What You Need to Know About the US Luxury Housing Market

Posted in Luxury by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate 

Photo courtesy of West Bellevue Partners | MLS # 1324889

Luxury homes sales across the U.S. continue to perform strongly, but I’m noticing some headwinds starting to appear that are worthy of a closer look.

It’s often thought that luxury real estate runs totally independent of the overall market, and while this is true in some respects, there are definitely correlations between high-end housing and the rest of the market.

The first similarity is that the luxury market has suffered from some the same inventory constraints that are almost endemic across all price points in the U.S. But, similar to the overall market, we are starting to see a rise in inventory, which should be good news for real estate agents and luxury home buyers alike.

Impact of rising inventory 

This increase in the number of luxury homes for sale has started to have a tapering effect on price growth, which again, is similar to what we’re seeing in the rest of the market. But as real estate professionals, we know full well that all housing is local and some markets are performing far better than others.

For example, luxury markets in Maui, Northern California, Colorado, and Sarasota, Florida, are all experiencing substantial price growth, while there are noticeable slowdowns in many parts of New York and New Jersey. Even Queens and Jersey City, which have continued to benefit from high demand, have seen price growth stall recently, indicating that those markets could be losing some steam.

Why the slowdown? 

The slowing of luxury sales in certain areas around the country piqued my interest, so I decided to explore why this is happening. The first thing I noticed is that cities with high property taxes are fairly prevalent on the list of slowing markets; this includes cities like Boston, Austin, New York City, and Chicago. It is likely that the federal tax changes limiting the deductibility of property taxes are the culprit for such slowdowns in these areas.

Something else that has undoubtedly impacted luxury home sales in markets, such as New York City and Seattle, is the significant decline in foreign buyers from countries like China and Canada. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of purchases by international buyers fell by 21 percent between 2017 and 2018, amounting to a drop of $32 billion – the largest decline on record.  Foreign buyers spent $121 billion on 266,754 properties, making up 8 percent of the buyers of existing (previously lived in) homes.

My research tells me that foreign home buyers are pulling back amid political uncertainty in the U.S. Ongoing concerns about a potential trade war, combined with rhetoric against foreigners, have done their part to dampen some of the enthusiasm to invest in U.S. housing. Also playing a role in this slowdown is the Chinese Central Government which has started placing tighter controls on the ability to spend money outside of mainland China. And finally, rising home prices and a strong U.S. dollar are likely two other key factors behind the tumbling interest in luxury real estate from overseas buyers.

So how do I see the luxury market performing in 2019?

Luxury real estate sales in markets like Boston, Clearwater, Austin, and Alexandria, Virginia will continue to slow down for the reasons stated earlier, but in other parts of the country, home buyers will provide the demand needed to keep the market plugging along at a healthy pace.

The changes affecting mortgage interest deductions and property taxes will also continue to impact the luxury market in certain areas, but this will, to a degree, be offset by other tax changes that favor high-income households and increase their disposable income. Something else that will help keep the luxury real estate market afloat in the coming year is jumbo mortgage interest rates which remain remarkably competitive compared to historic standards.

On a whole, high-end real estate sales have been strong over the past few years. While I am predicting somewhat of a slowdown next year given the headwinds discussed earlier, 2019 will be remembered as a year where balance started to return to the luxury housing market.

Mr. Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

This post originally appeared on the Windermere Blog.

Windermere Hosts 4th Annual Washington Waterfront Home Tour

Are you drawn to the water? Do you dream of launching your boat off your own personal dock? Are you at your happiest on the beach or out fishing? What if you had all that just yards from your back door?

This weekend Windermere Real Estate is hosting the 4th Annual Washington Waterfront Home Tour. More than 60 homes throughout the Puget Sound area priced from $1.1 million to $13 million will be available to tour by boat, bike or car. Most will be held open 1-4pm on June 23 and 24. For those listed as “by appointment only”, please contact the agent for a private tour.

Several Windermere Eastside agents are proud to have their listings featured in the Tour. Get the full map here.

Distinctive Hunts Point Home

A signature entrance winding through an acre of lush, native garden property heralds arrival to this distinctive Hunt’s Point home. Move across the auto court and the bridge over a sparkling water feature and you have arrived! Featuring an impressive front facade where dark steel meets robust stone and stucco joins matte glass in a strikingly fresh NW contemporary. The new owner will enjoy 80 ft of their own private waterfront. Designed by Baylis Architects, revel in the full expression of light with incredible entertaining spaces.

By Appointment Only.

MLS: 1310174 | Presented By Anna Riley & Denise Niles

See more of this home.

Extraordinary Luxury On The Water

You will treasure coming home to discreet luxury in this oasis on the lake. Ideally located on the prestigious Medina Gold Coast with 75 ft of pristine waterfront. This custom home was wholly inspired by its year round symphony of Mt Rainier views. Serenely nestled in specimen gardens awaits an iconic jewel. Deftly fusing a sophisticated blend of geometric lines, soft subtle curves and gallery walls, this extraordinarily crafted home is a perfect canvas for a beautiful life.

By Appointment Only.

MLS: 1297920 | Presented By Anna Riley & Denise Niles

See more of this home.

Everyday Oasis On Lake Sammamish

An everyday oasis destined for invigorated living on 177 ft of glorious lakefront bound by alluring architecture, enchanting gardens, sand beach and waterfalls. Swim, surf and host from the indoor/outdoor infinity pool, marvel in secret spaces and savor afternoons sailing. From beachside s’mores and jacuzzi soaks to grand scale affairs, intimacy and luxurious proportions exist in ideal harmony. Playful amenities include a gym, sport court, koi pond and rock wall offering daily delight while old world elegance inspires.


MLS: 1284016 | Presented By Karl Lindor & John Kritsonis

See more of this home.

Coveted Laurelhurst Retreat

A phenomenal waterfront oasis in coveted Laurelhurst with 140 ft of lakefront playground with a backdrop of Mt. Rainier and stunning sunsets! A symphony of exquisite details coalesce creating an ambiance that delights, pampers and inspires. Completed in 2017, the kitchen showcases distinctive design through a luxurious lexicon, including creamy honed Michelangelo Marble, Walnut, Wolf and Subzero. Christopher Peacock kitchen, Stuart Silk, Kelly Nutt and Adam Leland the West Coast design dream team. Gorgeous!

By Appointment Only.

MLS: 1313441 | Presented By Anna Riley & Denise Niles

See more of this home.

A Boater’s Dream in Newport Shores

This impeccable waterfront remodel is a true find in Bellevue’s coveted Newport Shores. Home is 5,090 sq ft with 5/6 bedrooms, 3.75 bathrooms and 200+ ft of protected, deep water, bulkhead moorage. Don’t miss the 275 sq ft heated boater’s storage room for all the toys! 2017 interior and exterior remodel has never been lived in! New bathrooms, carpet, light fixtures, doors, floors, molding, blinds, hardware, stucco, driveway, interior and exterior paint and more! Bellevue Schools.


MLS: 1301941 | Presented By Rip Warendorf & Ric Mangialardi

See more of this home.

Cozy Cove Remodel

Nestled down a quiet cul-de-sac on a sun-drenched property in the heart of Yarrow Point, you’ll find the Hideway by the Cove. Remodeled in 2017, the Hideaway offers protected Western views, a sunny yard and shared waterfront with a new dock and owned boat lift on Cozy Cove. West-facing deck and level yard space perfect for entertaining anytime – before or after you head out on the boat! Main floor master suite highlighted by lakefront views. Plus daylight bonus-room, sport court, gym and hot tub.


MLS: 1279847| Presented By Scott Whittlesey & Art Whittlesey

See more of this home.

Gorgeous Lake Sammamish Estate

Lake Sammamish Waterfront Estate on sunny private 1/3 acre lot with manicured grounds. Enjoy gorgeous lake views from every room. Updated formal and casual spaces including renovated kitchen with high-end appliances and granite countertops. Fabulous master with 5-piece spa bath, huge walk-in and stunning views. 68 sq ft of waterfront. Decks for alfresco entertainment and hot tub. Paddleboard off the dock with canopied boat lift and wave runner lifts. Ideally close to I-90 Lakemont exit. Don’t miss this special home!


MLS: 1285302 | Presented By Jeff Klosterman

See more of this home.

Custom Beachfront Home

Thoughtfully designed custom home on 75 ft half-acre of no-bank waterfront! Vaulted entry, slate and tigerwood flooring lead to panoramic lake views from nearly every room. Entertain in your gourmet kitchen with a 10-ft slab island, tile backsplash, and high-end SS appliances. 3 Bedrooms + Den, Theater, and Library. Structured Panel (SIPs) build is strong, energy efficient, and quiet. Street-to-beach offers privacy and expansion options. Award-winning Bellevue schools; minutes to Microsoft, Sea-Tac, and Downtown Seattle.


MLS: 1300432 | Presented By Lynly Callaway

See more of this home.

Luxurious Beaver Lake Home

The embodiment of a Whistler retreat on 70 ft of soul-stirring lakefront; custom-built in 2008 to radiate warm ambiance with expanses of heated walnut floors, alder millwork, slate and granite. This home allows for summer days spent swimming and kayaking followed by a lazy dinner barge cruise. Luxuriously appointed with gourmet kitchen featuring a Viking gas range and custom cabinets. Soothing lake view master suite with coffee bar. Coveted amenities include A/C, dog wash, terraced garden, outdoor and steam showers and wine cellar.


MLS: 1305630 | Presented By Karl Lindor & John Kritsonis

See more of this home.

Amazing Canal View Home

120 ft of waterfront in coveted Newport Shores. Covered boat lift plus moorage for up to 75 ft. Sprawling open floor plan is perfect for entertaining. Chef’s kitchen with stainless steel appliances, wine fridge and dual islands positioned to enjoy canal views. Main floor master with en-suite bath and heated floors. Super flexible lower level. Huge wrap-around deck, oversized 3-car garage. Resort-style living with luxurious neighborhood amenities including clubhouse, tennis and pool overlooking Newport Yacht Club marina. Bellevue Schools.


MLS: 1312192 | Presented By Tony Marrese

See more of this home.

Western Exposure And Waterfront Lifestyle

Premier, main level retreat at waters edge. 2 bedrooms and 2 baths plus den. 2600+ sq ft. View from every angle. Built-in wine cabinet. Secluded and private. Master suite with fireplace and sweeping lake views. Butlers pantry, bar area conveniently located next to dining room. 2 decks. Secured building and parking. Close to Microsoft, Downtown Bellevue. Covered outdoor entertaining area. A stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Washington. Moorage with power/water. TENANT LEASE until 9/30.

By Appointment Only.

MLS: 1259554 | Presented By Karen Santa

See more of this home.

Beachfront Living In Burien

Designed from the beach up, commanding 108 ft of shoreline privacy on Shorewood’s expansive cove sits this sparkling home where high-tide splash applauds patio dining and curious seals, otters, eagles, heron, osprey faithfully entertain. Step onto the sand, paddle board, launch your kayak, a skiff to your buoy moorage, fish, explore. Graciously remodeled, a bulkhead fortress, From spa-level to breathtaking master suite, fireplaces throughout, a 2-chef galley. Flawless. Entertain beyond sunset.


MLS: 1284623 | Presented By Stan Isenhath

See more of this home.

Elegant Waterfront Residence

Welcome to soothing elegance with this masterly crafted residence overlooking panoramic views of Puget Sound and the islands while enjoying private community beach rights. Built in 2008 and fully renovated in 2016, this home offers beautifully appointed, spacious rooms where one feels at peace. Stunning chef’s kitchen and family room. Private Master en-suite. High ceilings on all three levels. Perfect flow between interior and exterior spaces. The ultimate retreat for entertaining.


MLS: 1292985 | Presented By Veronique Hval

See more of this home.


These are just a few of many waterfront homes throughout Western Washington that will be available for viewing during this special event. A map of all the featured homes and their open house hours can be found on the tour website. There is an undeniable luxury in waterfront living, and there’s no better way to get a taste than with us on this tour!

How Windermere Wins with Chinese Buyers

Chinese buyers continue to strongly influence our local market. 

According to a report by Chinese website Juwai, the Seattle/Eastside area is the #3 most popular choice in the U.S. for Chinese buyers behind Los Angeles and New York City.

Windermere specifically targets this lucrative market. 

  • Windermere properties are listed on the Chinese real estate website, Juwai, which has 2.6 million unique views per month from Chinese consumers who are searching purely for western properties.
  • Windermere properties are listed with Luxury Portfolio International, a prestigious real estate site with a fully-translated Mandarin language portal.
  • Windermere will have a prominent presence at the Luxury Property Show in Beijing, an invitation-only event hosting over 6,000 highly-targeted luxury home buyers in China.
  • Windermere targets local Chinese nationals and their families and colleagues through marketing in the Seattle Chinese Times. \

Windermere agents sell more luxury homes to Chinese buyers. 

Source: Sales in 2017 to Chinese buyers of residential homes in King County priced at $3 million or more. Created by Windermere Real Estate/East Inc. using NWMLS data, public records, and information from brokers. Information are estimates. Information was not verified or published by NWMLS.