Estes Park

The beautiful Baldpate Inn in Estes Park, Colo., boasts a century of business and a gorgeous setting – and it’s up for grabs.

The beautiful Estes Park, Colo., is a great place to play — we all know that. But what if we told you that you could also own an entire inn that would provide both a personal playground and a revenue stream? 

This week’s historical shelter is the Baldpate Inn. The Estes Park staple has 12 guest rooms in the main lodge, four cabins, the original homestead, and an outdoor event area. (more…)

Kentucky

The Samuels Home in what is now Coxs Creek, Ky., is one of the birthplaces of bourbon – and the original home of the family that would one day create Maker’s Mark.

The fact that the patriarch of what would become the Maker’s Mark family claimed his stake here would be story enough for most to consider this 200-year-old (plus) home in Kentucky.

But add the fact that the patriarch also was the master distiller for a Founding Father, and that later another son became the step-father of two notorious gun slingers, and the Samuels Home becomes both a home and a treasury of American history. (more…)

Harriet Beecher Stowe

You can own the birthplace of Harriet Beecher Stowe – provided you don’t mind putting it back together. (Photos courtesy Art Pappas)

Today’s historical shelter should be a museum, but for $400,000, the birthplace of Harriet Beecher Stowe could be yours – with a caveat.

It’s kind of a giant, DIY puzzle. The Hartford, Conn., home was carefully dismantled with an eye toward moving it and turning it into a museum about the early life of the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” (more…)

Maine

Stephen King lived in this four-bedroom, three-bath house built in Orrington, Maine, in 1906, when he was inspired to write “Pet Sematary.”

Stephen King slept here. In fact, he lived here, in this four-bedroom, three-bath house built in Orrington, Maine, in 1906, when he was inspired to write “Pet Sematary.”

And it can be your second home for a mere $255,000. (more…)

cape cod

In Provincetown, Cape Cod.

Every June, my family and I rent a cottage in Orleans, Mass., for a week, which is in the heart of Cape Cod. Our place is right on the bay, and we watch the tide ebb and flow from our large front porch. We just returned last week and the temperature was never above 80°. Last summer, it was so chilly, we rarely swam. The air smells clean and briny, and the architecture everywhere is like a storybook. If this sounds like paradise, you’re not far off.

cape codLife is pretty sweet in Cape Cod—I’ve had the opportunity to spend many hours driving and exploring the 15 towns that make up its 339 square miles. Cape Cod stretches from Woods Hole in the southwest (where you catch ferries to Martha’s Vineyard) to Provincetown in the northeast (where we go whale watching and fishing).

The year-round population of 220,000 swells during summer months, when many thousands like us flock to Cape Cod for a holiday. I can’t help but wonder what it would cost us to buy a place up there—it’s easy to afford something if your budget is massive, but what about more reasonably priced Cape Cod real estate?

I found three places that I think just might fit the bill.

 

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ChristopherCtOutside

If Samantha was your favorite American Girl doll as a kid, well then, welcome home. Be honest: You loved Samantha for her satiny rich girl outfits and that she stole Felicity’s horse. Yeah, me, too.

The ranch at 527 Christopher Court is a grown-up dollhouse of modern amenities in a suit of classic Victorian charm. Located on 6.5 acres just 10 miles from the heart of Rockwall in the Bluebonnet Ridge Equestrian Subdivision, you’ll be surrounded by fellow horse owners and a country feel, and still be just minutes from the grocery store. Bluebonnet Ridge is home to serious competive equestrians and pleasure riders alike, boasting community riding trails and a monthly newsletter that includes everything from brags on your neighbors’ horseshow winnings to reminders that resident equines’ Coggins tests are coming due.

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Despite an exterior befitting the setting for a Bronte novel, the interior of this darling home has all the features a modern family is looking for. The freshly updated kitchen is highlighted by custom cabinets, granite countertops, island, and gorgeous farm sink.

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Enjoy your morning coffee on the master suite’s private balcony, completing the stunning oasis that you’ll love coming home to after a long trailride. Everyone knows that the “horse does all the work,” but in case yours doesn’t, the master bath focuses around an incredible soaking tub to relax sore muscles, providing an excellent opportunity to brush up on the latest in rider fitness.

ChristopherCtMasterBath1 ChristopherCtMasterBath2

Stepping outside, the backyard is perfect for roasting marshmallows around the fire pit and relaxing with a glass of wine in the gazebo after a long day.

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Getting to the good stuff, Christopher Court features an amazing shop-and-barn combination that will suit everyone’s interests. For the craftsman, the 30×30 shop has water, electric, and a small restroom.

ChristopherCtBarn

ChristopherCtShop

The adjoining barn is a no-expense-spared paradise for the equine children in your life, with 3 oversize wooden stalls (two of which have attached covered runs), concrete aisle, tack room, and automatic Ritchie waterer.

ChristopherCtCoveredRuns ChristopherCtHorseStalls2 ChristopherCtHorseStalls1

Outside the barn, you’ll find all pipe fencing and a large sand arena with lights, perfect for schooling after work in the wintertime or at midnight in the summer.

ChristopherCtArena

Needless to say, Christopher Court is the right combination of features to make your horsey friends jealous, while still close enough to civilization that your Dallas friends will come visit you. In short, the perfect hobby horse farm.

This stunning property is offered for $489,000 by Ebby Halliday Realtor Dee Evans.

Y’all come back now, ya hear!

Kathryn Roan 1Kathryn Roan is an Ebby Halliday Realtor focusing on farms, ranches, and equestrian properties. Kathryn lives in Poetry with her 7 horses. Contact Kathryn at kathrynroan@ebby.com.

I love the Florida Keys, but Key West isn’t always the best place to spend a vacation. I mean, I love the Conch Republic and all, but sometimes I just want to watch the waves crash, do some surfing, or have a cocktail without navigating Duval Street.

This island is undergoing rapid development, so now is the time to buy up a lot and build your dream beach house, or buy one of these incredible homes that make the drive over the long Overseas Highway so worth it.

That’s what’s great about Islamorada — the high-end Florida Key with beautiful beaches and gorgeous homes. So here’s our love note to the stunning island, one of the larger Florida Keys:

1) 87961 Old Hwy.

87961 Old Hwy

2) 220 Plantation Blvd.

220 Plantation Boulevard

3) 75140 Overseas Hwy.

75140 Overseas Hwy

4) 88060 Overseas Hwy.

88060 Overseas Hwy

5) 138 N Rolling Hill Rd.

138 N Rolling Hill

 

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.