Breck Cannabis AP

The line at Breckenridge Cannabis Club goes out the door as vacationers and residents alike take advantage of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana laws. (Kathryn Olson/AP)

We’ve seen photos and stories from Colorado ski towns such as Aspen and Breckenridge showing vacationers filing lines out the door at marijuana shops, so of course, we had to wonder what kind of impact legal pot could have on Colorado real estate. Are more buyers putting it in their pipes and smoking it?

Turns out the Colorado Association of Realtors was wondering the exact same thing.  After all, with 136 pot retailers in the state as of Dec. 2013, buyers were throwing green after green, eventually causing a state-wide shortage of smokables. But is recreational marijuana a boon for Colorado real estate, or a burden?

“Some people don’t want to come [to Colorado] with their families,” says Joyce Burford, executive director of Colorado Association of Ski Towns. “Because they have this image that all these pot smokers will be everywhere.” That’s not happening, she says, and “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Analysis from the Colorado Association of Realtors shows that while state law no longer forbids recreational pot sales and retailers, local governments hold the keys to the lease.

The majority of counties in Colorado have either already passed bans on recreational marijuana retailers or have delayed making a decision and placed a moratorium on pot business; closely monitoring how enactment is working in other parts of the state.

It looks as though recreational marijuana businesses will be absent from large portions of the state for the foreseeable future. According to the Denver Post, of the ten largest cities in Colorado (by population), only Denver is expected to accept license applications for recreational marijuana stores this year.

It’s also important to note that in counties and cities that have decided to allow recreational sales, grow operations will only be in areas zoned industrial.

Right now, Denver and Denver County are the only areas where you can still apply for a marijuana sales license. So vacation property owners don’t really have to worry about an influx of new ganja businesses. And in Vail, there’s a complete moratorium on recreational marijuana sales. Still, folks in Aspen are buying pot, but at least one Realtor doesn’t think it will do much for real estate sales, if anything at all.

“I don’t think [legal marijuana] is making that much difference,” Joshua Landis, a real-estate agent in Aspen, said in this piece in The Daily Beast.

“People have always been able to access marijuana in Aspen. Nobody is out smoking marijuana on the corner” just because it’s suddenly legal to possess and use it in private (it’s still illegal to use publicly). In addition, he says, “I don’t think it has any effect” on property values. “No one who can afford to buy property in Aspen is going to make their decision based on marijuana policy.”

If the lines snaking outside of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club are any indication, pot tourism might make Colorado the new Amsterdam. And heck, it might be a draw so much in that it awakens latent demand for buyers who want to move to a 4:20-friendly state, but perhaps in more affordable areas such as Denver and its surrounding suburbs.

Others, like Lubbock’s Colt and Amanda Smith, are among those planning to move to the state to ride the new economy. The couple founded the Lubbock chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

They had talked about retiring in Colorado but decided to act early once the new law took effect.

“We have our house on the market right now,” Colt Smith said. “It makes sense to find exile in a place that has more reasonable laws than to sit around and wait for Texas to get there.”

The Smiths hope to launch a marijuana edibles business once they establish residency.

“We feel like Colorado is just beautiful and has beautiful laws,” Smith said. “When people tell me they’re going there to ski now, they use air quotes.”

“Skiing,” indeed.

 

Banner photoYear-round views steal the show at 739 Lakeview Ave., which is on the market for $2.7 million in South Lake Tahoe Calif. Listing agent Theresa Souers says this one is “probably the best buy all around the lake.”

Plenty of Texans go for vacation homes near Lake Tahoe.

“But be prepared that our houses aren’t as big as they’re used to,” real estate agent Theresa Souers adds with a chuckle. “I always tell them that upfront.”

Size doesn’t matter so much, however, when you’re breathing mountain air and pondering a looming, pristine lake that straddles California and Nevada.

Wealthy Californians are known for flocking to little towns on the Nevada side to avoid state income tax and enjoy a lower cost of living. Both options offer unfettered views and a sense of tony, tucked-away escapism, but it’s the area’s unbeatable year-round beauty and perpetual sports — including hiking, snow skiing, and waterskiing — that give Tahoe its biggest advantage over seasonal resort spots.

Serious buyers come because “they like the clean air,” says broker Chris Plastiras, of Lakeshore Realty. “They like the low crime rate, they like the educational system.”

220 Glen Way exterior739 Lakeview: Water and mountain views abound at this South Lake Tahoe property.

Home sales are up 30 to 35 percent this year by Sours’s count, and Plastiras’s company has seen a more than 100-percent increase, from $94 million in total sales to around $225 million.

The numbers aren’t a huge surprise, however; typically, California’s property sales foretell Tahoe’s to some extent.

“If you study the historical trends,” Souers explains, “we follow the Bay Area,” usually with about six-month to yearlong lag.

And guess what? The Bay Area is starting to fly high.

As for Tahoe, “we kind of flattened out around November,” Souers said, “but I don’t think it’s a permanent thing.”

Tahoe-area properties are often carefully regulated, for better or for worse; building permits can be scarce, which keeps neighborhoods quaint but frustrates some homeowners.

220 Glen Way interior(Above and Below): This low-elevation, lodge-style home offers direct access to a tennis and recreation center. 220 Glen Way is listed for $2.2 million in Incline Village, Nev.

739 Lakeview Living Room

“Even if you own [an empty] lot, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be able to build up there,” cautions Dallas resident Joyce Jacobson, whose family has kept a beloved second home in South Lake Tahoe — right on the state line, she says — for more than 20 years. Lake houses seem to hold their value better over time, she figures, but they’re also subject to strict regulations. In some cases, she adds, that means rules about what sort of blinds an occupant can hang from his or her windows. Seriously.

Her husband, Bob, has a funny story about their own vacation getaway, which isn’t on the lake. Seven or eight years ago, he said, Joyce and their grown children began pressuring him to sell.

“I put a real high price on it,” he says with a mischievous laugh — $1.2 million, which was several times what the family paid for it years ago — “thinking, ‘if we do [sell], we’re going to get something good.’”

A prospective buyer popped up immediately.

“They were so depressed,” Jacobson said of his family when they got the news. “They were hardly talking, and just walking around with their heads drooped down.”

Then and there, they changed their minds about leaving.

“Compared to Dallas,” Jacobson muses, “everything’s quiet. You get up in the morning, and the birds are making noise. You hear all these little animals. Last time I was up there, there were like six deer walking on our main street.”

Or maybe it’s the other humans — and myriad human diversions — that make die-hards keep coming back.

“It’s all the recreational spots, with all the skiing and the hiking and the water sports,” says homeowner Leroy Hardy (a relative of mine), whose custom-built Incline Village, Nev., house includes a creek, and is on the market.

“It’s unsurpassed.”

Georgia and Matt2Georgia Fisher is a Dallas expat now living in Reno, Nev., with her fiancé. Her interests include cats, Internet videos of cats, and cats watching Internet videos of cats. While she adores her quaint historic rental in Reno, she tries to escape to Lake Tahoe as often as possible. 

Kathryn Roan 1Let’s give a warm welcome to Kathryn Roan, and Ebby Halliday Realtor with Texas Equestrian Properties. Roan, who was born in Midland, raised in Dallas, and has a background in oil and gas, is a horse-lover who lives in Poetry, TX.

Find out more about this lovely gal on CandysDirt.com, and stay tuned right here on SecondShelters.com for farm and ranch news, as well as a regular “Ranch of the Week” feature from Kathryn!

 

There has never been a better time to buy a second home. I am even watching my spending these days, eyeing fractional ownership if it has all the right locations. We are having a guest post soon from a fractional ownership expert to explain the do’s and don’ts. The problem is not buying, as we know, it’s getting financing. We recently re-financed our lot in the Hill Country at Walnut Springs, no thanks to Wells Fargo  and were told to basically forget it. No one wants to finance land without a house on it because there is nothing to sell should you default. And when it comes to raw, open land in the country, things are a lot trickier.

I would strongly suggest that even before you begin looking in the country or lakes or wherever — but really, now, go look — heed this advice from Marcus McCue, Senior Vice President at Guardian Mortgage. By the way, from my own personal experience, I also strongly recommend local mortgage companies FIRST and staying clear of the large banks to avoid headaches, or in the case of Wells Fargo, migraines.

What surprises await new country homeowners?

There are several surprises that can slow down the loan approval process for country homes. For example, most people are not aware that there are special requirements for wells, sewage systems, oil/gas wells or pipelines, power lines, storage tanks, wood-burning stoves and even how close the property is to a landfill. (A landfill!) These factors take on even greater importance if you are considering an FHA or VA loan, both of which have more stringent rules.

You’ll need water tests and possible soil tests and most likely a new survey to make sure that electric lines or gas pipelines aren’t within your easement or will be a certain distance away from the house.

If you are pre-approved for the loan, will you still run into these problems?

It’s possible. Pre-approval is not enough in the case of a rural property because of these property and improvement requirements. The underwriter might decline the loan if the property doesn’t fit its requirements. It is important that the contract state that the deal is contingent on the underwriter accepting the property.

The bottom line is that rural properties will take more time – water and soil tests can take weeks to come in, for example.

Another snag may be in the appraisal process. Since country appraiser cover hundreds of miles of properties, you want to make sure you get someone who is at least familiar with your home the area it is in.

For more specific details, check out this article from Mortgage Currentcy.com, which gives a chart of specific FHA and VA requirements for rural properties – the guidelines followed by most underwriters.

If you have additional questions about your particular situation, feel free to contact Marcus McCue at 972-200-3380, marcusmccue@gmc-inc.com or on facebook.

 

Those of us in real estate know that when the housing market plummets,  vacation places plummet the most. Second homes are most often discretionary purchases you wait on until you feel flush with cash.

Well, get ready. Realtors say second-home buyers are returning to the store,  shopping from Cape Cod to Lake Tahoe. As I told you, nationwide vacation home sales rose 7% in 2011 to 502,000 homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. They made up 11% of total sales in 2011, more than they did in 2010.  And NAR’s spokesman Walter Molony, who I hope to see in Denver next week at NAREE, expects continued momentum.

“We’ve heard positive reports from Las Vegas, Telluride, Col., Lake Tahoe, Naples, Fla., and some areas of California,” he told Investor’s Daily. “We’ve been seeing a little bit of unleashing of pent-up demand.”

Well yes, that plus bargain prices.

But while the number of transactions is increasing, vacation home prices are still not generally appreciating. The healthiest segment of the market is, surprise surprise, upper-end properties: the luxury market.

Neal Hanks, an Asheville, N.C. agent says he is seeing significant increases in sales of homes in excess of $500,000 in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I hear the Florida market is even tightening up. No Girls Gone Wild, but firming. The recent death of my brother-in-law has me poking into the Naples market, where they own two homes. In nearby Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, inventory is just 4.7 months, the lowest since 2005.

In Southwest Florida,  broker associate Jennifer Calenda of Michael Saunders & Co., a luxury regional real estate firm affiliated with Ebby Halliday through Luxury Portfolio, says dollar volume sales are up. Prices are not going up, but people are buying about $100,000 over where they were — so folks looking at a $300,000 condo might spring for $400,000. Are people really feeling more flush, more confident, or just sick of depriving themselves?

Some feel people are getting back on their feet, paying off debt, and I think I read that American’s debt levels were decreasing. David Southworth, founder and CEO of Southworth Development, which specializes in upscale vacation-resort communities, says demand is coming back as people get on their feet.

“The second-home market is always a trickle-up type,” he told Investor’s Business Daily. “As the economy gets better that means small business owners start making money again and executives start getting bigger bonuses. And that’s when our customers come back.”

“During the past year, investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun . “Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks as an added inducement.”

The median vacation-home price was $121,300, down 19.1 percent from $150,000 in 2010.

The typical vacation-home buyer was 50 years old, had a median household income of $88,600 and purchased a property that was a median distance of 305 miles from the primary residence; 35 percent of vacation homes were within 100 miles and 37 percent were more than 500 miles. Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of 10 years.

Eighty-two percent of vacation-home buyers said the primary reason for buying was to use the property themselves for vacations, or as a family retreat. Thirty percent plan to use the property as a primary residence in the future, while only 22 percent plan to rent to others.

Forty-two percent of vacation homes purchased last year were in the South, 30 percent in the West, 15 percent in the Northeast and 12 percent in the Midwest; Only 1 percent were located outside of the U.S.

They’re not all back. Southworth recently bought some communities on the cheap after the real estate bubble burst: Creighton Farms in Virginia horse country and most recently Willowbend in Cape Cod. Willowbend is doing the best, because of 8 million in metro Boston who can drive there. Most second home owners prefer to drive to their vacation homes, on average about 4 hours, but most often one or two.

Next week, I’ll hear more about Longcove at Cedar Creek Lake east of Dallas: 45 minutes east of Dallas.

The segment doing the best is the high end of the vacation market, this according to Brent Herrington, senior vice president of luxury developer DMB Associates.

“Inventory is much scarcer in the most desirable locations,” he said. “Prices are firming … we’re getting back to a world of multiple offers.”

Those amazing deals in the tops spots of the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Aspen and Vail peaked in hit in 2010-11. If you didn’t do it then, or are not quite in that league, look for the secondary markets — beachfront but not the name-drop locations.

After a few decades of recession, Palm Springs is becoming a hot second home market, beating out Santa Fe, say some realtors. And the developers are there to give buyers what they want: sun and out here, golf.

“We find our buyers appreciate all the things that Palm Springs and Indian Wells has to offer – the relaxed, resort atmosphere, no traffic concerns, friendly service, warm winters, incredible views and an abundance of outdoor activities, “ says Bill Bone, CEO and Founder of Sunrise Company, developer of Toscana, a golf community development in Indian Wells.

There is golf of course but also hiking, biking, farmer’s markets, as well as great shopping, dining, entertainment, the arts and medical facilities.

“Members have so much fun here, they call it “Camp Toscana”, says Bone. “We are very pleased with our sales results this year: have been 34 homes sold at Toscana, more than $59,000,000 in total sales.”

 

Palm Springs is within close proximity to sooo many Cali locales – less than 2 hours from LA, Laguna, San Diego, Palm Springs is brimming with mid century architecture, history and development.

“It appeals to people who really value properties of that era, and the new boutique hotels and restaurants keep things fun and interesting,” say Palm Springs agents Mark Godson and James Dalton Utsey. “The evolution of our downtown strip continues with the Fashion Plaza being rebuilt as a pedestrian friendly shopping and gathering place.”

 

Like many areas in California, Palm Springs was not spared during the housing bust, but values are beginning to inch up. Don’t have to worry about hurricanes here. Look carefully there are deals to be found.

 

Many consumers buy thinking they can rent out the home for cash flow and potential income, and they can. Vacation home rental listings are up at the website HomeAway. It had 433,000 listings in 2009, but 700,0000 listings now, says its vice president, Jon Gray.

Buyers are stirring, multiple offers are being reported, but there are no indications of appreciation. In some areas, prices are still falling. Do not be afraid to make an offer below asking: U.S. vacation home asking prices dropped 1.7% year over year in the 12 months ending in April, as overall listing prices fell 0.2%.

I do not advise buying a vacation home for pure appreciation. Just look for family enjoyment and maybe a place to rent out.

Still, some areas are seeing a tweak upwards when the distressed properties are all sold out. And demographics may be favorable for long term growth in vacation homes, with the average buyer age 50. There are 42 million people 50 to 59, right behind them are 43.5 million 40 to 49. Then there are 40.2 million people 30 to 39. These people grew up with vacation homes as common as swingsets and may follow their parents’ footsteps in buying.

 

Get this: Austin has an unemployment rate of only 6.7%. That could be why, except for South Padre Island, Austin now has the highest priced median homes in Texas: $194,600, according to the Real Estate center at Texas A&M University. Sales of existing single-family Texas homes in August were up 24 percent from a year ago, according to the most recent Multiple Listing Services (MLS) data compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. More than 21,200 existing single-family homes were sold, data showed. The median home price was $153,200, about the same as a year ago, and the state’s overall inventory was at 7.4 months.

So why is our little sister city to the south, the one often equated with San Francisco, kicking butt in the real estate market? I reached out to my friends at Realty Austin, an Austin real estate firm. Here’s what agent Brittanie Flegle has to say:

Based on the latest financial news, one might assume that very few people are purchasing homes this year.  However, you might be surprised to know that in Austin, July and August home sales reached record highs.  In fact, July marked the best month for Austin real estate in over 2 years!  Here is a snapshot of the Austin real estate market as compared to one year ago.

  • $524,492,455 – Total dollar volume of single-family homes sold, 23% more than July 2010.
  • $196,750 – Median price for single-family homes, 11% less than July 2010.
  • 1,973 – Single-family homes sold, 32% more than July 2010.
  • 205 – Condos and townhomes sold, 45% more than July 2010.
  • 77 – Days on market, 5% longer than July 2010.
  • 2,808 – New single-family home listings on the market, 13% less than July 2010.
  • 9,393 – Active single-family home listings on the market, 20% less than July 2010.
  • 1,994 – Pending sales for single-family homes, 28% more than July 2010.

All of those total to a 32% increase in year over year home sales. This can be explained by the sharp decrease that occurred when Federal homebuyer tax credits expired on June 30, 2010. However, there are several other positive factors driving the Austin real estate market.  These include:

  • Record low mortgage rates
  • Stable home values
  • An unemployment rate of only 6.7%
  • A limited supply of new and resale homes for the 56,000 people expected to move in 2011

One great example of an Austin community that has seen lots of growth in the past year is Scofield Farms. Price points: $300K.  Located in North Austin, it has quickly become one of Austin’s most sought-after neighborhoods for new Austinites and their families.  Scofield farms realtor Jenny Walker agrees. “Scofield is great for families because it is a very close knit community.  Neighbors really look out for one another here.  Scofield is also within walking distance of great schools and near high-tech employers like Dell, Samsung, and IBM” Jenny says.

On the other hand, if you’re in the market to sell, keep in mind that there are 20% fewer homes on the Austin market than there were at this same time last year.  In short, this means significantly less competition for those selling homes.

After a challenging year in real estate, the Austin market seems to be back and holding strong.  How do you spell a healthy real estate market? JOBS!

Susan Knape of Dallas, Texas thought she was doing something smart: paying AHEAD on her mortgage. In fact, if you open your mortgage statement each month, I will bet you the paperwork is right there in the envelope popping out. I’m talking about the equity accelerator programs offered by JP Morgan Chase, Well Fargo, Citibank and many other banks — I see the offers in both my Citibank loans every month. This program is a way, say the banks, for you to be a good citizen… right? Wrong. It’s a way for them to make more money… all the deets and more on CandysDirt.com

This article in the Washington Post says that Baby Boomers are changing the face of suburbia and staying put, rather than retiring to the likes of Florida and Arizona, as their parents did, once they retire. The U.S. Census showed how rapidly America’s suburbs are growing — despite efforts to squeeze us into greener, urban multi-family residential cells and one family car — the Baby Boomers are staying put and, in some cases, buying vacation homes on the equity they’ve built in those suburban homes.

But all this is going to mean big changes for the suburbs. Can you imagine, for example, a group of militant citizens clamouring for convertion of pedestrian traffic signals to countdowns so people can gauge whether they have enough time to cross… in their walkers?

Fairfax County, VA now has forums on kitchen and bath remodeling designs that make the areas accessible for wheelchair users. It has collaborated with George Mason University, offering a course on coping during retirement. And a police unit has been formed to focus on financial fraud committed against the elderly. In suburban Washington, D.C., 27% or 1.5 million are Baby Boomers and no longer spring chickens. Can you imagine the shouting matches at civic meetings between parents demanding bigger classrooms and Boomers demanding bigger sidewalks for wheelchairs? The driving scares me the most: I remember how I worried about my mother driving and she drove until the day she died at age 88.

There were 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964 — I was one. We were the very first generation to grow up in suburbia, because our parents settled the suburbs like good pilgrims post World War II. Maybe it just feels more comfortable, but the suburbs are where many of us chose to rear our children. It was unusual that we were able to live in the city of Dallas, not a suburb, but still have a suburban feel. That is because, north of Uptown, Dallas neighborhoods WERE the suburbs. 

And everyone was surprised when the 2010 Census showed how much faster the suburbs are growing with older populations when compared with the cities. Four in 10 suburban residents are 45 or older, up from 34 percent just a decade ago. Only 35% of city residents are 45 or older, an increase from 31 percent in the last census, and a clear indication that cities have become havens for the young offspring of the wealthy who can cram into small apartments, work at low-level creative jobs, and count on a check from mom and dad each month to help support them.

“During the past decade, the ranks of people who are middle-aged and older grew 18 times as fast as the population under 45, according to Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, who analyzed the 2010 Census data on age for his report, “The Uneven Aging and ‘Younging’ of America.” For the first time, they represent a majority of the nation’s voting-age population.”

This generation — my generation — will treat aging unlike our parents did. We will break the old people rules mold, and that will be reflected in our real estate buying as well. My guess: we stay in our homes as long as possible, make banks out of them if we can in the form of reverse mortgages, and travel travel travel. Once the tax bases get too painful, we will sell the family homes and by the way, there will be a sweet spot of when to do this so as to not flood the market. I think unusual, out-of-the box forms of home ownership and things like fractional home ownership are going to explode in the next decade for the upper middle class as will ownership of ranches and small beach houses, outright or shared. We are the Kumbaya generation and used to living in dorms. We are going to demand accommodations for our aching feet and backs, faltering eyes and ears.

But then, the final shelter: my son gave me a sign to hang in our hallway that reads, “Be nice to the kids: they select the nursing home!”