Friday, April 29, 2005

Even Fortune Cookies Push Real Estate

True story: a neighbor of mine got what he thought was a wise fortune at his favorite Chinese restaurant in New York: "This is a great day to handle real estate matters." He promptly put a down payment on a condo he's never seen in the Tampa/St. Pete area. I hope the next fortune doesn't say "On second thought, proceed with caution in overheated Florida market."

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Jay Is Peaking

If you thought affordable condos in ski areas have melted like the snow, think "Jay Peak." The northern Vermont resort has new condos and townhouses starting at $279,000 and going as high as $549,000. Sorry-- all townhouses are under contract. But a few condos remain.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Real Estate As A "Hidden Asset"

Intrawest, one of the 800-pound gorillas of the ski industry, is also a stock with hidden assets, according to an investment advisory service. Its "extensive" real estate portfolio -- it's the outfit that owns Whistler in British Columbia (biggest ski area in North America) plus others -- is listed under market value. Thus IDR has got upside potential, says


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Park Your Jet in Coeur d'Alene

Sign of the times: a local investor is ready to put up a new hangar at the itty-bitty airport in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for private and corporate jets. It will will cater to both vacationers and second-home owners in this rapidly growing town, says developer Marshall Chesrown. Not everyone is thrilled. Blogger/singer Phil Keaggy declares that the builder is "out of touch" with how much the average C'D'A Joe can afford.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Quote of the Week: House Prices

"'Home prices will rust, not bust, for the next few years," Richard Berner, chief U.S. economist for Morgan Stanley, told Business Week Online.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Bubble at the Jersey Shore

Bruce Springsteen Country goes upscale. Investors buy in New Jersey beach towns in the spring, rent it out for the summer, sell the next year for a big profit. Example: 3BR Ocean City apartment bought for $425,000 a year ago, and just sold for $652,000, sez local broker. Beachfront $4-million houses are now teardowns.


Florida: Renting Hotel Room While Hunting

"Retirees moving to Florida are living in hotels for weeks and even months at a time as they scour the state in search of affordable places to live." -- from Christian Science Monitor article yesterday.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Press 2 for Moonlight Canoeing

What? All your second-home enclave offers is tee times? Clever ones now offer an "adventure concierge" to arrange everything from fly fishing expeditions to helicopter skiing to moonlight canoe trips to hiking guides. According to a recent NY Times story, owners like the idea of having a go-to booker who can plan an outing, especially for families long on excitement but short on time. Mentioned: Iron Horse in Whitefish, Montana; Oldfield in Okatie, S.C.; Bear Lake Reserve in N.C.; Ritz-Carlton Club at Aspen Highlands, Colorado.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

How to Ruin a Condo Showing

"Authorities believe the deaths of a man and woman found inside a condominium near a ski resort were a murder-suicide,"a New York TV station reported. The bodies were discovered at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, NJ when a real estate agent arrived to show the place to a prospective buyer.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Lone Star Lake Glimmers

Cedar Creek Lake in Texas has been popular with weekenders for years. But the area's real estate agents say boomers are leaping into the market. "Most of our business has come from Dallas-Fort Worth, but we're also beginning to see folks from out of state who find us on the Internet," Judy Pierce of Excite Realty told a local paper. Waterfront property has developers salivating. They've torn down some of the lake's original cabins in order to build 4,000-square-foot homes priced from $400,000. "We're becoming the Park Cities on the Lake," said another agent.


Monday, April 18, 2005

Million Dollar Summer

A Hamptons summer rental is available for nearly $1 million, making it the priciest rental ever in the Long Island, NY resort area--and maybe anywhere, says Forbes. Amenities: mansion with 12 bedrooms, 8 acres, huge swimming pool, tennis & basketball courts, 500 feet of oceanfront. Wait a sec: that means if 12 renters share the place, it costs only about $79,000 each (the asking rental fee is $950,000) and you each get 41 feet on the ocean!


Friday, April 15, 2005

"Buyer Beware" on Destination Clubs

So said a Cornell U Hotel School prof in a big NY Times story today. "There's a huge issue of consumer protection," said Jan deRoos, who teaches a course on timeshares. "The industry is not regulated. It can be a house of cards. You need a minimum number of members to hit that sweet spot.... A quarter of these firms may not survive.'"


Thursday, April 14, 2005

What's in a Name?

Residents of Horsefly Mesa, near Telluride, CO,"live in a pristine, rural area, with rustic road access and few neighbors," according to a local paper. But locals are concerned that their low-maintenance, low-cost lifestyle could change if 700 proposed new units on the mesa are developed and the road is upgraded. To which I say: at Telluride prices, better rename it Horse Ranch Mesa first.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Attention PR Firms: "Avalanche" Means Disaster

I really get upset when PR outfits -- or news writers -- use the word avalanche to convey "abundance," as in "an avalanche of sales." I've had friends killed in avalanches. When I see the word, it turns me off.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Record Snow, Record Sales at Mammoth

In a year of near-record snowfall at this Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierra, Intrawest scored mammoth sales last Saturday. The first release of The Westin Monache, Mammoth -- 141 condominium suites-- sold out in less than four hours.The prices ranged from $405,000 to just under $1.3 million. The property is under construction and won't be finished until 2007.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Bet on Tax Relief in PA

More than three-quarters of the homeowners in Carbon County, PA, filed for what was called "slots-for-property-tax-cuts" recently. The Lehigh Valley area has many vacation home hideaways, but only primary homes qualified for the revenues, which come from gambling taxes. The local assessor noted that he threw out 6,700 applications; people tried to include everything from second homes to garages. Hey, you can't blame those hoping to get lucky....

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

OC, The Reality Show

Even with interest rates on the rise, the average resale condo price is still strong and is currently estimated at $552,000 with only slightly more than one month's inventory on the market.-- From Condos etc. a self-styled "boutique" Irvine brokerage specializing in Orange County (CA) condominiums. The firm says condos are appreciating faster than single-family homes.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Morons? Not in the Hamptons

Some second-home owners are indulging their fantasies of living fulltime in their weekend paradise by making a career change -- they're becoming real estate agents. NAR 2002 median gross income for agents was $52,000. But the NY Times quotes one agent in the humongously expensive Hamptons as saying "in this'd have to be a moron not to make at least twice that and probably more."


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Is This Why They Call it Snow MASS?

The real estate market in Snowmass Village, CO, near Aspen, has gone from "overloaded with inventory" to "difficult to find properties" in less than two months, Madeline Osberger writes in the Snowmass Sun. "'I don't think I've ever seen this much property sell this fast," Michael Adams of BJ Adams and Company told her.

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When A Second Home Is Like An Oil Rig

"No one has to have a vacation home," the Philadelphia Inquirer says, cautioning shoppers about a possible slump should interest rates rise. It makes the point with an oil analogy. Big companies that "pump, transport and refine oil do better when prices are high," but they tend to do OK even when prices drop because there's always a demand for their product. "It's different for suppliers of oil-industry equipment such as drilling rigs. They boom when prices are high. But when prices fall, demand for drilling rigs collapses, and lots of rig suppliers go belly-up." Owner-occupied homes are "like the big-oil industry; the vacation housing market is like the rig suppliers."


Monday, April 04, 2005

Aspen -- Synonym for Real Estate Nirvana

When it comes to crazy markets, nothing beats Aspen, where I'm taking a quick break from covering the huge Mountain Travel Symposium (one of the premier talk- and deal-fests for resort travel sales and marketing folks.) A local broker says that just five years ago luxury home sales with price tags of $1,000 per foot were thought to be "in the stratosphere." Now $1,000 per square foot is common. Did you do the math? That's a cool two million for any little 2,000-square-foot house. (And that's a closet in some neighborhoods here.)


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