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Richest Americans' homes nearly back to highs

(MoneyWatch) The richest Americans have rebounded more quickly from the housing crash, and so have their homes.

The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans captured 95 percent of income growth in the U.S. between 2009 and 2012, while the effects of the Great Recession were still rippling through the economy, according to research by the University of California, Berkeley. Meanwhile, real estate brokerage firm RedFin found that at the end of 2012 the median sale price of homes for the highest income-earners was only 4 percent below their peak levels in 2007. By comparison, the median price of all other U.S. homes is remains down 23 percent over that time period.

More encouragingly for homeowners, the value of residential estate is coming back. Home prices for the bottom 99 percent of earners has grown 17 percent over the past year, while the top 1 percent of homes have gained just 1.3 percent. Of course, these home prices have much less ground to cover to get climb back to their peak.

More than $1 million dollars separates thee value of these top 1 percent of homes from the rest. The median price for the top 1 percent is $1.9 million, while the remaining 99 percent have a median price of $300,000.

Those prices vary by market. In Los Angeles, the top 1 percent of homes have a median price of $4.9 million while in Las Vegas the top homes cost $1.2 million. Beyond Los Angeles, the priciest homes in the top 1 percent can also be found in California, including San Francisco, San Jose, Ventura and San Diego, which all carry a median price point above $3 million.

The most expensive place for the 99 percent to buy is San Jose, where the median price is $688,000, followed by San Francisco at $628,000. The cheapest is Las Vegas, with a median price of $165,000 Phoenix's median point of $185,000 and Chicago's median of $198,000 are also on the inexpensive side.

The top 1 percent of American households by income earn at least $394,000 per year, according to the University of California. Their income rose nearly 20 percent last year, compared with a 1 percent increase for all other households.