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Vacation property

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Vacation property

Vacation property is a niche in the real estate market dealing with residences used for holiday vacations (e.g. beach house). In the United Kingdom this type of property is usually termed a holiday home, in Australia, a holiday house/home, or weekender, in New Zealand, a bach or crib. In the United States the most common designation is second home.

A second home or vacation home can be a home owner's asset as renting it could provide additional income. Many vacationers are opting for a single family residence that they can rent on a nightly or weekly basis. In many cases the savings for them are significant compared to hotels or vacation packages. For owners it can be as rewarding as paying the mortgage. As people begin to realize this trend vacation type properties are becoming popular not only for existing homes but also for building one.


United Kingdom

Holiday/second homes in England, 2006
Region Number %
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly  13,458 5.6%
Cumbria 7,906 3.4%
Dorset 10,540 3.2%
Norfolk 11,857 3.1%
Devon 14,813 3.0%
East Sussex 7,583 2.1%
Northumberland 2,805 2.0%
North Yorkshire 7,074 1.9%
West Sussex 6,266 1.8%
Suffolk 5,414 1.8%


Holiday homes and second homes comprise 14% of the housing stock in Snowdonia, Wales, compared to the figure of 1% for the whole of Wales.[1] Only in Gwynedd has the council has put in place measures to control the number of holiday homes. But they only control new developments, by withholding permission where consent is likely to raise the figure in any community above 10%, they do not stop anyone from buying a holiday home.[2]


The number in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was calculated to be 5.6% in 2004 and 2006,[3] this is the region which has the highest number of second homes in England.[4] Within a year alone, between 2004 and 2005, the percentage of holiday/second homes in England increased by 3.3%.[5]


Holiday/second homes
in Scotland, 2006[2]
Region %
Argyll and Bute 11.1%
Eilean Siar 7.2%
Scottish Highlands 6.2%
Orkney Islands 5.3%
Shetland Islands 3.6%
Perth and Kinross 3.1%
North Ayrshire 2.4%
Dumfries and Galloway 2.3%
Scottish borders 2.3%
Moray 2.2%
Aberdeenshire 1.8%
South Ayrshire 1.5%
Stirling 1.4%
East Lothian 1.2%
Angus 1.1%
Fife 0.9%
Edinburgh 0.7%
Aberdeen 0.6%
Clackmannanshire 0.2%
Dundee 0.2%
East Ayrshire 0.2%
Falkirk 0.2%
Glasgow 0.2%
Inverclyde 0.2%
South Lanarkshire 0.2%
West Dunbartonshire 0.2%
East Dunbartonshire 0.1%
East Renfrewshire 0.1%
North Lanarkshire 0.1%
Renfrewshire 0.1%
West Lothian 0.1%

There were 29,299 holiday/summer homes in Scotland on the 2001 Scottish Census, which accounted for 1.3% of Scotland's housing stock. This figure was 19,756 in 1981, but the majority of the increase occurred during the 1990s. The greatest increase was seen in urban areas, contrary to the usual trends, and increased especially in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. But the majority of holiday/second homes are still to be found in rural areas, notably, 47% of these are to be found in the remote rural areas, where one in every eight house is a holiday or second home.[6]


The figure in France is also fairly high: approximately 10% of all the housing stock is a holiday or second home, but the majority of these are owned by French. There are approximately 300,000 homes, or 1% of the total housing stock which are the property of owners from abroad. Of this percentage 28% are owned by British owners, 14% Italian, 10% Belgian, 8% Dutch, 3% Spanish and 3% American.[7]

The United States of America

Holiday/second homes
in north east U.S.A., 2000
State Number %
Maine 103,569 15.89%
Vermont 44,006 14.95%
New Hampshire 57,251 10.47%
Delaware 26,600 7.75%
Massachusetts 97,434 3.72%
New Jersey 115,439 3.49%
New York 250,199 3.26%
Rhode Island 13,624 3.10%
Pennsylvania 154,495 2.94%
Maryland 42,541 1.98%
Connecticut 25,565 1.84%
District of Columbia 2,811 1.02%
West Virginia 38,326 0.54%

In 2000, 3,578,718, or 3.09% of the United States' housing stock, were holiday or second homes, compared with 2.66% in 1990, and 1.87% in 1980. 26% of all these are located in the north-eastern states, with approximately 250,199 (7% of all the second homes in the U.S.) located in New York, and Maine having the largest percentage of its housing stock as second homes.[8]

Costs and effects

Council tax

Second home and holiday home owners used to be able to claim discounts in their council tax in the United Kingdom, as the property is vacant for much of the year. This is no longer true in many counties, including Carmarthenshire; if the property is empty (but furnished) no discount is permitted and the owner will be liable to pay the tax in full.[9] But, In Cornwall, since 2004 second home owners can claim a 10% discount in their counciltax.[3] Prior to 2004, they could claim a 50% discount in Cornwall,[10] they are still able to claim 50% in many other areas in England.[4] The Welsh movement, Cymuned, promote the principle that owners of holiday homes should pay double the standard rate of council tax, as they do not otherwise invest in the local community.[11] Testimony of this is t be seen in a report on the effect of holiday homes in Scotland, which found that those who went on holiday to Scotland spent an average of £57 a day, in comparison to just £32 a day spent by those visiting their holiday or second homes.[2]

Financial and Legal Implications

Furnished holiday lettings offer other tax relief providing certain conditions are met. The current conditions are:

  • It should be available for commercial letting to the public for a total of 140 days in the 12 month period.
  • It must be let for at least 70 days in the 12 month period. (Where more than one qualifying property is held, it is possible to average the number of days all properties are let in total in order to meet this condition.)
  • The total periods of long term occupation may not exceed 155 days during the 12 month period.


Owners of holiday homes will occasionally move to their second homes permanently upon retirement, this can be a threat to the culture of an area, especially in Wales where the influx of non-Welsh speakers affects the percentage of Welsh speakers in the area and reduces the use of Welsh in everyday life.[11][12] Hundreds of second homes were burnt between 1979 and the mid-1990s as a part of a campaign by nationalist movement Meibion Glyndŵr to protect the indigenous language and culture.

Effect of technology

The rapid development of the Internet and technologies such as telephony and personal digital assistants that allow people to work from home since circa 1995 has blurred the division between vacation property and a primary residence. Some business people, including the British entrepreneur Richard Branson, use their luxury real estate for both business and leisure purposes.

Many internet services have developed to connect short term rental customers with owners or brokers of vacation properties.

Types of vacation property

See also


Template:Real estate

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