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Luxury home sales soar in state

Suburban estates, city condos attract foreign buyers

An influx of foreign buyers has helped luxury homes become the fastest-growing segment of the Massachusetts housing market, with sales of high-end homes significantly outpacing the nation as a whole, according to two reports by real estate companies.

In the first half of the year, luxury home sales in Massachusetts jumped nearly 15 percent from the same period in 2013, compared with a 3 percent decline in all home sales in the state, according to a report by RE/MAX.

Nationally, luxury home sales increased 4 percent — less than a third of the growth rate in Massachusetts.

A separate report by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New England detailed the trend in Boston.

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In the three-month period from April to June, sales of homes priced at $2 million or higher jumped 52 percent from the same period a year earlier.

“We’re definitely seeing a surge in the high-end market,” said Lili Banani, an agent at Coldwell Banker in Boston.

“A lot of buyers who were basically on the sidelines and waiting for more inventory realized that more inventory is not really coming on the market — they’re buying.”

The buyers are a mix of locals and foreigners, often paying cash for homes that cost millions of dollars, according to brokers who specialize in luxury homes. Wealthy Chinese families in particular are snapping up high-end Boston condos, as well as sprawling estates in the suburbs.

In some cases, Chinese buyers are purchasing condos in Boston as both an investment and future housing for their children, anticipating they will eventually study at one of the city’s colleges or universities, brokers said.

“It’s really switched over: 90 percent of my buyers are from China,” said Susan Piracini, a broker at RE/MAX Leading Edge in Boston. “Five years ago it was more like 30 to 40 percent.”

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High-end buyers represent a growing share of the market. In the first half of 2014, more than 9 percent of Massachusetts home sales were luxury homes, compared with 8 percent last year and 7 percent in 2012.

Some of the priciest residences are in the posh Boston neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and Back Bay, as well as areas like Chinatown and Fenway that are experiencing new waves of luxury development.

The average price of a downtown Boston condo soared to $851,199 last quarter, the real estate tracking firm Link said last week.

Luxury condos are averaging more than $2 million. Link tracks sales in a dozen sections of the city.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.
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