NAR: Sales of $1M-plus homes rise 4% in February

Russian venture capitalist pays record $100 million for California mansion

The sale of a 25,500-square-foot limestone mansion in Los Altos Hills, Calif. to a Russian venture capitalist for a record $100 million is a dramatic illustration that high-end luxury homes inhabit a market of their own.

According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of homes priced at or above $1 million were up 3.9 percent in February from a year ago, while sales of homes priced between $100,000 and $250,000 were down 7 percent.

Million dollar-plus homes accounted for just 2 percent of sales, while homes in the $100,000 to $250,000 range accounted for 42 percent of sales.

Although $100 million is an impressive number — besting the previous record of $95 million for the 2008 sale of a Palm Beach, Fla. estate owned by Donald Trump — half of the Los Altos Hills mansion sale was seller financed, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Buyer Yuri Milner, 49, is the leader of Digital Sky Technologies, a Moscow-based fund that’s invested in Facebook, Groupon and Zynga.

Sellers Fred and Annie Chan made their fortune in Fremont-based ESS Technology Inc., which designs video and audio semiconductors for digital media players and audio systems.

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The couple also own a 5.4-acre oceanfront property in Hawaii that was on the market for $80 million but is no longer listed, the Journal reported.

Shari Chase, the founder of Lake Tahoe-based Chase International, said the "ultra-high-end" luxury market still presents an opportunity for "just the right buyer."

"The sales are not many but when they happen they make headline news," Chase said in an email."Activity is increasing with buyers in all luxury price ranges focusing on lifestyle and value."

Chase has her own $100 million listing — a 210-acre property dubbed "Tranquility" on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe that completely encircles a private lake. That property went on the market in 2006.

"We do have some good interest" in Tranquility, Chase said. "It’s a magnificent estate and if the Los Altos sale is an indication, Tranquility is a great value just is waiting for just the right connection."


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