Must-Have Amenities in Luxury Homes Today

Modern masterpiece in Beverly Hills, California. Hilton & Hyland.

70-acre Wilderness Retreat in Telluride, Colorado. Telluride Real Estate Corp.

Newly Built Home in Greater Boston, Massachusetts. Bassick Real Estate Advisors.

In the world of luxury real estate, the preferences of affluent homebuyers have always reflected a myriad of lifestyle trends, regional styles, demographic factors, and the unique preferences of the individual buyer. 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. Over the past 18 months, homes have doubled as offices, workout spaces, schools, and entertaining spaces, provoking potential buyers to reevaluate their priorities.

As many affluent homebuyers are no longer tethered to working five days a week in an office, the oft-cited mantra “location, location, location” has begun to shift instead to “location, location, lifestyle.” Properties with an easy commute and access to transport have taken a backstep to luxury homes with space, privacy, and access to lifestyle amenities that enhance the lives of its residents.

To better understand the preferences of today’s luxury buyers, and to help potential sellers understand what are the most important upgrades or renovations in a post-pandemic world, we asked Forbes Global Properties members to rank luxury home buyer priorities in their respective property markets in 2021. These findings are reflected in Exhibit 3. The top priorities for luxury homebuyers today across the globe are:

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 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.”

In Singapore, Sammi Lim of Brilliance Capital noted: “There is a trend, a flight, to quality. The pandemichas triggered most to review their housing requirements, and the bigger or more luxurious, the better.”

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. As Jeff Raper of National Parks Realty in Montana’s Flathead Valley noted: “The tiny home trend is on the decline. Privacy, safety, and access to outdoor recreation are major priorities.”

“In the Colorado mountains, we’ve seen an influx of people looking for an escape.”

–Mark Smith of Slifer Smith & Frampton

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.

Luxurious Old Colony Estate in Toronto, Canada. Barry Cohen Homes

Oceanfront Estate in Vero Beach, Florida. Dale Sorensen Real Estate

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.”

141 Acre Estate in Whitefish, Montana. National Parks Realty.

73 Acre Oceanfront Estate in Maui, "Hawai'i Life".

The Point in Brentwood, Bel Air, California. Hilton & Hyland.

3. Privacy and Security

About one third of 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.

“Our buyers are currently more interested in properties with lots of land, open air and privacy than maxed out lots with great views.”

–Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland

A desire for privacy and a resurgence of interest in real estate as a “safe haven” asset resulted in an incredible increase in buyer demand for historic castles and chateaus in France over the last 18 months. “We have seen a lot of urban dwellers arrive, especially Parisians, who have an almost physiological need to escape and find a place of protection far from urban constraints,” said Olivier de Chabot-Tramecourt of Groupe Mercure. “These buyers had often long dreamt of purchasing a chateau, but the pandemic prompted them to take the plunge.”

The desire for privacy and security also prompted an uptick in luxury homebuyers and permanent residents in Montana during the pandemic, in part due to the remoteness of the area. “People were seeking the safety of a less urban, less populated area, as well as the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic in a resort-like area,” said Jeff Raper of National Parks Realty.

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.”

Point Loma Estate in San Diego, California. Willis Allen Real Estate.

Hualalai Resort Estate in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i. Hawai’i Life.

Casa Tres Cervezas in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. CDR San Miguel.

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.

*Tied in fifth place