Monday, January 28, 2008

The "Sweet Spot" for Home Prices

Looking for an edge in selling your home via Web ads? List your home starting on a Friday and if your sales price is $351,000, price it instead at $350,000 for a bigger response. Those tips come from an analysis of sales data by the online real estate brokerage Redfin, as reported in the New York Times. Listings that appeared for the first time on a Friday did 7.7 % more traffic than those begun on Thursday. The "sweet spot" (to borrow a tennis racquet phrase) for prices is $350,000, according to the story, because of how real estate search engines filter results.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Talk About Motivated Sellers!

"Motivated" is typically a code signalling that a seller is ready to haggle on the price of a home or condo.But I've never seen this before: "Motivated developer!" Given the current state of the economy, however, I'm not surprised. In this case it's the builder of the Soulea Luxury Pool Villas, an 18-unit project in the South Pacific Zone of Costa Rica. The current soft market is probably not optimum for pitching second home investors or vacation home buyers on $375-$400,000-range 2 and 3-BR villas in Central America, so I think it's a smart move by Soulea to offer "outrageous price revisions" on the 7 remaining units. Interested? e-mail Amanda Courter ( and tell her I sent you.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

KYT Rates Best Home Exchange Clubs

Worldwide exchange network JewettStreet's founder Ursula Godwin Niesmann, reading our post about home exchanges as money-saving vacation accommodations, notes that you can learn more about the many home exchange Web sites by visiting the the unaffiliated information site Know Your Trade, on which individuals rate the home swap club they have used. Ursula's own club is a community free to all, with helpful listings from Orlando to Buenos Aires and everywhere in between. It also helps novice swappers find out what to expect and how to find the best club or home for your needs. Ursula practices what she preaches -- she and her family landed in a restored medieval tower in Tuscany (above) last summer.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Big White" Buyers Are Brits, Aussies

Brokers know that with the dollar so weak, overseas visitors to the US are buying second homes and vacation homes in Florida and pieds-a-terre in New York like they are, well, tee shirts. Same thing up North. At Big White, a wonderful ski area above Kelowna, British Columbia in Canada, Gary Turner of Royal LePage told me Tuesday that his biggest new market for buyers is Britain. With Australia not far behind. Why not? It's almost as easy to fly to Big White from London or Sydney as it is to go the Alps, except the Canadian snow is soooo much better. And their kids love the idea of ski/snowboard instruction in English. Handsome two-BR strata (condo) at Sundance can be had for under $465,000. Budget 2-BRs? Under $200,000. No wonder the slogan is "Tired of Tee Shirts? Come home with the ultimate souvenir!"

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Monday, January 14, 2008

New Quarter Shares at Whistler

Fans of the Olympics will be able to cheer alpine and other events in 2010 from their own homes if they own one at Whistler-Blackcomb in BC -- or perhaps rent out their units for big bucks. At the huge Canadian resort last week, I saw first hand the lovely village and fantastic twin mountains where much of the action takes place. Whistler has many hotels and condos but owner Intrawest is putting a new set of quarter-share fractionals -- called Evolution -- on stream at prices beginning at $129,000 for a one bedroom.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Home Exchange, Great Walks in England

Think outside the box -- that is, outside London. There are home exchanges available in many interesting, not-your-usual England, as well as homes for rent. For example, in Herefordshire, June welcomes the latest Walking Festival, which was a huge hit in 2007. The most ambitious trail: the Wye Valley Walk covers a 136 mile route. Where to start looking? I love the name of this Web site: -- follow accommodations links for homes, hotels, guest houses where you can stay. And check here for info on last year's walking festival.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pro Property Managers: Smart Choice

Do you need a professional property manager? Probably.

If you're a renter, don't expect hand-holding or personal service directly from owner via the Web. It might be better to deal with pro "concierge" for special requests like stocking fridge, renting sports equipment. This is true especially for those with a big group reunion, family celebration, or a business retreat.

For owners: nothing beats a pro when you need full service -- that means a 24/7 call number, agent to handle frozen pipes etc. "It's difficult to deal at a distance with putting in a hot water heating on a Sunday morning," says Michael Sarka of Vacation Rental Managers Association. Find them at -- they handle 150,000 vacation homes all over U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Mexico.

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