January 14th, 2011
03:24 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Ok, you are unlikely to be in the market for a house that sells from $5 million to $150 million, but this 'uber-rich' housing market can be as good an economic barometer as any other. If the super rich are buying and selling in places like London or Rome then taxes are raised and real estate agents are hiring.

I spoke this week with Neil Palmer, CEO of “Christie's International Real Estate,” who is cautiously optimistic that sales in 2011 will be much higher than in 2010 and certainly than 2009.

Funny thing is, Palmer says the super luxury rich real estate market was not hit during the crisis because buyers couldn't afford these homes – there was just too much uncertainty for the ultra-rich to decide when to “pick up that second or third home.”

I just love the fact that people who buy houses north of $5 million tend to have more than one. It’s not the big purchase of a lifetime; it’s getting that extra home somewhere you spend a lot of time.

Christie's is currently selling Ringo Starr's ski chalet in Aspen for $4.5 million and the late Aaron Spelling's Hollywood mansion for $150 million. In between, there are homes in many major western cities. In Miami-Dade County alone, Palmer says the luxury home market in 2010 was up 30% in volume compared to the previous year. Sales in January 2011 were higher than January 2010 – a concrete example that the rich are spending again.

Christie's says buyers from the Middle East and Asia continue to push this market higher. But with domestic interest inside India and Beijing and Hong Kong so strong, developers there don't yet see a reason to advertise in the West, yet. It could be an untapped market for anyone selling international real estate.

London Sotheby's real estate arm says there are now plenty of buyers in the region but simply not enough stock. We were shown around a $13 million six bedroom home off Regent's Park. We were there for a little over an hour, yet there were two showings. One man did not care there was a TV crew around, he wanted to get on with his viewing.

Christie's is showing off a row of eight newly renovated townhouses in Regent's Park as well. Cornwall Terrace has homes reportedly on the market for more than $30 million.

I cannot imagine that kind of wealth. I really can't.

Of course, the Spelling mansion has been on the market for at least two years now and I can't see any chatter on the web that it’s had major interest. I don't know, but Christie's notes that Andrew Lloyd Webber's Trump Tower Duplex did sell, and it was listed at $19 million while a country estate in Tennessee sold last June with a listed price of $28 million. It’s not clear how much people actually paid for those properties.

As Sotheby's Charlie Smith said to me, if you “realistically” price your luxury property you will find interest.

Maybe Mrs. Spelling will take $130 million.

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soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Daniel

    I wonder how many Haitian familes, or refugees from other parts of the world, even one of these monstrous properties could house.

    January 14, 2011 at 5:33 am |
  2. Justin

    Yeah, let's just sit around and bash the super rich. Typical CNN article.

    January 14, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  3. Noordin

    I would encourage the USD 5M and upwards investors to focus on the growing industries in Africa for a better "humane" investment

    January 14, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  4. mm

    You think Ms. Spelling would take $120 mill. for the mansion. Wow! I just don't know if I can upgrade from my little 5 bedroom bungalow in the country. But seriously, I would love to do a walk-through of the Spelling mansion. Wonder if they charge for that?

    January 14, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  5. Ivan

    What is it with white people and their bleeding hearts? "How many Haitian families can be housed in one of those mansions?"???

    It was a mistake to export those Africans to the Caribbean in the first place... to force them to build Western society... then to have them overthrow the French and make an abysmal failure of their fought for independence with that ailing nation... and now survival of the fittest. An earthquake. Chlorea. Good riddance to unfit and incompetent rubbish.

    Who cares. Do what you can for the children and educate them to OUR standards.. not Haiti stands... but throw away the adults. They are UNFIT!

    Disclaimer: An unpopular non-white bleeding heart save the world view of life and the world from an American upper middle class European/South American mix. Thank you!

    January 14, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  6. Manuel Vilhena

    Ineteresting. Good indicator.

    January 14, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  7. nik_tzim

    thank god there are rich people, clever people building their wealth upon creativity and personal effort. And don't blame them for the hunger around the world, they are philanthropists and without their philanthropy more would have starved.
    PS: if you find the above comment correct you must check your IQ again.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  8. Steve

    "Wanted: Homes for the uber-rich" // "domestic interest inside India and Beijing" Seeing as this could only possibly end well perhaps Business 360 should have a partner article on hiring armed guards and bomb proof cars for those able to purchase these homes. 2 Billion near starvation in these two nations and yet growth in the uber-rich housing market. Misallocation of resources? Nah.. 'it's the invisible hand of capitalism'

    January 14, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  9. ArchieBunker

    Justin,the super rich don't need paupers to stick up for them,so stop groveling

    January 14, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  10. Aaron

    It is useless to moralize about other people's wealth. I live in Cambodia where a number of people in the towns make $50 per day if they are lucky enough to have a job and sometimes less and there are houses for sale for millions. The prime minister pf Cambodia has five 10 to 20 room houses. There's a lambhorghini club and even a half million dollar Rolls Royce Phantom crusing the streets of Phnom Penh. So if you make as little as $2,000 per month in the U.S. please be disgusted with yourself because you make 20 times more than the half million girls employed in garment factories making clothes for you to wear. Why aren't you disgusted with your own wealth. People generally only consider wealth disgusting when they are comparing themselves to someone who has significantly more wealth than them. That's because they are envious. Then they suddenly act like there's all sorts of STUFF they'd do for poor people. RED ALERT!!!! I can't remember the stats but if you make something like 20k per year your in the top 10% of income earners in the world if everyone is averaged together. So quit whinging about what you'd do if you were rich. YOU ARE! so get to work.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  11. deepwater805

    I was looking at a mansion in Beverly Hills, but the slaves...I mean, servants quarters was way to close...

    January 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  12. james

    Justin – this article is in no way 'bashing' the super-rich.

    Also, most 'super rich' have raised their money by working hard to game the system – that is to cheat so as to be able to capture a lot of value legally without necessarily having to create it. Ringo Star I have no problem with but he's not the problem.

    Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have openly said that it is unfair that they pay less of an effective tax rate than their secretaries.

    The capital gains tax, usually at 1/2 income tax – is the big, massive loophole in the taxation system that has been enabled since antiquity when nobles and bourgeoisie wanted a better deal than those without money.

    When Americans overthrew the Monarchy and demanded 'freedom', you leaders gave you something to shut you up (guns) and gave themselves something of real value: capital gains taxes at much lower rates than what you pay. And like a bunch of cattle, the populace was happy wit their raw deal.

    Anyone with a lot of money can thus leverage themselves over the rest of us in perpetuity without a lot of work, i.e. they can let their bankers do it for them.

    I have dealt with many of the super-rich. By far and away they are some of the worst people alive. That doesn't mean that some of them are great, some of them have truly earned their wealth, or that most of them are talented in at least some way – but it's not a good scene.

    The system is screwed up – the true value creators: innovators, doctors, etc. etc. are not being paid the huge sums that the neutral or value-destroyers are: fund (especially hedge) managers.

    Let me put it a different way: the bum on the street who won't raise a hand to do any work is value-neutral: no value created and very little value captured. You probably work hard to create value and capture some of that. Many fund managers actually DESTROY tons of value by making massive bets and getting bailouts when they go bunk – or t losing all of their clients money – and while they might get paid little in those cases (some times a lot) – they have really 'shrunk the pie for everyone' in many cases. Sometimes a fund can make all kinds of money but still be shrinking the pie for everyone.

    Case and point: because of the way the system was designed, you should be hating many of those who achieved wealth, because they've scammed you.

    Put capital gains tax at normal rates. End government support for financial firms. Disable paid lobbying in congress.

    Your guns do not set your free – only knowledge and education can. Grow up.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  13. nik_tzim

    well done james. time for the world to get rid of speculators and abusive strategies from big corporations. The politicians must choose if they are going to protect the working but honest or keep facilitating the smart but arrogant in exchange of their political power and good living. Education is the key.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  14. Justin2

    This is a site I found about 6 months ago that really puts everything in perspective: http://www.globalrichlist.com

    January 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  15. manfaat

    God bless to all of our friends that loved cnn.com ..., dear ..., for the ultra rich people there are many premium houses to choose ..., but ..., mind to you, that the ultra comfort places to stay is ..., on our heart.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  16. Babak from Los Angels

    I don't think the article is bashing the rich, but some of the posts are. And for the record I don't care about how many Haitian familes you can place in one of these homes. Not everyone steals or marries it, some actually work the butt of get it. American dream is well and alive, for anyone who would like to get off the couch.....

    January 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  17. joelle esther benyayer

    well look a little beat rococo still mean the colors im not sure ;;;but ok nice the best properties i woul likd if is a house in hawaïi like all the artist im singer and composer it a paradize far aways a ce que nous appelons le clinquant chic souvent le gout est matière d'education et de talent;;;;but ok some cottage in england are more charming what you think ....Joelle sther benyayer

    January 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Hamit

    Subukan mo kaya? baka pati ikaw magulat na pnkaaadali lang pala.. consider these nung una di pinapatulan cell company mga maliliit customer post paid concentration nila. Now nakita nila nasa maliit pala kitaan di ba pababan pa ng pagload 20, 10 , 5, 2 pesos pa ng matuklasan ila nandun pala pera, Ang mga products ngayon kahit malalaking company naglalabas ng sachet, kasi nga nandun pera.. magisip ka nga? di ba mga intsik sa barya-barya pumapatol.. sino mayayaman dito Pilipinas INTSIK

    March 28, 2012 at 11:16 am |
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