Real estate of the rich

Wednesday, March 31
Posted: 2 p.m. EDT

Larger homes typically cost less per square foot than smaller ones, but the price gap seems to be widening, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. In Mill Valley, Calif., for example a 1,127-square-foot home is listed at $898,000, or $797 per square foot. Nearby, a 3,077 square-foot home is listed at $1.5 million, or $486 per square foot.

Sales of smaller homes rocketed during the real estate bubble, and when the market began its sickening slide, mansions seemed to be safe from the worst of the carnage. Not so now, according to statistics from S&P/Case-Shiller. While prices for lower-priced homes gained 5 percent over the last quarter of 2009, prices on mansions dropped 0.5 percent.

Time to trade up?

Getaways for billionaires

If you had a billion dollars, what would be your idea of a perfect getaway? For Bill Gates -- as with many of the world's rich and famous -- it's seclusion, according to a Forbes article "Billionaire Playgrounds 2010." Gates heads by helicopter to a remote ski lodge in West Greenland, with no ski lifts, and virtually no other people.

Other pleasure-seeking billionaires eschew isolation for the frenetic pace of the city, like Ty Warner, founder of Ty Inc., manufacturer of those once-ubiquitous Beanie Babies. As owner of the Four Seasons hotel in New York, he's carved out the 4,300-squre-foot penthouse suite with 360-degree views of Manhattan as his own refuge.

Predictably, there are also the island retreats, like Oprah Winfrey's spread in the Caribbean island of Antigua, and Richard Branson's (founder of Virgin) private island near the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Where would you escape if money were no object?

Check home values in your state.

Mortgage blog: House prices return to 2003

Questions? Comments? E-mail

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