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$100 million homes: The new normal?

Morgan Korn

The ultra wealthy are pouring money into high-end real estate as a safe haven investment.

Three estates in the U.S. have sold for more than $100 million this year, according to Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraiser and consulting firm based in New York City.

Related: Russian sanctions have real impact on U.S. real estate market

The property that broke all real estate sales records is an 18-acre beachfront estate in East Hampton, New York. Barry Rosenstein, a hedge fund manager at Jana Partners, paid the princely sum of $147 million in May for the property, which also includes a pond and formal gardens. Just two weeks earlier Copper Beech, a 51-acre farm in Greenwich, CT, earned the nation's priciest real estate sale title. An undisclosed buyer purchased the waterfront home for $120 million, though it first listed last year at $190 million. The third $100 million U.S. property sale was the 35,000 square foot Fleur-de-Lys mansion in Los Angeles which sold for $102 million in April (a Southern California record). The new owner -- who remains unidentified -- will enjoy the estate's 12 bedrooms, 15 baths, a ballroom big enough to accommodate 200 guests, a 50-seat theater, a nine-car garage, staff quarters and a 3/4-quarter of a mile jogging track and other amenities, reports CNBC.

Miller explains why billionaires are plunking down millions for real estate.

"Wealthy investors are searching for a safe haven to invest their funds," he said. "High-end real estate has become the new global currency."

Miller doubts that $100 million real estate sales will dominate the market forever. "It's a property specific trend...being driven by global conditions," he notes.

Here are most expensive residential sales in the U.S. according to Miller's firm:

  • East Hampton, NY -- $147M -- May 2014

  • Palm Beach, FL -- $130M -- December 2013

  • Augusta, Montana -- $132.5M -- 2012

  • Greenwich, CT -- $120M  -- April 2014

  • San Francisco, CA -- $117.5M -- January 2013

 Related: Housing is in danger of overheating again: Zillow's Stan Humphries

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