The concept of "snowbirding" isn’t a new one. Residents in colder climates buy up vacation homes in warmer ones, using those properties to escape once the winter chill rolls in.
While some Americans are undoubtedly still following this pattern, it seems there’s a new one emerging -- and ski towns are at the heart of it.
According to a new report from Realtor.com, residents in the North and Midwest are actually showing increased interest in nearby ski-town properties: places close to home and in a similar or even colder climate. Views of ski-town homes were up nearly 36% in the fourth quarter of 2020. At one point last year, it was 72%.
What’s the reason behind this bump in activity? And how can you leverage it as an investor? Let’s dig in.
The rise of ski towns
You can likely blame the pandemic for this latest trend. With travel restrictions in place and a general fear of infection, many Americans have been sticking close to home these days, avoiding airplanes and heading to places within driving distance.
This certainly rings true with the latest data, as ski towns in the North and Midwest surge. According to the report, the ski towns that have seen the most interest include:
- Union Dale, Pennsylvania (+225%)
- Choteau, Montana (143%)
- North Creek, New York (+132%)
- Eden, Utah (+122%)
- Windham, New York (+118%)
- Boone, Iowa (+113%)
- Otis, Massachusetts (+113%)
- Lakeside, Montana (+105%)
- Paoli, Indiana (+103%)
- Boyne Falls, Michigan (+100%)
Shoppers are mostly coming from major Northern metros like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Detroit.
"Historically, residents of the Midwest and Northeast have shown a preference for warmer cities and contributed to much of the out-of-state demand in homes in sunny states, such as Florida," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. She went on to elaborate on how ski towns factor in:
"This year, we found that snowbirds’ interest in ski towns increased more than interest from other areas across the country. It’s not surprising. Americans are increasingly searching for getaways that are within driving distance. Skiing is done outdoors and generally at a distance from others, making it a relatively safe sport during the pandemic. Many of these areas offer year-round outdoor activities, making them summer destinations as well."
How to leverage the trend
If you own a property in a ski town, it might be time to think about selling. With home prices rising and buyer demand up, you could turn a hefty profit. Talk to a real estate agent in the area and pull some comparable sales to get an idea of what your home might bring in.
You might also think about hosting a short-rental property in one of these areas. Though Realtor.com’s data was specific to home shoppers, it’s not too far a stretch to think the trend is broader than that. If buyers in New York are interested in vacationing in Union Dale, other travelers in the area probably are, too.
Investing in short-term rentals just outside your own city can be a smart move, too. According to recent data from Airbnb, close-to-home getaways are reigning supreme these days, so think of ways you can offer local travelers some much-needed R&R or socially distanced entertainment.