Nothing sells second homes like nostalgia

Lure 'echo boomers' with financial, family benefits

Good ideas come at you from weird places. Recently, I was reading the Wall Street Journal and came across a story -- no, not about real estate -- but about a bride who decided to get married at a summer camp called Camp Highlander in the mountains near Mills River, N.C.

As it turns out, the 31-year-old bride had been a camper there for several summers while she was in middle school. In other words, her choice of location for her wedding was mostly driven by nostalgia for a pleasant time in her childhood.

The concept kind of banged around in my head a bit because I had heard a similar story. It was when I cavorting on Mackinac Island, the little, no-cars-allowed summer spot between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The rental specialist there told me, "Quite a few people were here in their childhood and are now bringing their families up. We see this a lot."

I recall him talking about one family where the husband had visited Mackinac Island as a boy with his family, and now that he had young children of his own he was looking to acquire a place so his own family could enjoy the same halcyon summer days of his own youth.

Until the recession, second-home locations had been heavily marketed mainly to baby boomers, which was understandable as the 50-and-over crowd control over half of the discretionary income in the country. Or, to look at it another way, 10,000 to 12,000 Americans are turning 50 every day.

Until the bottom fell out of the real estate market globally, the adventuresome baby boomers had been buying second-home properties hither and yon: in Florida, in Las Vegas, in Costa Rica, in Europe, and even in South Africa.

However, most weren't so courageous and chose locations they knew well -- places they had been visiting since they were children. I don't think most buyers ever came out and verbalized it, but there was a lot of nostalgia involved in their choices.

The same pattern seems to be holding for the echo boom generation, or children of the baby boomers. The woman who got married at her summer camp and the Midwesterners going back to Mackinac Island are relatively young marrieds with children heading into the elementary school years.

They have disposable investment income and are looking for places of familiarity where they can bring their kids and in some cases their parents, who, of course, first took them to places like Mackinac Island when they were children.

Back in 2008, a columnist writing about buying patterns for second homes on the Jersey shore, tapped into this market driver.

In Ocean City, one Realtor told the writer, "Generally, second-home buyers now are people who are familiar with Ocean City and want to have a place here for their families and themselves."

As it turns out, the 31-year-old bride had been a camper there for several summers while she was in middle school. In other words, her choice of location for her wedding was mostly driven by nostalgia for a pleasant time in her childhood.

The concept kind of banged around in my head a bit because I had heard a similar story. It was when I cavorting on Mackinac Island, the little, no-cars-allowed summer spot between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The rental specialist there told me, "Quite a few people were here in their childhood and are now bringing their families up. We see this a lot."

I recall him talking about one family where the husband had visited Mackinac Island as a boy with his family, and now that he had young children of his own he was looking to acquire a place so his own family could enjoy the same halcyon summer days of his own youth.

Until the recession, second-home locations had been heavily marketed mainly to baby boomers, which was understandable as the 50-and-over crowd control over half of the discretionary income in the country. Or, to look at it another way, 10,000 to 12,000 Americans are turning 50 every day.

Until the bottom fell out of the real estate market globally, the adventuresome baby boomers had been buying second-home properties hither and yon: in Florida, in Las Vegas, in Costa Rica, in Europe, and even in South Africa.

However, most weren't so courageous and chose locations they knew well -- places they had been visiting since they were children. I don't think most buyers ever came out and verbalized it, but there was a lot of nostalgia involved in their choices.

The same pattern seems to be holding for the echo boom generation, or children of the baby boomers. The woman who got married at her summer camp and the Midwesterners going back to Mackinac Island are relatively young marrieds with children heading into the elementary school years.

They have disposable investment income and are looking for places of familiarity where they can bring their kids and in some cases their parents, who, of course, first took them to places like Mackinac Island when they were children.

Back in 2008, a columnist writing about buying patterns for second homes on the Jersey shore, tapped into this market driver.

In Ocean City, one Realtor told the writer, "Generally, second-home buyers now are people who are familiar with Ocean City and want to have a place here for their families and themselves."

Article by: Steve Bergsman - www.boston.com