Over the past 18 months, homes have doubled as offices, workout spaces, schools, and entertaining spaces.
The global pandemic has prompted many HNWIs to reassess the true value and purpose of “home,” and with it, the most important amenities to consider when buying a luxury home. According to Forbes Global Properties’ 2021 Year-End Market Perspective report, over the past 18 months, homes have doubled as offices, workout spaces, schools, and entertaining spaces, provoking potential buyers to reevaluate their priorities. These are the amenities desired by luxury homebuyers worldwide, as identified by Forbes Global Properties.
1. More space — Indoor & Outdoor
A natural response to being confined at home during pandemic lockdowns was the desire by HNWIs for more space. More than two thirds of Forbes Global Properties brokerages reported that space was one of the top priorities for luxury home buyers in 2021. “The key word for all post-pandemic purchases is space,” observed Jelena Stankovic of Driven Properties in Dubai. “The experience of being in lockdown completely changed the way people look at properties and buyers made their decisions being wary of repeating that experience. Space is king, and that is the one thing nobody is willing to compromise on, along with large outdoor areas.”
Affluent homebuyers have shown a greater yearning for more indoor and outdoor space as well as a preference for luxury homes with optional room to grow.
Outdoor spaces were a key priority for luxury home buyers in a variety of locations – from urban city centers to mountain and lakefront regions markets — and brokers reported that this trend is set to continue in 2022 and beyond. “An open floor plan and a well-maintained outdoor space are paramount for buyers,” noted Catherine Bassick of Bassick Real Estate Advisors in Boston, Massachusetts.
2. Dedicated Workspaces
More than two thirds of luxury real estate experts reported that a dedicated home office, “Zoom room” or a flexible work area was one of the most important features for luxury home buyers.
“Many buyers are now looking for dedicated workspace in their homes as some have shifted to working-from-home permanently since the beginning of the the beginning of the pandemic, or expect to work more from home,” said Justin Cohen of Barry Cohen Homes in Toronto, Canada.
Buyers are increasingly looking for private, quiet, and discrete spaces in a home that can be used for work or school by multiple residents. “Due to Covid, we have seen an increased demand for home offices,” said Chris Morrison of RETSY in Arizona’s Paradise Valley. “Luxury buyers are requesting at least one home office, sometimes two.”
As workforce flexibility prompts more HNWIs to consider moving either full or part time to a second-home destination, home offices with connectivity are paramount. “In the Colorado mountains, we’ve seen an influx of people looking for an escape,” said Mark Smith of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate.
“They’re looking for home offices and turning to technology more than ever before to feel safe, comfortable, and entertained.”
3. Privacy and Security
About one third of Forbes Global Properties luxury real estate experts reported that privacy and security were among the top five amenities and features prized by luxury home buyers.
Privacy remains paramount in locations such as New York and Los Angeles where many high-profile celebrity and ultra-high-net-worth individual buyers reside.
“Our buyers are currently more interested in properties with lots of land, open air and privacy than maxed out lots with great views,” said Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills, California.
4. Turnkey Move-In Ready Homes
Nineteen percent of member brokerages reported turnkey or move-in-ready homes as one of the top priorities for luxury buyers today. They have little appetite for refurbishment or renovation. “People don’t want older, out-of-date homes,” observed Andy Nelson of Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego, California.
“They’re looking for instant gratification.”
Turnkey homes are, in turn, commanding higher prices. “With labor shortages and supply chain issues constantly in the news, a home that needs no work or construction automatically makes it far more desirable than its peers on the market,” said Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills, California. “That being said, if buyers are patient and willing to put the work in, there are definitely deals being made.”
5. Pools and Private Fitness
Eighteen percent of brokerages noted that private fitness amenities and pools are among the top priorities for today’s luxury buyers. “Buyers are drawn to our area for the lifestyle, weather, and waterways,” said Dale Sorensen, Sr. of Dale Sorensen Real Estate in Vero Beach, Florida, noting that pools and outdoor kitchens were among the most popular requests from luxury homebuyers this year.
This trend was supported by industry data: sales of new residential inground pools grew by 24% annually according to the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, an international trade association for the spa and swimming pool industry. Private workout spaces, including yoga studios and workout rooms, were
also reported by brokers as being in high demand as people sought a more regular release from the stress of Covid-19 quarantining and limited access to outside entertainment venues.
5. Greenery —Gardens & Terraces*
Tied with pools and fitness, the fifth most in-demand feature in 2021 in a luxury home was greenery. Our our surveyed prime property brokerages reported that green spaces—balconies, terraces, and gardens—were the most prized amenities for today’s luxury buyers. “People are looking to entertain outdoors, so properties with well maintained backyards, gardens, and kitchens are increasingly sought-after,” said Stephen Christie of Christie Realty Group in Ventura County, California.
“Gardens and terraces are exceptionally important to today’s luxury buyers.” Quentin Epiney of FGP Swiss & Alps.
Consumer demand for houseplants was already high pre-pandemic, but the renewed focus on the home accelerated the existing trend, prompting a “plantdemic” in many areas. Research firm Technavio predicts the global flower and ornamental plants market will grow by US $29 billion from 2020-2024 as more consumers seek decorative greenery in and around their homes. Concurrently, the demand for somewhere to put these plants is on the rise in urban environs. “Gardens and terraces, as well as additional space, are exceptionally important to today’s luxury buyers,” said Quentin Epiney of FGP Swiss & Alps in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the French cities of Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse, demand for in-town properties with greenery has increased by 30% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Groupe Mercure.
“The succession of confinements has changed the importance of having a balcony, terrace or garden,” said Olivier de Chabot-Tramecourt. This trend was echoed in Dubai: “Apartments in prestigious skyscrapers that have no balconies became less popular, while the ones with huge outdoor spaces skyrocketed in popularity,” said Jelena Stankovic of Driven Properties.