Tag: soars

Vacation home demand soars during coronavirus pandemic

Home sales are booming in popular vacation spots, as the pandemic leads more Americans to seek places to work or relax within driving distance of home.

In traditional vacation destinations such as Key West, Fla., Ocean City, N.J., and Traverse City, Mich., online house shopping and pending sales are up relative to the country overall, according to a new analysis by Zillow Group Inc.

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Similar to the recent rise in interest for suburban and rural homes that are a car ride from major cities, the growth in demand for homes in vacation towns shows how Covid-19 is reshaping home shoppers’ priorities, said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow.

“Home shoppers are particularly motivated to shop for a home in these markets because right now they have the freedom to probably work from home in many cases and even have their kids go to school from home,” he said. “They would get a lot more time to actually enjoy the natural amenities in these locations.”

In the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest share of vacation homes, page views of for-sale listings on Zillow in August rose more than 50% from a year earlier, while nationwide page views rose 37% in the same month.

In 12 of those markets, including Hilton Head, S.C., and East Stroudsburg, Pa., in the Poconos region, pending sales in the week ended Sept. 26 were up more than 30% from a year earlier. Nationally, pending sales rose 22% year-over-year in the same week, Zillow said.

The pandemic-driven recession has deepened the country’s economic divisions. Many higher-wage workers who are able to work from home can put money they would have spent on entertainment or international travel toward buying a home. Home sales around the country have risen to the highest level since 2006, buoyed by record-low interest rates.

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Second or vacation homes are rising as a percentage of all mortgages. Mortgage-rate locks for second-home purchases made up 5.3% of all locks for purchases in the week ended Oct. 9, up from 3.9% at the start of the year and 4% in the same week last year, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

U.S. home prices have risen 3.1% since February, according to Zillow. Some vacation spots have posted stronger gains, including Ocean City, up 6.4% in the same period, and Sevierville, Tenn., up 4.9%, according to Zillow.

In the Panama City, Fla., metro area, Zillow page views in August were up 74% from a year earlier. Pending sales in the week ended Sept. 26 rose almost 24% year-over-year, Zillow said.

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“We’ve always been a drive-to destination, which during this pandemic has been vital for people” who want to travel while

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US death toll soars past 20,000, overtakes Italy’s as Midwest braces

Glorious weather across Europe posed an extra test of people’s discipline.

“Don’t do silly things,” said Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the virus emergency. “Don’t go out, continue to behave responsibly as you have done until today, use your head and your sense of responsibility.”

The outbreak’s center of gravity has long since shifted from China to Europe and the United States, which now has by far the largest number of confirmed cases — over a half-million — and a death toll higher than Italy’s count of nearly 19,500, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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The death rate — that is, the number of dead relative to the population — is still far higher in Italy than in U.S., which has more than five times as many people. And worldwide, the true numbers of dead and infected are believed to be much higher because of testing shortages, different counting practices and concealment by some governments.

About half the deaths in the U.S. are in the New York metropolitan area, where hospitalizations are nevertheless slowing and other indicators suggest lockdowns and social distancing are “flattening the curve” of infections and staving off the doomsday scenarios of just a week or two ago.

New York state on Saturday reported 783 more deaths, for a total over 8,600. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the daily number of deaths is stabilizing “but stabilizing at a horrific rate.”

“What do we do now? We stay the course,” said Cuomo, who like other leaders has warned that relaxing restrictions too soon could enable the virus to come back with a vengeance.

With authorities warning that the crisis in New York is far from over, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s 1.1 million-student school system will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. But Cuomo said the decision is up to him, and no such determination has been made.

In the Midwest, pockets of contagion have alarmed state and city leaders and led to stricter enforcement.

Nearly 300 inmates at the Cook County Jail have tested positive for the virus, and two have died. In Wisconsin, health officials expect to see an increase in coronavirus cases after thousands of people went to the polls during Wisconsin’s presidential primary Tuesday.

Michigan’s governor extended her state’s stay-at-home order with new provisions: People with multiple homes may no longer travel between them.

Full COVID-19 pandemic coverage

And in Kansas, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a dispute Saturday between Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican lawmakers who overturned her executive order banning religious services and funerals with more than 10 people.

Elsewhere around the world, Italian authorities set up roadblocks around Milan to discourage people from going on Easter weekend trips. British police kept a close watch on gatherings in parks and at the seaside on one of the hottest days of the year. And France deployed some 160,000 police, including officers

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