Within the landscape of this rapidly fluctuating real estate market, clients and associates ask often ask me this question: what is luxury? The buyer’s pool has dwindled for the low and middle range of the market, yet luxury homes and apartments have held their ground in terms of price and manageable inventory levels. Still, buyers who expect more will have to ask for more.
As Haute Living publisher Seth Semilof explained in a recent ABC World News interview, the upper strata of the market for luxury goods, high-end cars, and “A” location homes have held strong, despite challenges in other areas of the nation’s economy. Super luxury cars, G5 jets, and megayachts have maintained production; in fact, there are waitlists for many models of Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, and exotic Italian sports cars.
While pedigreed condominiums and waterfront homes are still quickly selling, buyers have become more apt to want to know exactly what they are getting for their dollar. In the early 2000s, condos built by a recognizable architect that offered a view and added amenities such as cappuccino makers and marble bathrooms were considered “luxury.” This is no longer the case; the demands of the consumer have changed dramatically. Developers are focusing on the needs and requests of the ultra high-end client, providing a plethora of “bells and whistles” to ensure their projects garner attention and solid sales activity.
When we commenced construction on our new development, Lux 74 (www.lux74ny.com), we took the time to study what luxury means to the discerning consumer and made sure in our planning to address comfort and opulence in every facet of construction.
In reconfiguring the building from the original plan, we brought down the number of apartments in this boutique project from 30 to just 12 distinctive residences, many of them containing multiple floors, spacious living and entertaining areas, lavish outdoor space, and five or more bedrooms. Upon formation of this simple vision, we looked at the details and crafted each apartment as if each was an individually designed construction project.
For our company, luxury means that when a buyer moves in, they feel that nothing in the space needs renovation-it is already upgraded. The upgrades in the case of Lux 74 ended up being so extensive that our marketing material does not even list them all! Our intent is to provide turnkey residences to our buyers that feel complete upon move-in. With plasma TVs in virtually every room, fully integrated home theaters and surround sound equipment, open flame gas fireplaces, sequence matched walnut paneling, and custom solid core walnut doors, the buyer should feel right at home upon arrival.
We also view comfort as an extension of luxury, so we provide air jet bathtubs and thermostatically controlled “warm floor” radiant heating systems in every bathroom to ensure warm feet on those chilly winter mornings. Comfort also means a well-cooled and heated environment with multi zone, high efficiency HVAC systems that offer balance in each area of the home.
Security is always a concern for the high-end buyer. In addition to our 24-hour concierge service, we have installed cameras throughout the outdoor areas, in front of the building, in the fitness center, and in the majority of common areas. In addition, we provide wireless centrally monitored alarm systems for each unit owner. In the case of personal security, it is always best to be thorough.
We spare no expense in assuring that a residence is truly luxurious. Clean design lines, hand-crafted built-in furniture, cabinets and closets, walnut fireplace surrounds, as well as state-of-the-art kitchens and spa-style bathrooms with imported stone and hand-cut mosaic tile from specialty fabricators in Italy and Portugal all add to the lavish feel of the home.
The quality of plastering, painting and trim work, hardwood floors, and stone as well as the integrity of installation all make noticeable differences in a product’s performance over time. Homeowners should expect and ask for the best. Luxury means over-building with more electrical service than needed, quality dimmer systems, flexible, energy-efficient lighting, sleek ceiling fans, and top of the line appliances and fixtures combined with a true commitment to excellence.
Luxury really is subjective as it relates to real estate. A wise and mindful consumer will create their own wish list and find the right development or home of their dreams where their own vision of luxury can be found.