Richard Stein – Realtor®, Douglas Elliman, GREEN, SFR, CBR, eCertified®

Local Agent, Worldwide Marketing – Douglas Elliman Real Estate formerly Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

$1M-Plus Sales Surge 25% This Year

Luxury home sales

© Erik Isakson – Blend Images/Getty Images

More luxury home sales occurred in the first half of 2018. Transactions that were $1 million–plus were up 25 percent year over year, according to®’s Luxury Home Index. That marks the largest leap in luxury home sales since January 2014. Luxury is defined as the top 5 percent of all residential home sales in a given market.

In the 91 luxury markets analyzed, the entry-level price rose 4.6 percent year over year. Seventeen of those 91 luxury markets saw prices grow 10 percent year over year. Also, the average property sold faster this year than last, averaging a 105-day window (down 7 days from a year ago).

“Continued growth in high-paying jobs and stock market inertia have reignited the luxury market this year, driving buyer demand for high-end homes—even with price costs of ownership swiftly on the rise,” notes Javier Vivas,®’s director of Economic Research.

Prices of upscale homes are rising. Fifty-one of the 91 luxury markets now have an entry point of at least $1 million, according to the index.

See where the top 10 fastest-growing luxury markets are:

Source: “Luxury Home Prices Gain Momentum in First Half of 2018,”®

Protecting Your Transactions From Wire Fraud

Wire fraud

© GrafVishenka – iStock/Getty Images Plus

One of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the U.S. is wire fraud in real estate. About 9,600 people were victims of wire fraud in the real estate and rental sector in 2017, with losses of more than $56 million, according to FBI data.

The highest reported fraud in real estate last year was Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise. Fraudsters will assume the identity of the title or real estate agent and forge the person’s email and other details about the transaction. The scammers will then send an email to the unknowing buyer and provide new wire instructions to the criminal’s bank account.

Federal authorities have announced a major crackdown on BEC scammers who are trying to intercept and hijack down payment wire transfers. In June, federal authorities announced their Operation Wire Wire resulted in 74 arrests and recovered about $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers, including real estate.

To make sure your real estate transactions aren’t hacked, urge your clients to verify all email requests involving the wiring of funds or any changes. Urge them to not use phone numbers in these emails but to use their agent’s verified number. These emails often contain bogus numbers. Also, remind your clients that changes to wiring instructions are rare.

“Any party involved in a real estate transaction is a potential target for hackers, including the buyer, the seller, the real estate agent, the lender, the title company, and the closing attorney,” warns an article by the Forbes Real Estate Council, composed of a group of executives in the real estate industry. “Once an email account has been compromised, hackers will quietly monitor messages and activity. They wait for the opportunity to enter the conversation, posing as an actual party to the transaction.”

If you suspect your transaction has been hacked by fraudsters, report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Wall Street Is Taking an Even Bigger Bet on Rentals

An old-fashioned adding machine with a variety of numbers

quicksandala – Morguefile

Investors are bullish that more Americans will choose to be renters, and they’re buying up even more single-family homes to make sure they are ahead of the trend. The number of homes purchased by major investors in 2017 was about 29,000, up 60 percent from the previous year, according to Amherst Capital Management LLC, a real estate investment firm. That is also the first time since 2013 that investors purchased more homes on an annual basis.

Investors are increasingly eyeing single-family homes over apartments. A rising number of apartments in recent years have increased vacancies and driven down rental yields. That has prompted investors to turn back to single-family homes for rentals.

Investors are reportedly raising billions of dollars to purchase more homes this year, and they are targeting areas like Atlanta, Phoenix, and other metros with fast-growing economies.

Pretium Partners LLC, an investment firm, announced Monday that it had raised more than $1 billion for its Progress Residential to add 26,000 rental homes to its portfolio.

In markets where there is little inventory to buy, some investors are building new. Transcendent Investment Management LLC , a south Florida firm, has secured more than $250 million to build thousands of rental homes in Southeast Florida.

“We’re seeing a wider variety of investors coming into this asset class: sovereign-wealth funds, insurance companies, hedge funds, pensions, asset managers,” Sandeep Bordia, Amherst’s head of Research and Analytics, told The Wall Street Journal.

Investors are also targeting wealthier tenants for single-family home rentals. They tend to have children and need more bedrooms than apartments can offer, and they also may be more willing to weather rent increases in order to remain in a good school district.

Some of the fastest-growing markets for rental-home investments over the past year, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm, are: Green Bay, Wis.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Sevierville, Tenn.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Anchorage, Alaska; and Charleston, W. Va.

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