With the ups and downs of the real estate market, it can be difficult to gauge where exactly most luxury vacation home owners are setting up shop. There are always the usual suspects in Malibu and Miami but with traffic, weather, smog, earthquakes, crime and other factors continually a threat, we are finding that more and more newcomers are making the top ten list of luxury vacation home cities in America, proving that most home owners are seeking out the areas most prone to serenity and privacy with minimal distractions and areas where you get the most for your money and at their price range who could blame them.
1. Sea Island, GA
Launched amid much fanfare in 1928, the Cloister Hotel on this coastal island survived the Great Depression and then spawned a vibrant resort community. The Great Recession, however, proved to be too much. After loading up on debt for an ambitious expansion, Sea Island Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection last summer and was rescued by a group of big investors, including Oaktree Capital, Starwood Capital, Avenue Capital and billionaire Philip Anschutz.
Sea Island is now ready to reclaim its old splendor and then some. It’s as beautiful as ever, surrounded by tranquil salt marshes and sweeping views of the ocean. The architecture includes some of Addison Mizner’s finest Mediterranean-style designs. As a homeowner, you gain access to the resort’s 65,000-square-foot spa, two championship golf courses, several fine yachts, acclaimed shooting school and five miles of private beaches.
Cottage 57 East Agramont Road Sea Island, Ga. $10.7 milion Sea Island
You wouldn’t know any of that from the prices. They plunged by a third last year, even as the broader luxe housing market rebounded. But sales volume has picked up lately and prices are apt to follow.
Located midway between Jacksonville and Savannah, Sea Island already is something of a power alley. Residents include Don Keough, former president of Coca-Cola; software billionaire Tom Siebel and former Senator Sam Nunn. Former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson owns most of nearby Little St. Simons Island.
Median Home Price: $2.3 million
2. Maui, Hawaii
The price of paradise is about to go up. After two down years, sales are gaining strength in the serene and lovely towns of Wailea and Makena. Sales volumes in these adjacent locales rose 35% last year, and total dollar volume vaulted 135%. While the median home price is $1.7 million, the asking prices for the several oceanfront homes listed for sale in Wailea and Makena range from $5.7 million to $22 million. In all, there are 53 homes on the market. One of the best values is Makena Place, a gated community of just 10 homes on five acres at the ocean’s edge. You’ll get outstanding views of the Pacific Getting to truly sandy beaches requires a five-minute walk, so remember to pack the flip-flops.
Median Home Price: $1.5 million
3. Hamptons, N.Y.
The famed beaches, fine houses and exclusive restaurants of the Hamptons are all the more enjoyable if you can spring for a helicopter to get there. The flight from Wall Street is just 40 minutes, high above the epic traffic jams.
Plan on spending at least $10 million for a waterfront manse with a pool; small but serviceable inland homes can be had for $1 million. Realty firm Corcoran’s sales data suggest prices are steadying and sales are increasing. Some locals aren’t so sure and, as always, the market depends on Wall Street bonuses. Everyone does agree on this: The value of Hamptons property is unlikely to decrease over time, and it pays enormous dividends every summer.
Median Home Price: $1.5 million
4. Aspen, CO.
If you’ve got $5 million or more, it’s nearly impossible to find a bad place to live in Aspen, where Victoria and David Beckham, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and many other such couples come to relax. Among the most exclusive digs are the 162 homes on Red Mountain, many of them ranch-size estates in a mosaic of uber-private subdevelopments.
With majestic views of Aspen Mountain and close proximity to the slopes, Red Mountain is the ski-town equivalent to beachfront property. For some, price is no object: A 21,477-square-foot home here on a mere 4.5 acres of land sold for $43 million in 2009. That said, the overall Aspen market is more affordable than during its peak in 2008. Don’t expect the deals to last for long: Red Mountain sales volumes doubled last year, and prices rose 14%.
Median Home Price: $9.5 million
5.) Orlando, FL
Quickly making a name for themselves as the quintessential golf and vacation home communities in Central Florida, neighborhoods like Disney’s Golden Oak and the oppulent Isleworth community have helped to keep Orlando at the top of this list.
With average home prices starting at just 1 Million in both communities, you certainly get more for your dollar in Central Florida and with the dramatic reduction in hurricanes over years past, Florida is leading the charts in travel destinations. With prime shopping, golf, and perfect weather for most of the year there is little argument that Orlando is a jet-setter go to destination according to Barrons.com who recently reported an increase in air travel to the Sunshine State. Luxury real estate agent, Melissa A. Scire of Charles Rutenberg Realty assists travelers who come over to the Florida area from destinations worldwide in finding and or building their perfect vacation home. Scire puts home prices in both Isleworth and Disney Golden Oaks communities at the million dollar price point with the median home for luxury lakefront properties averaging at about 1.5 million. The Disney Golden Oak community appeared to be a huge risk for most people watching the newest real estate development open at a time when the market appeared to be taking a hit. Scire sat down with Go Magazine and had this to say: “I’m confident Golden Oak will be a big success,” she says. “If anyone can pull off a miracle in this turbulent market, it is the House of Mouse. Disney rarely goes big without a lot of research and development to back it.” So far it seems she is correct in her intel with Disney selling well into their second and third phases. Fore more information please call or email her for for a private showing or listing appointment. You may also find more information here.
6. Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard entered the popular imagination around 1993 when then-President Clinton and family vacationed at the home of his friend Vernon Jordan. President Obama has twice vacationed on the island since he took office. The vineyard is now a full-fledged international destination. Modest summer homes have been replaced by massive luxury manses, but local officials have wisely decreed that 2% of every real estate sale go to a land bank that buys up and preserves open spaces. You can’t go wrong buying into Chilmark or Edgartown. Chilmark prices:
Median Home Price: $1.34 million
7. Deer Valley, Utah
It couldn’t be easier to fly into this world-class ski haven. Abundant nonstop flights to Salt Lake City, which is less than an hour’s drive away, give the area a clear edge over other Rocky Mountain snow spots. Park City is the main commercial attraction, but the place to go for your hideaway is the gated community of Tuhaye. Built by Canadian-based Talisker, which developed much of Deer Valley and now owns the local Waldorf-Astoria hotel and Canyons ski resort, Tuhaye offers top-notch golf, great dining and the opportunity to custom-build the house of your dreams. Tuhaye prices:
Median Home Price: $1.3 million
8. Lake Tahoe, CA
Just a three- or four-hour drive from San Francisco, Tahoe has long been a favorite alpine retreat for Northern Californians. But it is about as fragmented — both in geography and demography — as any vacation area can get. The best place for a vacation home is Martis Camp in the northern reaches. It’s a five-year-old 2,177-acre master-planned development that has skiing, championship golf, a competition pool, fine dining and a great fishing hole. It will serve you well in summer, and even better in winter — an exclusive chair lift connects the village to the Northstar-at-Lake Tahoe slopes, offering rare ski-in/ski-out convenience. Twenty-five homes have been built, 54 are under construction and there will eventually be 653.
Median Home Price: $1.9 million
9. Kiawah Island, S.C.
This is a captivating barrier island off Charleston’s coast. It has 10 miles of beaches, five world-class golf courses, a spa, tennis and 4,100 homes stitched into the landscaping. Developers of gorgeous areas often succumb to the temptation of selling everything to the highest bidder, and cramming as many houses as possible onto the land, but Kiawah’s developers have protected the beauty of the place, creating a national treasure in the low country of South Carolina. Even when the national economy soured, and other luxury resorts were forced to sell property at discounted prices, Kiawah held firm and did not cut prices on any sites. In a clear sign of bullishness, the developers are now planning on bringing more land to market.
Median Home Price: $1.2 million
10. Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach is part of the Iron Triangle of America’s high society: People live in New York, winter in Palm Beach and summer in the Hamptons. This pedigreed place — the Kennedys and the Vanderbilts had oceanfront homes here for decades — got its groove back in 2010, as residents recovered from the Bernie Madoff scandal and the ravages of the credit crisis.
Real estate — think red tile roofs, stucco the color of sand and beautiful archways — is firmly on the rebound. Recent sales on North Ocean Boulevard, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, include a $22.5 million classic Palm Beach manse with seven bedrooms and more than 10,000 square feet. The house you can see on page 14 was built on spec and is now listed for $84 million. When that one goes, Palm Beach will have fully returned to its glory days. It has become known as the America riviera and people are not deterred by the price. “Many of my clients are snowbirds who travel back and forth from New York to Palm Beach”, says Melissa A. Scire of Charles Rutenberg Realty. ”Next to Orlando, Palm Beach is the bread and butter of Florida’s lavish vacation home playground”, Scire says who services both Orlando and Palm Beach through Rutenberg Realty.
Median Home Price: $2.6 million