Monday, June 30, 2008

New Westin Riverfront: Beaver Creek & Vail Nearby

The new luxury Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa at the base of Beaver Creek mountain resort in Colorado (how's that for a view, above?) now offers ski travelers a deluxe spot to settle when they are mainly interested in skiing Beaver Creek runs, but also want easy access to those at Vail. The Westin is not way up the mountain. It's actually in Avon, on the Eagle River, with a front door gondola to take skiers from the ski valet to the first BC lift. The location also makes it a lot easier to access the runs at Vail, just 9 miles away. Condos are priced from $395,000 to $2.1 million. The Westin officially opens Oct. 15.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2nd Home Markets: Still Sinking

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller home-price indexes, via the Wall Street Journal: "Las Vegas and Miami were again the weakest markets over the past year, posting 26.8% and 26.7% drops, respectively. Las Vegas and Miami were the weakest markets each of the other months this year. S&P noted that the two markets saw some of the fastest growth in the 2004/2005 periods, with annual growth rates surging above 53% and 32%, respectively.

Also plunging: Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Pied-a-terre bargain hunters, investors -- time to shop or time to wait for sinkholes to deepen?

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Canadians Eye Scottsdale 2nd Homes

It may be 110 in the shade in Scottsdale, Arizona in the summer but that is not stopping bargain-hunting Canadians from eyeballing second home residential properties in the area's renowned golf communities.How? Many shop the Web, others actually visit. Mike Weinberger, an agent for TeamFore, says his outfit has closed on 23 sales to Canadians, most of them from the western part of the country, since January. Reason: the dollar is down nearly 40 % compared to the Canadian dollar, a/k/a the Loonie. "The Canadians see this as a sweet spot," Weinberger told me. Buyers are principally looking for vacation homes, not investment properties or places they can flip he said. Prices: under $200,000 for a condo in the heart of town: $400,000 for a handsome single-family, such as the one shown above in Cactus Glen listed by Weinberger's colleague Diane Watson.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Overseas Buyers: Beware Overheated US Markets

Overseas, Mexican and Canadian vacation home investors shopping for bargain houses are not buying in all the so-called "bargain" communities of the US, according to a New York Times article. "Prospective buyers are still wary of America’s volatile economy and concerned that housing prices could continue to decline. The result is that despite their interest to get a great deal, foreigners have been slow to purchase in all but the most recession-proof properties in the most expensive areas, like East Hampton (above left, courtesy and Beverly Hills," the Timesquoted "Agents for properties adjacent to America’s most desired beach and ski communities." The article said while Hamptons may be hot, Cape Cod is not. Also cautious: buyers in California and Nevada's Lake Tahoe vacation home enclaves.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Alabama Bolton Cove Homes Coming to Lake Martin

Some developers won’t let the housing crisis curtail their openings. Dawn Kent writes in the Birmingham (Alabama) News that a “$25 million community on Lake Martin,” will come into being in the next 2-3 years “with high hopes that the second-home market will continue to attract buyers, despite a slumping national economy.” The community is known as Bolton Cove. It is in the Coosa County town of Equality, and will feature 27 waterfront houses,” according to a quote from Courtland Davis, identified as one of the developers. The 2,700 square-foot homes will sport lakefront balconies. Prices: $700,000 and up. "This is actually one of the hotter spots on Lake Martin," Davis is quoted as saying.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Best Headline of the Day

"House sales climb -- home prices now cheaper than a tank of gas." -- today on Fairway Supermarket electronic "zipper" sign above West Side Highway at 133d Street in Harlem, New York City. Smart-aleck Noo Yawkers? You better believe it. In between advertising its daily specials in gigantic letters, the zipper has some fun. During the scare about contaminants found in imported Chinese fish, the zipper blared: "USDA set to recall Beijing Olympics."

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Software to Manage Vacation Home Rentals

If you think your not handling tenants as well as you should, there's a new software package to help you. TenantWIZ promises to enable vacation homeowners, property managers, agents and rental businesses to easily and securely build a real-time property rental site, I learned of it from the networking site Mashable. "The software provides users with an extensive suite of Web-based tools for managing properties online anytime from anywhere. The application encompasses all aspects of vacation property rental and management including instant pricing and availability data, renter and owner account access, digital contracts with electronic signatures, online payments and unlocking the property remotely," say a review.

Upside: Sounds like a good way to get a handle on properties especially if you own or manage more than one.

Downside: Cost. TenantWIZ charges $69/month plus a one-time setup fee of $69. Although it says there are no hidden fees, clearly there are very visible ones.

Final thought: TenantWiz says: "Stop paying for booking fees just to use a reservation software." If you pay more than $70 a month for booking fees and want to give the software a go instead, this might be for you.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Vail Upgrades Breckenridge Lodging

Breckenridge, the Colorado ski resort that has featured mid-price lodging compared to Vail and Beaver Creek, is in the midst of an upgrade. "We are well on the way to transforming Breckenridge real estate landscape and are very excited with our ski-in, ski-out projects ... including Crystal Peak Lodge at the base of Peak Seven," CEO Rob Katz said yesterday in a 3d quarter earnings conference call. All 46 units under are contract and closings on these units are expected this winter of 2008, he added.

The latest project at Breck is Rock Resort’s branded One Ski Hill Place, above. (Vail owns Rock Resorts.) Said Katz, it "will create a unique luxury experience at the base of Peak Eight. To date, we have released 70 units of the total 88 units with an average price per square foot of $1,246, a 29% -- 29% in excess of Crystal Peak released just a year ago."

Breckenridge once was an old mining village and some historic buildings, like those below, remain.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

HomeAway Buys EscapeHomes

Recognize this logo? It now covers the whole second home spectrum.Already "the largest international network of vacation rental Web sites," HomeAway has acquired, a 10-year-old online marketplace for second homes and resort real estate sales.

With EscapeHomes, HomeAway now provides owners the tools to research and find real estate pros who specialize in second homes and their dream vacation, investment or retirement home.

“The purchase of EscapeHomes was a natural next step for our business, making HomeAway the only company specializing in second homes throughout the entire ownership process,” said Brian Sharples, CEO of HomeAway.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sherpa Report: Rich Will Buy 2nd Homes Eventually

From the Sherpa Report, which tracks the luxury travel and destination club market, comes a hopeful note on long-term trends based on "a recent survey by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank.

While second home purchases by the affluent may be slow for "perhaps another 2 years," Liam Bailey, Knight Frank Residential Research Director, says that caution may be temporary.

"The advantage for people with equity is that they can benefit from forced sales from others in the market," said Bailey. "There are bargains beginning to appear in many locations. But due to tight credit you need to be fairly wealthy to take advantage."

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