- Luxury buyers look for anything but cookie-cutter, while convenience, style and recreation opportunities make the top of their wish list.
A ranch-style featuring a designer kitchen, blended living space and mixed-metal trimmings — such a house would embody 2017 luxury, so long as it was also decked out in smart home technology.
That’s according to twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott, co-founders of Scott Brothers Entertainment and Scott Living.
The duo and HGTV hosts — real estate agent (Drew) and fixer-upper transformer (Jonathan) — launched their first book this year, New York Times’ best-seller Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide To Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House, along with a luxury home project in Las Vegas: Dream Homes by Scott Living.
The project offers well-to-do buyers the chance to snag a new build from their portfolio of customizable original designs.
What do the brothers have to say about this year’s biggest luxury design trends, features and homebuyer requests? Which investments add value, and where should the top 1 percent of sellers refrain from splurging?
Inman: What are high-end buyers looking for in their homes this year?
Drew and Jonathan Scott: Interestingly, for high-end buyers, we see single-story homes around 5,800 to 7,000 square feet outselling multistory properties with more space.
A major feature these buyers are looking for is a 6-plus car garage to showcase their toys.
Generally, these buyers want designer-styled kitchens with a lot of commercial appliance upgrades. Plus, tech is huge.
They expect smart house automation, such as LED wall pads where they can adjust lighting and thermostats. Voice activation, top-of-the-line security systems and infrared exterior cameras are all a given with any luxury homebuyer.
Break it down by room: Beds, baths, kitchen — what sells?
Spacious walk-in closets in every bedroom are a huge selling point. Buyers love oversized closet space, especially with built-in organization.
When it comes to family rooms, great rooms and living rooms, one feature that’s becoming common is a collapsible window wall, where the barrier separating indoor and outdoor living literally disappears into the wall.
This is especially important for those who entertain a lot and want to have flow from their kitchen to all the outdoor entertainment spaces. It truly gives you an extension of your indoor living comfort.
In the kitchen, luxury homebuyers want to be inspired. They want it to feel like something out of a high-end restaurant.
Commercial upgrades, extensive counter space (think an island as big as your bedroom) along with all the tech bells and whistles, like a fridge that tells you when food will expire.
Storage is always key, open flow to living areas and this is just referring to the indoor kitchen. Most of these homes have a fully decked out exterior kitchen with many of the same features from inside.
In bathrooms, steam showers and body jets are always a winner. Even the small things like touch-less plumbing fixtures, heated toilet seats and electric bidets give these homes that added touch of class.
What kinds of renovation requests are on fire in the high-end market?
Year-round recreation space is growingly popular.
In cities where you get inclement weather, enclosed spaces for large scale sport is a must.
We’ve seen requests for full-size basketball courts in the basement (25-foot minimum ceiling height), additions on the back of a home or property for indoor tennis, and even covered surf simulators, so you can still hit a wave when the weather isn’t working in your favor.
Which projects would you recommend as a good investment? What about poor places to put your money?
Anytime you can add entertainment value to a high-end property, it’s a good investment.
These buyers are different than the midpoint-priced house buyers because they’re willing to pay for bells and whistles. A theater room, workout facility, or even a pool, in many instances, can definitely be those added features that will bring the buyers.
Just keep in mind it’s important to know your local market in order to pinpoint which of these features buyers are expecting to see in the home.
The biggest thing to look out for is adding a “feature” that is so specific to your tastes that most other buyers wouldn’t want it.
For example, I’ve seen a homeowner spend $200,000 on a personal amusement park ride. They used it a couple of times and now it just takes up space in the yard.
Plus just think of all the maintenance it requires to keep it functional — terrible investment.
What are the top luxury amenities right now?
Demand for smart home technology systems has skyrocketed. Homeowners want to be able to control their home systems with the touch of a button, and remotely from their smartphones.
This includes home security alarms, cameras, thermostats, shades, lights, entertainment system and even voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Home.
Wine cellars in the basement have always been popular; however, now I find many buyers want chilled glass enclosed wine rooms on their main floor to showcase their collection.
For these homeowners, there is a sophistication that comes with having a feature like this.
Let’s talk colors: What’s hot and what’s not?
I love that mixed metal is at an all-time high in popularity.
Antique brass, oil rubbed bronze, chrome, brushed nickel — there’s no reason to stick with one color or texture throughout. Variety is the spice of high-end life.
What’s the most important room in the house for luxury buyers?
For some people, it’s simple — that six-car garage is their sanctuary. Others need a tranquil retreat in their master bathroom and peace of mind in their master closet.
Restoration of beautiful clawfoot tub for a little bit of class, incorporating a trough style sink for a contemporary twist, simple upgrades can give a bathroom that spa like feel that most homeowners crave.
And if the master closet doesn’t have an island, it’s not a true high-end master closet.
What are some of the most unusual luxury buyer requests you’ve had?
I [Jonathan] was asked to build a treehouse that was almost 2,000 square feet, which was a miniature model of the main house. Can you imagine a tree house that size?
I was asked to put a swimming pool in on the third floor of a structure that definitely wasn’t built to hold that kind of weight. Sometimes homeowners get wild ideas and unfortunately I have to be the one to quash it.
What are some unique ways to create outdoor space at a luxury property?
Most luxury properties have some sort of view.
Putting in a large-scale pool, with an infinity edge where the sunset appears to be setting on the edge of your water, is always a stunning feature.
Or you could do what I did at my house. I put a 15-foot retractable theater screen off the back edge of my pool and hot tub. This way if I want to watch the game in comfort, no problem.
What should real estate agents know about selling a luxury home in 2017?
Luxury homebuyers want a house that is unique. Not cookie-cutter in anyway. Whether it’s the architecture, the colors, materials or textures…the home needs to tell a story that is unlike anything buyers have ever seen.
That isn’t to say that you are creating oddly specific “features” that wouldn’t appeal to most luxury buyers, but you are putting yourself in the mind of that buyer to know the type of features they want in their home.
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