The pandemic has pushed more buyers to utilize second homes immediately versus using them as investment properties. (Photo: Shutterstock).

Sean McIllwain, MOD Boulder Real Estate

Sean McIllwain, MOD Boulder Real Estate

It goes without saying that the pandemic has changed the way we live our day-to-day lives, from how we do our jobs, to how we buy our food, to how we live in our homes. As the boundary line between work life and home life becomes increasingly blurry, there’s an interesting real estate trend that’s popping up across the country: an increase of second-home purchases.

Historically, (in the “Before Times”, as they’re now wistfully called), second homes were often purchased for use as part-time residences. For example, think of Colorado’s many snowbirds: those semi-nomadic residents who traditionally spend the winters somewhere warm like Arizona or Florida, and the summers in milder climates like Colorado. And with the rise of rental management sites like VRBO and Airbnb, second-home buyers could purchase their dream home, rent it out as a vacation rental, and eventually retire to the house in subsequent years.

But the pandemic has pushed more buyers to utilize second homes immediately versus using them as investment properties. Buyers are opting for comfort and lifestyle over rental potential and future appreciation. Homes that are less than four hours away from primary residences are in high demand, as homeowners consider these properties as a second home to enjoy for longer periods – months at a time instead of the occasional long weekend away.

This real estate trend is leading to the co-primary phenomenon, where homeowners flip-flop between homes more regularly. In Colorado, communities like Estes Park and Red Feather Lakes, along with their surrounding areas, were once primarily considered vacation spots, but are now seeing increased co-primary sales.

As more parents work remotely and more kids adapt to distance learning, the desired amenities for second homes are also evolving. With longer stays in mind, buyers are putting a greater emphasis on high-speed internet availability, home offices and learning spaces. Homes that check all of these boxes are in high demand, often eliciting bidding wars. And if the home has a pool? It’s likely off the market within hours.

A co-primary home allows homeowners to mitigate the COVID risk while enjoying their own space, and the home still provides vacation opportunities. Those who may have previously considered a second home are deciding that now is an opportune time to buy. Remember that vacation budget we once had? Many buyers are now using those same funds to make a down payment on a second home instead.

This real estate trend is one we’ll continue to monitor, as second homes become more of a priority for many Americans. Will the trend suddenly stop with the distribution of the vaccine? Probably not. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are new and improved ways of living that will likely stick around long after the virus is gone – and having two homes to call home is one of them.

By Sean McIllwain. Sean is the founding broker of Mod Boulder Real Estate. Call 720.252.6051, e-mail [email protected] or visit