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.