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Keeping Up With the New Joneses: Redefining Luxury

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By Maria Patterson

“Luxury consumers are gravitating toward homes near high-end shops, top restaurants and other aspects of entertainment and leisure that meet their lifestyle needs,” says Linda Alioto, sales associate at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wine Country Group in Northern California.

And lifestyle perks are desired inside the home as well.

“More and more affluent clients are looking for spa-like features in a home as a way to pamper themselves without having to go to another location,” says Lehmann. “In addition to saunas and steam showers, we are also seeing an increase in climate-controlled wine rooms or cellars, hobby rooms, elevators and large garages to accommodate car collections.”

Nearly all (94 percent) luxury homebuyers surveyed by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate would be willing to give up 1,000 square feet of living space from their next home in order to get a lifestyle amenity they desire, such as living in a better neighborhood (54 percent), living in a house with “character” (51 percent), access to dining and entertainment (39 percent) and a shorter commute (38 percent).

What does this mean for the once-pervasive McMansions dotting every suburban community?

During the consideration process, the footprint is the footprint: Real estate professionals need to find creative ways to help buyers see the possibility of how to repurpose superfluous rooms to meet the needs of the new Joneses. Formal dining rooms can become children’s play areas. A formal living room can become a media room or game room.

The Chic Outdoors
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate discovered that not all “must-haves” are high-tech related. Three of the top five reported luxury home essentials are outdoor-oriented, including a garden oasis (53 percent of respondents), outdoor fireplace or fire pit (50 percent of respondents) and a separate guest house outside of the main home (47 percent of respondents).

“Outdoor gourmet kitchens are one of the hottest amenities in our market for luxury homebuyers,” says Cathy Whiddon, broker/owner, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st. “With beautiful weather year-round, our customers want the ability to entertain friends and family outdoors and strongly desire large-sized patios, nicely landscaped backyards and the ambiance of great lighting.”

“Separate guest homes for parents or grown children are certainly popular,” says Romo. “Additionally, outdoor influence is so important that aside from state-of-the-art outdoor kitchens, the luxury homeowner is opting for floor-to-ceiling windows to bring the outdoors in. This and open space between the kitchen and family room add to the goal of creating a sanctuary of comfortable luxury for this consumer’s family.”

Keeping Up
Ninety-six percent of luxury homebuyers today are leaning on their real estate agent for more acute information than ever before. They are looking for insight into neighborhood lifestyle (65 percent), advanced new listing notices (64 percent), advice on housing trends (55 percent), and support on a personal level throughout the buying process (53 percent). Don’t think you have done your job by highlighting public information the consumer can find online. Know where to dig beneath the surface to give an insider’s track on the community: the best dishes at the best restaurants; the best places to buy wine; the top interior designers and landscapers; which principals at which schools—public and private—are the best. Luxury homebuyers expect an above-and-beyond level of service, and if they get it, they will likely refer you again and again.

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