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RISMEDIA, July 30, 2008-Homeowners at the highest end of the real estate market still have a dream house in mind and zip code does play a factor in where some call home, according to the 2008 Coldwell Banker Previews International® Luxury Survey. Top locations for a dream home among those surveyed were on an island (27%) or in a rural country setting (22%), followed by the suburbs (18%) or an international destination (18%). Additionally, 17% of those surveyed confirmed that they have considered moving expressly to obtain a specific address or zip code. Eight percent of respondents actually admitted to having been influenced to purchase a property to “keep up” with friends or family.

In addition, high-end homeowners remain optimistic about home values with a strong majority of the affluent homeowners surveyed (85%) expecting the price of their homes to increase over the next five years, a sharp increase from the 66% tallied in the 2007 survey. In addition, four out of five of these homeowners surveyed believe the increase in value will be “significant” to “moderate” (81%).

“Key findings from our annual survey of the luxury market demonstrate that the typical million-dollar homeowner is invested not only in the value of their home as a current part of their portfolios, but also see long-term gains coming from this investment,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “Interestingly while 44 percent of those surveyed indicated that they plan to stay in their primary residence for at least 10 years, they also dream of owning the perfect home.”

According to the company, the 2008 Coldwell Banker Previews International Luxury Survey polled 305 U.S. homeowners whose primary residence is valued at over $1 million ($2 million for California residents*) and who have investable assets of more than $1 million. The average annual household income of the 2008 luxury survey’s respondents is $754,000.

When asked to identify a location for a dream home, the following were cited by respondents:

Location of Dream Home  Percentage of Respondents 
Island  27% 
Rural/Country  22% 
Suburbs  18% 
International destination  18% 
City/ hi-rise w. amenities  13% 
City/ single-family home  10% 

Second Homes and the Lure of the Beach

The survey revealed that about half of the affluent homeowners surveyed (48%) own at least one secondary residence. Most of these properties are located in beach areas (45%). For those who own second homes, significantly more men than women cited that the primary purpose of the residence was a retirement property (17% versus 8%).

Interestingly, a significantly greater percentage of older respondents (ages 65-plus) said they are considering purchasing an additional property as a new primary residence (42% versus 19% of respondents ages 64 and younger).

For luxury homeowners, the following are the desired locations identified by respondents for a secondary home:

Secondary Home  Percentage of Respondents 
Near a beach  45% 
Near a lake or river  23% 
Warmer climate  23% 
In the mountains 17% 
Near a ski resort  12% 
In another country  12% 

“Must Have” Luxury Amenities

Whether inside or outside, “must have” luxury amenities such as designer kitchens, formal landscaping, water views, customized home entertainment centers and swimming pools are the top amenities of choice for luxury homeowners.

“Must have” luxury amenities in the home that respondents either currently have or are considering getting, include:

Must have luxury amenities  % respondents who currently have  % respondents who are considering 
Designer kitchens  60%  26% 
Customized home entertainment centers  47%  27% 
Indoor gym/fitness room  33%  24% 
Wine cellar  31%  24% 

“High-end kitchens, a well-kept appearance outside of the home, and swimming pools have become the standard for luxury homeowners,” said Gillespie. “These areas of the home attract attention and have long been critical factors when considering the value of a property.”

Formal landscaping was, by far, the amenity mentioned most often by respondents as something they currently have surrounding their primary residence (77%).

The following are additional luxury amenities that are found surrounding affluent homes:

Luxury amenities surrounding primary residence  Percentage of respondents 
Formal landscaping  77% 
Water view  43% 
Swimming pool  38% 
Hot tub  35% 
Boat deck  17% 
Golf course/putting green  16% 
Tennis court  14% 
Basketball court  9% 

Relative to maintaining luxury homes, those surveyed indicated that landscapers (95%) and housekeepers (62%) were a must. Of note, housekeepers were significantly more common among those ages 54 and younger (72% versus 55% of those ages 55-plus).

Best In Show

Approximately three in 10 respondents have specific rooms in their homes that are used to impress houseguests (29%). Among these respondents, the living room (72%) is the primary room that is used to impress houseguests. Only one in 10 or fewer respondents said any other rooms in their homes are used to impress.

The survey was conducted online by independent market research firm, ICR, in April 2008 and commissioned by Coldwell Banker Previews International®, the exclusive Coldwell Banker® service dedicated to luxury real estate. In 2007, the Coldwell Banker system participated in more than 25,000 transaction sides of homes priced at $1 million or more in 2007 with a total sales volume of $46.6 billion.

* The survey questioned 305 owners of homes with a primary residence valued at greater than $1,000,000 and investable assets greater than $1,000,000. The survey questioned owners of homes valued at $2 million and up in the state of California. This was done because, according to the California Association of Realtors, the existing-home median price in the state is $403,870, compared with the national existing-home median price of $202,300 (as of April 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors).

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