Monday, November 24, 2008

Vacation Home Expo to Explain Girlfriend Getaways

One of the big emerging travel trends is "Girlfriend Getaways." Vacation home owners and renters will be able to learn more about them from the founders of Travelgirl Magazine -- publisher Renee Werbin and editor-in-chief Stephanie Oswald -- and get advice and tips on what's behind this movement of more women vacationing together on January 24 and 25, at Vacation Home Expo. It takes place at the Cobb Galleria Convention Centre in Atlanta. Some observers believe "girlfriend getaways" are now a full-fledged phenomenon. Stephanie Oswald, who also hosts the popular television series All-Girl Getaways on the Fine Living Network, has an up close appreciation and understanding of this vacation lifestyle movement. "I am constantly encouraging women to find their oasis in life, both at home and on the go," says Oswald. The term "girlfriends" can mean any females from 15 to 80, related to one another (mother/daughter, sisters, etc.) or just pals.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

More Second Home Owners Renting Out Properties

"About 25 percent of vacation-home buyers said last year that they planned to rent out the property, up from 18 percent in 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors," the AP reports.

"And real estate agents in vacation hot spots say that trend is continuing, because more owners are watching their retirement savings slump with the stock markets.

"People who have second homes have found the price of operating and maintaining their home have gone up" alongside the increased cost for everything else in their lives, the wire service quoted Justin Halloran, vice president of as saying.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Las Vegas Prices Still Going Down In a Hurry

"Asking prices fell at the fastest rate in Las Vegas - down 3.7% during October - and 7.1% over the most recent three-month period" according to The Altos 10-City Composite Price Index, a reliable indicator of current trends. "This marks the seventh consecutive month that Las Vegas has posted the fastest rate of declining prices among major markets."

So is there anyplace where prices are NOT plummeting? "Listing prices rose at the fastest rate in Denver - up 0.7% in October - followed by Houston where prices were up 0.6%. Denver and Houston are now the only markets showing three months of sequential price increases," the report said.

“The fleeting signs of price stability that we saw during the summer have now completely vanished,” said Stephen Bedikian, partner and research director for Real IQ, which is part of Altos. “October’s stock market crash has crushed consumer confidence and housing price declines have resumed across most major markets.”

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Flagstaff AZ Home Prices Plunge

With buyers looking for bargains, median home sale prices in Flagstaff, northern Arizona, continue to fall. "In October, the median price was $328,000, down $58,000 from the same month the year before," according to an article in the Arizona Daily Sun. "But that price remains at least $75,000 more than what a median-income family in Flagstaff can afford." Photo shown is a house for sale at $348,500.

Out of 56 homes sold, said the paper, 33 "were priced below $350,000. In the $350,000 to $500,000 range, houses languish -- there is a 15-month supply, said the newspaper. Flagstaff is home to Northern Arizona University and has been a flourishing second home destination.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

HomeAway Gets Millions in Financing; CEO Hopes to Spread Word of Rental Riches

The real estate market may have cratered, but venture capital obviously is still available for Websites that dominate a portion of the crowded online real estate world. HomeAway, which calls itself the world’s leading online vacation rental marketplace, has announced an infusion of $250 million in private financing. That's a record -- it represents the largest minority investment of a U.S. Internet company in the last eight years, according to Venture Source.

HomeAway describes itself as operating "the world’s leading and most-established vacation rental sites including,,,,, and Featuring more than 309,000 vacation rentals in destinations ranging from big cities to remote countrysides." It will use the dough in part to "fund additional strategic investments, eliminate all debt and provide working capital for increased marketing and promotions."

Brian Sharples, chief executive officer and founder of HomeAway, says he wants to raise the profile of vacation homes as money-making opportunities for their owners. "There are nearly 14 million vacation home owners in the U.S. and Europe, and most are still not aware of how easy and profitable it can be to rent their homes, even if for just a few weeks each year," he said.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Upcoming PBS TV Series to Spotlight Vacation Home and Condo Rentals

A new reality TV series, "Living Large on Vacation," slated to be shown on the PBS network soon, will focus solely on vacation home, villa and condo rentals, according to industry veteran Rick Fisher. A consultant to the Florida-based Discover Vacation Homes group of major property management firms, as well as president of Vacation Home Expos, Fisher tells me that PineRidge Film & Television is getting ready to produce the first 13 episodes, based on the notion that vacation homes are the best kept secret in the travel world. Most American travelers have never rented a vacation home, so "the first time this will be promoted to a national audience – that’s huge,” he says.

What will the show resemble? "It's like 'extreme home makeover goes on vacation.'" says Fisher, who adds that each of the first set of episodes will feature a different segment of vacationers (like the family poolside in photo above, girlfriends, destination wedding, etc.) at various domestic destinations. The emphasis, he says, "will be the experience, the lifestyle in the rental homes — barbecues, hot tubbing, wine on the balcony." The show will make the point that for the price of a hotel room you can get an entire, fully equipped house at which to spend your holiday. A brief preview of "Living Large" is already available on YouTube.

Right now the production company, known for its work that appearing on such niche networks as the Travel Channel and HGTV, is considering locations in such places as Maui, Lake Tahoe, Orlando, and Hilton Head. It's hoped the show can start airing as early as next Spring. The venture is seeking funding sponsors at the moment.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Are California Vacation Homes a Good Buy Now? You Decide.

California might be a great place to pick up a vacation home right now, declares real estate commentator Broderick Perkins. He notes that the California Association of Realtors reported this fall that the median price of housing in key coastal and tourist areas was way way down -- down "50 percent to nearly 60 percent in the Monterey and Monterey County regions; down 30 to 50 percent in Santa Barbara regions; down more than 42 percent in Palm Springs; down 35 percent in Los Angeles; down 33 percent in San Diego and the Wine Country; down 32 percent in Santa Cruz; and down 29 percent in San Francisco Bay Area." Then he quotes others, such as Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community for, as arguing that buyers with cash who can buy and then rent out a vacation home can make it a nice investment. However, these owners should be able to pay the monthly mortgage with enough rental weeks to eke out a profit.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Financial Crisis Hurts 2 Western Canadian Mountain Resorts

It appears that the international financial crisis is "slowing the work at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, the major new ski area that was opened last year," according to the Idaho Mountain Express and Guide.

According to another source, the Revelstoke Times Review, "What is clear is that significant management and ownership changes are underway, and the credit crunch, as well as other factors, will cause a delay in the scheduled opening for many of the physical components of the resort and on-mountain infrastructure such as chairlifts.

This report quoted a resort official as saying "control of the project had been assumed by the Northland Properties group... which is operated by the Gaglardi family out of Vancouver." The Times Review said "previous control of the project had been held by Don Simpson, a Denver-based developer of housing." Apparently the new Nelson Lodge will be finished but not on its original schedule.

"At Canmore, meanwhile, the $135 million Solar Resort & Spa has gone into receivership and construction has been halted," reported the Idaho publication. Both Revelstoke and Canmore are in British Columbia. Canmore is right near Banff, while Revelstoke is a much-ballyhooed new, big ski/snowboard area in the Selkirk Mountain Range.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Vacation Home Blogs Crucial to Sales, Rentals, Says NY Times

A front-page NY Times Escapes article Friday spotlighted "the growing importance that blogs play" in today's vacation home market. "For brokers, blogs are, of course, a handy marketing tool: they’re economical, practical and easy to update. But for prospective buyers, a sophisticated blog... can help potential buyers forge a connection to a faraway community, learn the landscape of an area and... make informed purchasing decisions....

"Ultimately, agents’ blogs are tools to attract new clients. 'If you’re going to sell a home in the mountains, you’re going to have to sell the mountains,'" Elwin Wood, an upstate New York broker was quoted as saying.

Hello, buyers, developers, brokers! Vacation Home Insider is a great place to start. Use the search box to locate a region or town, then click on individual posts about these spots in such desirable places as the Colorado mountains, Mexico etc.

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