TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF AFFLUENT Americans are interested in buying a second home over the next two to three years, according to a study conducted for Centex Destination Properties by American LIVES Inc., a Carmel Valley, Calif., company. The survey, which Centex calls one of the largest of its kind, points to a potential doubling of the second-home market by 2009.

Almost 40 percent of respondents said they would travel more than four hours to a second home as long as their escape spot contains these favorite characteristics: low upkeep and maintenance; proximity to shops and restaurants; walking paths; and outdoor activities such as hiking and bicycling.

But survey respondents were not greatly interested in private golf courses, tennis courts, or nearby ski areas. The second home is seen as a place to get away and relax and not as an extended office: 57 percent of respondents viewed second homes as a place to get away from business pressures.

The top five most popular destinations nationwide were Naples/Marco Island, Fla., the southern New Jersey and Delaware coasts, the Florida Keys, the southern South Carolina coast, and Maui.

The nationally representative survey was based on responses from approximately 15,000 households with incomes of $125,000 or more. Within the past year, 63 percent of respondents took some action to investigate second-home ownership, whether talking to a spouse about it (51 percent), requesting literature (25 percent), talking to a salesperson (21 percent), or actually visiting a second home/vacation community (19 percent). The findings can be found at