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The supply shortage that has been plaguing the nation's housing market for the past two years has now affected the most expensive homes.
The number of multimillion-dollar listings is suddenly dropping, and that is only making these pricey homes, well, pricier.
The top 5 percent of homes by price sold in the third quarter saw their values increase 4.9 percent compared with a year ago, hitting an average of $1.71 million, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage.
The higher prices are the result of a sharp decline in listings in the luxury sector. The number of homes for sale priced at or above $1 million fell just over 18 percent compared with the same period last year.
"There is still strong buyer demand for high-end homes," said Redfin's chief economist, Nela Richardson. "Despite declining inventory, luxury sales soared in the third quarter."
Sales of homes priced at or above $1 million were up 11 percent from a year ago, while sales of homes priced at or above $5 million were up almost as much at 10 percent, Richardson explained.
At the ultra-high end, the number of homes priced at or above $5 million fell 19 percent. This marked the first quarter in which super luxury listings fell year over year since Redfin began reporting on the luxury market in 2014.
Given the high demand, supplies will likely continue to fall. Homebuilders are turning their attention to the lower end of the market, where demand has been rising for years and where the lack of supply is acute. The average price for nonluxury homes was $336,000 in the third quarter, up 5.3 percent compared with a year earlier.
Luxury homes are also selling faster, although not as fast as the rest of the market. Luxury homes in the third quarter sold on an average of 70 days, four days faster than a year ago. Nonluxury homes sold on an average of 53 days, a full week faster than last year.
There may be several reasons for the surge in luxury demand. The U.S. stock market has been on a tear all year, hitting new highs almost daily. Demand from foreign buyers, who tend to favor the luxury market, has also been strong.
Of course all real estate is local, and high-end homes are no different. The town of Longmont, Colorado, led the nation with the biggest annual price jump in the luxury sector. The average price increased 34.7 percent to $1.55 million compared with last year. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, also saw big gains in luxury prices, (+28.7 percent) as did St. Petersburg, Florida, (+19.6 percent).
The average price for a luxury home fell furthest in the third quarter in the cities of Delray Beach, Florida, San Francisco and Boca Raton, Florida, where prices fell 26.9 percent, 14.7 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively, compared with last year.