Billionaires' Fortunes Could Buy Up Entire Cities

Friday, 06 Jun 2014 11:20 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The nation's billionaires can afford to buy up all the homes in most major cities, reveals a new analysis from the real-estate brokerage and search site Redfin.

"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 said in a statement.

For example, according to Forbes, Bill Gates is the richest individual person in the United States, and is worth $77.5 billion. With that kind of wealth, Redfin says, Gates could own every home in the entire city of Boston, where the city's 114,212 single-family homes, condos and townhouses would cost a total of $76.6 billion.

But when it comes to family wealth, the Walton family, which control the WalMart fortune, has a combined net wealth of $154.8 billion and could buy up just about any city they want.

The Waltons could own all the homes in Seattle, with 241,450 homes for $111.5 billion.
If they didn't like Seattle, the Waltons could choose Dallas, 330,028 homes for $109.4 billion; Washington D.C., 209,092 homes for $109.2 billion; Miami, 409,488 homes at $92.8 billion; Portland, Ore., 289,133 homes for $91.8 billion; Baltimore, 597,437 homes for $88.8 billion; Austin, Texas, 279,912 homes for $88.8 billion; Las Vegas, 462,751 homes for $86.5 billion; San Antonio, 506,094 homes for $85.8 billion; or Atlanta's 286,629 homes for $78.1 billion.

To come up with the figures, Redfin used the Forbes list of the world's billionaires and then calculated the value of all homes in a city or town by taking a sample of all sales made between April 1, 2013 and 2014 and using them as a representative sample of all homes.

"If 10 percent of homes sold in a city for $1 billion, then we’d estimate the values of all homes in the city are $10 billion," according to the Redfin statement. "Only single-family homes, condos and townhomes were included. In Texas, home prices were estimated by looking at the list price of homes rather than sale prices."

By Redfin's estimates, here's who could afford to which city:

Walton Family ($154.8 billion) — Seattle (241,450 homes)

Koch Brothers
($86 billion) — Atlanta (286,629 homes)

Bill Gates ($77.5 billion) — Boston (114,212 homes)

Warren Buffett ($63.5 billion) — Charlotte, N.C. (280,214 homes)

Michael Bloomberg ($31.8 billion) — Anaheim, Calif. (69,167 homes)

Larry Page ($30.8 billion) — Boca Raton, Fla. (99,964 homes)

Jeff Bezos ($30.5 billion) — Napa, Calif. (57,923 homes)

Mark Zuckerberg ($27.7 billion) — St. Paul, Minn. (139,124 homes)

Steve Balmer ($20.4 billion) — Littleton, Colo. (64,516 homes)

Phil Knight ($18.3 billion) — Falls Church, Va. (37,838 homes)

Paul Allen ($15.9 billion) — Durham, N.C. (92,290 homes)

Rupert Murdoch ($13.6 billion) — Peoria, Ariz. (60,894 homes)

Elon Musk ($8.8 billion)—Centreville, Va. (23,789 homes)

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