From the ocean to the mountains, remote work fueled an unprecedented boom for vacation homes across the U.S.

Sales of the properties soared 16 per cent in 2020, nearly triple the gain for all existing homes, which was 5.6 per cent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Buyers seeking a retreat flooded the market in the second half of last year, after COVID-19 lockdowns lifted. City-dwellers seeking out more space flocked to the mountains of Aspen, Colorado, the beaches of Miami and points in between.

In vacation-home counties, the median sale price of an existing property rose 14 per cent, compared with a 10 per cent gain in other counties, the Realtors group said in a report Tuesday.

With many businesses still giving employees an option to work remotely, “vacation housing and second homes will remain a popular choice among buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist.

Still, more workers are returning to the office, a trend that may help slow demand for vacation homes. An analysis by Redfin Corp. showed that while purchases last month were elevated from year-earlier rates, they had cooled from the frenzied levels seen earlier in the pandemic.