Saturday, December 27, 2008

One Investor Says Las Vegas Home Prices May Have Hit Bottom

Steve Bottfeld, a real estate analyst with Marketing Solutions has a 3 point theory of how to gauge the bottom of a real estate market. First, he looks at the inventory of homes listed on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Second, he evaluates the volume of business which is simply the number of homes being sold in the marketplace. Lastly, he considers the average median price of homes. Bottfeld states that once the inventory stops increasing, the volume begins trending upward and the median price stabilizes… you have found the true bottom of the market. Concludes Las Vegas real estate investor Glenn Plantone: "From the data we are now considering for the Las Vegas valley, it appears that the elusive bottom may be right around the corner if not already here." He says the current median price of homes in Las Vegas is near $184,000, and "1in 76 homes is currently in some stage of foreclosure." What can you get for that price? 3 BR home shown above, currently on Las Vegas MLS, built in 2003, is listed at $179,999.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Boosting Vacation Home Rentals with Contests

One way to prod frugal vacationers to think about renting your vacation home is to hold a contests. That's what HomeAway is doing. The big Website is offering a "Getaway," worth up to $5,000, to the best blog post, video or photo essay submitted before Jan. 8,2009. The company says the contest will "creatively spread the word about the value of vacation rentals," and point out that a family's travel budget "goes further when you rent a vacation home, because you have more space to comfortably accommodate family and friends--at the same, or often lower, nightly rate as hotels." To enter, tell HomeAway why you need a week away and where you want to spend it. Among the choices so far: a house on Lake Travis near Austin, Texas and a mansion in Las Vegas.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Home Owners Alert-- Get a Federal Tax Credit in '09 For Energy Efficiency

"Ronnie Kweller, a spokeswoman for the Alliance to Save Energy, notes that sealing your house with weatherstripping and caulking, in combination with sufficient insulation, can save up to 20 percent on heating bills in winter and cooling bills in summer" at either your first or second home, writes Billie Cohen in today's Second home column in the NY Times Escapes section. What's more, since you get a tax credit for energy efficiency in 2009, wait until after Jan 1 and then invest in that new boiler, heating system or other big-ticket energy efficiency system. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act that was enacted in October allows you $500 in consumer tax credits for energy-efficiency home improvements. If you claimed some but not all of the $500 federal income tax credit for energy efficiency home improvements that was in effect in tax years 2006 and 2007, you may be able to use these in 2009. According to the government's Energy Star website, "improvements made during 2008 are not eligible for a tax credit."

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Destination Clubs failing? LUSSO and Yellowstone bankrupt -- Who is next?

The LUSSO Collection, one of the "destination clubs" that offers wealthy vacationers a choice of private homes around the world, has filed for bankruptcy in Minnesota, according to Halogen Guides. LUSSO has homes in 16 prestigious locations around the world, and will continue operating, according to a statement given to Halogen. But the chatter among owners in luxe land suggests everyone is wondering which club will be the next into bankruptcy court. Exclusive Resorts, the largest of the clubs, has apparently laid off staff. The Yellowstone Club, the private Montana ski resort that was a poster child for ultra-rich digs in flush times, and which grew into a network of 10 resorts worldwide, filed for bankruptcy in November, Other clubs are said to be raising their rates and fees. Stay tuned.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Cinnamon Shore, "New Urbanist" Vacation Community, Grows in Texas

A "new urbanist" development has taken root in Texas. Cinnamon Shore, a vacation home community on Mustang Island, is growing despite the credit crunch, "We have 23 homes either complete or at various stages of construction and 10 homes that will be breaking ground in the next 60-90 days," a spokeswoman said. "Our phase 1 amenities that are complete consist of our golf-cart-accessible dune crossover (beach access), Fishing Pavilion and Boardwalk on Lake Colby." Phase 1 of the community consists of consists of 82 homesites, of which 41 are sold, and an additional 6 are pending with builders. By March, the pool and pool house will be finished. Mustang Island is opposite Corpus Christi on the Gulf of Mexico, but suffered no damage during Hurricane Ike, which hit the Texas coast last summer. "The protective dunes (which were an integral part of the design of the community) shielded the development from any storm surge and harsh weather," wrote PR consultant Randi Tucker in answer to my email about this.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Will Luxury Fractionals Be First to Rebound from Credit Crunch?

Two prominent voices in the resort development world feel private residence clubs -- the luxury arm of the fractional resort market -- may be among the first to rebound from the credit crunch. Dick Ragatz (pictured) says buying $3 million whole ownership houses on the beach or in a ski resort with the expectation of 20% annual appreciation are gone, but the alternative, residence clubs, typically a shared ownership by six to ten households in each residence, with club staff to care for the property and provides hotel-like services, still make sense.

While Ragatz Associates, points out that fractional sales will undoubtedly be off for 2008, "in the long term, recent events will enhance" their attractiveness" when compared to whole ownership.

Steve Dering of DCP International agrees. His Chicago-based firm helps market residence clubs, and while sales have slowed, he believes “affluent households will always want a vacation home.”

With residence clubs "the use is the same as whole ownership but the purchase price is far lower. Additionally, the shared annual ownership cost is significantly less than the cost of renting a comparable luxury home multiple times a year. When you factor in the abundant amenities and a private staff that takes care everything, it’s more for less without the headaches. The game changer for us," concludes Dering, "is that our buyers do not have to sell other real estate to purchase at a residence club,” Dering said. “And many do not have to finance, although financing is still available.”

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