Dreams of buying a new car or boat, taking a trip around the world or even renovating a home have been stymied for many people in recent years thanks to the fallout from the recession, which saw record foreclosures, falling home prices, a jump in unemployment and battered retirement accounts.

Things have changed, however, thanks to the sustained economic recovery, including strong gains in both the stock market and labor market. Indeed, many of these distant dreams are now starting to become a reality for many Americans.

If you don’t believe it, consider recently released statistics from the National Association of Realtors on the number of vacation home sales here in the U.S.

According to NAR’s figures, vacation home purchases comprised as much as 21 percent of all home purchases in the nation in 2014, jumping by an astounding 57 percent from 2013 and reaching the highest level since 2003.

The NAR’s figures also reveal that 54 percent of the vacation homes purchased were single-family units, 46 percent of these vacation homes were located in southern states, and that beach property once again proved to be the most desirable.

Interestingly, the organization found that the uptick in vacation property purchases was driven in large part by the fact that many of these properties are still available at highly competitive prices, something it attributes to the tendency of vacation area property prices to rebound at a slower pace.

Here’s hoping we continue to see these numbers trend upward. In the meantime, it’s important for anyone considering the purchase of vacation property — for personal use or investment purposes — to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can help ensure that all important issues are fully addressed.