High-end housing falls faster than low-end

When the housing bubble started to crumble, many pundits suggested that the high end of the market would be somewhat immune.

That didn't happen. According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), delinquency rates on jumbo mortgages are three times higher than regular conforming loans. The Journal adds that "From 1995 to 2004, the top 1% of Americans by wealth more than doubled their mortgage and residential debt to $494 billion."

The upper-end of the market has unique problems that don't effect lower-end consumers. High net worth individuals are more likely to derive a significant portion of their income from investments. The tanking stock market has effected wealthy people more directly than their paycheck to paycheck counterparts.

The latest data suggests that households with net worth of greater than $1 million have seen their fortune decline by an average of 30%.

That's putting a lot of pressure on the demand for upscale housing, which could make it a good time to trade-up -- if you're one of dozen or so people in the country who is in a position to do that right now.

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