Housing Market Is Terrific, If You Are Rich

In the past, both the luxury housing market and the low-end market moved in tandem, but these days, they’re moving in opposite directions.

The luxury market is outperforming the rest of the market, with Zillow reporting a 0.7 percent gain since February in the prices of properties worth $1 million or more but more than a 1.5 percent decline in lower-priced homes.

At the lower end, houses sit on the market for months without receiving an offer, and most buyers are unable to qualify for financing despite record-low mortgage rates. In Miami, $1 million-plus condos are flying off the shelves, but two-bedroom condos in gated communities can be had for as little as $25,000.

Condo Vultures founder Peter Zalewski says, “In the 20 years that I have been in South Florida real estate, I have never seen a greater divide between those who have and those who have not.” Experts attribute the strength of the luxury market to international buyers, who view U.S. properties as undervalued assets and who can pay in cash. Home purchases by foreign buyers rose to $82 billion in 2010 from $66 billion in 2009; and they accounted for 33 percent of purchases in Florida, up from 10 percent four years ago.

Source: “Housing Market Is Terrific, If You Are Rich,” USA Today (09/25/11)

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