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Online Expands to Help Local Businesses/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/SEPT08/images/bizLine

Want to know how to form a real estate brokerage in Florida? Thanks to the new Web site (the official business link to the U.S. government), that information is now at your fingertips. Small-business owners can search for information from state, local and federal government Web sites, from a single search box using The new search engine reads the words a user types in the search box, and returns only the most relevant Web sites. If a business owner types in “starting a real estate brokerage in Orlando, Fla.,” for example, the relevant results will be returned from the city of Orlando and Orange County Web sites. 

“These new search offerings make it easier for businesses to learn about doing business in specific localities,” says Nancy Sternberg, program manager of the Business Gateway Initiative.

For more information, go to and find the box in the upper right that says “Try Our New Search Engine” and click “Read More About Search.” On the next page, find the “Search” box in the upper right and type in “business license” and the name of your city, click “Search” and see the results.

Survey says
Anyone for Seconds? Homes, That Is!

Vacation- and investment-home sales accounted for 33 percent of all home sales in 2007, a figure close to historic norms, according to the annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey from the National Association of Realtors®.

Lifestyle factors and strong demographics remain positive for the vacation-home market, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who notes, “a peak of population is moving through the prime years for buying recreational property.”

The market share of homes purchased for investment last year was 21 percent, down from 22 percent in 2006, while another 12 percent were vacation homes, compared with a 14 percent market share in 2006. The total share of second homes declined from 36 percent of transactions in 2006.

NAR’s annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey shows vacation-home sales dropped 30.6 percent to 740,000 in 2007 from a record 1.07 million in 2006, while investment-home sales fell 18.1 percent to 1.35 million from 1.65 million in the same period. At the same time, primary residence sales declined 10 percent to 4.34 million from 4.82 million.

“Vacation-home sales rose to a new record in 2006 because there was a pent-up demand from buyers who couldn’t find a property as a result of tight supplies in preceding years,” says Yun.

The overall sales decline in 2007 resulted from a combination of factors. “Certainly, second homes are discretionary purchases, and there is a natural tendency to pull back from big-ticket items in periods of uncertainty,” Yun says. “The other factor is the disruption in the mortgage market, with a significant tightening of credit during the second half of 2007. Some buyers simply adopted a wait-and-see attitude.”

The median price of a vacation home was $195,000 in 2007, down 2.5 percent from $200,000 in 2006. The typical investment property cost $150,000 last year, unchanged from 2006.

NAR’s survey, conducted in March 2008, includes answers from 1,965 usable responses. The survey controlled for age and income, based on information from the larger 2007 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, to limit any biases in the characteristics of respondents.

The survey can be ordered by phone at (800) 874-6500 or online at The cost is $50 for NAR members and $125 for nonmembers. For more information, go to and search “2007 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey.”