If he ever decided to ditch his foundation and high-tech business, Bill Gates, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, could use his money to buy every home in Boston.
In a recent report from research firm Redfin, 30 billionaires were matched with U.S. cities, based on their estimated net worth and the current value of all the homes in each city. With an estimated net worth in excess of $77 billion, Gates could buy the entire lot of 114,212 single-family homes, condos and townhouses in Boston for a price of $76.6 billion.
The Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame, has an estimated net worth of nearly $155 billion, which could buy them every one of the 241,450 dwellings in Seattle for $111.5 billion. Warren Buffett's net worth of $63.5 billion could buy him the 280,214 homes in Charlotte, N.C., worth a total of $56.1 billion
30 billionaires could own 6 percent of U.S. homes
While it's unlikely billionaires will ever go on a buying spree in order to own every dwelling in a city, Redfin uses the example to illustrate the gap between how much the rich can afford to buy versus the average homebuying population.
"In this fictional real estate investment, the 30 billionaires on our list, with a combined fortune of $582 billion, could afford to own a staggering 6 percent of the total U.S. home equity," Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson noted in the report.
Luxury home market booming
Meanwhile, a separate report from Redfin shows that while sales of the costliest 1 percent of homes in the country were up 21.1 percent so far this year, sales of the remaining 99 percent declined 7.6 percent.
Two cities in California – Oakland and San Jose – show luxury home sales up more than 90 percent, while San Francisco and Long Island, N.Y., shot up more than 72 percent.
The top 1 percent of home prices is determined by location. In traditionally pricey enclaves like San Francisco, buyers will pay in excess of $5.35 million, while in Atlanta, the most expensive homes top $861,000.
Housing affordability illustrates part of the growing wealth gap. Another indication is the widening income gap over the past 20 years. Read Bankrate's analysis.
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