Luxury home sales continued to slump in the fourth quarter

Luxury housing sales take a hit at end of 2016
Luxury housing sales take a hit at end of 2016

Uncertainty around the election spooked wealthy home buyers in the fourth quarter, continuing 2016's slowdown in luxury real estate, according to several new reports

Sales in the Hamptons, Aspen and Los Angeles fell by double-digit percentages in the fourth quarter, as the supply of unsold homes grew and prices came under pressure, according to market reports Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants.

Separate research from Redfin found that luxury properties nationwide under-performed the broader housing market for the eighth consecutive quarter. The supply of homes priced at $1 million or more rose 1 percent in the fourth quarter, while the number of $5 million-plus homes was up 15 percent.

"The Trump rally in the stock market did little to move prices in luxury real estate," Redfin's chief economist Nela Richardson said. "Cities with booming luxury markets attracted traditional high-income buyers seeking a place to live, work and grow their families. Prices in cities with more transient luxury buyers, looking for investments or a place to park their wealth, had more tepid growth to close out 2016."

The big question is whether the weakness in 2016 will continue in this year.

In the Hamptons, where the fourth quarter is always the weakest, the number of total sales fell 15 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago. The high end of the market was especially weak, bringing the average sale price down 30 percent, to $1.7 million. The median price fell 7 percent, to $925,000.

The average sale price for the Hamptons' luxury market — the top 10 percent of sales by price — fell 43 percent to $7.06 million. Meanwhile, inventory surged 21 percent.

In Aspen, the number of sales fell 25 percent, and the average sale price dropped to $3.75 million — an 11 percent decline. Like most big markets over the past year, the top of the market suffered most, with the average price for luxury homes there sliding 24 percent. The median price also tumbled, falling 29 percent.

Los Angeles was a bit stronger, with average sale prices up 10 percent. Yet with the number of sales tumbled 12 percent.

Performance was more mixed in the wealthy communities of Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Sales in Beverly Hills fell 33 percent, and average prices were flat. Meanwhile, sales and prices in Bel Air rose in the fourth quarter, with sales up 24 percent.

It's worth noting that the numbers in each of these communities can be skewed by just a few sales. The $7.2 million average sale price in Bel Air, where 36 sales were reported, jumped 68 percent due to a few big deals.

America's most expensive homes for sale
America's most expensive homes for sale