As yet another “Snowbird Season” draws to a close, newbies are no doubt planning the next trip to Florida.  Many are looking for the perfect place to winter over from all points north and cold.  I’ve lived in coastal areas for several years, and have witnessed the Snowbird Season up close and personal.  There is such a thing as a snowbird starter home. And, there’s one particular place many of them will choose a second, and eventual retirement home — The Villages.  As active senior developments have grown in popularity, The Villages is unique and absolutely fascinating.


key westJust saying Key West, Florida, can conjure up relaxation and the easy-going life — so when we found this historical home in Old Town we knew that our readers would fall in love just like we did.

This home, which was built in the late 1800s, sits on a corner lot in Old Town — and if you’ve never been to the Old Town part of Key West, let’s just say it’s where all the action is. In fact, this home is close to the historic seaport and Duval Street. (more…)


By Amy Dobson
Special Contributor

There’s an estate in Florida that is as impressive for its physical features as it is for the dignitaries that have visited there — that includes sitting presidents, foreign royalty, and high-profile international guests.

We’re not naming any names, but trust us there are good reasons why this house was long ago dubbed the White House of the South.

But when it comes to the property itself, this place is even more impressive than the regular ol’ White House. (more…)

5656 SOuth Shore Blvd Wellington Florida

With the news that Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs purchased an estate in Wellington, Florida for $15.3 million in cash across the street from Bill Gates’ equestrian estate, the town of Wellington, Fla., made national headlines. Wellington, a town of approximately 60,000 around 15 miles east of tony West Palm Beach has become a nexus of wealth and power due to one factor: horses and the people who ride them for show. Jobs and Gates, it just so happens, each sired a daughter with a love of and talent for show riding.

The news of the Jobs’ purchase came fast on the heels of June reports that Bill Gates had purchased what nearly amounted to a whole street in Wellington, simply to provide privacy. Gossip Extra detailed how Gates spent approximately $37 million in Wellington.

But why is this place so attractive to the moneyed elite?




Spend any time in suburban Florida and you’ll see a lot of gated communities. It can seem as if the entire state lies secluded behind guard gates staffed by cheerful folks with clipboards and magic powers to allow or deny entry.

The true luxury in these communities is two-fold: privacy and amenities. Lush green space abounds and it seems that lawns and trees are always in a constant state of being trimmed and tended to. Amenities can be as simple as a community clubhouse and pool or range to a full-service country club. Even at the country club level, there are country clubs, and then there are the kind of clubs where service is delivered at an elevated level.

This brings us to The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., a spot that has drawn everyone from Celine Dion to Michael Jordan. The area seems to have a particular lure for golfers. Jack Nicklaus designed The Bear’s Club in 1999, creating a majestic and challenging 18-hole golf course and a community over 401 acres. The community is less than two miles from the ocean and within easy striking distance of the tony shops of West Palm Beach.



It’s no surprise that Hawaii captures the imagination of people dreaming of a getaway. Tropical breezes, the deep blue Pacific, technicolor sunsets, and lush greenery set the stage for a dream vacation or the ultimate home away from home.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International have announced the winners of the HGTV Ultimate House Hunt, a month-long online contest held on each year.

The contest highlights exceptional homes from across the globe in eight exciting categories: Waterfront Homes, Master Retreats, International Homes, Living Large in Small Spaces, Bringing The Outside In, Kids’ Spaces, Classic Living and Making an Entrance. All featured homes are represented by members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International. Consumers vote for their favorite, and a winner is chosen at the end.

This year, Hawaii cleaned up, winning honors in three categories as well as the overall winner. Massachusetts homes won in two categories, as did Florida homes and the International award winner is located in Lugano, Switzerland.


Watersound Origins Village Commons. All photos courtesy of Watersound Origins

Watersound Origins Village Commons (Photos: courtesy of Watersound Origins)

If renting a house at the beach  is your family vacation tradition, chances are good you are on your way, at, or planning a trip soon to the Florida Panhandle.  As Candy Evans noted in an earlier report this month, the region encompassing Destin, Panama City Beach, and South Walton is the second largest vacation rental ownership market in the country, and for good reason.

Snow white sand beaches, sea oat-covered dunes, pine forests, wetlands, and coastal dune lakes along the Scenic Coastal Highway 30A corridor of  the “Emerald Coast,” as it’s known, make for a wonderland of outdoor recreational activities in stunning natural beauty. But, especially if you are a regular, the problem with staying in touristy housing is that, well, everyone there is a tourist.

Not so three miles inland of South Walton Beach at the residential development Watersound Origins, which has just announced the opening of its second phase. Short-term rentals are banned here — it’s a community dedicated to those with a permanent commitment in mind.  And what does it have to offer? Jump to see … (more…)

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We’re here reporting from the Westin Oaks Galleria at the National Association of Real Estate Editors Houston conference where we’ve heard from some exceptional experts in second home and vacation real estate, including Natalie Binder of Telluride Rentals, Ben Jenkins of Land Advisors & Resort Solutions, and Matey Veissi, founder of Veissi & Associates.

Each of these professionals offered interesting perspectives on the vacation and second home market for 2014, which is one where buyers, developers, and investors are cautiously rebuilding after the economic downturn.