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High-End Homeowners Scramble to Sell Before Dec. 31

In tony Newport, R.I., Robin Nicholson of Lila Delman Real Estate is aiming to close one multimillion-dollar deal by Dec. 31 and says other clients told her earlier this year to sell before rates rose.

"People realized that it made sense to do certain sale prices this year instead of waiting for a higher price after Jan. 1," she says.

On the West Coast, Sharran Srivatsaa of Teles Properties estimates some three-dozen closings his upscale Los Angeles firm plans for the next few days face higher taxes if they drag into 2013.

"Those are the deals we're really working on right now," Srivatsaa says. "Everything else is sort of fading into the background."

The expert says affected clients aren't generally selling multimillion-dollar homes.

Rather, they're unloading primary residences bought decades ago at low prices or selling investment properties heavily depreciated for tax purposes.

For example, Srivatsaa says one client who's making $650,000 on a highly depreciated parcel will owe $50,000 in extra taxes if his sale spills into January and rates hit 23.8%.

Of course, bad news for sellers can be good news for buyers.

Eli Karon, a Teles agent who represents buyers instead of sellers, recently won a $105,000 discount on a $1.4 million home by promising to close by Dec. 31.

"We were able to use knowledge of the pending tax increases to negotiate a very attractive purchase price," Karon says.

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