But don't let the statistical averages blur your market vision, says Sowers. "If you go back to the '60s and '70s, families had to decide if they wanted to purchase a second car," he says. "Today, that's happening with real estate. It's not just the super wealthy. We're selling to a much wider demographic than most people would think. And it's not just Boomers," he says, pointing to a long lineup that includes a hefty chunk of 30-something Gen-Xers.
There are two big reasons why people snap up a second home: pleasure and business. More often than not, say the experts, it's a mix of both.
"Most people buy for recreation, but they want it to make sense from an investment standpoint," says David Hehman, president of EscapeHomes.com and a partner in the NAR second-home survey.
The fun part is fairly easy to qualify. People want to have someplace to go to unwind. That could mean a place near a golf course or a ski slope, up in the mountains, or on a beach or lakefront property. People are often inspired to buy their second home in those places where they enjoyed a vacation; that weekend trip to Utah or the week along the Maine shore has inspired scores of people to put down a second stake. Las Vegas, the vacation capital of America, is a big second-address destination, as much for its sunny links as The Strip.
The investment angle on buying a second home, though, takes some studying. And there are some bottom-line results playing in the second-home market's favor.