Million-Dollar Starter Homes


Matt Woolsey
May 8, 2007

People buy seven-figure homes every day. But they're usually not first-time buyers. And generally not under 30.

That’s changing. Young Wall Street bankers, San Jose, Calif.- and Austin, Texas-based techies and professional athletes in Boston are pumping a lot of new money into local real estate.

But forget stately stone mansions in old-school neighborhoods. These buyers want space in leading developments in burgeoning hot spots.

Downtown Domain

In New York City, where Wall Street salaries and bonuses buoy much of the downtown real estate market, older buyers--those in their late 20s and above, real estate agents say--might opt out of the new development scene.

"I do a good deal of my business with young wealth in the financial sector, entertainment and music business, and art world," says Elizabeth Lagrua, an agent with Sotheby's International Real Estate. "When they're starting out in the business, they gravitate toward the new developments with the great amenities, but if they're more established they want to get away from the masses and find something that shows their personality."

That might mean buying and renovating a townhouse in Chelsea or SoHo, over a new TriBeCa unit where one could call stars like Gisele Bündchen and Scarlett Johansson neighbors.

Log On For Listings

What’s also changing, especially for tech-savvy youth, is the way listed homes are being viewed. The National Association of Realtors estimates that 80% or more of home buyers start their search on the Internet, a far cry from, say, 10 years ago when a consultation with a real estate agent was the norm. Today, it’s easier to log on to Web sites like and, which provide comprehensive neighborhood information from median age and income levels to public and private school information.

Of course, moving is also a concern for young, job-hopping professionals. In the tech arena, for example, a second Silicon Valley has been developing in Austin for more than five years. This has created an influx of young buyers looking for the perfect neighborhood to call home.

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