Big Money Dwellings

BY JIM PARKER ON SEPTEMBER 7TH, 2017

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Properties priced in the seven-figure range even 20 years ago were a rare exception in all but the swankiest communities of the U.S. Nowadays, million-dollar homes are cropping up throughout the country, and the number of residences is surging with one in 25 houses nationwide valued at $1 million or above.

Housing researchers cite a tight market that's driven up costs as contributing to the growth in luxury mansions, beachfront bastions, premier estates and secluded compounds. Still the list varies depending on the locale. "In Atlanta, it could indeed net you a gigantic mansion in the exclusive suburbs. But in San Francisco, a seven-figure check barely gets you a compact condo with one bathroom," says Yuqing Pan in a June article on Realtor.com.

The real estate site this spring studied cities with the highest growth rates in homes priced at $1 million or higher from first quarter 2014 to first quarter of 2017, factoring out certain super rich markets such as Aspen, Colorado, and San Francisco, in which 1 in 10 homes reached the $1 million mark even three years ago. The list also limited top picks to two per state.

While most of the million-dollar places are in the West, they make up a cross-section of resort-like towns, mountain-ringed metros and historic ocean-side cities.

Denver ranked first, with the Colorado city's million-dollar home growth rising 6.1 percentage points from a 3.3 percent share in 2014 to 9.4 percent this year. Next were Santa Rose, California; Boulder, Colorado; Truckee, California; Fredericksburg, Texas; Heber, Utah; Boston; Seattle; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Rounding out the top 10 was Charleston, South Carolina, which saw its seven-figure houses increase 2.1 percentage points in three years from 4.9 percent to 7 percent.

The story highlighted Denver for its recreational activities and as an attraction for Californians, who sell their seven-figure properties for $1 million homes in Colorado and have money left over. Santa Rose lures buyers looking for more value than San Francisco an hour south. Boulder sits among the Flatiron Mountains surrounded by "lush forests and crystal-clear lakes" and is home to a dozen business start-ups. Truckee is a vacation spot in the Kae Tahoe area, known for skiing in the winter and warm weather attractions in the summer.

Fredericksburg is an historic town sits in the Texas Hill country, just an hour-and-a-half from Austin and San Antonio. Heber sits in a valley outside Salt Lake City and is 20 minutes from winter resort Park City.

In describing Boston, Realtor.com said, "While it's true that Louisburg Square and Beacon Hill have no shortage of red-brick townhouses fetching $10 million or more, there's new growth far from such trophy addresses, or those in wealthy suburbs like Brookline." Seattle gained in million-dollar properties for its "tech wealthy" and "global affluent" population. And Santa Fe offers mega-properties such as designer Tom Ford's $75 million ranch for sale.

In a vignette, Realtor.com showcased Charleston's resort-business ambience. "Beaches, mild weather, and beautiful historic homes – Charleston checks almost every box for a perfect place to buy a second home. And that's why this old-world city has never fallen out of fashion among business moguls and celebs.

"But lately it's been the new-money class, many of whose members work in the city's fast-growing tech game, fueling the upper-end real-estate boom. Developers have embarked on a new construction frenzy on the waterfront – many are tearing down old properties and building brand-new luxury ones," the article notes.

"'Charleston is sophisticated, artistic and has incredible food," says Thomas Bennett, a Realtor with Carriage Properties. "If you want to buy a nice second-home on the coast between New York and Florida, this is it. Sullivan's Island, about 15-minute drive from downtown, is a beloved spot to buy a lavish second (or fifth) home. Beach homes are built with broad piazzas and high ceilings to catch sea breezes. Only four homes on Sullivan's Island are on sale for less than a million."

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