Blog by Kevin Wong

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The World’s Richest Investors Are Increasingly Parking Their Money In Real Estate

Rich buyers have remained active in luxury real estate, and some down markets have already returned to normalcy in the $1 million-plus range, according to an inaugural report by Christie’s International Real Estate.

While locations such as California, Florida and London have remained below average peak prices overall, the luxury property markets there are picking up again, said the State of the International Luxury Real Estate Market report by Christie’s.

The report said 67.5% of global luxury real estate professionals responding to the survey reported an increase in buyer activity for the first eight months of 2011 compared to the same time last year. The largest increases were in “glamour” locations such has London, New York, Beverly Hills, Hong Kong and Paris.

No Canadian cities were highlighted as top locations in the report, although it did mention the increasing number of buyers from Hong Kong, mainland China, India and other parts of Asia in Canada. Chinese buyers have been singled out by many other analysts for driving up the luxury market in Vancouver lately. But Toronto-based Chestnut Park Real Estate, which Christie’s identified as the market leader in sales volume in the luxury market in Canada, noted American and European buyers have not been as active lately in Canada.

“The strength of the Canadian dollar … is causing Americans and Europeans to adapt more of a wait-and-see attitude,” said Justine Deluce, vice president of operations at Chestnut Park Real Estate.

The Christie’s report noted many buyers have turned to real estate to protect their assets. Some markets which have remained slow overall, like Florida, have seen especially high activity lately in the luxury sector. A Florida real estate agent went as far as to say there is now a shortage of luxury properties.

“Our market is edging close to normalcy,” says Michael Saunders of Michael Saunders & Company in Sarasota, Florida. “Ours was among the first to feel the downturn, the first to take the corrective measure of lowering prices, and now is among the first to enjoy a sustained recovery. Buyers who arrive today expecting to find a glut of properties to choose from will be shocked to discover a growing shortage of well-priced, well-maintained properties that are in move-in condition.”




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