Doug Scott and Linda Blazek of Corvallis, Ore., purchased their second home in Steamboat Springs three years ago. They plan to retire here.
They have owned the townhome since 2002 and have visited numerous times. From their back deck, they can almost see the empty lot they purchased two years ago in the Longview Highland Subdivision, where they plan to build their retirement home.
Experts say baby boomers such as Scott and Blazek are the reason why second home sales hit another record in 2005. Such sales accounted for 40 percent of all residential transactions, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.
"(The baby boomers) are at the optimum point in life when people become interested in second homes," said David Lereah, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors. "They're at the peak of their earnings, interest rates remain historically low and boomers want to diversify investments."
Scott and Blazek work for Hewlett Packard in Corvallis. Since December, they have been telecommuting from their three-bedroom Mountain Vista townhome.
Their financial adviser told them about five years ago to decide where they wanted to retire and to get in the market.
"We bought (the townhome) on that advice," Blazek said.
"If we didn't have the (Longview Highland) lot now, we wouldn't be able to buy that land," Scott said.
They hope to start building within the next year.
They first came to Steam--boat in 1976 and once owned a timeshare here. When it came time to think about retirement, the choice was simple.
"We never go to vacation in Florida," Blazek said. "We always go to Steamboat."
Blazek and Scott planned ahead and purchased their second home with hopes of eventually moving to Steamboat.
"The majority of the buyers I'm working with are exactly that -- purchasing now with plans of moving here permanently in 5 to 10 years," said Dennis O'Connor, broker-owner with Lincoln Avenue Realty and president of the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors.
The NAR survey showed that 27.7 percent of homes purchased nationwide were for investment and 12.2 percent were vacation homes. Second-home sales were up 16 percent from 2004.
More than three-fourths of vacation-home buyers do not intend to rent their property and 21 percent said it would a primary residence once they retired.
O'Connor said 65 percent of his clients are baby boomers looking for a second home. Boomers range in age from 42 to 60.
"The second homes come into play even as their children are in college," O'Connor said.
Many people are looking for a place to spend time with family while making a good investment, O'Connor said.
"Those who don't have a number of holdings are looking to diversify their portfolio and make sure real estate is a key component in that," he said.
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