Sales Surge on $1 Million Homes, Prices Stall

Luxury  Villa
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By Robert Frank

The luxury-home market saw a burst of sales activity in the first quarter, though prices are starting to fall.

According to the CNBC Luxury Real Estate Report, compiled by Redfin, sales of homes priced at $1 million or more were up 13 percent year over year -- the strongest year-on-year increase in several quarters. Yet the average sales price fell 0.6 percent year over year, to an average of $1.83 million.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-In some of these markets, like San Francisco, sellers put big prices on their homes and expected a flood of high-income buyers, but the bidding wars never materialized.%Nela Richardson, Redfin's chief economist, said the rising sales and softer prices suggest that some homes priced at $1 million or more were overpriced and are now seeing price cuts.

"In some of these markets, like San Francisco, sellers put big prices on their homes and expected a flood of high-income buyers, but the bidding wars never materialized," she said. "The buyers are smarter today."

For the luxury markets tracked by Redfin, which doesn't include New York City, there were 14,122 homes that sold for $1 million or more in the first quarter, up from 12,492 in the first quarter of 2014. There were 395 homes that sold for $5 million or more, up from 349 last year.

While sales increased, so did inventory -- especially in Texas. Total inventory of million-dollar homes ticked up by 1.6 percent in the quarter, but it jumped 48.2 percent in Houston.

Inventory of homes priced at $5 million or more rose 10 percent.

Demand remains especially high in Silicon Valley, as the tech money continues to pour into real estate. A home in Los Altos, California, sold in the first quarter for $8.5 million -- more than $1.5 million above the asking price. A home in nearby Palo Alto sold for $6.5 million on an asking price of $5.5 million.
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