Monday, March 31, 2008

Hard Times in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan is as cool as Texas is hot (see below.) A recent article in the Detroit News says "Many homeowners are stuck paying the mortgage on an up north cottage they can't unload because other families, who might once have ventured into the vacation-home market, are cutting back in light of job-security fears, stricter lending standards, the high cost of gasoline burned on weekend drives north or other economic concerns." Adds writer Joel L. Stein, quoting a Traverse City broker, market time on for-sale properties in that town has doubled or even tripled.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

NAR Spin on Second Home Sales Drop

In case you've been taking a very long siesta, you already know that second home sales -- like all other real estate transactions -- have fallen sharply in the past year. Below is how the National Association of Realtors spinned the details:

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2008 -
The combined total of vacation- and investment-home sales declined with the overall market in 2007, but still accounted for 33 percent of all existing- and new-home sales, which is close to historic norms, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The market share of homes purchased for investment last year was 21 percent, down from 22 percent in 2006, while another 12 percent were vacation homes, compared with a 14 percent market share in 2006. The total share of second homes declined from 36 percent of transactions in 2006.

NAR’s annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey shows vacation-home sales dropped 30.6 percent to 740,000 in 2007 from a record 1.07 million in 2006, while investment-home sales fell 18.1 percent to 1.35 million last year from 1.65 million in 2006. At the same time, primary residence sales declined 10.0 percent to 4.34 million in 2007 from 4.82 million in 2006.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Houston Hosts First Second-Home Expo

The "Escapes! Second Home Expo" is set for Houston Apr. 19 and 20. Organizers say Texas is the "new hot spot for retirement, according to a recent study using U.S. Census data." Texas has now "leapt past Arizona and California to become the No. 2 retirement spot in the US. "Florida is still No. 1, but Texas is gaining." Spokesman Tony Wood suggests buyers from the greater Houston area, where the energy-driven economy is thriving, are in a better position than most to invest in a vacation home these days. The 200 exhibitors who will take part in the show at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center represent not just Texas destinations but Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, all reachable by nonstop flights from Houston. More info:

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Cape Cod Calls Value Hunters

With home prices dropping faster than locals can name-drop "Kennedy," Cape Cod, MA has become a buyers' market, says a Boston Globe writer. "Statistics, market trends, and reality on the ground make buying a Cape vacation home one of the no-brainer investment decisions of 2008," writes Kris Frieswick. But who should buy? "Those with a 20 percent down payment and pristine credit to meet banks' new stricter requirements and no need to sell an existing home in this tough market." 5 towns where prices have dropped most from 2005-7: Hyannis, Bourne, Mashpee, Centerville, Provincetown. Frieswick notes that some areas have retaremained strong: "Chatham values have merely flattened. Cotuit never stopped appreciating in value." So shop carefully. But you know that already, don't you?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

WSJ Expert June Fletcher on Foreclosures

Good advice:

"Bargains abound, particularly in foreclosure properties. While many Web sites sell foreclosure don't have to pay an online membership fee to find them. Title companies, real-estate agents and lenders -- including credit unions -- all have information on homes in various stages of foreclosure" and
you can also find listings in local newspapers and Web sites.

BIG BUT: "you will get a better deal if you buy a house before it goes to auction, or after -- if it doesn't sell on the courthouse steps. Bidders at an auction sometimes get caught in the heat of the moment and push up prices."

-- Thanks to always-helpful columnist June Fletcher-- read full article here. Foto credit: ABC News

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Vacation Home Show's "Slow Travel" Panel

First there was the Slow Food movement; now there's "slow travel." At the Vacation Home Expo in Atlanta April 12-13, panelists will explain what it all means. One panel, titled "Slow Down, We’re Moving Too Fast: The Slow Travel Vacation Rental Lifestyle Spreading throughout Europe and Worldwide" features Pauline Kenny, founder of the Slow Travel movement, and Kathy Wood, President of the Luberon Experience. They will talk about the "most popular European Slow Travel destinations and how to save money in planning your trip and booking your vacation rental accommodations" according to an Expo press release.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Money Guru Jean Chatzky Says Buy Now

One financial expert thinks a vacation home might be a great buy this spring.

"Like most of you, I own my primary residence, have no intention of moving soon and am locked into a fixed mortgage at a decent rate. So rather than getting all worked up about how much my house may (temporarily) decline in value because of the subprime fiasco, I'm thinking about whether falling prices present a real opportunity," writes Money Magazine's Jean Chatzky.

"A second home might be the ticket....So the market is soft. Good. And mortgage rates are down to 2004 levels. Even better. Is it time to buy? Maybe."

Chatzy herself is looking at the Jersey Shore. Still, she urges patience, caution and lowball bids on places on the Altantic and Gulf Coast beach towns, where prices could drop farther.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Near Vail: Cordilllera's New Paramonte

Cordillera, the luxury community in the Colorado mountains in between Beaver Creek and Vail ski resorts, is going fractional. It is selling 1/8th shares in its new Paramonte residences, which are 3 BR, 3 1/2 furnished homes. Prices start at $400,000 -- not cheap, but Cordillera has a sterling reputation and ownership base. (Resales on existing houses are listed from $1.2-million to over $5-million.) Fractional buyers are guaranteed a minimum of 28 days per year as well as additional time subject to availability. Cordillera is known for its spa and four golf courses, among other amenities.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Heart of Vail: Willow Bridge Fractionals

Real estate market woes? What woes, says Vail, Colorado, which is in the midst of a building boom. Among the new properties coming on stream: fractionals at One Willow Bridge Road beside Gore Creek in the heart of town, where 1/7th interests are available in a 2-BR unit, priced at $650,000, and in 3-BR units for $850,000. Sound like mucho dinero? Not when you consider that whole ownerships were priced starting at $3.6-million and that it will be managed by the well-known Sonnenalp Resort. There will be access to the Sonnenalp, which is a block away. So far, says a spokesman, 72 percent of buyers are from the East Coast. Note that there is a similarly named development even closer to the ski lifts called Willows of Vail, which is not quite finished yet.

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