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U.S. New Home Sales Rise 5.7% in September, Fastest Pace Since 2010


Residentual-Home-Construction.jpg Homebuilders across the U.S. are happy today, and for good reason.

According to newly released stats from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000 units in September. This is the fastest sales pace recorded since April of 2010.

"Combined with consistent, positive reports on housing starts, permits, prices and builder confidence in recent months, today's data provides further confirmation that a gradual but steady housing recovery is underway across much of the nation," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "Consumers who have been on the sidelines during the past few years are deciding now is the time to go forward with a new-home purchase, assuming they can qualify for a good mortgage under today's exceedingly stringent guidelines."

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U.S. Mortgage Application Volumes Dive 12% Last Week, Says MBA


Mortgage-Loan-Application.jpg According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 19, mortgage applications decreased 12.0 percent from one week earlier.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 12.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, but that week included an upward adjustment for the Columbus Day holiday.  On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week.

The Refinance Index decreased 13 percent from the previous week to the lowest level since late August. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 8 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 7 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 81 percent of total applications from 82 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 4 percent of total applications.

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September New Home Sales in U.S. Jump 27% Over Last Year


According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), sales of new single-family houses in September 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000.

This is 5.7 percent (±14.8%) above the revised August rate of 368,000 and is 27.1 percent (±19.3%) above the September 2011 estimate of 306,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in September 2012 was $242,400; the average sales price was $292,400.  The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 145,000.  This represents a supply of 4.5 months at the current sales rate.

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U.S. Residential Mortgage Originations Projected to Hit $1.3 Trillion in 2013


Money-Pile.jpg According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), there will be an estimated $1.3 trillion in mortgage originations during 2013, largely driven by a spillover of refinances into the first half of the year.

MBA also upwardly revised its estimate of originations for 2012 to $1.7 trillion. MBA expects to see purchase originations climb to $585 billion in 2013, up from a revised estimate of $503 billion for 2012.  In contrast, refinances are expected to fall to $785 billion in 2013, down from a revised estimate of $1.2 trillion in 2012.

"We expected 2012 originations to be front-loaded in the first half of the year, with refis falling off with rate increases.  Instead we saw the refinance market grow during the year due to a combination of low rates, thanks to QE3 and slowing global growth because of continuing problems in Europe, and adjustments in the HARP and FHA refinance programs," said Jay Brinkmann, MBA's Chief Economist.  "We expect 2013 refinance originations to play out like our original expectations for 2012, with a long tail of refis extending through the first half of the year followed by a rapid drop-off in the second half."

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Despite Historic Droughts and Economic Uncertainty in 2012, U.S. Farmland Prices on Uneven Upswing Says NCREIF


U.S.-Farm.jpg This Tuesday (October 23rd), a headline in The New York Times proclaimed: "Across Corn Belt, Farmland Prices Keep Soaring." But a farmland survey released last Friday by the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF), which analyzes returns from land owned by the association's institutional members in third quarter 2012, amply illustrates that the prices for agricultural land aren't uniformly going up.

Altogether, the NCREIF Farmland Index tracks the 541 properties, worth $3.3 billion, owned by its members throughout the US. Of those properties, 120 are operated by institutional owners while the other 421 properties are leased to tenant farmers, says Jeffrey Havsy, NCREIF's director of research in Chicago. The owners of these properties are pension funds, high-net-worth individuals, or even, potentially, sovereign wealth funds, he says. Land operated by agri-business owners is not included in the survey.

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Indian Hotels Offers Orient-Express $1.2 Billion


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Orient Express, Laos
Four years ago, India's Tata Group paid $2.3 billion for British luxury car maker Jaguar and Land Rover.

Now, India's multi-industry conglomerate is going after another luxury brand, Orient-Express, in a hostile bid takeover attempt.

Tata Group controlled Indian Hotels Company Ltd., which already owns a small stake in Orient-Express, recently made an unsolicited $1.2 billion bid for the luxury hotels and travel group - two months after Indian Hotels was rebuffed by Orient-Express directors when it sought a "closer alliance" through a significant equity investment, according to a report by Reuters.

Indian Hotels has 99 hotels in 56 locations across India and 16 international hotels including the Pierre Hotel in New York.

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The Sonoma County Wine Road


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The fruit of the vine...on the vine
They call it, simply, "The Wine Road."

It winds through the hills and valleys of Sonoma County, some fifty miles north of San Francisco. And, in it, you'll find 150 wineries, 50 places to stay, and some of the prettiest towns in America.

Along the way are some of California's oldest wineries, run by family vintners whose forebears first came here several generations ago. Along the way, as well, are well-known wineries such as Clos du Bois, Kendall-Jackson, Korbel Champagne Cellars, Francis Coppola, Gallo Family vineyards, Mounts Family Winery, Simi Winery, Rodney Strong Vineyards, and Buena Vista Winery. And the "Road" is dotted with historic old houses and hotels, quaint B&B's, historic landmarks such as Fort Ross, and colorful old roadhouses, barns, and post offices; in fact, there are 64 sites here on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Wine Road is not an actual road; it's an association of wineries and lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys of northern Sonoma County.

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Chicago's Retail Market On the Rise


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Chicago, IL
The Chicago retail market is having a resurgence based on a number of indicators, including retail vacancies.  In fact, retail vacancy has continued its steady decline since 2010, according to a third quarter CBRE MarketView report on Chicago's retail market.

During the third quarter, the Chicago retail market posted an 8.7 % vacancy rate, a 30 basis point decrease from last quarter, according to CBRE.

"Regional malls have some of the lowest vacancy rates, in the 3% to 4% range," says Mark Hunter, retail market lead for the Midwest at Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago, although specialty stores' vacancy rates are higher. On Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago's most fashionable shopping districts, on the other hand, vacancy rates are about 3%, he says.

Although vacancies are down in the Chicago market, net asking rents were flat in the third quarter, only rising from $16.76 per square foot in the second quarter to $16.77, according to CBRE's MarketView, which reports the average for the metropolitan area for all type of centers. Asking rents at premium malls' start at $40 per square foot, says Hunter.

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UK Rental Market Showing Signs of Stability


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London, UK
The rental market in the UK appears to have recovered from what was a difficult start to 2012, according to residential property experts Move with Us. After showing signs of initial declines in the quarter, average rental rates stabilized later in the quarter, averaging around £970.

The third quarter rate was a slight decline from the Q2 average, but prices have increased by 2 percent or £20 over the last 12 months.

In the prime London market, rents also stabilized at £2,270 per month. Yorkshire and Humber were the best performing regions in the quarter, Move with Us said, experiencing price increases of more than 7 percent.

According to Move with Us, the firm's first "Rental Index" covers the most comprehensive picture available of rental prices for the UK. The report uses weekly data, tracking more than 150,000 advertised rental properties across England, Wales and Scotland.

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Vertical Farming Touted as Answer to Air Pollution and Food Shortages


Futuristic-Farming-Greenhouse.jpg Twenty years ago, critics scoffed at the ideas of cell phones and plasma-screen television but today they are common place around the world.  Like those innovations that spawned billion-dollar industries, proponents of vertical farming today say their idea will do the same 50 years from now or sooner.

But critics, like those two decades ago, don't see that happening. Still, it is happening already in several U.S. cities, Canada, Sweden, South Korea and shortly in Shanghai and Singapore. Large populations are necessary for the vertical farming concept to grow.

The vertical farming concept is simple: Instead of trucking food from farms into cities, grow the food closer to the customer. That is done by constructing large vertical greenhouses. The immediate impact, say pro-vertical farmers, will be the elimination of truck fuel exhausts and easier access by customers to fresher food.

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Tight Inventory Slows California Pending Home Sales in September, Equity Sales Reach 4-Year Peak


Laguna-Beach-California.jpg According to the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), a continued lack of housing inventory constrained California pending home sales in September, while the share of equity sales reached its highest level in four years.

C.A.R.'s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) fell 3 percent from a revised 119 in August to 115.4 in September, based on signed contracts.  Pending sales were up 0.8 percent from the 114.5 index recorded in September 2011.  Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, providing information on the future direction of the market.

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Emerging Chinese Ultra Wealthy To Over Take North American Uber Wealth By 2025


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Shanghai, China
Nearly 190,000 "Ultra High-Net worth Individuals," affluent individuals with a minimum net worth of $30 million, saw their combined wealth shrink by 1.8 percent last year, or $480 billion, according to Singapore-based Wealth-X.

And no region got hit harder than Asia, where portfolios suffered a sizable 6.8 percent decline in overall wealth to $6.25 trillion due to weaker equity markets and lower export demand from the West, Wealth-X said in its latest "World Ultra Wealth Report."

Of course, no country has been more emblematic of Asia's most recent schizophrenic rise and fall as an affluent region than China. For instance, China now has 11,245 UHNWIs, accounting for $1.58 trillion of Asia's overall wealth, second only to Japan's 12,830 UHNWIs who have $2.08 trillion.

To put this overnight Chinese affluence into perspective, the United States is still the world's wealthiest country with 60,280 UNHWIs accounting for $8.28 trillion, according to Wealth-X. Meanwhile, despite the weakness in global markets and the tepid recovery within the States, the number of U.S. billionaires managed to climb 5.5 percent to 480 from 455 a year ago.

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Qatar's Doha Tower Recipient of CTBUH's World's Best Tall Building Award


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Doha Tower Lobby (Photo by Ateliers Jean Nouvel).
This past week the distinctive and innovative Doha Tower was named Best Tall Building Worldwide by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat tonight in a ceremony in the Illinois Institute of Technology's seminal Crown Hall.

Doha Tower, which was first named the Best Tall Building in the Middle East and Africa, took the overall award out of the four regional winners. The building was honored for incorporating elements of traditional regional design with modern technologies to create an environmentally-sensitive icon for Qatar's capital 

The eye-catching cylindrical facade is constructed of multi-layered patterns invoking ancient Islamic screens designed to shade buildings from the sun.

"The skin of the building is a beautiful expression of the local culture, connecting this very modern tower with ancient Islamic designs," said Richard Cook, awards chairman and partner in Cook + Fox Architects." It also provides a fantastic pattern of light within the building, while efficiently dampening the heat gains internally of the sun's rays."

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Machu Picchu by Llama


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A "Lost City" in the sky
Machu Picchu.

Just saying those two words brings to mind images of a regal Inca city on the mountain...and a million questions.

Who were they? Where did they come from? Why did they pick this spot to build their shining city on the mountain? And where did they go?

Ever since an American explorer named Hiram Bingham discovered these ruins in 1911, people have been pondering these questions. And adventurers have been trekking up to the top to find the answers (or at least, the clues).

One thing is certain, though: These ancient ruins are situated in one of the most breath-taking spots in the world. Now, you don't have to be an "explorer" to see it. And you can see it in a most unusual way, too. A company called Llama Expeditions will take you to Machu Picchu on a llama trek. No, you can't ride these sturdy animals (native to the Andes). But they'll be carrying most of your supplies.

You'll be taking the Lares Trail, less famous than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but often less crowded. And not as physically demanding. (Nonetheless, you've got to be in good shape to make this trip.)

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Miami Home Sellers Enjoying Significant Price Increases in September as Inventory Shortage Continues


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Martha Pomares
(Miami, FL) - According to Miami Association of Realtors, Miami home prices rose again in September, marking 10 consecutive months of appreciation. 

The median sales price of Miami-Dade condominiums, which has increased each of the last 15 months, rose 36.2 percent to $150,000 compared to a year earlier.  The median sales price of single-family homes rose 8.6 percent to $190,000.

"The Miami real estate market continues to strengthen despite the shortage of housing inventory," said 2012 Chairman of the Board of the Miami Association of Realtors Martha Pomares.  "We've seen nearly an entire year of significant monthly price increases, which makes now a great time to sell a home.  Miami properties sell very quickly and draw multiple offers when priced right."

In September the average sales price for condominiums in Miami-Dade County increased 30.2 percent to $277,774.  The average sales price for single-family homes decreased 6.1 percent to $315,521.

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Coeur D'Alene, a Paradise in the Panhandle


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The Coeur D'Alene Resort sits at the foot of the lake. (Photo courtesy Coeur D'Alene Chamber of Commerce)
Coeur D'Alene is special. And you can see it the moment you turn off Highway 90 from Spokane.

To your left lies a little town with cobbled sidewalks and gas-lit streetlamps and green awnings and red-brick storefronts, behind which lie attractive little shops, eateries, and galleries. In front of you, shooting up into a clear azure sky, lies Coeur D'Alene Resort, one of the Northwest's premier resorts. And to your right lies an ice-blue alpine lake, from which rise 7,000 foot- mountains covered in deep-green forest.

Tucked up in the Idaho Panhandle, about 90 miles south of Canada, Coeur D'Alene is one of the prettiest towns in the Northwest. And the lake upon which it sits - Lake Coeur D'Alene - has 125 miles of shoreline.

Coeur D'Alene means "Heart of the Awl," a reference by early French traders to the earrings worn by the native Salishan people. And the Heart of the Awl is situated amidst a setting that no doubt took these French traders' breath away.

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Wyndham to Open First Hotel in Bahrain


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Wyndham Grand Manama, Bahrain
Bahrain is getting its first Wyndham Hotel. The new five-star Wyndham Grand Collection hotel will be part of a 50-story mixed used architectural landmark in Bahrain Bay.

Bahrain Bay Development B.S.C. is a $2.5 billion waterfront district designed around vibrant neighborhoods of residential, commercial and retail spaces.

Set in this unique new development, the Wyndham Grand Manama will face the World Trade Centre, just a short distance from Bahrain Financial Harbour, making it well placed to cater to business as well as leisure travelers.

Wyndham Hotel Group recently confirmed plans for the first Wyndham Grand property in Bahrain following the signing of an agreement with Cooperation Investment House SPC to manage its prestigious  hotel  property.

Currently under development in the city of Manama, the Wyndham Grand Manama is expected to open by the end of next year with more than 260 spacious guest rooms ranging from 46 to 120 square meters (approximately 495 to 1,290 square feet). Covering 14 floors of a 50-story mixed use development, it will also comprise 500 square meters (nearly 5,400 square feet) of meeting space and a 900-square-meter ballroom (equivalent to nearly 9,700 square feet) on the building's top floor, offering stunning sea views.

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Two African Firms Pledge Over Half Billion for New Development


Nairobi-kenya-Africa.jpg While talk is growing over niche emerging real estate markets in Africa, two firms have stepped to the plate and are pledging a total $528 million for investment in new development.

Nairobi-based Actis, one of the largest private equity investors in the world's poorest countries, announced it has raised $278 million.  Its fund, Actis Africa Real Estate 2, will back retail and office development in west, west and southern Africa.

Johannesburg-based First Rand Ltd. previously announced it plans to invest proceeds of its $250 million fund raising exercise across major West and Southern African real estate markets - particularly, Nigeria, Ghana and Angola.  Like Actis, FirstRand said it will earmark most of its funds in high-grade retail and commercial properties.

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India's First REIT Raises $81.3 million in Over-Subscribed Issue


International-Stock-Index-wpcki.jpg Investors in Asia, Europe and the U.S., looking for a vehicle to fight inflation, have over-subscribed India's first real estate investment trust.  Singapore Stock Exchange-listed Ascendas India Trust (a-iTrust) closed when it reached $81.3 million (Singapore $100 million).

The trust was initially looking to raise $70 million Singapore dollars. (One Singapore dollar equals 81 cents US)

The private placement is offering new units in a-Trust. at 72 Singapore cents per unit. The joint placement agents were Citigroup Global Markets Singapore Pte. Ltd and DBS Bank Ltd.

According to the company's statement, the placement saw strong participation from Asian, U.S. and European investors and was about 2.6 times subscribed based on the upsized issue of S$100 million or 139 million New Units. The new units represent 18 per cent of existing units.

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U.S. Commercial Real Estate Recovery to Continue in 2013, Says New ULI-PwC Emerging Trends Report


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Click here to download 2013 Emerging Trends in Real Estate Report (Source ULI and PWC)
The U.S. commercial real estate marketplace will continue to recover in 2013 with modest gains in leasing, rents and pricing, according to PwC US and Urban Land Institute's Emerging Trends in Real Estate Forecast for 2013, presented on October 17th in a webcast delivered from the ULI's annual conference held in Denver. The opinions expressed in the report were derived from over 900 interviews and surveys of commercial real estate leaders. 

According to survey participants, although the real estate recovery is slower than normal, the prospects for all property sectors are better than in 2012. "Recent job creation should be enough to increase absorption and push down vacancy rates in the office, industrial and retail sectors, helped by the limited new supply in commercial markets," according to the report.  Strong demand for apartments is expected to continue in 2013, even as new projects come online. And even the single family home sector is doing better in most regions. The only problems in the housing arena are in the leisure and second home markets.

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Brazil's Florianopolis Home Prices on Rise


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Marine Home & Resort, Florianopolis, Brazil
Like many places, the popular Brazilian island city of FlorianĂ³polis (Floripa) has seen some steep house appreciation in recent years.

Yet, while many global property markets are faltering, prices in this pristine and affluent part of southern Brazil continue to climb. Brazilian-based property agent uv10.com is not surprised.

"Properties in Floripa can see yearly price gains of around ten percent and, whilst the volume of sales has slowed a little since the onset of global economic crisis, those prices keep rising," says uv10.com sales manager Samantha Gore. "Two strong factors underpin this resilience. The first is that most of Floripa is set on an island which cannot be expanded, so property is a finite resource, a rare commodity. The second is that most of the island's luxury homes were bought outright without mortgages, before finance was even available and vendors have always been able to sit tight until they achieved their full asking price."   

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California Housing Market Expected to Improve in 2013; Lack of Inventory to Hamper Sales


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LeFrancis Arnold
According to the California Association of Realtor's "2013 California Housing Market Forecast," released this week, California's housing market will continue to recover in 2013, as home sales are forecast to increase for the third consecutive year and the median price to rise for the second straight year.

The C.A.R. forecast sees sales gaining 1.3 percent next year to reach 530,000 units, up from the projected 2012 sales figure of 523,300 homes sold.  Sales in 2012 will be up 5.1 percent from the 497,900 existing, single-family homes sold in 2011.

"The market has improved moderately over the past year, and we expect that to continue into 2013," said C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold.  "Sales would be even higher if inventory were less constrained in REO-dominated markets, particularly in the Central Valley and Inland Empire, where there is an extreme shortage of available homes.  Sales will be stronger in higher-priced areas, where there are more equity properties and a somewhat greater availability of homes for sale."

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While England, Ireland Property Markets Still Dragging From Eurozone Debt Crisis, Scotland Sees Turnaround


River-Thames-and-the-City-of-London-at-dusk-uk.jpg First-time buyers in Scotland are finding mortgages far easier to obtain than their counterparts in Ireland and England, according to the most recent analysis from London-based Property Wire.  The Eurozone debt crisis continues to hamper a recovery in most of the United Kingdom.

London-based LSL Property Services reports Scottish home sales increased by 21% in July. . Sales have dropped in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, but overall Scottish residential real estate has recovered to sit just 0.5% below the average overall fall in prices.

The new LSL Property Services/Acadametrics index shows the average house price is now £145,622 ($236,673 US) and it also shows that first time buyer sales have increased by 9% so far this year, bucking the trend in the rest of the UK. (One British pound equals $1.62 US)

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Talkin' 'Bout Telluride


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A Rainbow over Main Street
Telluride is "real."

It's an authentic, unspoiled Western town with a colorful heritage. And it maintains a kind of casual, small-town charm that has long since been lost in more "hip" spots.

Mother Nature has blessed this small town with a stunning setting. Sitting at the end of a box canyon in southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains, Telluride boasts seven waterfalls - all visible from downtown. Bridal Veil Falls, at 365 feet, is the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. And the town is surrounded by the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in North America.

The entire town is actually a National Historic Landmark District. Fortunes were won and lost here, in the mines that once surrounded the town. Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch kicked off their bank-robbing careers here, at the San Miguel Valley Bank on June 24, 1889, making a "withdrawal" of $20,000. And George Westinghouse, L.L. Nunn, and Nikola Tesla built the world's first AC power plant here...making Telluride the first city in the world with electric streetlights.

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Pricing Back to 2007 Levels in Six Top U.S. Apartment Markets


Home-community-wpcki.jpg The US apartment market is making a strong recovery. In fact, in six of the top markets, pricing has recovered to its peak-- reached in December 2007--or gone beyond it, according to Real Capital Analytics' Commercial Property Price Indices for second quarter 2012. The chart appears in RCA's US Capital Trends apartment report for August.   

The most significant thing about RCA's Commercial Property Price Indices, says Dan Fasulo, managing director at RCA, is that the top four markets--Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Manhattan--are known for high tech and Boston has exceeded its peak pricing by 13%.

Although August can be a sleepy month for commercial real estate, this past August, sales of US apartment properties were $6.4 billion, rivaling May and June as the most active month this year, according to RCA, which only keeps tabs on properties worth $2.5 million or more.

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Rosewood Hotels Opening First Asian Property


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Rosewood Beijing
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is bringing its upscale hotel brand to China.

The Dallas-based company recently announced its first property, Rosewood Beijing, will be opening next summer. The 279-room Rosewood Beijing will spearhead the company's ambitious Asia expansion plans.

Within the next five years, Rosewood Beijing will be the precursor to 10 Asian resort properties in operation or development, according to Rosewood officials.

The hotel will be located in the central business Chaoyang District, opposite the iconic CCTV Tower.

Designed by Melbourne-based Bar Studio, the ultra-luxury property will represent a number of firsts for both Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Beijing.

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Total South African Real Estate Value Estimated at $604 Billion


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Cape Town, South Africa
Believe it or not, real estate existing real estate  in South Africa currently is currently valued at $604 billion in US dollars, according to new research prepared by the Property Sector Charter Co. in Johannesburg.

It is the first study of its kind about the size and shape of the country's property industry. In South African currency, the total is R4.9 trillion.

The information is important because real estate transactions contribute to the country's economy and in 2009 comprised 8.3% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to another report, one by the South African Property Owners Association

In a prepared statement, Portia Tau-Sekati, CEO of the Property Sector Charter Company, said  "the research creates a hub of knowledge about the property sector, consolidating information and developing a common and consistent understanding.

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A Polar Bear Fly-In!


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Close enough for you?
If you've ever wanted to get up-close-and-personal with the most fearsome creature on Earth - which may be gone by 2050 because of Arctic warming - now's the time to do it. Adventure Life, a Missoula, MT-based company, is taking a select group of travelers on the journey of a lifetime - a Polar Bear Fly-In. But this opportunity will only last until the end of November.

First, you have to get yourself up to Winnipeg, Canada. There, you'll connect with the group leaders and guides from Adventure life. And if you think it took a long plane ride - or rides - to get to Winnipeg, that's only the first leg of your journey!

From there you fly to isolated Churchill, in far Northeastern Canada. After landing there, you'll board a charter aircraft for the 45-minute flight into the lands of Canada's Native Inuit people.

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The Isles of Scilly, A Place That Time Forgot


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The old Star Castle is now a fine hotel
Thirty miles off Land's End, on the southwestern coast of England, lies an England that time delightfully forgot, where there are no cars and people are friendly and the countryside is filled with quant cottages and green hedgerows. And where you can walk for miles without coming upon another soul.

The Isles of Scilly are a chain of a hundred islands, only five of which are inhabited - by a total of only 2,000 souls. You can breathe here; there's no industry, and the sea-spray and salt air make for an invigorating climate. The doors of the shops have little bells that ring when you walk in. The hiking and biking trails will take you through beaches and meadows and heather.  And everyone says hello.  

In the Isles of Scilly, small wonders reveal themselves at every turn. Here, you can explore the old castles like those of King Charles or Cromwell, or the old cannons salvaged from the wreck of the HMS Colossus.

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Dubai, Like Miami, Is Enjoying a Significant Real Estate and Tourism Rebound in 2012

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H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai opened 11th annual Cityscape Global event

(Dubai, UAE) -- There is a renewed energy in Dubai these days being witnessed by developers worldwide showcasing over an estimated $100 billion in new mega-projects in the UAE region at the 11th inaugural Cityscape Global property developers conference being held this week in Dubai.

Like Miami over the last three years, who has primarily benefited from foreign property buyers with lots of cash to stabilize and save the market, Dubai is now mirroring the same success 8,000 miles away in the UAE.

According to several real estate analysts at the event, most residential buyers of tens of thousands of Dubai condos are coming from such places as India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and the UK.

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Croatia Receives $130 Million for New Development


Dubrovnik-Croatia.jpg Things are looking up for Croatia, a largely Roman Catholic country in Central Europe with an estimated population of 4.29 million.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a loan of EUR 100 million ($130 million US) to the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), mid-cap companies and municipalities in Croatia.

The EIB reported the loan contract was signed in Dubrovnik following the meeting of the EIB's board of directors, which took place in Croatia for the first time. The Republic of Croatia has obtained observer status in the EIB's Board and will become an EIB shareholder when it joins the European Union.

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U.S. Mortgage Rates Drop to New Lows, Driving Higher Mortgage Application Volumes


Mortgage-Loan-Application.jpg According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 21, 2012, mortgage applications increased 2.8 percent from one week earlier.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 2.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week.

The Refinance Index increased 3 percent from the previous week to the highest level in six weeks. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 1 percent from one week earlier.

The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.3 percent compared with the previous week and was 5 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

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Suburban Office Properties in U.S. Making Strides While CBD Sales Trend Lower


Modern-office-buildings.jpg A funny thing has happened to the US office market. Fewer investors seem to be enamored of trophy office buildings in CBDs than in the past.

Whether this is because there are too few of these prize properties available, or the prices are too high and the cap rates too low, according to the Real Capital Analytics' US Capital Trends report for the office market in August, suburban office properties are outshining their city cousins.

Sales of significant office properties in the US, those with price tags of $2.5 million or greater, totaled $5.3 billion in August, according to RCA, slightly below June and July levels but 6 percent higher than a year ago. The report also shows that CBD office sales' volume had fallen for five straight months, while suburban office properties had impressive year-over-year gains.

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Marriott Opens Forbidden City Extended Stay Property


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Imperial Mansion, Beijing
China's Forbidden City has a new neighbor. Or, 220 new neighbors, thanks to the opening of the Imperial Mansion, Beijing - Marriott Executive Apartments.

Marriott International just opened the newest 220-unit apartment, marking its fifth extended stay property in China. The Imperial Mansion, Beijing - Marriott Executive Apartments is located within the capital city's busy central business and leisure district, next door to the Forbidden City, the world's largest imperial palace.

Marriott International's Executive Apartments brand is designed for extended stay travelers, and offers the "convenience of a five-star, full-service hotel with the space, ambience and privacy of residential living to enable a comfortable stay while living away from home."

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New Home Sales Pace in U.S. Holds Steady in August


New-Home-Construction-2012.jpg According to recently released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, the pace of new-home sales held virtually unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000 units in August over July numbers.

"New-home sales in August effectively tied the pace they set in the previous month, when they were the strongest we've seen in more than two years -- so this is really a continuation of the good news we've been getting on the housing front," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "Looking at the big picture, sales have been trending gradually upward since the middle of last year as favorable interest rates and prices have driven more consumers to get back in the market for a newly built home."

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'Outdoor Recreation' States Remain Top U.S. Travel Destinations; Gambling and Sports Related Travel Down in 2012


Ft.-Lauderdale-Beach-Florida.jpg While the most popular U.S. states retained their tourist appeal this year ( Florida, California, Hawaii, N.Y. and Alaska) among American travelers, the allure of several other domestic destinations has increased.

For example, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, D.C., were the beneficiaries of increased tourism, while states like Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona and Tennessee saw slight decreases in interest.  At least that's what travel experts at MMGY Global/Harrison Group learned during their newly released survey, "2012 Portrait of American Travelers."

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Uruguay Real Estate Transactions Sharply Decline Due to Argentine Demand Fall Off


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Montevideo, Uruguay
On top of the generally weakening nature of the Uruguay economy and the decision of the Uruguay Central Bank to attempt to fend off inflation by increasing the reference interest rate to 9 percent, the real estate market is facing a major uphill battle as the beginning of the southern hemisphere summer season approaches. 

Reflecting what one commentator has defined as potentially the worst market scenario "in a decade", it was reported in iprofesional.com that the volume of real estate transactions in Punta del Este, one of South America's major beach destinations, has fallen 30 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year.  In addition to the sharp drop in deals, it was noted that, reflecting concerns about future demand, investments in new projects over the year have fallen 25 percent.  It is expected that the contraction in Argentine demand will also impact Uruguay's largest real estate market, Montevideo.

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