Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When A Second Home Becomes The Only Home

My sister and brother-in-law, who live(d) in New Orleans, evacuated their home last weekend. After several days in a motel in Birmingham, Alabama, are now caravaning to their vacation home, a condo in the Massachusetts Berkshires. This is an aspect of second homes that before the Katerina catastrophe, I never thought of -- a second home can also be an emergency first home. However, my heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who also evacuated and are now stranded somewhere with relatives, with friends or in a motel somewhere. I'm also mindful that thousands have lost beloved vacation homes in ravaged towns along the Gulf.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Thinking About the Gulf Coast

This is not a day to be blogging about second home prospects, especially for someone like me who has relatives with a home in the New Orleans area. However, there's a lesson in Hurricane Katrina. It's a devastating reminder that however attractive a community may be most of the year, there are natural dangers lurking everywhere. If you love the mountains, you must take snowstorms and windstorms into consideration. If you love the desert, don't lose sight of drought and its awful flip side, floods. If you love the beach, hurricanes and nor'easter-type storms must enter into your calculations. If you love California, you must realize earthquakes can strike with no warning. Let's hope that whatever the property damage caused by Katrina, the early warnings will have helped to save lives.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Secret Steal: Wisconsin Lakes

Hello, Midwest. "Quiet time is the lure for thousands of people from southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and lately, eastern Minnesota, who are buying up - and bidding up - homes along the network of rivers and lakes extending from the two-lane Highway 8 corridor traversing Price, Lincoln and Oneida counties," according to a local paper. Buyers here "treasure tranquility" and pay less. One broker says there are plenty of houses in the $75,000 to $200,000 range.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The $10-million Destination Club

That would be Yellowstone Club World. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the private ski resort in Montana will soon be selling memberships in a club of resorts spanning the globe. Initiation fee: between $4 million and $10 million, depending on the sign-up date. The plan: members would have access for a set period of time at a castle in England or Ireland, a villa in Tuscany, a private golf course in Scotland and several other beach, spa and golf properties around the world. They'll also get to use one of the club's two mega-yachts and a fleet of private jets. Sounds like marketers can ask privacy-minded billionaires to jump, and the billionaires reply, "How high?"


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Betting The Ranch in Colorado

The rich come; the cows move. Soon, the last working ranch in the Glenwood Springs area may be leaving the Roaring Fork Valley, down the road from Aspen. "It's like murder," John 'Wince' Bershenyi told a local paper. The ranch has been in his family for most of a century. "But I'm too old to handle it." He's looking to sell the 1,500-acre ranch for what may become a 270-home housing development.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

A Finisher, Rather Than A Starter, Castle

A historic Colorado castle complete with ghost (a onetime coal baron) in Redstone, about a half hour's drive from Aspen, was auctioned for $4 million not long ago. The hundred-year-old mansion had been seized it in a fraud investigation by the IRS. Since the average price of a single family home is about $4K in Aspen, this was no ordinary auction -- it was a steal.


Friday, August 19, 2005

The $90-Mill Farmhouse

"Just when you thought prices couldn't possibly go higher, an estate in New York's Hamptons is reportedly selling for an astounding $90 million, which would make it the highest price ever paid for a home in the U.S.," Forbes tells us by way of the New York Post. Seller: Adelaide de Menil Carpenter, an heiress to the Schlumberger oil fortune. Buyer: Swedish financier Robert Weil. House: her longtime East Hampton property with 40 acres of oceanfront land on exclusive Further Lane, a pool and a pond.The three-bedroom farmhouse (!) is said to have an artsy charm.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Puttin' On More Ritz at Vail

Look for lots more brick and mortar projects from Vail Resorts Development Co. at its Colorado ski resort. Vail is pursuing a deal with Ritz-Carlton to build 108 condos near the new Village Square project at the resort's LionsHead base development, which is undergoing a major facelift. The company started developing the two-acre Village Square, LionsHead's new core area, in April.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Flagstaff's Big Wave

If southern Arizona is too hot and crowded for you, try northern Arizona. By the time you read this it may still be affordable. A downtown house in Flagstaff, a lovely college town, closed last month at $695,000 after a bidding war. By second home standards in other mountain communities, that's within reason. In 2004, the median home sale price in Flagstaff jumped 14.4 percent over 2003. That's just under the national hike of 15 percent, notes an Arizona newspaper.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It's Not A Lake Without Water

California has "clamped down on resort residents' use of an artificial lake" -- Lake Arrowhead, according to a local paper. " Builders and water customers howled while embattled utility board members announced plans to appeal. Reason for ruling: so much new construction threatens to gobble up too much of the lake. Panic gripped some people who understood the potential impact of the state Department of Water Resources' decision. Others blithely carried on Thursday in a setting they still view as paradise.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

No Down Side Down East?

Nowhere in the country is the trend of second-home ownership more profound than in the rural mountains of northern New England. Maine has the highest percentage of second homes in the country, followed by Vermont, notes the Hartford Courant. Given the significant price appreciation over the past few years - as much as 18 percent in some areas of Vermont - Arthur Woolf, publisher of the Vermont Economy Newsletter, believes most of those second-home buyers would withstand even a 20 percent downturn with little or no harm.


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