N.J.-$887,500
36542-Fort Morgan-Baldwin, Ala.-$255,000
96150-South Lake Tahoe-El Dorado, Calif.-$365,000
96161-Truckee-Nevada, Calif.-$499,000
11937-East Hampton-Suffolk, N.Y.-$1,250,000
92264-Palm Springs-Riverside, Calif.-$309,000
78597-South Padre Island-Cameron, Texas-$289,000
32541-Destin-Okaloosa, Fla.-$475,000
02554-Nantucket-Nantucket, Mass.-$1,799,999

Other interesting tidbits from Trulia's data:

More than 26 percent of searches by New Yorkers are for homes in the Hamptons or Montauk.

Half of all searches by Bostonians are for in-state properties.

Resort areas in Wisconsin and Michigan draw stronger interest from Chicago residents than those in Illinois.

You'll find an interesting interactive map on Trulia's site, detailing the top second home markets for several large U.S. cities.


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