Luxury Housing Prices Strengthen in Fourth Quarter, But Still Have Room to Grow

by Real estate financingMission+
16 minutes read

The market’s 1.6% climb leaves it better off than it was at the start of 2019, but growth still remains below peak.

The average sale pricefor luxury homes nationwide climbed 1.6% year over year to $1.63 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a rebound that marks the largest gain since the third quarter of 2018. Still, while this increase represents an improvement from the 4% drop in the first quarter of 2019, it hasn’t yet returned to the outsized growth of recent years.

For this analysis, Redfin tracked home sales in more than 1,000 cities across the U.S. (not including New York City) and defines a home as luxury if it’s among the 5% most expensive homes sold in the quarter. While luxury prices inched upward in the fourth quarter, homes in the other 95% of the market saw prices increase 5.2% annually to an average of $317,000, the third-consecutive quarterly gain.

Sales of homes priced at or above $1.5 million rose 11.2% in the fourth quarter, marking the second-consecutive increase following three quarters of declines. Sales of homes priced below $1.5 million climbed 6% year over year.

“Demand for luxury is improving. That’s showing up primarily in an increase in sales right now, but it’s also putting some slight upward pressure on prices,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “We’re ending the year in a much better position than we started, which is a good sign for 2020. I expect price growth to return to at least 3% to 5% by spring.”

Supply of active listings priced at or above $1.5 million grew 5.8% year over year in the fourth quarter, the smallest annual increase in about two years. Supply of active listings priced below $1.5 million dropped 5.1% year over year during the fourth quarter.

Back in 2018, prices were growing just as fast in the top of market as they were in the bottom of the market, and it’s unclear if that’s going to happen again, as prices are already so high and a lot of the demand seems to be at the low end,” Fairweather continued. “But if wealth inequality continues to rise and the rich keep getting richer, it’s very possible that luxury could accelerate to that point again.”

Q4 2019 Market Summary 

Luxury market
(top 5%)
Rest of market (bottom 95%)
Average sale price $1.63 million
(+1.6% YoY)
(+5.2% YoY)
Median days on market 60
(+7 YoY)
(-1 YoY)
Homes that sold above list price 20.6%
(-2.4 pts YoY) 
(+0.8 pts YoY)

Nearly 21% of luxury homes sold above their list price in the fourth quarter, a small drop from about 23% a year ago. In the non-luxury market, 21.6% of homes sold above list price, a slight increase from 20.8% the year before.

The typical luxury home sold in the fourth quarter took 60 days to go under contract, seven days longer than last year. In the non-luxury market, the typical home went under contract in 43 days, one day faster than a year earlier.

Biggest price gains 

Luxury prices increased in two-thirds of the markets tracked by Redfin, with the top three gainers in the southeast. West Palm Beach, FL topped the list for the second-straight quarter, with a 104.5% year-over-year increase to an average price of nearly $3 million. It was followed by Charlotte, NC (up 21.2% to $1.26 million) and Tampa, FL (up 20.6% to $1.30 million). The 10 cities with the largest luxury price gains also showed impressive price performance in the rest of the market, with all but one growing more than 5% year over year.

“The Palm Beach market was slow over the summer, with rumors of a potential crash, a possible rise in interest rates and jitters from Hurricane Dorian. A lot of people were touring but not making offers,” said Redfin Palm Beach market manager Delray Valle. “But then the market never crashed, the storm largely spared Florida, and Palm Beach blew up; people who weren’t closing deals in the summer closed in the winter. Plus, you had an influx of snowbirds and folks looking to take advantage of Florida’s tax benefits.”

Here’s a look at the 10 cities where luxury home prices rose most in the fourth quarter of 2019:

Luxury market (top 5%) Rest of market (bottom 95%)
City Average sale price YoY increase Average sale price YoY increase
West Palm Beach, FL* $2.91 million 104.5% $229,000 2.4%
Charlotte, NC $1.26 million 21.2% $284,000 9.4%
Tampa, FL $1.30 million 20.6% $267,000 7.7%
Sarasota, FL $2.13 million 20.5% $326,000 8.4%
Austin, TX $1.82 million 20.0% $426,000 7.0%
Chandler, AZ $933,000 19.8% $353,000 8.3%
Henderson, NV $1.33 million 19.2% $343,000 5.4%
Scottsdale, AZ $2.52 million 19.2% $537,000 5.4%
Miami, FL $1.94 million 18.3% $346,000 7.3%
Bakersfield, CA $665,000 16.4% $253,000 9.2%

*In one building, 16 condos sold for between $4.3 million and $13 million each during the quarter.

Biggest price declines

Luxury home prices in St. Petersburg, FL slid 13.3% to an average of $1.21 million in the fourth quarter, the largest drop of any city. Next came San Diego (down 13.1% to $2.46 million) and Mesa, AZ (down 8.7% to $698,000). Luxury prices also slipped in San Francisco and Chicago.

“The luxury market in St. Petersburg is challenging because it’s an old city. Even when you renovate the $1 million-plus homes, many of them still have low ceilings, bold design features, and lack the open-floor plan that modern buyers are looking for, so house hunters often push back on pricing because they need to spend money on renovations,” said local Redfin agent Brian Walsh. “The trend that you saw this past quarter is reflective of sellers finally understanding that they’re not going to get the pie-in-the-sky price that they thought they would.”

Here are the top 10 cities where luxury home prices declined the most in the fourth quarter of 2019:

Luxury market (top 5%) Rest of market (bottom 95%)
City Average sale price YoY change Average sale price YoY change
St. Petersburg, FL $1.21 million -13.3% $246,000 -5.3%
San Diego, CA $2.46 million -13.1% $674,000 5.3%
Mesa, AZ $698,000 -8.7% $284,000 10.5%
Myrtle Beach, SC $652,000 -7.9% $199,000 -1.7%
Vancouver, WA $780,000 -7.3% $366,000 4.6%
Chicago, IL $1.47 million -6.9% $303,000 4.8%
San Francisco, CA $4.93 million -6.7% $1.49 million 3.4%
Aurora, CO $684,000 -6.4% $341,000 3.1%
Rochester, NY $406,000 -6.1% $130,000 6.9%
Detroit, MI $428,000 -5.0% $71,000 7.3%

Most expensive sales 

From Beverly Hills to Tennessee, the priciest deals of the quarter featured bowling alleys, beach cabanas and yacht parking. Here are the 10 most expensive home sales from the fourth quarter, nine of which are in California:

  1. And the winner is… Los Angeles, with a new $94 million luxury mansion, featuring 12 beds and 21 bathrooms. The 38,000-square-foot home has three gourmet kitchens, five bars, a massage studio, an infinity pool, a 40-seat movie theater and a bowling alley. And don’t forget the unobstructed mountain views.
  2. In second place is this Newport Coast estate next to the ocean. The 18,0000-square-foot home sits between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and has four beds, 10 baths and a pool. It sold for $38 million.
  3. Rounding out the top three is another Newport residence. This palatial waterfront home went for a whopping $37 million, and boasts 300 feet of bay frontage, yacht accommodations and water toys, and perhaps the largest walk-in closet you’ve ever seen. 
  4. This modern Los Angeles estate features a 300-degree view of the city, automated glass sliding doors and a 175-foot pool culminating in a waterfall that cascades into a garden. Oh, and did we mention the 15-foot outdoor TV that’s visible from every room in the house? The price tag: $35.5 million.
  5. Carla House is a Beverly Hills beauty, complete with a 2,000-square-foot rooftop deck, maid’s quarters, and a five-car garage. Its contemporary wooden design is surrounded by lush trees and stunning views. It sold for $35 million.
  6. Back in Beverly Hills, this $32.3 million European estate showcases views of L.A. Country Club and Century City. Sitting on nearly an acre of land, it has a wraparound motor court studded with olive trees, an auto gallery and a separate guest house.
  7. The seventh most expensive sale of the quarter is yet another Beverly Hills home that went for $30 million. The gated mansion, resembling the Peninsula Hotel in Paris, combines classical architecture with modern interior design and features a foyer with a 30-foot high ceiling and a bronze dual staircase.
  8. Taking the trophy for number eight is this $28 million property in Carpinteria, CA, with 77 feet of ocean frontage. The 2-acre family compound offers beach cabanas, redwood barns and a fruit-tree orchard.
  9. This plantation-style manor in Franklin, TN sits on almost 700 acres of land, complete with sprawling, grassy hills and a large pond. It fetched $27.5 million.
  10. Closing out the list is another Los Angeles compound, which sold for $27 million. Surrounded by palm trees, this five-bedroom, six-bathroom home has views of the city lights and the California coastline.


Redfin tracks the most expensive 5% of homes sold in more than 1,000 U.S. cities (not including New York City) and compares price changes to the bottom 95% of homes in those cities. Analysis is based on multiple-listing and county recorder sales data in markets served by Redfin. To determine cities with the biggest year-over-year price increases and decreases, we looked at cities with at least 45 luxury sales in the quarter and an average luxury sale price of $1 million or higher. For the national average home price, we included the top 5% of home sales by price nationwide, and for city-level average sale prices, we included the top 5% of sales by price for each individual market. For active listings and sales, Redfin looked at homes priced at or above $1.5 million that were sold in the fourth quarter of 2019.


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