Friday, April 28, 2006

The Insurance Trap

A Business Week article reminds vacation home shoppers to take into account the potential sticker shock on flood insurance and other insurance covering natural disasters in remote vacation areas. "If you're on a flood plain, obviously that's an issue," says Walter Molony of the National Association of Realtors. "And in the mountains there can be fire concerns." One common-sense observation: when looking over a house find out where the nearest fire house or hyrant is.



Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Meaning for Pied-a-Terre

Pied-a-terre, French for "foot in the ground," used to mean a small city apartment or condo used occasionally by owners who live elsewhere. Now, it seems, folks are seeing the investment potential in a pied-a-terre as well as buying or renting suburban places for this use, too. One recent article at (the Chronicle's online site) tells of city dwellers renting or buying places in the suburban neighborhoods where they grew up. Another, in the Washington Post notes that commuters are swooping in to buy places in the capital for weekends, late nights and vacations.

Of course, affluent real estate consumers for years have stocked up on petite apartment gems in Manhattan for years.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Time-Shares, Fractionals, Clubs: Comparing $

Here are the best brief definitions and price comparison of the new partial-share ownership plans I've seen, courtesy of Coastal Living magazine.

A "fractional residence" is a time-share in which "developers admit fewer owners so each owner is guaranteed more time to use the property," Allen Bunting writes. "Fractionals are usually affiliated with higher-end hotels and resorts, providing owners with access to numerous services." Destination Clubs are "upscale fractional residences...but membership does not provide ownership rights to a specific property." Instead, members buy the opportunity to stay in different locales.

Price tags, excluding annual dues and maintenance, are:

¶Time-share: $12,000 to $14,000 a week.

¶Fractional ownership: $300,000 to $500,000 for 4 to 13 weeks a year.

¶Destination clubs: $75,000 to $500,000. Four- to eight-week stays are the norm.



Monday, April 24, 2006

Bend Prices Take Turn for Better

According to an AP report on Oregon Live! prices in the Bend vicinity are still going gangbusters. The median price of a Bend single-family home, the price at which half are higher and half are lower, reached $327,500 by the end of the first quarter this year, up 30.5 percent from the first quarter of 2005, according to the Central Oregon Association of Realtors.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Carolina Sales Head South

Lots of inventory at The Grand Strand, Hilton Head and Charleston, says the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "Hilton Head saw a 26 percent drop in sales and Charleston had a 3 percent decline, according to first quarter statistics" by the local Realtors association. A 24% increase in median condo price between the first quarters of 2005 and 2006 has spurred many condo owners to put their properties on the market, says the Sun.



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Vacation Home vs. Stocks

It's a tough call. See how MONEY Magazine weighs the debate over whether to try to catch what may be the last phase of the
Second-home boom.

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Top Picks for Second-Home Investment Cities

Here's Bankrate's forecast of 10 cities where prices and values should continue to rise. Hint: not one is in Florida or Nevada.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How to Survive Being a Landlord

I always pay attention when columnist Bob Bruss recommends a book. Lately, he's raving about The Landlord's Survival Guide, by Jeffrey Taylor. "If you own residential rental property, or are thinking about investing in rentals, you will benefit" from it, says Bruss. "Known among residential rental owners as 'Mr. Landlord,' Taylor has created a business of helping landlords prevent costly management mistakes." Bruss says this book is geared to novices and/or part-timers.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Attention Bargain Hunters

If this article about bubble-towns soon to burst is on the money, truly clever "vulture" investors will be shopping for second-home investment properties in Las Vegas and nine other cities cited here as mostly likely to deflate.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Last-Minute Tax Tips for Second Homes

Go to for no-nonsense, quick-read guide to getting tax breaks out of your vacation or second home.

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One Stop Web Site Shopping for Real Estate Info.

Jeff Hanson has called my attention to his extremely organized "MoneySmartz" directory of Residential Real Estate sites, among other personal finance helping hands. Check it out.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tahoe Puttin' on the Ritz

There goes the neighborhood, but perhaps in a good way.

East West Partners, developer of resorts at ski locations including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Vail, and Crescent Real Estate Equities Company have made a deal with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to operate Lake Tahoe’s first five-star luxury hotel. Size: 172 rooms. Site: The Highlands, a new set of ski-in/ski-out residences at Northstar-at-Tahoe. A favorite of Northern California visitors, Northstar has a brand-new village and has been ranked fifth in North America by Ski Magazine for its family programs.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

NAR: Vacation Homes Defy Softening Market

"In 2005, sales of vacation homes increased 16.9% from 2004 for a record 1.02 million sold, according to the National Association of Realtors, according to the WSJ's RealEstateJournal Blog .

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April Showers on Once-Hot Markets

Be nervous. But not terrified. The headline in today's Wall Street Journal -- Hot Homes Get Cold -- is scarier than the article. Essentially, it says sales in some Florida and other investor-powered markets are off --"as much as 47% in Naples," for example. Read farther and you'll find comfort in the relative strength of most second-home hotspots, which are simply cooling a bit. Call it April showers, not a raging flood.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Is An Isthmus in Your Future?

"Next stop on the aging boomer bandwagon: Panama," says NY Times today, noting that as many as 25,000 American retirees have bought second homes there. Why? Cheap, warm and safe, they say of the isthmus once devastated by tropical diseases and formerly ruled by a drug-dealing strongman. High praise for the bananas, too.


Monday, April 10, 2006

You Collect Rent, Someone Else Cleans Toilets

Here's a no-brainer: If your ideal getaway home includes maid service, a spa and beach club, and you want it to generate rental income without dealing personally with checking in guests and fixing overflowing toilets, consider buying a room or suite in a luxury hotel. Condo hotels make up 3 % of U.S. hotel room inventory, yet account for nearly 13 % of the 100,452 hotel rooms under construction nationwide in December 2005, according to Smith Travel Research.

For more infor, read ThirdAge's Buy a Dream, Then Rent It Out

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Zillow, Shmillow: A pro beats Web services

Looks like we all had the same idea: see how good the new and sites are at predicting value of a home by trying them out with homes that you know well. Allan Norwood of the Charlotte Observer writes: "As I discovered in February, and area real estate pros confirmed, Zillow's results can be pretty close -- or not. That service seemed to be most accurate for homes in busy, close-in neighborhoods with lots of recent sales. In more distant spots with fewer sales, the estimates can be way off. The same seems to be true for RealEstateABC." His conclusion: "These services are fun, but don't match professional advice."


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

But is the Buying Spree Over?

The headlines today seem to say it all - second homes (28 % for investment, 12 % for vacation homes) account for a full four out of every 10 home sales in the U.S. But buried below the top paragraphs is a warning -- those figures are for 2005... And David Lereah, the National Association of Realtors honcho who has been tracking the boom for years now, says he thinks the trend has "crested." He expects sales in 2006 to dip by 10 % -- as "speculative investors" who are in the game only as flippers leave the market. The good news: the vacation home market -- as opposed to investor-driven market -- will stay strong

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Latest figures: Second Homes 40% of Market

It's the top story today in -: "Americans snapping up second homes - as investments or vacation properties - accounted for four out of every 10 sales of existing homes last year, a record that helped drive the real estate market to new highs, according to a report being released today by the National Association of Realtors.

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