Cape May County Ranks as The Most Expensive Second Home County in the US

cape may county second home county us

From Ocean City to Cape May, prices across the county remain booming, so much so that it stands atop the list for most expensive second-home real estate in the United States.

A recent Pacaso report looked at all U.S. counties that have had at least 50 second-home transactions as of May 3. Cape May County ranked 15th in terms of total sales volume for second homes through the beginning of the year, but first in average sale price.

Registering an average closing price of $989,000 so far in 2023, Cape May County slots comfortably ahead Barnstable County, MA ($856,000) and Riverside County, CA ($846,000) which rank second and third in sale price, respectively.

The area has remained a popular pick for second home purchases. It is the only New Jersey county to rank among the top 15 in terms of volume and is just one of two counties in the tri-state area. 

Sussex County (DE), which houses both popular vacation spots in both Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, check in at No. 4 in popularity but has commanded just $615,000 in average sales, well below Cape May County.

A variety of factors have kept shore real estate prices strong. 

Whether it’s family entertainment, athletic pursuits, dining and bars, or miles of beach, a number of Cape May County’s towns offer a diverse blend of vacationing options, keeping the draw to the area as strong as ever. It’s no coincidence that the work-from-home revolution which touched off in 2020 has sent single-family home sales skyrocketing.

Here’s the chart for single-family prices vs. condos in Ocean City:

All of the factors that make the Jersey Shore an attractive vacation destination for Philly area residents make it perhaps an even bigger beneficiary for work-from-home adults, who can do their job from the comfort of their beach home and spend longer wrap-around weekends at the Shore, while still being a short drive from home or their office.

That said, current market factors have perhaps played an even larger role in the strong prices as prospective buyers in many towns continue to deal with a lack of inventory. 

One estimate from a local agent in shore town suggests that current inventory has been slashed by greater than 50% over the past two years.

Many current owners are simply unwilling to part ways with their coveted properties, while surging loan rates have slowed some from seeking upgraded addresses. 

“There’s just no reason to leave where we’re at right now,” said one North Wildwood resident. “We have access to everything we want, and any upgrade worth really consider would come with crazy costs that we just don’t want to take on.”

Despite continued economic uncertainty, buyer interest remains strong enough to cultivate competition on desirable properties. It remains a strong seller’s market, despite average prices dropping by 9.3% from 2022, according to the Pacaso report.

Through the first four months of this year, the average sale price on over 200 transactions in Ocean City have checks in north of $1.2 million, with the median sale price slotted at approximately $960,000. 

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