Baltimore Home Auctions Make Luxury Living Affordable

Baltimore seems like a cool place, the gritty bits from "The Wire" and John Waters movies notwithstanding. And now you can live there in the lap of luxury for a pittance, compared to some high-priced real estate markets like New York and San Francisco.

Because Baltimore's luxury market took a dive in the recession, 11 properties at a newly built development called Pier Homes at HarborView -- described in breathless terms as "the only waterfront community of its kind in the world" (our italics) -- are being auctioned on June 28, with prices starting at up to 75 percent off the last asking price.

That's right: a 3,523-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home has a minimum bid price of $375,000 -- down from $1.48 million. The bidding for an even bigger place, with 3.5 beds and 2.5 baths, starts at $665,000, instead of the original asking price of $1.9 million.

Quite a bargain for waterfront living that the website claims is "inspired by the homes of Venice." OK, except for the water views, they don't exactly look like Venetian dwellings (although we did spot an Italianate-looking baroque fountain in what appears to be a courtyard). But that's still good value for money ... if you want to live in Baltimore.
Not everyone in Baltimore is happy, however.

Analysts say the auction -- like many being held across the country in deflated housing markets like Las Vegas and Miami -- will "rock the entire high end" of the market (by pressuring other sellers to lower their prices) and make life difficult for those who bought at a higher price.

The auctioneers argue that offering the homes at steep discounts would "break the logjam across the board" in Baltimore's stagnant real estate market, noting that in April only 17 homes priced at $1 million or above sold in the metro area, out of more than 650 on the market.

It could be a good moment for buyers to take the plunge. The decor looks nice, too, especially that big kitchen and sexy glassed-in shower in the bathroom.

So for all you Baltimore fans, grab your paddles and let the bidding begin.
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