Recognizing that the second home and resort real estate segment is growing, the National Association of Realtors announced a new certification for Realtors called the “Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist.”

The education-based certification program will be available to NAR members in January 2006. According to a 2005 NAR survey, more than 140,000 Realtors currently work in resort and second-home markets; that’s about a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

“The new certification program recognizes the vitality of the second-home market,” said Ben Blair, 2005 chair of the NAR Resort & Second-Home Committee. “Serving the resort and vacation real estate market has come of age at a time when the second-home market has never been stronger and savvy buyers increasingly demand the expertise of a real estate professional with proven knowledge of resort and second-home market conditions.”

The program consists of two core courses and two electives. More information about the program is available at www.realtor.org/resort.

A 2005 NAR study showed substantial growth in the second-home market. The study indicated that investment property and vacation homes make up a significant portion of the overall housing market, accounting for more than one-third of residential transactions. Acquiring a second home has grown in popularity over the last 10 years and in particular since 2003.

Sales of second homes increased 16 percent in 2004 from the year before.

NAR also estimates that 36 percent of buyers who purchased a second home bought a property that was more than 100 miles away from their primary residence.

A presentation during this weekend’s NAR convention in San Francisco examined the state of affordable workforce housing in resort communities.

“When the housing market in a resort community fails, local residents may be forced to relocate, which in turn, negatively impacts the local economy and lessens the quality of life for a resort community,” said William S. Hettinger, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Wyndham Financial Group. “An abundance of second homes has led to a decrease in available affordable housing for permanent residents of resort communities.”

According to Hettinger, recent author of “Living and Working in Paradise: Why Housing Is Too Expensive and What Communities Can Do About It,” other contributing factors to a lack of affordable housing in resorts include: growth management regulations to conserve land; the attractiveness and strength of the real estate market to buyers; second-home buyers with significant wealth who can afford more expensive and larger homes; and the likelihood that locals will be outbid for housing by wealthy nonresident buyers.

Hettinger described an identification and intervention process as a means to address a community’s affordable housing crisis. The process contains seven steps: the community creates a housing vision; defines housing goals; analyzes existing resources and resource gaps; identifies necessary actions; pinpoints critical success factors; devises an intervention plan; and implements a series of interventions.

“Successful communities keep a watch on their housing markets to stay abreast of change in housing affordability and availability,” said Hettinger. “Maintaining a balance in the supply of housing is critical to protecting the core of the community, its residents and workers.”

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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