Real estate round-up
The vacation home market is making a comeback after a couple of rocky years. People still want a place for recreation, and the seashore, the mountains and even vibrant urban locations are attracting buyers.
“We have generations of South Americans and Mexicans who have an affinity for Vail, the children and even the grandchildren, who are now coming back and getting a home in Vail,” says Alex Iskenderian of Vail Resorts Developmeent Company of Colorado. “That is an encouraging sign — as the baby boomers are aging and not skiing as much, we see the next generation coming in to buy.”
Even the timeshare business is moving again, according to a panel of experts at the recent National Association of Real Estate Editors annual conference in Denver.
A new trend is the emergence of urban timeshare-like residences in cities such as San Francisco, San Antonio or Washington, D.C.
With interest rates low, people continue to be drawn to real estate as an investment. Others buy vacation homes as a lifestyle choice.
Vacation-home sales rose 7 percent to 502,000 home and condos in 2011, up from 469,000 sales in 2010, according to a national study by the National Association of Realtors. It’s an improvement, but still down from the frothy years of the height of realty boom in 2006, when more than a 1 million vacation homes were sold.
Foreign buyers are buying a lot of vacation properties, as economic instability motivates buyers from Europe and the drug wars drive Mexican buyers into American realty.
A new trend is the emergence of urban timeshare-like residences in cities such as San Francisco, San Antonio or Washington, D.C., says upscale realty specialist Peter Kempf of Peter Kempf International. The urban areas allow people to make shorter get-away trips and enjoy a city’s great sights, restaurants and arts.
Buyers who want to get a place in another country find timeshares, also known as fractional ownership dwellings, appealing because it avoids the nettlesome process of buying in a place with foreign language with different realty laws, Kempf says.
What’s the next hot market? Kempf is seeing a big interest in Tuscany region of Italy and France’s Provence. As the Baby Boomer general gets older, Palm Springs, Calif., has a lot of promise to be a hot market for years to come, predicts Anderson.
Houston’s housing market, which just recorded its best month in four years, has definitely pulled out of the doldrums. And it looks like most of the nation is experiencing a recovery as well.
"You're going to see an excellent housing recovery," said Margaret Kelly, chief executive officer of Re/Max, in a speech to the Denver conference. "We are poised beautifully for home values to go up."
"You're going to see an excellent housing recovery," said Margaret Kelly, chief executive officer of Re/Max. "We are poised beautifully for home values to go up."
The inventory of homes for sale has been shrinking and in some places the market is tight with homes getting multiple offers.
"The housing market reached bottom a year ago,” said Ted C. Jones, chief economist of Stewart Title. “We have no inventory.”
The economists and experts at the real estate editors conference indicated a consensus of belief that home prices will go up over the next year, perhaps as much as 3 to 5 percent.
The NAREE conference hosted dozens of economists and CEOs of realty firms from around the country at its conference at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver. Other comments included:
• Resurrecting the home building business may take a while, says David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. It’s still difficult for builders to get financing. Building materials manufacturers have shut down. And land developers have not been creating many new communities and home lots. So even though the demand for new homes is rising, creating new homes for consumers is a slow process.
• Uncertainty abounds for home buyers. Some consumers fear that another decline in home prices will occur, said Scott Ryles, CEO of Home Value Insurance Co. Ryles’ firm has created an insurance policy for buyers, giving them coverage if the value of their house takes a dive.
• Home buyers are still interested in green homes, but consumers have a hard time balancing their desire to be green and being able to afford it. Architect LaVerne Williams of Environment Associates says flat “living roofs” that allow people to have an insulating layer of soil and growing plants atop their houses are a growing trend. For custom home buyers, the people who want to spend for a green home often opt for solar power systems, says Denver builder Gene Myers of New Town Builders. Solar is sexy. But other energy savings mechanisms are a harder sell. “It’s hard to get people excited about extra insulation,” Myers says.
Ralph Bivins, founding editor of RealtyNewsReport.com, is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.