MADISON, NJ -- (Marketwired) -- 05/30/13 -- The summer season has started and what better time to check out some "under the radar" vacation markets. With the National Association of Realtors reporting that vacation home buyer activity is on the rise, ERA Real Estate presents some places that are off the beaten path but packed with promise and excellent value.
From the Mountains: Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Snuggled at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tenn., is a gateway to all sorts of outdoor adventures such as whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, golfing, ziplining, horseback riding and biking.
This quaint mountain resort town offers a bounty of restaurants, galleries and shops, as well as family attractions including mini-golf, water sports, arcades and amusement parks. Don't miss Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, the most visited aquarium in the country.
"Situated within half a day's drive from half the country's population, Gatlinburg is a year-round vacation destination, offering great return on investment for vacation home buyers," said Larry Reece, broker/owner of ERA In the Smokies Realty and Rentals. "From one-bedroom condos and cabins starting around $80,000 to three-bedroom single family homes priced around $165,000 to expansive luxury estates in the $1 million range, Gatlinburg offers a range of housing options for year-round living, vacation visits or investment vehicles."
Nearby cities with more cosmopolitan offerings include Asheville, N.C., to the east, Nashville, Tenn., to the west and Atlanta, Ga., to the south, all about a two- to three-hour drive from Gatlinburg.
To the Prairies: Yuma, Ariz.
Heralded as the sunniest place on earth, Yuma, Ariz. is equidistant between Phoenix and San Diego. This snow bird destination is also known for its low humidity, a boon in the summer months. Can you say "dry heat?"
Located near the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers on the border of California and near the border of Mexico, this historic riverfront town offers watersports galore, plenty of bird-watching opportunities and ample avenues for even the most discerning history buffs. Over the years, Yuma has earned high marks from golf experts and amateurs alike because the ratio of courses to population keeps the sport so affordable.
"Yuma is a popular market and it is about to heat up even more," said broker Michael Hall of ERA Matt Fischer Realtor. "Homes are affordable with single-family residences selling at an average of $147,000. And Yuma was just identified by Business Insider as one of 14 great housing markets where prices are expected to rise over the next five years."
Cultural offerings run the gamut from Arizona's oldest pool hall and the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park to the Yuma Art Center. And a must see -- the Imperial Sand Dunes which at times during the winter months, attract more than 100,000 visitors.
To the Oceans: Salisbury, Md.
Salisbury, Md., is a unique market located between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and just 30 miles from the lovely beaches at Ocean City, Md., and the National Seashore at Assateaque Island.
The largest town on the Maryland "Eastern Shore," Salisbury won the prestigious "All American City" award in 2010. With close proximity to many rivers and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, hunting and fishing are very popular with both residents and vacationers.
According to Bill Martin, broker/owner of ERA Martin Associates, sales activity in his market is up nearly 23 percent over last year, with an average sales price around $158,000. "A regional airport in Salisbury makes getting here by plane very convenient and a two- to three-hour drive gets you to major cities including Baltimore, Washington D.C., Norfolk, and Philadelphia, making this market attractive to retirees from these densely populated areas."
NAR's 2013 Investment and Vacation Home Buyer Survey reported that 27 percent of current vacation homebuyers plan to convert their vacation home into their primary residence in the future so an investment in a summer home now may be a great move.
White with Foam: Marco Island, Fla.
Marco Island, Fla. offers a Caribbean experience right here in the Unites States. The largest of Florida's Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island is located in southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast, just south of Naples on the edge of the Everglades National Park.
The tropical climate provides the perfect backdrop for a variety of outdoor activities from shelling on the pristine beaches, exploring the Everglades in a swamp buggy, hitting the links for a round of golf, or taking in the abundant wildlife from the vantage point of a kayak or canoe -- dolphins, rays, sea turtles and birds galore!
An abundance of restaurants provide a variety of cuisines from Florida-fresh seafood to an array of international options. Head to Olde Marco, the historic section of the island, for a great shopping excursion.
Housing options are varied, from beachfront condos starting around $779,000 to larger single family residence homes ranging from $358,000 inland to $810,000 waterfront. Or consider a one-bedroom riverfront condo or a houseboat for under $120,000. Vacation properties command weekly rental rates ranging from $550 for a one-bedroom condo to upwards of $3,000 a week for a five- bedroom luxury home.
"Vacationers can enjoy all of Marco Island's natural beauty and outdoor amenities at just about any price point," said Marvin Needles, broker/owner of ERA Flagship Real Estate, which has been serving this vacation buyer community since 1973.
About ERA Real Estate
ERA Real Estate is an innovative franchising leader in the residential real estate industry with 40 years of experience in developing consumer-oriented products and services. The ERA network includes approximately 31,000 brokers and sales associates and approximately 2,300 offices throughout the United States and 34 countries and territories. Each office is independently owned and operated. ERA Real Estate is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services.
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