Nixon Estate, Buffett Beach House Go Begging in Languishing Luxury Market

(Bloomberg) -- When the owner of Richard Nixon’s former beachfront estate in San Clemente, California, listed the 15,000-square-foot home three years ago for $75 million, you may have been tempted. Now, with the historic property back on the market for $63.5 million, you can hardly say no.

Yet that’s just what buyers are saying to extravagant real estate listings from the sunny sands out west, where a residence owned by Warren Buffett has been on sale for more than a year, to the austere brownstones of Manhattan and the opulent hedges of Greenwich, Connecticut.

In Orange County, homes listed for more than $1.25 million account for about a third of all inventory but only 14 percent of demand, according to market-data provider Reports on Housing. Many properties are expected to sit for months -- in some cases, for more than a year -- before going into escrow for a sale.

Sales of high-end properties can be idiosyncratic, since the pool of potential buyers is small. But these data suggest that the broad gauges of home prices, which have climbed steeply for years, are masking some wobbliness at the top. Orange County attracts enough wealth to make it a cautionary case study in what the elite are -- and aren’t -- willing to pay for real estate and where the balance sits between buyers and sellers.

Deepening the doldrums of the region’s luxury sector are recent increases in interest rates and fears about further tightening by the Federal Reserve, said Bill Cote, a Newport Beach, California-based agent with Coldwell Banker.

“All that’s going to do is stymie the market a little bit more,” he said. “For the last few years, it’s all been milk and honey.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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