Looking for vacation-home property? The brand-new issue of Vacation Log Homes offers a look at the top web sites that can help you find the perfect site.

According to the story’s author, Shari Steiner, here are the top web sites for researching vacation home property nationwide.

***** Five-Star Site
Sperling’s Best Places (www.bestplaces.net) again comes out with the best research site. They have demographics and area profile information on everything from schools to health facilities to crime rates to rental rates to recent rates of home appreciation for every zip code in the U.S.

Try searching by zip code, because his city search engine is not nearly as finely attuned to the differences between North and South Lake Tahoe, for example. Sperling also publishes an annual “Top 10 Best Big Cities for Seniors” roundup online, giving an outline of the senior services statistics and social networking opportunities that back his picks (his annual book roundups have even more data).

Note that the similarly-named www.bestplaces.com rates hotels and other items completely unrelated to vacation homes.

**** Four-Star Site
The official website of the largest real estate affiliate and franchise system in the world, www.unitedcountry.com, is dedicated strictly to country property sales. This is by far the best site for finding country buildable sites. United Country started with printed catalogs of country properties way back in 1938, and offer more properties (particularly sites for building homes) for sale in getaway locations than any other site. Talking with one of their brokers is almost always the quickest way to research the area, find good prices, and get insightful information on neighborhoods that are coming up in value.

More than 25,000 vacation home rentals in the U.S. (and more than 74,000 worldwide), can be found at www.homeaway.com, so it’s a primary stop for those wanting to know vacation home rental rates in various locations. Karpinski writes much of the text explaining how owners can rent their vacation homes. (The very similar named site homesaway.com only seems to have European villas.)

The best current home value site listing recent existing home sales and current fore sale listings in neighborhoods all over the United States is www.zillow.com. Unfortunately, it doesn’t list many buildable sites and has no rental information, but it utilizes extremely good mapping and “birds’ eye photos” software. The most complete search is by zip code. You don’t have to register to get information, which really is a relief after the many other sites promising information, and delivering next to nothing after a 15-minute sign-in process.

*** Three-Star Site
EscapeHomes.com has been touted as a vacation/second home site; however, it has less info on small communities and rural areas than BestPlaces.net. The information is posted by real estate brokers according to their locations. It also offers few statistics and no negative info. However, it’s a good place to check out actual current listings of vacation homes for sale and for rent.

Vacation Log Homes is an annual publication produced by the editors of Country’s Best Log Homes. Look for it on newsstands nationwide, or call (800) 258-0929 to order a copy direct from the publisher.