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Luxury Market Report – October 2021

Like all real estate markets, the luxury residential market is complex, with mixed dynamics driving record setting sales in some areas and lagging values in others.

Below is a summary of this month’s report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing covering major metropolitan markets throughout the U.S. and Canada:


As we enter in the last quarter of 2021, we review the number of year-to-date sales as they compare to the full years of 2019 and 2020. We also look at several trends to establish the types of properties currently being purchased and to ascertain which were seeing the highest demand in the luxury real estate market.

Seven takeaways for the North American Luxury Market:

  1. The number of sales in the luxury real estate market, year to date, have already surpassed the number of sales for the full year of 2019.
  2. Demand remains strong, with the majority of luxury markets reporting sales in 2021 already outpacing the total number of sales in 2020.
  3. The luxury markets whose sales are not currently outpacing 2020 are, for the most part, predicted to do so by the end of 2021.
  4. Demand for properties in the $5 million range and above in 2021 is currently in the double digits compared to 2019, ie. there are more than double the number of $5 million + homes sold in 2021 than in the full year of 2019.
  5. Sales of properties in the $1-5 million range are currently 50% higher than the full year of 2019 but are predicated to be as much as 100% higher by the end of 2021.
  6. Inventory levels continue to remain at one of the lowest levels of availability, certainly over the last 20 years, if not longer.
  7. The median sold price in U.S for luxury single-family homes, year to date in 2021, is approximately $1.7 million, a 22% increase compared to 2020, and for luxury attached homes it is approximately $1 million, a 12.8% increase compared to 2020.

What does this tell us? In simple terms, the luxury real estate market remains extremely robust and luxury properties are still very much in high demand. If trends remain on track, then 2021 could report one of the strongest years on record for the number of sales as well as the median price point for luxury properties.

However, despite these extraordinary numbers, the fall market is currently experiencing a slowing down, especially if we compare it to the activity of last spring’s market — not so much in the number of sales, but more that price increases have slowed, inventory levels increased, and there are fewer bidding wars. There is more a semblance of normality for all parties concerned in today’s market.

The two largest property types that are trending this fall are city dwellings, condominiums in particular, and second home properties.

Major cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, and to some extent Los Angeles (whose urban sprawl made it easier to relocate to the city’s outer limits) offered returning buyers a softer condominium market in which to negotiate.

For a copy of the complete report, contact me.

Luxury International Buyers

An increase in demand from overseas luxury buyers may be a surprise for certain markets in the 4th Quarter. CNBC recently reported on an expected “flood” of international luxury buyers as travel restrictions are lifted:

  • The U.S. will lift the travel ban on about 33 countries for vaccinated visitors, easing restrictions that prevented most foreign real-estate buyers from entering the country to view and buy properties.
  • Sales data suggests the wave of overseas buyers could generate tens of billions of dollars in added sales.
  • Foreign buyers spent $267 billion on U.S. real-estate in 2018 and $183 billion in 2019, before the pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Buyers from Europe, China, Brazil, and India will now be able to enter the U.S. for the first time in 20 months. Brokers in cities popular with the overseas wealthy — New York, Miami, Los Angeles — say they have a long list of showings scheduled in the coming weeks from buyers who have been anxious to invest in U.S. property.

Sales data suggests the wave of overseas buyers could generate tens of billions of dollars in added sales. Foreign buyers spent $267 billion on U.S. real-estate in 2018 and $183 billion in 2019, before the pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors. In 2021, their spending fell to $107 billion, suggesting large pent-up demand as buyers weren’t able to tour or visit properties.

Trophy assets

Along with restrictions being lifted, overseas buyers have benefitted from massive wealth creation during the pandemic with rising asset prices and stock markets. Flush with cash, the global wealthy are now looking for trophy assets. Cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami, which have always been hubs for the global rich, are still seen as safe investments despite the ups and downs of the pandemic.

“New York home purchases are super attractive to these buyers because they can use it or rent it out,” said Douglas Elliman CEO Scott Durkin. “But they can also hang on to it. It becomes something they’re proud of.”

Brokers say the buyers expected in New York this month are mainly from Europe — specifically the U.K. and Germany. In Florida, brokers say Brazilians make up the largest share of overseas buyers returning. In Los Angeles, they say the Middle East wealthy make up the bulk of the expected buyers for the lavish mansions in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

Local Philadelphia Luxury Trends

Luxury trends in Center City are mixed as we find in all market segments.

Rittenhouse Sq Luxury Report

Rittenhouse Square luxury sales showed strong results in the month of October. Of 12 new listings above $1M, 5 of them went under contract within the same month.

Luxury Rittenhouse Square Closed Sales in October;

  • 10 Rittenhouse #2803 4 bd / for $6,500,000 CASH
  • Parc Rittenhouse #1106 3 bd / 3.5 ba for $3,150,000 CASH
  • 2037 Lombard 4 bd home with 2 car garage, sold for $2,875,000
  • 122 N Crosky St, 4 bd with 3 car garage for $1,899,900
  • The Barclay 7B1, 2 bd / 2.5 ba for $1,600,000 CASH
  • 227 N 23rd in Logan Square, 3 bd / 3 ba with 2 car garage for $1,481,250 CASH
  • The Rittenhouse Savoy #2110-01, 2 bd / 2.5 ba $1,370,000 CASH

MidTown Philly Luxury Results for October;

As the commercial retail and office space abundant in MidTown remains a soft recovery, the neighboring luxury condos are negatively affected by commercial vacancies.

An anticipated recovery in the theatre segment, along with repurposing of retail and office space in MidTown, would improve buyer demand for residential condos and unique luxury offerings at Two Liberty Place and The Residences at Ritz-Carlton.

A luxury auction with a no reserve bid asking $8.9M was scheduled with during October for Unit 4604; 5,500 sf 2 bedroom with penthouse views at Two Liberty Place. The auction was canceled prior to opening and it remains active on MLS.

With the most recent Penthouse Sale of Unit 5401 (3 bd, 2662 sf) at $2.1M cash sale in September, and Unit 5105 scheduled to close this week at an asking price of $1.3M, it’s easy to understand why the owners stopped the auction. Luxury auctions can be a strategic way to maximize international exposure to high net worth buyers and create a sense of urgency. However, in this case it appears the response didn’t fit with the value the owners expected.

MidTown luxury had 6 new listings in October, and one closed sale for $1,575,000 at 262 S 16th; a new construction condo bordering Rittenhouse Square.

Main Line Suburban Luxury Sales

Luxury demand remains high on the Main Line. Bryn Mawr continues to be the center of the most sales activity. Gladwyne and Villanova both have limited opportunities for private ownership and the small number of sales must be understood within that context.

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Susanna Kunkel

Susanna Kunkel brings her skills from a career in the executive offices of major corporations to her real estate business - treating each client like a VIP. With 18 years of experience as a real estate advisor, you can be confident in knowledgeable, personalized, confidential service. Hear what her clients say -

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