Who Pays $1 Million for a Home?

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Apr. 18, 2011 12:00 am  

Tracy and Pete Yuan bought one of the 22 Pulaski County homes that sold for more than $1 million in 2010.

(For a chart of the listing the seven-figure home sales in Pulaski County in 2010 click here.)

Pete Yuan said one of the features that attracted him to his Bretagne Circle neighborhood home was the big, wraparound porch.

"When we saw this house in Chenal ... [it] reminded us a lot of the architecture that we were familiar with in south Louisiana," said Yuan, who came to Little Rock last year to manage Arkansas operations for IberiaBank of Lafayette, La. "And the previous owner had done a lot of work in the backyard."

The backyard of the $1.17 million home has waterfalls, ponds and a pool. The two-story, five bedroom, 6,700-SF home also features a home theater room, four bathrooms and two half-baths.

Yuan and his wife, Tracy, bought the house from Edward and Jacquelyn Love in July. The Loves bought the home in September 2004 for $1.01 million.

The Yuans' home was one of 22 in Pulaski County that sold for $1 million or more in 2010. Last year was the first time since 2004, when Arkansas Business started following the sales of seven-figure homes in Pulaski County, that the number of transactions increased compared with the previous year. In 2009, only 14 homes sold for $1 million or more.

"There were tremendous buying opportunities in 2010 for buyers of upper-end houses in Little Rock," Jon Underhill, who sells upscale homes through his agency, Jon Underhill Real Estate in Little Rock, said in an email to Arkansas Business.

But that doesn't mean the upscale market has recovered. Eight homes sold for less than the sellers had originally paid, and several others sold for less than the owners had invested in them, Underhill said in the email.

Some sellers were willing to accept losses "for financial reasons," he said. "Or some people just sold them because they didn't want them anymore. The nice thing about having resources is you can do what you want to when you want to do it."

In some cases the mortgage holder agrees to accept less than the balance owed on the property in a transaction known as a short sale. If the lender doesn't do that, the property will go into foreclosure and the lender will have to buy the house back anyway.

Currently, in the Little Rock area, 49 homes are on the market with asking prices of $1 million or more, Underhill said. At the current rate of absorption, that's more than two years worth of high-end housing.

"For someone in a position to buy a luxury home, there continues to be great opportunities," Underhill said.



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