Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flagler Ain't Flagging

Okay, so Flagler County, on Florida's Atlantic Coast south of St. Augustine, had the highest rate of growth in the number of housing units of any county in the nation for the second year in a row, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates. I'm not sure how significant this is, except that it might be the last secret swatch of sand in the Sunshine State. The trouble with counts by county is that Flagler shoots to the top of the list with only 5,000 new housing units -- a nearly 15 percent jump over 2005. Also on the list: Maricopa County, the Arizona sprawl that includes Phoenix, with 52,000 homes added.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Hot Spots Could Be Ripe for a Cooldown

These areas saw some of the biggest gains in vacation home sales between early 2001 and 2005. Now many of these markets are beginning to cool, says Fiserv Lending Solutions.

Av Gain (2001 - 2005) Gain (2005 - 2006)
Cape May, N.J. 16% 9%
Cape Cod, Mass. 12% 3%
Florida Keys 24% 13%
Lake Tahoe, CA 13% 7%

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Intrawest Sale: Good or Bad for Second Homes?

Do you own any property at an Intrawest resort? Should you be concerned that a private equity firm, Fortress Investment, is in the process of acquiring the currently-public company? I think it's too early to judge. IDR was up for sale for months. But JMP Security's respected analyst Will Marks has downgraded his firm's rating of the stock from "strong buy" to "market perform." The resort giant has a piece of 10 mountain resorts including Whistler in British Columbia (an upcoming Olympic venue), Tremblant in Quebec, Copper Mountain and Winter Park in Colorado and Stratton in Vermont. It's building the new Snowmass Village near Aspen and has real estate projects in Las Vegas and Orlando.

The announced sale is a victory for a leading activist shareholder, Pirate Capital, which got its wish for a spike in the stock price. Fortress has valued its offer at $35 a share, a 32 percent premium over the recent stock price.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Martha's Vinyard Grows New Varietal

Martha's Vinyard has been a vacation spot for Massachusetts folks and others for a zillion years. Hard to believe that it is only now going "fractional" -- the first high-end time-share on the island, Edgartown Residence Club, is about to welcome owners. Located in the heart of Edgartown, it has six one- and two-bedroom condominium-type units for sale on a fractional basis. Prices? Take a deep breath: from $90,000 to $290,000. Martha's Vinyard Times points out it's only got 12 owners per unit, who must buy at least four weeks of usage per year.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is The Party Over?

Be worried. Be very, very worried, if you're a second-home seller. It may be time to declare officially that the bubble has burst. A front-page New York Times article today says: "The once-bustling deal making in a wide variety of popular locations for second homes -- areas like Florida, the Jersey Shore and Lake Tahoe, as well as the high-price playground on the East End of Long Island -- has slowed markedly in recent months. As the overall housing market weakens, the interest in buying vacation homes, from the most modest condominiums on up, appears to be falling faster."

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rich Folks Club Goes Bust

Kudos to the Helium Report for breaking the news of the bankruptcy of Tanner & Haley, the destination club. It filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 in July. The club gave four reasons for its problems: "costly short-term leases, memberships at extremely low annual dues, various ventures "that ultimately proved unsuccessful," and "increasingly stiff competition."

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wanted: Killington Development Partner

A branch of Centex, the big home builder, will not partner up with Killington, the Vermont ski resort, on a new village. With resorts in several states including California and Florida, Centex Destination Properties came aboard one year ago as the partner Killington and S.P. Land needed to revive plans to build 1400 units in a new ski village, according to an article in the Rutland Herald. At the time of last year's announcement, a spokesman indicated that the company's involvement was in the kicking-the-tires phase."

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