Two Michigan counties picked for best place to buy a vacation home

Both counties in northern Michigan

Photo of Angela Mulka

With the popularity of vacation home sales skyrocketing in 2020 and continuing into 2021, homes.com ranked the five best places to buy a vacation home in the nation.

Two Michigan counties made the list. 

Alcona County

Located in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula with 6 miles of Lake Huron coastline, it is the perfect destination for people looking for a home on a lake. The county is heavily forested by the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

Canoeing, boating, swimming, fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing are all popular activities for visitors. There are also more than 450 campsites available. And, Detroit is about four hours away.

It is one of the smallest vacation home counties, with 5,573 seasonally vacant homes that make up 49.8% of its housing stock. Even with the increased interest in vacation homes, with a median sales price of $150,000, the area boasts some of the most inexpensive vacation properties, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Oscoda County

Located on the northern side of the Au Sable River, you can beat the heat of the southern states if you choose Oscoda County as your vacation home destination. The river draws fishers from across the country due to its pristine habitat great for trout and fly fishing.

The county boasts the Huron-Manistee National Forests, Oscoda Beach Park, Clark Marsh and Turtle Marsh. You can hike, bike, drive an off-road vehicle, ski and horseback ride on hundreds of miles of Huron National Forest trails.

It is one of the smallest vacation home counties with 5,028 seasonal vacant homes that account for 54.5% of the housing stock. It is one of the most inexpensive vacation counties, with a median sales price of $107,500, and it's ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Why are vacation home sales soaring this year?

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, explains: "Eight percent of all transactions were classified as vacation home sales in the latest data. Usually, vacation home sales would comprise 4% or 5%, so a rise to 8% is a meaningful increase."

One reason for this could be the rise in remote working. Another is explained by Matt Smith, a Midland realtor.

“A big reason for what has driven more people to Alcona County and Oscoda County is the loss of the lakes in Midland County and Gladwin County due to the dam failures. It’s not like those areas weren't popular before, but a lot of people are looking for homes on a lake outside of the area.”

Additionally, in 2020, Michigan was one of the five states listed for having some of the top 10 vacation home counties by National Association of Realtors. The others were in the states of Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina.