Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Crazy Like A Loon

A new proposal for New Hampshire's Loon Mountain ski resort includes 900 new residential units, according to reports. In October, Dallas-based Centex Destination Properties purchased $6.7 million worth of land there to build 54 single family home sites. Those homes would be "just the first phase" of what could become 900 units, plus a new high-speed lift, seven trails, a new base lodge and parking in an area that is to be known and marketed as South Peak, says a local paper.


Sundance Sprawl?

Many longtime residents who grew up in the small-town way wonder how long it will be before the Park City "Hollywood and second-home" phenomenon heads east and drives them out of towns like Oakley, Woodland, Kamas and Coalville, says the Salt Lake Tribune. "There already are signs of encroachment - For Sale signs here and there, plans for a sporting goods store in Kamas and new subdivisions with smaller and smaller lots replacing pastureland."


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Automatic Millionaire" Guy Gears Up to Grow Homeowners

Watch for the "Great American Homeowner Challenge," which could help you buy that second home. David Bach (left), author of the Finish Rich and Automatic Millionaire best-sellers, is creating a program with Wells Fargo "to inspire, educate and enable 10 million Americans to buy a first home, second home, or investment property over the next 3 years." It's linked to his new book The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner, coming in early March.


"Splitters" Enters Real Estate Lexicon

A growing number of Americans are being dubbed "splitters," because they divide their time between two homes, says the Christian Science Monitor. The paper quotes a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors as saying, "We think 2006 will be another record for second-home sales." Walter Molony describes the typical vacation-home buyer as "a middle-aged, middle-income baby boomer."

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Is Your Home At Risk for Price Decline?

Of 379 metropolitan areas nationwide, 26 have at least a 50 percent probability of home valuations declining in the next 2 years, says the US. Market Risk Index. The rest of most at-risk towns were in Massachusetts, New York or New Jersey. To see where your town ranks, click through to PMI Mortgage Insurance Company's outlook.

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Utah's 'Secret' Slopes

Love to ski or snowboard in Utah? Read my article on Utah's 'Secret' Slopes in the Sunday Washington Post travel section. The Salt Lake City valley is a great spot for a vacation home, as long as you don't covet platinum properties in Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival and Deer Valley billionaires.


Dig Deeper; ARM Payments Shooting Up

Got an adjustable-rate mortgage? Start saving more of your paycheck. "Monthly payments on a substantial number of ARMs are projected to increase significantly" this year, notes REALTOR.org.


Selling Shoulder Season

If you have a vacation home or condo in a mountain resort, chances are activities slow to a crawl in spring and fall. Vail, among other towns, wisely slots its culinary and wine festival in early April to entice you to visit when you (or renters) otherwise might not. Now in its 16th year "Taste of Vail" (4/5/06-4/8/06) has an annual operating budget of more than half a million dollars. This is one of the many ways to build a four-season resort.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Are You Worried Too?

About 43 percent of first-time U.S. homebuyers put no money down on their purchases last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. on Its report highlighted Americans' reliance on the nontraditional financing. The NAR said "economists worry" that this type of financing "has stretched consumers too far."


Building for US Boomers in Mexico

"Teaming with Mexico's tourism development agency," Loreto Bay Co. of Scottsdale, AZ "is developing a seaside town" in Baja California "with plans for 6,000 units ranging from $280,000 condos to $1 million custom-built beach houses," says today's Wall Street Journal.

"The company has taken orders for 554 homes.... Most of the buyers, says James Grogan, president and chief executive, are Americans and Canadians.

"As home sales start to slow in the U.S., some builders are casting a hopeful eye on Mexico, placing bets that a growing population of North American retirees will want to buy mid- and high-end homes there," the paper reports.


Monday, January 16, 2006

A Break From Uncle Sam

How to maximize tax savings from your vacation or second home? See this article. Depending on your personal use time, a bit of advance tax planning can result in saving hundreds or even thousands of tax dollars.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Healthy Statistic

Okay, foreclosure activiity went up. But at the same time, mortgage rates continue to be reasonable. The national average commitment rate on a 30-year, fixed mortgage dipped to 6.15 percent from 6.21 percent over the past week, according to Freddie Mac. And the average rate on a one-year, adjustable-rate mortgage slipped to 5.15 percent from 5.16 percent, while the five-year hybrid ARM dipped to 5.76 percent from 5.78 percent.


A Cautionary Statistic

Foreclosure activity last month hit the highest level seen in 2005 as higher interest rates finally may be taking a toll on the nation's residential market, according to industry monitor RealtyTrac. The National Association of Realtors noted that foreclosures were "especially high" in Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Nevarda and Utah.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Destination Club = Time Share

"Destination club" is a fancy name for time share, says Bankrate.com "While the rules and regulations vary, a destination club is essentially the same thing as a time share, which is the same thing as a residence club, a vacation club or a 'fractional' ownership club. They have many names, but you're still buying into a program that qualifies you to use a hotel room, resort, condo, home or other domicile for a set period of time every year, ranging generally from one week to several weeks. The names started changing after time shares got a bad rap for the hard-sell tactics, the Web site notes. But "by no means are time shares inherently bad deals."


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Snowbasin and Powder -- Utah's Stealth Resorts?

Is there any mountain vacation lodging within reach of a major airport that hasn't been discovered? Investigate the Ogden Valley, Snowbasin, and Powder Mountain Resort, about an hour from the Salt Lake City International Airport. Snowbasin is owned by the Sun Valley folks. Powder is a local favorite with tons of ski terrain, some condos and plans for a lot more. Problem: Powder has been looking for a buyer for years and its master development plan is still way in the future.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Tapping the Brakes

Housing and mortgage activity will slow somewhat in 2006, according to top economists. They predicted fewer sales, less price appreciation, fewer loans. Representatives from realtors organizations and builders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spoke on a conference call sponsored by the Homeownership Alliance. Consensus: "a modest slowdown," which the Alliance said "only represents 'a tapping of the brakes on a hot market.'"


Northern Exposure

It may come as a surprise -- it did to me -- but Michigan ranks fourth among states with second or vacation homes, according to a Detroit Free Press story, right behind Florida, California and New York. The article says those 235,371 Michigan second homes are "all in a cluster in the northern part of the state." Only problem: figures are based on the 2000 census, meaning they could be outdated.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

What's Affordable?

A recent Wall Street Journal headline warned: Housing Affordability Hits 14-Year Low. But a closer look shows that some second home markets-- such as Santa Fe, NM, Medford, OR, St. George, UT and Phoenix, AZ still have homes close to the 100 % mark -- the level at which a family earning the median income can afford the median-priced home "based on traditional lending standards." What's more the report says creative mortgages and historically low rates mean many still have ways to join homeowners' ranks.


Welcome to the Seller's Market

A reliable oracle, Realtor, the National Association of Realtors magazine, has spoken: sales of first and second homes are slowing.

"With interest rates on the rise, analysts and real estate professionals expect the record number of homes now on the selling block to spend more time on the market," it reported online. Realtor quotes Merrill Lynch as saying backlog of unsold homes is at a nine-year high. ML economist calls 2006 a "softer pricing environment and a reversion to a buyer's market from a seller's market.' "


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tahoe? Ho Hum

Weird weather, overblown prices. That one-two punch has real estate agents in second-home areas around California's Lake Tahoe not quite reeling, but not smiling either. Before the holidays there was little snow, and then came torrents of rain in the Bay area, Tahoe's principal market. Meanhwile, owners who had seen second-home and condo prices soar 30 percent this fall started asking unrealistic prices, say local agencies. Result: "It's gone from seller's market to buyer's," Coldwell Banker's Ellen Grace told me.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hawaii Confab for Second-Home Agents

Are you a real estate agent specializing in second homes? Think you need a special set of initials to sell better? Vacation Finance, a mortgage company in Michigan and Florida, is sponsoring the first-ever conference Feb. 5-8 in Hawaii on the idea of a "Resort & Second Home Specialist (RSPS)." The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has created this new moniker.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Busy at the 'Boat

In the first three quarters of 2005, the Steamboat, Colorado real estate market had 1,054 transactions, up 14.9 percent from 917 in the same period a year ago. Those properties sold for a combined $376 million, up from $316 million the year before, according to the local Board of Realtors.


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