LifeStyle™ Marketing

Luxury Garages Become A Swanky Social Space

Along with clothes, watches, and wine, high-end and vintage cars are a favorite collector’s item for high-net-worth individuals. And—just as many luxury homes have custom wine cellars and walk-in closets—luxury homeowners with treasured car collections are likely to want a special space for their high-end vehicles.

Luxury Garage

Top end luxury garages have little in common with the dusty cement rooms that immediately come to mind and they’re about much more than car storage. For individuals with prized vehicles—whether 1 or 100—the ideal luxury garage might be used for:

  • Entertaining. A high-end car enthusiast wants to be able to spend time socializing amidst their car collection, so luxury garages can boast an entertainment system, seating area, wet bar, and card table or billiard table to widen the space’s utility.
  • Showcasing. For car collectors, each vehicle is a work of art, and so a luxury garage acts as the gallery. Custom lighting and rotating turntable displays can enhance the presentation of a homeowner’s favorite vehicles.
  • Maintenance. Many car collectors like to get under the hood of their cars and a well-equipped maintenance bay is the perfect space to tinker.
  • Preservation. Finally, a collector will want their high-end vehicles to be cared for and protected from the elements, so climate control is a must in humid climates where weather can speed deterioration and encourage rusting.

If the luxury home is in an area without space restrictions, then an added garage can span thousands of square feet and accommodate dozens of vehicles without issue. For city dwellers, however, a car storage space can prove more elusive. One popular solution for wealthy collectors is a car elevator such as the PhantomPark, which starts at about $40,000, is custom built to fit the homeowner’s needs, and stores cars below ground. It is important to note, however, that while a lack of garage may diminish a home’s value and desirability, luxury garage renovations see a mere 52% return on investment in resale.


Enormous Basements Add Space & Value To Urban Luxury Homes

Londoners with limited space are digging deep

Over the past decade, many of London’s most famed and wealthy residents have been expanding their homes’ square footage by adding enormous basements below their gardens. The controversial trend came about when wealthy Brits wanted more space, but were bound by plot constraints and property laws that prevented them from expanding up or outward. The result: so-called “iceberg” mansions all over London, where what you see from the street is only a sliver of the home’s actual space. These basements can go many floors deep and often house the homeowners’ wildest dreams, from pools to ballrooms to 15 additional bedrooms.

Blockbuster British Basements

In the cramped and centuries-old streets of London, hundreds of mega-basements have been dug for the UK’s most rich and famous residents, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Foxtons founder Jon Hunt, and Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal. The basements belonging to these ultra-high-net-worth individuals are home to ballrooms, lap pools, vintage car garages with lifts and turntables, gun rooms, wine cellars, saunas, industrial-sized kitchens, movie theaters, dozens of spare bedrooms and bathrooms, and—in the case of British recording artist Damien Hirst—an art gallery.

Floorplan-basement

Hirst recently won a planning battle to add an enormous 150-foot-long backyard basement to his £39.5 million, 19-bedroom home in Westminster. The property, bought by Hirst in 2014, is considered unique for its half-acre yard and large garden, although his renovation proposal was contested based on the number of trees that would have to be cut down to carry out the plans. Despite protests, Hirst and his legal team prevailed in November 2015. Beyond simply adding more square footage to his home, the enormous bunker is destined to hold Hirst’s storied multi-million-dollar art collection, which includes works by masters like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The subterranean art gallery renovation boasts double-height ceilings and an elevator that can lift art weighing up to ten tons.

Buried in Controversy

Although politicians, actors, and athletes seem thrilled to have the mega-basements of their dreams, the blowback has been widespread and multi-faceted. Neighbors resent finding themselves living beside noisy construction sites, and often fear what the fast-and-deep digging might do to their own homes. And their fears are not unfounded: Goldman Sachs’ Christoph Stanger undertook a basement renovation that caused his neighbors’ homes to slide toward the excavation site, causing their door frames to shift and trapping them in their own homes. Billionaires’ basements have proven dangerous for construction crews, too, as the UK’s Health and Safety Executive has reported 17 deaths and 27 injuries in the last decade. In a rush to respond to the wave of problematic and over-the-top mega-basrments, London boroughs are now tightening their regulations on subterranean renovation. In Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, for example, homeowners can now dig basements no more than one story deep and these additions cannot take up more than 50% of their garden.

Your Client’s Mega-Basement

 There are several important design elements to bear in mind for the luxury homeowner who is considering a major basement renovation or addition.

  • Open floor plans help to prevent the space from feeling too dark and cramped.
  • Natural light is vital for a luxury basement, so designers should opt for light wells rather than light switches. See-through glass stairs also provide an opportunity for light to filter down from above.
  • Light colors will help the space feel airy. Think white or beige walls, light-wood flooring, and neutral fabrics.
  • Egress to green space. Consider installing a door with a stairway up into the backyard garden, or even digging a lowered private garden at the basement level.
  • Great space for kids, storage, and quiet entertaining. When considering what to do with a big basement renovation, think first of playrooms, cinemas, laundry rooms, wine cellars, and gyms. Let more social spaces remain upstairs in the light of day.
  • Think twice about pools. While storage space, gyms, and playrooms often add resale value, this is not always true with pools.
  • Permits and insurance. Be aware of the laws and regulations that govern basement renovations and additions in your area, as well as the insurance options for during and after construction.

Denver Realtor and Institute Member Gives Back to Community in a BIG way

In 2006, Denver Realtor and Institute Member, Joan Rogliano, started a support group for her transitioning clients of divorce and widowhood. The Wildflower Group that was once a support group quickly became an opportunity to educate clients about options regarding their martial home. Subsequently, Joan began to offer educational workshops titled, Divorce and Your Home. Soon after delivering a few of these workshops, she realized there was a greater need for an expanded social community that provided support and trusted professional resources. After implementing, the workshops expanded and the schedule of events increased.

Recognizing there was also urgency for financial aid for this transitioning demographic, Joan created the Wildflower Women's Organization in 2010. WWO is a 501c3 nonprofit which provides educational, financial, and legal advocacy. Supporters include the Anschutz Family Foundation, Coors Foundation, and Jackson National Life Insurance.

Word spread quickly about Wildflower Group throughout the Denver metro area and it also garnered national attention. Recently, Joan was featured on the TODAY Show, her segment was focused on how Wildflower Group supports divorced and widowed women across the United States.

TODAY-Wildflower

Click the image above to view the TODAY Show segment

Wildflower Group is now operating in ten states as a national network of trusted divorce professionals providing education and community support. Current statistics show that women make 85% of consumer purchases in the United States and influence 85% of consumer decisions. Wildflower Group’s Marketing System offers potential Garnders a turnkey system that shows real estate professionals how to begin marketing to this niche market of consumers.

You can learn more about becoming a Gardner for the Wildflower Group by visiting their website.

 Website www.wildflowergroup.net


New Tech Means More Luxury Buyers Making Offers Site-Unseen

Consumers are looking for new ways to buy and sell real estate. A recent Redfin-commissioned survey of 2,134 individuals who had bought a home in the last 2 years shows that only 21% of respondents prefer buying and selling homes using the traditional methods. In contrast, 64% of respondents were open to unconventional, alternative, and innovative takes on the home buying and selling processes. But just what do we mean by “alternative” and “unconventional” ways of buying a home? One example: putting in an offer on a luxury home without ever setting foot inside.

The SurveyMonkey-run survey showed that 21% of buyers—or 1 in 5—had made an offer on a home without having ever visited it in person. And more than 50% of these site-unseen offers were made by high-end consumers who ultimately bought luxury homes with a purchase prices of $750,000 or more. Behind luxury homeowners, the demographics most likely to make an offer without seeing the property are millennials (30%) and single, never married people (30%). These numbers are huge and, according to SurveyMonkey’s review of the data, “a testament to the proliferation of online listings, mobile real estate apps, and cool things like 3D scans that take you inside and through every room of a home for sale online.

Technology & Lifestyle Marketing Are Key In All-Virtual Sales

So, how do you make yourself and your listings more attractive to prospects who might buy without stepping foot in the property—or even the same country? SurveyMonkey posits that “[it] has a lot to do with technology that enables people to know agents and properties intimately without a walk-through or face-to-face visit.”

Some important marketing and branding techniques to consider in attracting and closing these all-virtual transactions:

  • 3D virtual walk-throughs. Nothing offers a more realistic and intimate off-site home preview than 3D walk-through technology. Luxury real estate professionals can hire a service to photograph and construct the 3D walk-through, or buy their own 3D real estate camera and software packages, like the very impressive 3D Showcase from Matterport. Prospective buyers can navigate throughout the home, explore floor plans and specs, and even seeing what the view is like from each window in the house. In addition to increasing the accessibility of your listings, this exciting technology has the added benefit of differentiating you from other luxury real estate professionals.
  • Rich, up-to-date websites. With consumers relying heavily on property information found over the Internet, it’s vital to maintain an impressive and up-to-date website for your listings—or possibly unique websites for each of your biggest properties.
  • Statistics don’t lie: listings with video get 4x more inquiries than those without, and 85% of buyers and sellers want to work with an agent who uses video to market or showcase a home. Video is a fantastic way to bring a property and its lifestyle to life for a viewer.
  • High-quality photography. It’s always a must-have—especially in luxury—but site-unseen buyers want images that showcase minute design details and insinuate the lifestyle that accompanies your luxury listing.
  • Great lifestyle copy. For wealthy individuals doing their home shopping from afar, it can be difficult to get a sense of the lifestyle that comes with a property. Paired with video and area guides, good copy can change all of that by transporting the reader to their possible future in your luxury listing.
  • Social networking. Social media, blogging, and online networking present an opportunity to build an authentic, trustworthy personality over the internet so that your relationships can blossom before (or without) face-to-face encounters.
  • Testimonials. A simple way to build trust with far-flung consumers is via testimonials from your past satisfied clients.
  • Traditional printed property promotion. Where videos and 3D tech fail, traditional marketing materials, resources on local culture and amenities, and quality copywriting can bring high-end homes to life and help push the online buyer to make an offer.

If the 64% of consumers interested in alternative buying processes are any indication, then site-unseen luxury home offers and sales are likely to become more and more common in the coming years. Luxury real estate professionals who want to capture business from this growing market must leverage both new technologies and traditional marketing methods.


2016 Luxury Bathroom Design Trends

The luxury bathroom is becoming a haven for peace, relaxation, and pampering within the home. Since the bathroom is one of the most commonly remodeled rooms in the house and tastes are ever-changing, here are some of the most important luxury bathroom design trends to watch in 2016.

Walk-in shower.

In 2016, the luxurious walk-in shower is expected to continue growing in popularity. These spacious showers—sometimes as big as a guest bedroom—often feature frameless glass doors, although a step-up entry or small entry hall can eliminate the need for any door at all. Many walk-in showers are entirely walled-in by glass to highlight unique shower tiles and design elements within. If a homeowner wants to maintain some level of privacy, however, lowered walls are a fantastic option. Larger walk-in showers can feature multiple showerheads, bench seating, and even a steam room setup for the ultimate in-home spa experience. Regardless of size, walk-in showers are becoming a staple of the sleek, modern luxury bathroom, and the possibilities for utility and design are endless. (For inspiration, check out these incredible walk-in shower photos on Houzz.)

 

Radiant heat flooring.

Perhaps “trend” is not the right word, because this one is here to stay. Is there anything as luxurious as a heated floor? (And don’t forget to heat the shower bench!)

Freestanding bathtubs.

In addition to being a luxury home-spa necessity, freestanding bathtubs are an opportunity to introduce unusual and captivating shapes into a room that is traditionally full of straight lines and right angles. And when you place a sleek bathtub by a floor-to-ceiling window? Now that’s luxury. Pictured below, check out the Wissioming Residence bathroom by Robert Gurney Architect.


The All-Black Kitchen Makes A Statement In Luxury Homes

2015 design trends move away from the all-white kitchen

Luxury Kitchen - Modern Rustic

 

In addition to being a hub of family and social life within the home, kitchens are an important way for homeowners to make a statement about their property, identity, and taste. As a result of their place at the heart of a home, kitchens are the second most frequently remodeled room in the house—second only to bathrooms. This year, the pendulum has swung away from the popular all-white kitchen and toward the opposite extreme: the black kitchen.

Kitchen Design Goes Over To The Dark Side

In 2015, bright-red cabinets and white tile are being eclipsed by darker colors. The beginning of this trend can be seen in the stunning 2014 Kitchen of the Year, designed by designer Steven Miller for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which featured all-black cabinetry, dark tile backsplashes, and a steely grey ceiling. But why the turn toward darker hues? Black kitchens—or ones dominated by other dark shades—make a statement about the home and its owners: bold, strong, sleek, and luxurious. This design idea is particularly fitting for the luxury homeowner who craves a high-end kitchen that leaves a lasting impression.

Here are a few tips for incorporating darker tones into luxury kitchen design:

  • Cabinetry or countertops are perhaps the easiest way to introduce dark tones into the luxury kitchen. If all-black cabinets seem overwhelming, why not balance them out with a white marble countertop or soften the look with distressed or textured wood?
  • To darken the kitchen further, consider bringing in black or dark-colored appliances.
  • Dark wood flooring. If you want to go black but worry that the look will be too overwhelming, dark wood floors are a fantastic way to give the space a warm, rustic feel.
  • Black and green. Perhaps the only look more luscious than an all-black kitchen is a black-and-green kitchen. Apartment Therapy suggests this color combination as a way to make the black kitchen warm, earthy, and even more unique.
  • Look books. The internet is brimming with image-rich resources. Use these to show your clients just how stunning their high-end, on-trend black kitchen could be. (For example, check out this Pinterest board.)

2015 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards Winners

Thank you to all those who submitted entries for this year's Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards. We were blown away by the amount of entries submitted, and what our members have accomplished. Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards.

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Jennifer Egbert, Dawn Thomas, Christine Battista, Carl Battista, Norka Parodi, Patrick Ryan

2015 Best Agent Market Report

Winner: Dawn Thomas, Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty, Palo Alto, CA

2015 Overall Excellence in Personal Marketing

Winner: Jennifer Egbert, JP Egbert Associates, Modern Luxury Real Estate, RE/MAX Alliance; Boulder, CO

2015 Best Marketing Campaign for a Property

Winner: Norka Parodi The Norka Group, Boca Raton, FL

2015 Outstanding Personal Achievement

Winner: Patrick Ryan, Ryan Residential, Related Realty Chicago, IL

2015 Best Marketing Video

Winner: Carl Battista & Christine Battista, The Battista Team, Keller Williams Denver Tech, Denver, CO

Watch for more on these winning entries in upcoming blog posts. Also watch for a webinar in the next few months featuring the marketing award winners’ entries.


China’s UHNWIs Invest In Top-Tier Homes & Higher Education

For luxury real estate professionals in certain markets, international buyers are a growing source of opportunity. According to the Knight Frank 2015 Wealth Report, there are 172,850 individuals globally who have a net worth of $30 million or more. An estimated 32% of an UHNW individual’s assets are invested in real estate, and that 81% of UHNWIs are most interested in the residential market. Amidst the growing pool of wealthy international investors, Chinese clients stand above the rest.

The NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients showed that, for the first time ever, international buyers from China exceeded all other foreign buyers in both units and dollar volume, spending $28.6 billion on United States residential real estate last year. While Chinese buyers are undoubtedly attempting to shelter their wealth from a chaotic domestic market, reports show that they are dually motivated by an interest in the United States’ prestigious universities.

Chinese students account for approximately one third of all international students in America, and an estimated 10% of Chinese UHNWIs send their children to college in the United States. It is becoming increasingly popular for wealthy Chinese parents to invest in residential property near their child’s university, constituting a simultaneous investment in real estate and education. Chinese buyers show a strong preference for American cities on the west coast, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, which boast a wealth of educational and business opportunities, as well as relative proximity to China.

Learning To Work Effectively With Chinese Clients

Shake Bow Book Series

Chinese buyers have a unique set of customs and perspectives concerning social and business transactions. Luckily, there are many resources available to luxury real estate professionals who want the tools to attract Chinese buyers and exceed their expectations.


Middle Eastern Royalty Negotiating for Lavish 68-room Sardinian Estate, Will $541 Million be the Final Price?

Saudi king blog post
Rumors are rife that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is selling Villa Certosa, his lavish estate on Sardinia’s exclusive Costa Esmeralda, to Saudi Arabian royalty for $541 million. The estate sprawls over 296 acres and features 68 rooms, six swimming pools, an underground grotto where small boats can dock, an amphitheater, and a man-made volcano that erupts on command.

Arabian Business reports that Saudi Arabian Prime Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, is buying the property on behalf of his uncle King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera previously reported that Berlusconi was seeking $552 million for the secluded Mediterranean estate, which became a symbol of his flamboyant lifestyle during his years in power.  


China’s NWBs: Coming to a Luxury Home Near You

According to NAR’s 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, China is the second largest source of international buyers in the United States. Chinese buyers rank first in terms of dollar value of sales because they most often buy high-end luxury homes. The recent drop in Chinese stock markets, however, wiped out an estimated US$3.35 trillion of wealth. Where U.S. luxury real estate professionals are concerned, these turning economic tides might bring a change in clientele.

What’s an NWB?

Have you heard of NWBs? If not, you should make yourself familiar. The world’s fastest growing wealth segment is that of the NWBs—or “new wealth builders”—who hold financial assets between US$100,000 and US$2 million. While high-net-worth individuals (those with more than US$2 million in assets) accounted for US$43 trillion in global wealth last year, the NWB segment accounted for more than US$88 trillion. Translation: NWBs have a total of double the wealth of high-net-worth individuals! China’s NWBs, in particular, are amongst the world’s wealthiest and fastest growing economic group. It is estimated that China’s NWBs will hold double the wealth of American NWBs by the year 2020.

Most importantly, China’s NWBs seem to be fairing the economic storm better than most, and they are consequently in search of investments that protect their wealth, appreciate over time, or provide stable revenue streams. This makes them prime prospects for luxury real estate professionals in the United States.

Chinese NWBs: What They’re Looking For

A recent McKinsey Quarterly report shows that 69 million Chinese citizens possess the wealth to invest in U.S. properties. This figure is expected to reach 220 million by 2022. These numbers will likely yield an uptick in the number of Chinese buyers who invest in luxury homes abroad. In general, Chinese buyers are likely to be looking for these key features in U.S. real estate:

  • Great educational institutions. As far as Chinese buyers are concerned, education is king.
  • An expanding market with room for new businesses. Chinese buyers are looking to set down roots, and many want to open a business in the U.S. city where they buy a home.
  • Long-term ownership. Property laws in China effectively dictate that individuals hold long-term leases on properties, but can never fully own them. Chinese buyers want to own their homes outright so that they can pass them from one generation to the next.

Amongst Chinese buyers in general, NWBs are unique. Here are some things that luxury real estate professionals need to know about them:

  • Compared to individuals in the higher income bracket, NWBs are younger, more internet savvy, and more likely to rely on online resources when making investment decisions.
  • Chinese buyers take six months to research properties before they begin visiting and making purchasing decisions.
  • NWBs are more likely to look for investment opportunities in secondary cities.
  • NWBs are likely to only visit properties or work with real estate professionals that were visible online (and behind the Great Firewall of China).
  • Chinese prospects prefer to do their research in Chinese, on websites hosted in China.

China’s NWBs seem to be fairing well amidst economic upheaval and will likely be looking to make stable, long-term investments in foreign markets. For luxury real estate professionals, marketing your services and listings on Chinese sites will be paramount for reaching this growing group of international prospects.