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Is your home the best medicine?

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Your home may speak volumes about your state of mind. According to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Index (out this week), owning a home qualifies as an expense that makes for “a rich daily life” in the minds of nearly 50% of those surveyed; it was the highest-scoring expenditure following “spending time with my family” and “taking time for myself,” on the contentedness scale.

Other key data from the study about how Americans define wealth: Respondents concluded that the average amount needed to be financially comfortable in America is $1.4 million, while being rich was defined by anyone who’d amassed a net worth of about $2.4 million.

In general, most Americans think of the idea of wealth as providing “less stressors” in life. Considering 60% of those surveyed said they lived paycheck-to-paycheck (and 87% of those were renters), there seems to be a direct link between the peace of mind respondents prize and growing their bank account balances. According to the study, owning a home or homes—to bring them contentment and financial security—is a “significant part of experiencing a high quality of life.”

Wanna buy a house? #Me Too

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It’s the gender gap you don’t hear about: Single women are buying homes and condos at what may be more than twice the rate of single males, and the trend appears to be accelerating. Single women accounted for 18% of home purchases last year compared with 7% by single males, according to survey data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This makes single women the second-largest segment in the entire home-purchase marketplace (behind married couples).

Home builders have picked up on the trend and are designing homes and subdivisions to appeal to women’s preferences—lighter-feeling materials, open floor plans (especially kitchens), and amped-up elements of security.

Single female purchasers tend to be more likely to see buying a home as an investment, according to the NAR study. Single women pay slightly more on their purchase on average than single men—$185,000 compared with $175,000—and are more likely to have children under 18 in their households. Rising rents appear to be a hotter button for single women than for men. 23% percent of single women cited rising rents as a “trigger” motivation behind a home purchase, well above the 16% average for all recent buyers.

Does who slept where really matter?

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For some buyers, the desire to either get close to the rich and/or famous drives interest to luxury real estate listings when a “name” has lived there, currently lives there, or has endorsed a property in some way (sometimes by just viewing a home they are considering buying).
 
But does the Fame Effect translate to an increased sales price or shorter sales timeline? Not always, says a report out this week from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. The report says that when a property is priced right, some previous or current owner attachment might help it stand out from the competition so that the right buyer sees it that may not otherwise have done so. “Media feeds on the concept of ‘who slept where,’ so agents for such properties could see a runaway train of attention that they can’t otherwise create.”
 
Out this week (pictured and hot-linked here), the former home of “Brave New World” author Aldous Huxley and his wife, Laura, a noted musician. Huxley’s international standing as a writer and thinker has long drawn interest to his Hollywood Hills home, which has only been offered for sale once since his family’s ownership. It was the site of legendary gatherings when he lived there, as well as recent ones, including a group of his fans from San Francisco who held a book reading on the terrace. Huxley’s other claim to international fame, a fledgling L.A. band, The Doors, named themselves after one of his books, “The Doors of Perception.”

Luxury Home Owners Stick Together

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Where in the U.S. do locals take in an average of $2.5 million a year? Somewhere in Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, or Manhattan? It’s actually on a man-made barrier island in Miami, Florida named after South Florida’s first African-American millionaire and once owned by the Vanderbilt family. Fisher Island’s 33109 zip code is the country’s richest, according to an analysis of tax data out this week. The average income is $1 million higher than #2—94027 in the heart of Silicon Valley.
 
Other zips in the top-earning top 20 include Palm Beach, Florida at #3 and #4, Palo Alto. Both zips have an average income above $1 million.
 
What zips didn’t rank in the top 20? Any in New York City. The Financial District’s 10005 just missed, coming in 21st behind Greenwich, Connecticut’s 06831 (the most expensive zip code in the Empire State is in Harrison, New York, just across the border from Greenwich, where the average income was $976,000). L.A.’s Century City neighborhood was the highest on the list for SoCal with an average income of $905,000. Another L.A. zip is quickly rising as one of the most expensive: Santa Monica’s 90401 saw the greatest gains in earning power, and its median home price jumped an incredible 60.7% from 2016 to 2017, to just over $3 million.

Luxury Home Owners: Time to Slow Your Roll?

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Homes considered part of the high-end market across the country are taking longer to sell, according to a report out this week by Concierge Auctions. A whopping 72% of luxury homes in the U.S. languished more than 180 days on the market in 2017, up from 59% over 2015’s days on market. And for those who don’t believe pricing correctly is a factor, homes that spent more than 180 days on the market sold for an average of 62% of the original asking price (even after a few reductions).

One of the slowest list-to-close luxury markets in the U.S. last year was Westchester County, N.Y., where luxury homes spent 798 days on the market on average, a total only surpassed by Nashville, Cape Cod, and Atlanta. According to the report, one key factor to the tortoise-like pace in these areas were high property tax rates (Westchester ranked highest in the land).

The research said Beverly Hills high-end homes averaged 347 days on the market. However, it took L.A. Luxe Group only 8 days in 2017 to sell a Beverly Hills listing at 718 N. Alpine Drive (pictured) for over $8 million. Miami’s luxe digs took 608 days to sell in 2017, while expensive properties in San Francisco blew-off the market in 55 days. Pricey properties in Palm Beach averaged 476 days, and Manhattan’s $4 million-and-up residences spent an average of 359 days on the market prior to selling.