Thursday, January 31, 2013

Luxury Market Update: Sales of Million-Dollar-Plus Properties Hit 5-year High

LUXURY REAL ESTATE MARKET UPDATE: As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the number of California homes that sold for more than $5 million reached an all-time high last year, while those selling at a million dollars or more rose to the highest level since 2007. The luxury real estate market is coming back strong.

Cash buyers, an upturn in home prices and the recovering economy played a role in the increase, as did a year-end rush among the wealthy to take advantage of lower capital gains taxes by closing before year end.

Across California, 697 homes sold for more than $5 million compared to the previous high of 491 in 2011.

The 26,993 homes sold at $1-million-plus represented a 26.9% jump from 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. In comparison, 42,502 home sales exceeded the million-dollar mark in 2007, before the mortgage meltdown dragged down home prices across the housing market.

"It should go without saying that buyers and sellers in the prestige market tend to respond to different motivations and incentives than the rest of the market," John Walsh, DataQuick president, said in a press release. "Job security, down payment sizes and mortgage interest rates don't play the same role. Returns on investments in a low interest-rate financial environment and safe-haven investing do play a role."

Cash buyers accounted for a record 7,791 of the million-dollar home sales, up from 5,802 in 2011.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


By Elaine Mallon

Today's Home Buyers and Sellers are more educated than ever, yet both continue to rely on faulty information provided by various Internet resources (such as Zillow,, Trulia,, etc.) to help determine a home’s value. It is important to be aware of the extensive inaccuracy of these home value “estimates” in order to protect your investment dollar.

Approximately 90% of home buyers begin their search on the Internet, and many blindly rely on these "estimates", despite the fact that valuations on these sites – by each site's own admission – can be wildly inaccurate.

These online home valuations can be 20%-50% higher or lower than a property’s eventual sale price, as the sites themselves admit. That means a Buyer who relies on this rough information might be passing up a truly good value or a Seller who relies on this data might be undervaluing their home by tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.

“A Trulia estimate is just that – an estimate,” says a disclaimer on the site’s home value tool. Zillow goes a step further, publishing how imprecise its estimates can be. Every major site urges house hunters to consult appraisers or real estate agents to refine their results.

Beware: These online sites don’t evaluate each property individually to determine “true market value.” They clump nearby homes together, using tax assessor’s office data and recent sales. Their values are based on broad computer algorithms, not refined human expertise. They don’t take in to account each home's unique characteristics, upgrades, condition, extras or other intangibles that affect value.

Zillow has accepted revisions on 25 million homes – perhaps the strongest testiment to how seriously consumers take its estimates and how off its numbers were.

People need to realize this whether they are buying, selling or refinancing because it can greatly affect their decisions and their bottom-line. With the right professional counsel, no one should be leaving money on the table in this housing market.

Elaine Mallon is a Broker Associate with Peninsula Sotheby's International Realty, the most prestigious brand in the sale and acquisition of luxury real estate. She is a Certified Residential Specialist, Certified Negotiator, Certified Investor Agent Specialist, Certified Corporate Relocation Specialist, Certified Palos Verdes Area Specialist and an award-winning Marketing & Public Relations veteran.

For assistance with all your real estate needs, please contact Elaine at:

Friday, January 4, 2013


Did you know you can tap your IRA right now and invest in this rebounding housing market, TAX-FREE with NO EARLY WITHDRAWAL PENALTY? As an alternative to investing your IRA money in stocks, bonds, etc., a Self-Directed IRA allows you to take advantage of real estate investment opportunities now while home prices are down and mortgage rates are still at historic lows!

A Self-Directed IRA allows the account owner to make investments on behalf of the retirement plan -- like a regular IRA -- and that either a qualified trustee (for example, a company that specializes in this), or custodian, simply hold the IRA assets on behalf of the IRA owner. The appreciation and/or passive income on your real estate investment then grows within this IRA, tax-free.

Real estate purchased may include residential and commercial properties (both in the U.S. & Internationally), farmland, raw land, new construction, property renovation, development, and passive rental income. Real estate purchased in a Self-Directed IRA can also have a mortgage placed against the property, thus lowering the amount of total cash needed for a purchase.

If you'd like more information -- or would like a referral to a qualified local agent who can assist you -- please contact me at If you think you don't have the money to take advantage of today's housing market, please consult your financial planner or tax advisor and think again!