Why Wealthy Second Home Owners Buy on Maryland’s East Coast

This article is reproduced with permission from The escape house, a newsletter for secondary owners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved.

Maryland’s east coast has long been viewed as an economic and social backwater. Nowadays, this is proving to be an attractive feature for families looking for vacation homes in secluded locations. Constance Mitchell Ford of The Escape Home has the scoop.

The east coast is on a peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The bay and its tributaries have over 11,000 miles of shoreline, about half of which is in the state of Maryland while the other half is in Virginia. Maryland’s east coast consists of nine counties that are largely agricultural and generally have higher poverty rates than the state as a whole.

While vacationers have long flocked to the hunting country and riverside communities on the east coast, the area is best known for harvesting shellfish and raising chickens. (Perdue Farms is one of the area’s largest employers.)

As an increasing number of wealthy second home owners settle in the area, the east coast is starting to acquire a slightly more upscale vibe as new shops, arts events, and hospitality services sprout to cater for newcomers. But don’t expect the east coast to stray too far from its agricultural roots, as many cities are determined to maintain a rural and outdoor atmosphere where fishing, hunting, sailing and bird watching remain popular activities.

“If you are a boater, you will love it here. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will love it here. If you’re the type who wants to shop at Nordstrom, this isn’t the place for you, ”said Stacy Kendall, co-owner of Cross Street Realtors in Chestertown, Maryland, located in Kent County. She said most of the stores are owned by small traders, not national retailers.

The east coast was hit hard by the 2007-2009 recession and took longer than the rest of the country to recover. As late as 2019, home values ​​in some east coast counties were still declining and a large percentage of homeowners struggled with underwater mortgages. “For reasons unknown, we have never bounced back like the rest of the riverside markets. We stayed artificially depressed – until the pandemic, ”said Coard Benson, real estate agent at Bensondulingroup.com in Easton, Md., Located in Talbot County. “Once word got out that Talbot is a place card for the wealthy second home owner… they came running,” he said.

Growing demand, of course, has led to bidding wars and rapid increases in prices. Here’s a look at three counties on the east coast that are experiencing strong buying activity. Housing markets in all three counties are relatively small with limited stocks, which means prices are unlikely to drop in the near future.

Talbot

Talbot County boasts of having 600 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay and has become an increasingly popular vacation home market for residents of Washington, DC and Baltimore. Both towns are 90 minutes away by car, but their atmosphere is very different. Benson describes the affluent residents of Talbot as “straight out of an Orvis catalog,” referring to the retailer aimed at fishing, hunting and boating enthusiasts. Models in an Orvis catalog are often pictured with a Labrador Retriever by their side, a common sighting in Talbot.

In April, the number of homes sold in Talbot increased 33% from the same month a year ago, and about half were purchased as second homes. Prices, meanwhile, jumped 46% to $ 695,600, according to data from the Maryland Association of Realtors Inc. Average prices in Talbot are now the highest in the state.

According to Benson, the average is skewed up by escalating prices on a dwindling supply of waterfront vacation properties, which has led to bidding wars. “Before the pandemic, we would have around 175 waterfront listings, but in the past eight months we’ve had 35-40 listings,” he said, adding that the cheapest listing prices at the water’s edge have doubled in the past year, from $ 500,000. to $ 1 million.

Dorchester

For centuries, fox hunting (or fox chase away as some prefer to call it) has been associated with the East Coast in general and Dorchester in particular. But the biggest attraction for real hunters are waterfowl and sika deer, which have drawn vacation home buyers as far as New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Known as the “Heart of Chesapeake Country,” Dorchester is less than four hours from Manhattan by car and has become particularly popular with Wall Street bankers and real estate executives.

Dan Shoemaker, owner of Exit on the Bay Realty in Cambridge, Maryland, said some of his New York clients transfer money “from the stock exchange to (Dorchester) real estate”. Some, he said, buy expensive waterfront properties for second homes while others buy hunting properties, including farms, marshes and swamps.

Dorchester has one of the cheapest housing markets in the state. In April, sales were up 45% from the previous year, while average prices rose 11% to $ 254,500. Land prices vary greatly depending on the type and location. A real estate website recently listed a 233-acre hunting property in Cambridge with a list price of $ 460,000, approximately $ 1,974 an acre, and a 60-acre property was listed for $ 345,000, or approximately 5 $ 750 per acre.

Kent

Located on the upper east coast, Kent is known for its historic waterfront towns, rolling farmland, numerous marinas, and many outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, biking and hiking. bird watching. Some sailing enthusiasts believe that picturesque Kent County has one of the best sails in the world.

One particularly popular spot is Rock Hall, a quaint fishing, sailing, and boating town that has water on three sides and is sometimes compared to Key West, Florida, due to its arts and entertainment scene. .

Although a farm was recently sold in Kent for $ 4.5 million, average prices in April were $ 371,200, up 30% from a year earlier.

This article is reproduced with permission from The escape house, a newsletter for secondary owners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved.


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