July 20, 2010
While some sectors of the economy struggle to regain solid footing, the vacation home market is enjoying healthy numbers. The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2010 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, covering existing- and new-home transactions in the U.S. in 2009, shows vacation home sales rose 7.9% to 553,000 last year from 513,000 in 2008.
Many U.S. buyers are looking outside the States to countries where they get even more for their money, and as a result, the second home market has witnessed the participation of new destinations around the world. These hotspots are getting the attention of international buyers who like the prices they find as much as the natural and cultural attractions. Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, southern Mexico, Croatia and Turkey are all enjoying growth in the vacation home market, according to Tom Kelly, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of How a Second Home Can Be Your Best Investment: New, Tax-free Methods for Using a Vacation Home for Recreation, Retirement and Investment.
“A number of Second and Third World venues capture our fancy, including Panama,” wrote William P. Barrett in a recent Forbes article. “Panama has the added advantage of being a relatively short plane ride from the U.S.” Another recent article, this one written by associate editor of Kiplinger’s personal finance section, Laura Cohn, also extols Panama’s financial benefits. Cohn says, “With all of its benefits and active expatriate community, Panama is among the most affordable and appealing options.”
Ben Loomis, President of Amble Resorts, is developing a luxury residence community on an island property in Panama, The Resort at Isla Palenque. “Americans are looking for a retreat from their busy lives, and Panama offers not only a laid back tropical lifestyle, but affordable real estate as well,” says Loomis. “In addition to Panama’s real estate prices, the country’s low cost of living, tropical climate and lush natural beauty combine to make it an increasingly popular choice for vacation home buyers.”
In a March 2010 International Living article, InternationalLiving.com conference director Elaine Finnegan said, “Panama has always been a top choice for people from the U.S., Canada and Europe who want to significantly lower their cost of living without giving up the good life.”