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May 2011

In Vancouver, Chinese buyers dominate the luxury market


It's no secret that the Chinese have been buying up real estate in Vancouver, but it might be a surprise to some just how much the Chinese are driving luxury sales. A recent study by Landcor suggests that in 2010 fully 74% of luxury homes and condos in Richmond and Vancouver's West Side were purchased by mainland Chinese.  

Here are details on the study results and further market commentary.  

Luxury Homes Selling Faster (Real Estate Economy Watch)

Luxury Homes Selling Faster according UPI's Real Estate Economy Watch:

Declining days on market coupled with rising inventories suggests that demand is getting stronger for upper tier properties, many of whom have undergone more than one price reduction...

Nice to see that they are getting their data from a good source (wink).

May 'Wealth Report' Now Available

Wealth Report

The May 2011 Wealth Report Newsletter is now available for Members.

In this month's issue:

  • Luxury Retail Sales Growth Downshifts
    Mainstream retailers pep up in April with a little help from a late Easter asluxury firms take a break from a long streak of outperformance.
  • 2011 Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI)
    Wealthy U.S. shoppers and investors rank top brands in watches, jewelryand ultra-luxury autos selling for $100,000 and higher.
  • Wealth Management: Brand Status & Client Experience 
    Ultra-high net worth U.S. investors with assets of $5 million and up identifythe top brands in wealth management and share details on client experience. 
  • WealthSurvey: Understanding Wealthy Millennials
    Luxury Institute survey reveals detailed perspectives on work, family, finances,mobile device usage and media consumption of wealthy Americans under-35.         

Members can access this report and an archive of past reports on our website (login required). 

The report is produced by the New York based Luxury Institute, a uniquely impartial, independent and objective ratings and research organization that is the global voice of the high net-worth consumer. 

Luxury market increasingly built with BRICs


Interesting article in this morning's Wall Street Journal by Candice Jackson.  It is a great overview of the luxury market trends around the world and highlights the growing influence wealthy buyers from the BRIC countries in the luxury residential market here in the U.S. and around the world.  

Here's a snippet of what Jackson has to say about these markets:


According to Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel, foreign buyers make up 15% to 20% of all home sales in Manhattan. They're particularly strong buyers of thoroughly renovated or newly built condos priced at several million dollars or more. Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of New York-based brokerage Corcoran Group, says that in the first quarter of this year, nearly 20% of new condo sales at Corcoran went to foreign buyers. 


The Paris real-estate market is booming, driven in part by the high prices foreigners are willing to pay. In the "Golden Triangle"—the tony area near the Champs-Élysées—apartment prices rose 38% in the last year, according to the Paris Notary Chamber. For Paris apartments costing over $2.8 million (€2 million), three foreigners buy into the market for every one foreign seller, says Charles-Marie Jottras, president of the Daniel Féau network of real-estate agencies.


China's housing boom spilled over to Hong Kong, where property prices have surpassed previous historic highs and are now some of the highest in the world. According to property agency Savills, Hong Kong's homes are 52% more expensive than London's—and 111% more than New York's.


According to Liam Bailey, head of residential research at real-estate agent Knight Frank, London's ratio of international to domestic buyers for prime real estate is the highest of any major city in the world. According to his report last month, 64% of buyers of central London homes priced over $8.1 million (£5 million) are foreign—"the highest of any major city, without a doubt"—and probably the highest it's ever been, Mr. Bailey says.

These days when you follow the money, it increasingly leads you to the BRICs... article: The New Global City

Rich...but oh so different

Today Robert Frank posted Remembering a Modest Billionaire, a thoughtful tribute to William Cook the billionaire founder of Cook Medical who died last month.  

By all accounts, William Cook was a modest, hard-working man who built his own fortune through hard work and lived extremely modestly in a small 3-bedroom house.  In his business he created the tools to save lives, and in his personal life pursued a passion for local historic preservation--giving millions to help preserve the spirit and historic architecture of his community.   As Frank notes:

Today, so much wealth (is) created through financial engineering, trading and investments that fail to add concrete value. The Cooks of the world are slowing being displaced on the Forbes list and the ranks of the rich by hedge-funders, private-equity chiefs, commodity traders, and passive tech investors.

Maybe Americans wouldn’t resent the rich so much if more of them were like Mr. Cook.

Contrast this with his post from Monday: Young, Rich and Shopping for a Mansion which highlights a new reality show in the UK on BBC3.  As Frank describes it:

...a new British reality-TV show starting today offers the ultimate in wealth escapism: following around rich kids as they shop for a starter mansion. It’s like “Gossip Girl” meets “House Hunters,” with a dash of Kardashians.

Here's the first episode on YouTube:


Some of the other online reviews have been a bit less forgiving of the show and it's cast.  

Criticisms and value judgements aside, what's really striking is the huge difference in the lifestyles--and presumably also the beliefs and values--of these young househunters and William Cook.  

Successful luxury businesses recognize these differences, have a meaningful model for grouping or segmenting their customers based on these attributes, and deliver a service or offering tailored to fit.

It's no different in real estate.   How you write copy, stage homes, show properties, even design listing presentations to better attract, communicate with, and satisfy affluent clients and customers should be informed by an understanding of their values and lifestyles.  

You certainly couldn't successfully market a home to Mr. Cook and these young househunters in the same way, could you?