Top 10 places to buy a vacation home

There's at least one major upside to the bursting of the real-estate bubble: The kind of adventure-ready second home you've always dreamed about is suddenly within reach. From mountain retreats to lakefront outposts to slopeside condos, here's your primer on where to invest for the long haul.

No, Big Sky is not the billionaire's Montana. OK, so Ted Turner has a ranch in the area, and two exclusive communities, the Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks, are also here. But Big Sky itself is a tiny (pop. 2,200), old-school skiers' destination with a base area sporting 1970s condos and nothing remotely resembling a "village."

Read the full article from Outside Magazine

10 Questions for Homebuyers who want to go Green

For homebuyers, green is fast becoming a priority - whether its because they want to reduce their energy costs, minimize their carbon footprint or improve air quality.

From MSN. Real Estate - Here are 10 questions that prospective buyers or renters ought to ask to find out how green a house or apartment is.

Read more

10 Must have home features

Americans want smaller houses and they are willing to strip some of yesterday's most popular rooms -- such as home theaters -- from them in order to accommodate changing lifestyles, consumer experts told audiences at the International Builders Show here this week.

From Yahoo market watch - Buyers today want cost-effective architecture, plans that focus on spaces and not rooms and homes that are designed 'green' from the outset," she said. The key for home builders is "finding the balance between what buyers want and the price point."

Read full article

Powder Ridge Cabins

The sun has long since set and the rosy glow on Lone Mountain is giving way to a smoldering purple as I sink into my club chair and gather my thoughts to write this letter. A fresh snowfall blanketed the ski slopes yesterday and the only audible sounds are the crackle of seasoned pine on the fire and the occasional clink of ice as I tip my glass. If it's true that how we spend an afternoon is how we spend our lives, then our place of retreat - our shelter - surely must reflect that which we value and hold most dear. For me, living in a log home is about more than the romance of living simply or the beauty of artistry in wood. For me, it is about appreciating where I am and recognizing how I got here. These walls were trees that were hand-scribed by someone who recognized and appreciated every curve, every knot. There is a tradition of craftsmanship visible in every stone detail, in the ubiquitous joinery, and in the way that the rooms flow into one another seamlessly. Day or night, the amber hue of the logs ... Read the rest of entry »

Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

If you purchase an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit.  Existing homes and new construction for primary AND secondary homes are eligible for a 30% return on cost with no upper limit.

What the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Means to You:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extended many consumer tax incentives originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) and amended in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343).

Department of Energy web site with a full description of the tax credits

Energy Star web site

Ski in and stay a while

This home is located slope side in the Diamond Hitch development of Moonlight Basin.

A custom home built for the the true ski enthusiast.  One of our favorite projects, designed by Van Bryan of Studio Architects, considered to be one of the areas finest architects.

View a photo gallery

Geothermal Heating

Geothermal energy has been used to heat and air condition buildings for several decades, and, during that time, these geothermal systems have been called many different things. Some of the more popular variations include geo-thermal, geoexchange, ground-water, ground-water assisted, ground-water-source, water-to-water, as well as water furnace heating and cooling. Geothermal heat pumps use the relatively constant temperature of the ground or water several feet below the earth's surface as source of heating and cooling. Geothermal heat pumps are appropriate for retrofit or new homes, where both heating and cooling are desired. In addition to heating and cooling, geothermal heat pumps can provide domestic hot water. They can be used for virtually any size home or lot in any region of the U.S. The ground is able to maintain a higher rate of temperature consistency because it absorbs 47% of the suns energy (heat) as it hits the Earth's surface. Geothermal systems are able to tap into this free energy with an ea ... Read the rest of entry »

National Green Building Code

When it comes to building projects, this one's a monster.  The construction zone is essentially the entire country. The builders are a variety of specialists, including architects, plumbers, masons, and lighting, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning experts.  Since July, they have been meeting in cities - they were in Philadelphia last month - to construct not with bricks and steel beams, but with words.  The goal: a code to guide all development of green commercial buildings in the United States. The International Green Building Code would, as its name implies, also be available to other countries. But drafting it has been the work of U.S. construction professionals who share a desire for the built environment to incorporate more green features. Pennsylvania is one of only two states with a government representative on the 28-member drafting body. The other is California, the only state to have a green building code. The Sustainable Building Technology Committee is an arm of the Inter ... Read the rest of entry »

Is the McMansion Dead?

"In lieu of a 7,000-square-foot palace that antes up to the neighbors, they're planning a house less than half that size with energy-efficient features, panelized construction to reduce waste, and a variety of flexible, multipurpose spaces. One of its four bedrooms will double as a guest room..."

It's the scapegoat of the housing bust, and that's not all. From accusations of ostentatious overconsumption to environmental indifference, the McMansion has taken some brutal hits in the recession economy. Are those blows lethal enough to send starter castles to their grave? Or will they live to see another boom?

Read full story from Builder Online

Who are the next wave of home buyers?

Over the last several years, I have taken every opportunity to attend classes from Charles Shinn when I hear he will be in Northwest lecturing.  When Charles talks - people listen.  Take a moment to read a recently published article on the next wave of buyers. Every time we have had a housing cycle, the industry has had to change. I have always said, the buyer coming out of a downturn is different from the buyer going in, and this is definitely the case this time. The housing product that was in demand prior to the collapse of the market is not what the new customer wants during the recovery. The longer and deeper the housing cycle is, the greater the change in customer preferences. For the last 40 years, we have been following the baby boomers through their life cycle changes with our housing products. Coming out of this cycle, the baby boomers are moving into the downsizing stage of their lives. However, they will not return to the market in any significant number until the housing prices at lea ... Read the rest of entry »