Friday, May 25, 2007

Luxury Homes Topped The Market

May 24, 2007
The Luxury Homes Topping the Market
America’s priciest real estate is just getting more and more expensive. Why? A good mega-mansion is hard to find.

"God's not making any more land. [Trophy properties] are a true microeconomy with much less supply than demand," says Mauricio Umansky, an associate at Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Many of the deals are done in cash — and as in lesser markets, some of the properties sell quickly and some don’t.

"Think of it this way," Umansky says, "I could put three mega-yachts in a line — one contemporary, one traditional, and one Mediterranean. I don't know which one is going to sell because I don't know which one Larry Ellison or Bill Gates is going to pick."

Here are the top 10 priciest properties for sale in the U.S.

1. Hala Ranch Aspen, Colo., $135 million: Owned by Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, former Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, this 95-acre estate boasts a 56,000-square-foot, 15-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion.

2. Fleur de Lys, Beverly Hills, Calif., $125 million: Suzanne Saperstein's 45,000-square-foot home is modeled after Louis XIV's palace at Versailles.

3. Maison de L'Amitie, Palm Beach, Fla., $125 million: In 2004 Donald Trump bought this property at a bankruptcy auction for $41.25 million. The refurbished version comes complete with a ballroom, conservatory, 100-foot-long ballroom, and 475 feet of ocean-front.

4. Tranquility, Lake Tahoe, Nev., $100 million: On the tax-free Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, this 210-acre property is owned by Joel Horowitz, co-founder of Tommy Hilfiger. The 20,000-square-foot main house is modeled after a northern European mountain home and has a 3,500-bottle wine cellar.

5. Three Ponds, Bridgehampton, N.Y., $75 million: This home on 60 acres features its own USGA-rated Rees Jones golf course. Surrounding the main house are 14 gardens, a 75-foot-long swimming pool, golf pro shop, grass tennis court, and a guest house.

6. The Portabello Estate, Corona del Mar, Calif., $75 million: Built in 2002, this home has eight bedrooms and 10 full baths in nearly 30,000 square feet of ultra-modern space on a triple ocean-front lot along the Pacific Ocean.

7. Malibu, Calif., $75 million: A beach home located on a flat seven-acre lot with two riding stables, a riding ring, swimming pool, tennis court, and private access to the beach.

8. The Pierre Penthouse, New York City, $70 million: This penthouse occupies the top three floors of one of the most posh hotels in New York, located on the edge of Central Park. The balconies and windows have 360-degree views of Manhattan, Central Park, the East River, and the Hudson River.

9. Belvedere, Calif., $65 million: This six-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot home offers breathtaking views of San Francisco, Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the bay.

10. San Francisco, $65 million: This limestone mansion’s neighbors on billionaires’ row are the Getty family.

Source:, Matt Woolsey (05/23/07)

New Home Sales Surge In April

New Home Sales Surge in April
Sales of new single-family homes jumped 16.2 percent in April, the largest increase in 14 years, but the median price fell 11.1 percent, marking the largest one-month decline on record, according to the Commerce Department.

Analysts regarded the mixed signals cautiously, saying that troubles in the subprime market could further crimp demand in coming months.

''What you're seeing is the blue-light special,'' says Pat McPherron, an economist with Moody's ''The only way this market is going to move is by price cutting.''

The strength in new-home sales was led by a 27.8 percent increase in the South. Sales were also up in the West by 8.5 percent and in the Northeast by 3.8 percent. In the Midwest, sales fell 4 percent.

Meanwhile, April's median new-home price of $229,100 made the record books as the largest-ever month-over-month decline, as well as the biggest year-over-year drop (10.9 percent) since 1970.

Source: The New York Times (05/25/07)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Today's REALTORS®: Demographic Characteristics of NAR Members

Today's REALTORS®: Demographic Characteristics of NAR Members

by Paul Bishop, Anna Barlett and Jessica Lautz
NAR Research

The services provided by real estate professionals – from brokerage and property management to appraisal and relocation -- are essential to most real estate transactions. More than 1.3 million of these real estate professionals – about half of all real estate licensees – are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. REALTORS® bring their knowledge, experience and expertise to each transaction, while abiding by a strict Code of Ethics.

To better understand today’s REALTORS® and their important role in the real estate industry, NAR regularly surveys its members about their business activities, use of technology, demographic characteristics and their relationship to their firms. Last month in this column we examined some of the business characteristics of REALTORS®, including type of licenses held and the types of technology frequency used. In this issue of Real Estate INSIGHTS, we look at some of the basic demographic traits of REALTORS.

Demographic Profile of REALTORS®
Today’s REALTORS® run the gamut in terms of age, prior profession, and years of experience in the real estate business. But results from the 2007 NAR Member Profile indicate that:

The typical REALTOR® is a 51-year-old white female.
She has attended college, is married, owns her home, and lives there only with her spouse.
The typical REALTOR® has a household income of over $100,000.
The typical REALTOR® votes in both national and local elections. Indeed, the percentage of REALTORS® who vote is well beyond that of the electorate at large. Ninety-five percent of REALTORS are registered to vote. Ninety percent report that they voted in the last national election. Eighty-one percent voted in the last local election.

Although these are the typical characteristics, real estate practitioners are a diverse group with 2.7 million licensees and more than 1.3 million REALTORS®, many of them are not defined by the profile above.

Age and Gender
Fifty-nine percent of all REALTORS® are female. That is an increase since 2005, when 54 percent of REALTORS® were women. Females account for a larger share of REALTORS® in each age group, except for those over 60 where the gender share shifts to a slight majority for males. The majority of sales agent licensees and REALTORS who function as sales agents are female. REALTORS® who function as brokers and appraisers are predominantly male. Managers who are also involved in selling are about as likely to be male as female.


Thursday, May 17, 2007


ST. LOUIS - U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson
last week announced that communities throughout the nation will receive grants amounting to nearly $1.8 billion to help promote affordable housing and assist first-time home buyers. The funding will support HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), which is designed to produce affordable housing for low-income families, and the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI), a program aimed at helping first-time buyers with their down payment and closing costs.

The additional funding for both programs was granted in order to build economically stronger communities throughout the U.S. Since the programs began, HOME has produced more than 781,000 affordable housing units in 645 different communities and ADDI has assisted 23,000 first-time home buyers.

HUD No. 07-058
Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685

For Release
May 8, 2007

More info

Friday, May 11, 2007

America's Most Overpriced Real Estate Markets

America's Most Overpriced Real Estate Markets.
By Matt Woolsey,
May 11, 2007

No matter the locale, its denizens almost always gripe about the stiff cost of living, housing and doing business. But in some places the financial pain is clearly more acute than others

Behind The Numbers
Using the 40 largest metro areas, we started by estimating a "price-to-earnings" ratio for each market. (Like the P/E of a stock, this value attempts to measure the price a homeowner would pay for one dollar of return.) Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the U.S. Census Bureau and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, we took each market's median home price and divided it by annual rents minus taxes and insurance for those properties. (We assumed for this exercise that other costs don't vary drastically from city to city.)

The average P/E for the 40 markets is 28. Note: Unlike, say, the S&P 500 index of stocks, ours is not a weighted-average P/E. If it were, certain cities with greater overall sheer market value would carry more weight.

We incorporated a second metric: an affordability index. Calculated from National Home Builder Association and Wells Fargo data, the affordability score is the percent of the population who can afford to buy the median-priced home, assuming a 6% mortgage rate. In a city like Los Angeles, No. 4 on the list, a wee 2% of homes are affordable for residents pulling down a median income

1. San Diego
San Diego, Calif.
Median home price: $601,800
P/E: 5th highest
Affordability rank: 2nd least affordable
Housing price trend: -4.5%

2. Miami
Median home price: $371,000
P/E: 9th highest
Affordability rank: 6th least affordable
Housing price trend: -6.2%

3. Sacramento
Sacramento, Calif.
Median home price: $374,800
P/E: 10th highest
Affordability rank: 5th least affordable
Housing price trend: -4.1%

4. San Francisco
Median home price: $736,800
P/E: Highest
Affordability rank: 4th least affordable
Housing price trend: 2%

5. Washington
Median home price: $431,000
P/E: 10th highest
Affordability rank: 5th least affordable
Housing price trend: -4.1%

6. Honolulu
Median home price: $630,000
P/E: 3rd highest
Affordability rank: 11th least affordable
Housing price trend: even

7. New York
Median home price: $469,000
P/E: 6th highest
Affordability rank: 5th least affordable
Housing price trend: 2.3%

8. Los Angeles
Median home price: 584,800
P/E: 4th highest
Affordability rank: Least affordable
Housing price trend: 3.2%

9. Boston
Median home price: $402,200
P/E: 12th highest
Affordability rank: 14th least affordable
Housing price trend: -2.4%

10. San Jose
San Jose, Calif.
Median home price: $775,000
P/E: 2nd highest
Affordability rank: 8th least affordable
Housing price trend: 2.7%

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Where the Millionaires Live

Where the Millionaires Live
The number of U.S. millionaire households has risen to a record high
of 9.3 million as of mid-2006, up 5 percent from 2005, according to
TNS Global's annual Affluent Market Research Program.

The millionaires' mean net worth, not including their primary
residence, is $2,167,167 with investable assets of $1,442,841. Their
median age is 58 and 45 percent are retired.

Forty-six percent of millionaire households own investment real
estate such as a second home, third home, rental properties, and
undeveloped land. Thirty-four percent have a first mortgage on these
residences and 25 percent have second mortgages on these additional

The TNS study identified 10 counties with the highest number of
millionaire residents.

Los Angeles County with 268,136
Cook County, Ill., 171,118
Orange County, Calif., 116,157
Maricopa County, Ariz., 113,414
San Diego County, Calif., 102,138
Harris County, Texas, 99,504
Nassau County, N.Y., 79,704
Santa Clara County, Calif., 74,824
Palm Beach County, Fla., 71,221
King County, Ore., 68,390

Source: Associated Press (05/01/07)