Housing Market Tracker - No Slump for the Wealthy

by: Judy Weil

Real Estate Sales and House Prices

Downtown's Priciest House Back Up For Sale. South Carolina: "An elegant King Street estate that broke downtown Charleston's real estate record last summer is back on the market. The Patrick O'Donnell House at 21 King St. carries a price tag of $7,895,000. That's $695,000 more than its June sale price of $7.2 million, making it the most-expensive home ever sold in the South of Broad community. If the property sells at the new list price, it would set another record price for historic residential properties in the downtown area. Real estate agent Douglas Berlinsky... called the price "very realistic." (Charleston Post and Courier, Feb. 18th)

Jones Apparel Founder Sidney Kimmel Lists Palm Beach Mansion for $81.5M. Florida: "Philanthropist and Jones Apparel founder Sidney Kimmel has listed his oceanfront Palm Beach mansion along Billionaires Row for an eye-popping $81.5 million. What a difference a couple of decades in retail, and real estate, can make. In 1993, he paid $5.5 million for the property at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd... Kimmel's house covers more than 26,000-sf, and the 5-acre property has 316 feet of oceanfront. Auxiliary structures include a two-bedroom guest house, a five-car garage and two pool cabanas." (Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 17th)

Sunday Real Estate Round-Up. NY: "The double-wide, 22,000-square-foot Upper East Side mansion at 14-16 E. 67th St. which belonged to Bob Guccione has been on and off the market for the past six years for prices over $50 million finally has an accepted offer. The reported buyers are edge-fund manager Philip Falcone and his wife, Lisa. The final price is unknown but the home's $59 million listing figure is well above the current record of $53 million for a 25,000-square-foot townhouse on East 75th Street purchased by investment banker J. Christopher Flowers nearly two years ago." (Luxist, Feb. 17th)

Yes, There Are Some Deals Out There. "Yes, you can get price breaks for remodeling your home and especially if you want to buy a new house... Jeff Stewart, president of the Greater Chicago chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry: In the Midwest... owners can find quality contractors quoting prices 5%-10% below 2007 costs. And that could really be a 15% break because contractors' costs are still rising... Dave Kunzweiler, VP, Cabinets Plus: Homeowners are remodeling to make their current homes fit their needs and wants, since they don't feel they can sell the houses for the prices they would want." (Chicago Daily Herald, Feb. 16th)

Some Cities Are Spared the Slide in Housing. "In the America of big-city housing markets... the huge run-up in values in recent years has given way to big drops in prices and sales volume. Millions of people owe more than their houses are worth... But in cities like Austin; Grand Forks, N.D.; Yakima, Wash.; and Salem, Ore... the real estate market is holding up. Prices there never boomed as crazily as they did in the big cities, and now, even though volume is down almost everywhere, prices in many of these towns are firm or rising... National Association of Realtors: [In] 150 metropolitan areas... median home prices were falling in 77 markets — but rising in 73." (NY Times, Feb. 15th)

Government's Role in the Housing Problem. "Seattle Times: A University of Washington economics professor argues that home prices have, perhaps inadvertently, been driven up $200,000 by good intentions. Between 1989-2006, the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house rose from $221,000 to $447,800. Fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations, says Theo Eicher — twice the financial impact that regulation has had on other major U.S. cities... Of the $226,800 increase in Seattle house prices from 1989 and 2006, $200,000, or 88%, of the increase was the result of land-use regulation." (Mark J. Perry in Seeking Alpha, Feb. 15th)

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