“The words luxury and lifestyle have been the most overused words in the last five years,” says Michael Shvo, the brash, polarizing NYC real-estate marketer, about luxury brands that were really only mass affluent brands. “Luxury has not been recalibrated. It’s been rebooted. It’s been alt-control-deleted.”

Where real estate used to be about quick flips, easy credit and multimillion-dollar condos bought from brochures, now it’s all about the standoff. From Chicago to Dallas to San Francisco, a gulf has opened between buyers and sellers, brokers have to work harder than ever, and discounts are the new norm. Even formerly bulletproof blue-chip enclaves have taken hits. Half of the properties listed in the priciest zip codes in Aspen, Colo., Hana, Hawaii, Greenwich, Conn., and Newport Beach, Calif., are showing discounts averaging 20 percent or more, and in Manhattan the average sales price for an apartment fell by 24 percent in the second quarter of 2009. Private islands have been affected too. “Price reductions are not something our market sees that much of,” says Alexis Pappas, director of operations for Private Islands Inc. “But we’ve had several that have been literally cut in half.” Example: the mountainous, lushly forested Onassis-family-owned Nafsika Island in Greece’s Ionian Sea, down this year from $22 million to $11 million.
By: Taylor Antrim, Sept. 13, 2009, WSJ. Magazine,

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