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January 2010

January Wealth Report now available

The January 2010 Wealth Report Newsletter is now available for members.

In this month's issue:

  • Retail Sales Rebound
  • Luxury rides strong holiday season to best month in two years
  • WealthSurvey: Search Engine Usage & Shopping Habits of the Wealthy
  • Luxury Brand Marketing: Planning For 2010 by Thaddeus Kubis
  • The Inextricable Link Between CRM and eCommerce by Darren Floyd
  • Luxury Goods Need New Venues by Steve Steinberg
Members can access this report on our website (login required).  More on the report and the Luxury Institute here.

Collapsing Commercial Market in 2010 to Further Strain the Luxury Residential Market?

Yesterday DS News ran an article on the expected collapse of the commercial real estate market in 2010.  Here are some excerpts  (emphasis mine):

According to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2010 report, issued by the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers, most investors will recognize massive losses in the commercial real estate market. Value declines will eventually total 40 to 50 percent of market highs, and surveys in the report indicate 2010 will be the worst time for investors to sell properties in the report’s 30-year history...

Richard Parkus, Deutsche Bank commercial real estate analyst, believes this is just the tip of the iceberg. He predicts enormous losses and a large number of banks failing as a result of the declining commercial real estate market.

As tenants go bankrupt, downsize, or invoke their escape clauses, commercial real estate property owners have begun to feel the serious effects of the economy. By the end of 2010, the national vacancy rate is expected to reach 18.5 to 19 percent, the highest recorded since 1986.

Of course if this comes to pass it will be more bad news for the luxury residential market.  As you know  the investors, brokers, developers, tenants (business owners), and other players in the commercial market are often potential buyers and sellers of luxury homes.   Even in markets that are generally stabilizing or improving in 2010 this could mean trouble in the upper tier.

Kitchen trends for 2010

Today’s kitchens today are continuing to evolve into family rooms which can accommodate multiple cooks, family dining, and entertaining. 

Here are just a few of the major design trends popping up in luxury multi-purpose kitchens as 2010 begins. 

Kitchen countertops are increasing in mass – think thick – and demand is growing for new surface materials.  As granite wanes in popularity, crackle glass, concrete, and wood (with decorative edges) are all moving to the fore as popular countertop materials. One of the most innovative counters combines glass with LED lighting.  The result is a glowing glass countertop which can be programmed with most any color to match your mood of the moment. 

Counters in new kitchens may also vary in height to add visual interest and to create work zones for special purposes and for both short and tall cooks.  Counters and islands are also increasingly designed to double as serving and dining areas.

Work zones
As more activities gravitate to the kitchen, designers are building in special purpose areas.  A quick food prep station makes simple meal preparation and cleanup easy.  A baking center offers ingredient storage within reach and a counter height designed for chopping, mixing, and rolling.  A coffee bar or a wine tasting and beverage center are other popular special purpose work zones. 

Large farm sinks are a hot trend and multiple sinks continue to be in demand.  Water conserving faucets are part of a trend toward eco-friendly kitchens.

Mid-height cabinetry is a major trend in contemporary kitchens and beginning to appear in traditional kitchen designs as well.  Shorter cabinets may “float” on the wall or incorporate European-style legs and even be used as room dividers.  In-demand cabinet materials include stainless steel, environmentally-friendly bamboo, pecan or alder wood.  Cabinets are customized with interior fittings for efficient storage. Horizontal cabinet doors (sometimes motorized) are another emerging kitchen trend.  

Although the all white kitchen is still popular, cabinetry is also showing up in a variety of finishes and colors to give a kitchen the look of a furnished room.

Forget the concept of a cooktop, double oven, microwave, dishwasher and a refrigerator creating an adequate kitchen.  Today’s cooks want more.  Extra dishwashing drawers, elaborate coffee making appliances, warming drawers, additional ovens, wine coolers may all be part of a luxury kitchen and many of these appliances may be hidden within cabinetry. 

Flower On the other end of the spectrum, forget subtle, some homeowners are using the refrigerator as kitchen art.  Coolors, an Italian company will silk screen a refrigerators with a bold animal print, your favorite photograph or most any other image.  The range hood or cabinet fronts can be silk screened to match. 

The kitchen is now home to televisions, computers, and sound systems.  With friends and family gathering in the kitchen, entertainment and information need to be within reach. 

Multiple kitchens

Luxury homeowners frequently want multiple kitchens.  In addition to the primary gourmet kitchen, a catering kitchen – where preparations occur for dinner parties and other entertaining – may be on the must have list.  A mini-kitchen in the master bedroom and another in the primary guest suite provide a convenient place for a midnight snack or that first cup of morning coffee.  Of course, what was once the barbeque grill has morphed into a full outdoor kitchen with ice maker, dishwasher, dining area and more.

The kitchen is the heart of the house and this decade begins with trends which focus on making it more functional for a variety of lifestyle purposes and more attractive as a entertaining center. 

Where does the sun set twice each day?

The new year is off and running with a new real estate milestone – the opening of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. 

Topping off at 2,717 feet, the multi-use building offers residences, office space and a luxury hotel.  Apparently the view from the top extends more than 60 miles.  This means you can watch the sun set from the ground floor, ride the elevator to the top and watch the sun set again!  

Due to the real estate challenges currently faced by Dubai, predictions are that the building will see quite a few sunsets before it obtains full occupancy. 

Here's a 12-minute (!) promo video of the launch extravaganza via ITM News:

And more press coverage and commentary:

Of Burj and Babel - Wall Street Journal
World's tallest building: Is the Burj Khalifa a herald of economic woe? -  Christian Science Monitor