Does "palace like houses" mean the same as "houses like palace"?
Yes, you are correct. The phrase "something-like" is used to mean that something is similar to something else. In this case "palace-like" is being used to say that the houses were similar to palaces. Therefore you could change the sentence to "houses like palaces" and not affect the meaning or nuance of the sentence. Ex: He wore a shell-like backpack. Ex: They built a lifelike replica outside the museum. Note: The us of a hyphen with this use of "like" depends on the word you are using. Do not use a hyphen unless the letter "L" would be tripled or the main element is a proper noun. Ex: They sent me a bill-like letter in the mail. Ex: The city had a Paris-like feeling to it. Ex: Let's try and complete this in a businesslike manner.