A drop in luxury housing inventory and increased buyer demand drove the high-end real estate market to record prices in 2021, with several sales in the United States eclipsing the $100-million mark. As the pandemic continued, the ultra-wealthy sought second (and third) homes to add to their portfolios and were willing to spend a fortune to make their residences more comfortable for extended periods.
Oceanfront estates in Malibu, Palm Beach and the Hamptons claimed most of the highest sales last year, but a condominium tower in New York also ranked among the most expensive. Home buyers weren’t simply paying for glamorous locations and vast amounts of square footage. Among the luxurious amenities included in these mega-purchases were a retinal scanner for master bedroom access and a funicular that leads to the beach.
As always, billionaires were among the most acquisitive when it came to trophy homes—with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai elbowing Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison out of the top dozen. Ellison’s purchase of a Palm Beach mansion for $80 million fell just short of the biggest sales last year, based on available public records and published reports.
Meanwhile, December saw the close of a $200-million purchase of a 340,000-acre Montana spread by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. The seller was Matador Cattle Co., a subsidiary of Koch Industries, headed by billionaire Charles Koch. That property is not included in this tally because it is technically a commercial concern and the closing price cannot be confirmed.
Sky-High Sale: The Boyd Penthouse in Sydney was Australia’s biggest sale in 2021.
Outside the U.S, luxury properties in Australia and Hong Kong made up some of the priciest transactions in the world, despite both countries experiencing extended lockdown conditions. Hong Kong’s biggest sale played out in the exclusive Peak neighborhood, where an unnamed buyer purchased two units at the Mount Nicholson development for about HKD 1.2 billion (or $150 million). At AUD 60 million (or about US $42.5 million), the reported sale of the Boyd Penthouse atop the ANZ building in Sydney’s Financial District was Australia’s highest transaction of 2021.
And the momentum in the luxury real estate market shows no sign of slowing down in 2022. Earlier this week, billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel Och reportedly flipped his penthouse in 220 Central Park South in Manhattan for nearly $190 million—about double what he paid for it in 2019. That price already eclipses the highest sale of 2021.