Barrons’ Twenty Best Places to Buy a Second Home: Castine, Maine

For second homes in America’s most affluent locations, the past year was ugly. No way else to describe it. Median home prices were down 50% in North Lake Tahoe, and 44% on Martha’s Vineyard, to cite two examples.

Last year was brutal for second homes in the nation’s most affluent areas. But the market is firming up again. Here’s our list, expanded to 20 sites, for those seeking top-tier refuges.

8. CASTINE, MAINE: “A step out of clock time” is how 20th-century poet Philip Booth, a longtime summer resident, might have described this coastal village in Maine. Grand Georgian and Federalist homes line Main Street; sprawling Perkins Street “cottages” overlook Penobscot Bay and distant Camden Hills. Castine, site of America’s worst naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor, appeals to those seeking old-fashioned summers of sailing and lobster-roll picnics. Yachts moor at Eaton’s Boatyard, while owners quaff rum punches at Dennett’s Wharf and feast on bouillabaisse at Pentagoet Inn. The late novelist Mary McCarthy and her career-diplomat husband once mixed in town with Washington insiders, literati and showbiz sorts. Today a similar set includes Sex and the City writer and producer, Jenny Bicks. A little Cape Cod-style summer house with water view finally sold for $800,000 in 2011. That was after the property was first listed at $1.15 million three years ago and the owners rejected $875,000 in 2010-a decision they are undoubtedly ruing.

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