Friday, October 28, 2005

Second Homes -- The Movie

If you're in the NYC area put this on your calendar: the Municipal Art Society's film showing and panel discussion on "Leisurama." The movie is filmmaker Jake Gorst's take on the second-home/vacation-home culture of the late twentieth century, personified by Andrew Geller's Long Island beach houses. It's Wed. Nov. 9, 6 p.m. For info and RSVP go to the Municipal Arts Society site.


Destination: Web

With destination clubs springing up like hurricanes in the Gulf, it figures that two sorta second-home players have joined together. Private Escapes Destination Clubs, based in Fort Collins,CO has signed a six-month exclusive in the newly formed Destination Club category on, a Web site that markets to consumers seeking information about second homes in master-planned communities. Getting crowded in that destination-club-cum-high-end-fractionals market, n'est-ce pas?


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wilma's Wind Blows Cold for Snowbirds

Florida storms are taking toll on snowbirds. Michigan's prodigious number of wintertime Sunshine State residents are wondering what they'll find left of their second homes, according to the Detroit Free Press. Michigan sends some 68,000 snowbirds to Florida every year, the most of any state after New York, according to a 2004 study by the University of Florida. But as Wilma blasted all of Florida's top-5 snowbird destinations -- Lee County (Ft. Myers), Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade, Collier (Naples) and Broward (Ft. Lauderdale) -- some Michiganders found themselves second-guessing their commitment to sun and fun in the South.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Scalawags and Carpetbaggers in Mississippi

Post-Katrina snakes of the human variety are crawling all over the Biloxi area. Speculators are snapping up waterfront homes, even damaged ones, pushing prices up 10 to 20 percent, according to published reports. Some fear the frenzy will engulf what's left of modest bungalow neighborhoods that are among the Gulf's oldest communities. In fairness, some of the Biloxi buyers are locals whose own homes were destroyed. About the headline: After the Civil War, scalawags were southern "traitors" who took jobs in Reconstruction governments; carpetbaggers were out-of-towners.


Curfew Blues in Florida

Aventura is a community just south of Hallandale, FL that has a great name and snazzy new condos, big-windowed lofts, and villas. Thanks to Wilma, it's also got a curfew. Because of trees down, hazardous driving and the typical "hurricane aftermath" conditions, Aventura will be in lock-down mode 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. "Residents need to stay inside where it is safe," said Eric Soroka. Among homeowners far away but nervous -- Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

On the right: Terzetto at Aventura, advertised in today's Miami Herald

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Voice in the Wilma Wilderness

Overhead (figuratively -- it's on the Miami Herald site this morning) a 35-year resident of a Greenacres mobile home park: "'I think this is the last I want to live through. I want to get out of Florida." Sure will be interesting to see if this hurricane is the one that blows a cold wind through South Florida's torrid second home market.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Spreading The Hard Rock Brand

It's not just a theme restaurant and nightclub, it's a lifestyle.... Hard Rock International, partnering with selected Intrawest Resorts to create Hard Rock Hotels. The Hard Rock company, based in Orlando had already made a 50/50 joint venture deal with with Sol Melia Hotels to form Lifestar Hotels LLC.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Home Prices Up, Condos Down near Tahoe

Frenetic activity is slowing down in the Truckee/North Tahoe area of California but home prices have soared. The median price of a single family home reached $701,000 this past year, says a published report. That's up 20 percent. But the median price of condominiums and townhomes fell $28,500 to $459,000, Sales volume for 2005 is down 18 percent .

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Monday, October 17, 2005

What Hurricane?

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Rita struck the Gulf Coast, narrowly missing Galveston, the burgeoning resort island south of Houston, one family was signing closing papers on a 1,800-square-foot four-bedroom vacation home in Pirate's Beach, a swanky west Galveston subdivision, according to a local report. "If you want to have a house down there, it's something you have to live with," said Luis Orosco, a Houstonian. Recent hurricanes and the threat of future ones have not really hurt the Galveston second home market, local agents say.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Not Just Life Tickets Are Soaring in Price

The bubble may be deflating a bit in some places, but the engorged market in ski houses continues. In the third quarter of this year, the average price of a single-family home in Lake Tahoe was up 16% over 2004's average--and for the first time exceeded $1 million, says a, report, quoting the local real estate firm Chase International. The one pictured here is yours for $37-million.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Big Tax Bill for Downsizers

Columnist Bob Bruss warns readers they'll have to pay hefty capital gains when downsizing to what might have been a second home or even a smaller new home. "The old 'rollover residence replacement rule' of Internal Revenue Code 1034 no longer applies to home sellers buying replacement homes. That tax break was repealed in 1997. Uncle Sam presumes the $500,000 principal residence sale capital gains exemption for a married couple (up to $250,000 for a single home seller) is enough....At the current 15 percent federal tax rate plus state tax" downsizers still make a "big profit on their home sale," he notes.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mammoth Sale Good News for All Ski Resorts

Attention owners of second homes in ski areas -- Starwood Capital has bought a majority stake in Mammoth Mountain that values the California ski resort at $365-million. With Intrawest, which runs the resort, Starwood plans to to recapitalize Mammoth's real estate. Rusty Gregory, Mammoth CEO, say the company is "making an investment in us for the brand we have developed to-date, but they also see us poised as the next major destination resort in North America."

The news pleased a competitor. Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aron said in a conference call the sale price was "good news" for all related companies. Starwood owns the W and Westin hotels.


Can a Ban on Subdivisions Stick?

Commissioners in Eagle County, Colo., home of Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas, want to crack down on sprawl and invasion of wildlife habitat. So they voted yesterday to ban new subdivisions. Length of ban: nine months. Opposition: Developers. Big surprise, eh? Wonder if the county can make it stick.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Not Yet on National Radar: Flathead Lake, Montana

A Realtor in Bigfork, part of Montana's popular Flathead Valley, tells a reporter: "What we have are second- and third-time home buyers driving our market." Bigfork is part of western Montana's trophy home and retirement home market. But even there, Bigfork doesn't quite fit in like other similar markets. There seems to be no end to the sales in the Flathead Valley community. "I don't think a national 'bubble burst' would affect us too much," one real estate agent said. Flathead Valley is not even on the national radar. Although growth seems to many locals to be out-of-control, is marginal when compared to many other real estate markets.


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