The following is a
Unique Homes Online Exclusive
During the mid-year height of the Covid-19 pandemic, real estate agents comment on how the market stood, and in some cases prevailed, under enormous pressure.
This past Fall, luxury real estate agents from across the country spoke on Unique Homes’ first Zoom panel to discuss topics from the recent article “Space: The New Currency,” from Unique Homes Magazine’s recent Fall issue, written by Camilla McLaughlin. On this exclusive virtual panel, agents were able to discuss how the real estate markets of America endured (and continue to endure) through the turbulence that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused. Throughout the discussion, these experienced panelists spoke on the changes their area(s) have undergone and the how the pandemic has affected the homebuying process. We’ve highlighted some of our distinguished panelists and their unique experiences below.
Mauricio Umansky, Founder/CEO of The Agency
Los Angeles, CA
In the beginning of “Space: The New Currency,” Mauricio Umansky, Founder and CEO of The Agency, notes that in the midst of the pandemic, consumers who were staying at home also found themselves asking impactful questions regarding their homes and their futures: where am I sequestering versus where am I at home? What do I want my home to look like? What do I want my second home to look like?
As one of the opening speakers, Umansky adds that though many of these questions may not be answered right away, the pandemic proved to be a catalyst for many potential home buyers to start a dialogue with their local real estate agents. “Sequestering at home, stay in, shelter in place, whatever it is we want to call it, has caused a conversation that is equal amongst everybody, whether it’s politically driven, whether it’s answering ‘what do I want to do with my life?’ and understanding that we can now work and operate from anywhere.”
Courtney Hampson, Vice President of Marketing
Palmetto Bluff, SC
Palmetto Bluff is a community in coastal South Carolina that caters to a mix of primary and vacation homeowners. Courtney Hampson, Vice President of Marketing for Palmetto Bluff, says on the panel that at the beginning of the pandemic many residents were already staying in Palmetto Bluff due to Spring Break, and were mandated to stay due to the shutdown. Many stayed until May when the state began opening up again, and there were several instances where those who extended their stay ended up moving to Palmetto Bluff full time. About a particular couple from New York with young children, Hampson says “They literally walked down the street into our real estate office, went on our tour, looked at available homes, closed two days later, our fastest closing ever, and that was it. ‘This is where we are,’ they said, ‘This is the plan now.'”
During the panel Hampson also stated that the utilization of virual tours and showings became more widely utilized, so much that they had to include the option on their website right away on their website.” She also noted that in the midst of everything, they found that buyers were buying almost like they were suffering from FOMO, or a Fear of Missing Out. “[Clients] are booking their stay at the hotel first, and … they have almost a fear of missing out. They’re not waiting to get here to look at real estate — they’re doing that virtually, going under contract and seeing their property the first time they come to visit.”
Carrie Wells, Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate
Though located on the opposite side of the United States, Carrie Wells of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate in Aspen, Colorado experienced similar situations as Hampson had in South Carolina. March is typically the latter part of the state’s skiing season, but due to the pandemic the season was cut short, and those visiting found themselves sequestering in Aspen — and staying. She remarked that you can see this reflected in the school district alone, where 175 new students were admitted and a weight list was created for the Aspen Country Day School, Aspen’s main private school. She also noted that with the help of Matterport virtual tour technology many sales were able to happen, as clients wanted to be able to visit openings safely.
Wells remarked about her own experience with a New York family who stayed in Aspen until the summer. “He said, ‘I never realized that Aspen is so enjoyable in April and May,’ which are normally our off-season months. … People have experienced being here year-round, when they normally would not be here, and there’s so much to do other than downhill skiing that I think regardless of what happens with our winter, we’re still going to see our market continue to be strong.”
Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty
The title of the article “Space: The New Currency,” as well as the main point of discussion for the panel, was inspired by profound statement by Frank Aazami of Russ Lyon Sothebby’s International Realty. During the panel Aazami notes that when the pandemic began and people were sequestering, he noticed that areas that were previously difficult to sell beforehand, regions outside of Phoenix and Scottsdale such as Fountains Hills, Cave Creek, etc, were now like beacons that buyers were gravitating towards. Before there were no sales north of $3 million, but eventually there were closings reaching upwards of $4 and $6 million. The reasoning for this market change? Space!
In the article Aazami notes that from his region of Scottsdale, Arizona, his experience during the pandemic that no matter what buyers were generally looking for, a vacation home, relocation refuge, etc., the key point he saw was that consumers were looking for a safe haven, with plenty of space. Not only that, but consumers are also requesting specifics when it comes to this space in order to make their purchases personal and customized to their lifestyles, from multiple offices and indoor gyms to view decks and larger patios.
Chris Bernier, Churchill Properties
Boston’s North Shore, MA
Located just 30 minutes outside of Boston, Chris Bernier of Churchill Properties notes during the Zoom panel that despite the usual trends of buyers looking for smaller, more minimalistic style homes, space really is the new currency. He affirms that many buyers in his market are flocking toward the larger homes. These market shifts are no doubt due to the pandemic shifting priorities, and continues to show
James Torrance, Keller Williams Luxury International
Palm Beach, FL
James Torrance from Palm Beach, Florida has much to say about the pandemic has shifted Florida into more than just a retirement or snowbird refuge, seen in these clips from the Zoom discussion. He notes further that in fact a large wave of buyers from California and more specifically Chicago brought interest to the area and helped close several sales, a rarity in his area. What was also interesting that he notices are the importance of the private schools and districts in South Florida, as he mentions that many buyers were shopping around different homes once they had found a school system they liked, then picking from available homes nearby.
This, alongside his points about the importance of homes with multi-functional spaces such as guesthouses and just the overall outlook on how the market has shifted, highlight just how much action Florida has seen in the past several months due to Covid-19’s effect on real estate.
Roxann Taylor, Engel & Völkers Dallas Forth Worth
As an real estate agent with 40-plus years of selling experience, Roxann Taylor of Engel & Völkers Dallas Forth Worth was a fountain of wisdom toward the end of the virtual panel. She highlighted much of which was similar to what the other panelists had noted, including buyers prioritizing homes with large space as opposed to downsizing, putting houses on the market through a near fully-virtual process, and much more.
For More Unique Homes Online Exclusive content, click here.
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, August 19, 2020 — Located in the sought-after rural city of Anna, Texas, Bodark Acres offers a wonderful relaxed quality of life, just north of neighboring McKinney and minutes from the bustling Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and downtown. This ideal escape from city life provides a little something for everyone with its abundant private acreage, security, and master craftsmanship architecture. Supreme Auctions will offer this custom luxury estate at a no-reserve auction on September 19, in cooperation with Lori Vaden of Compass.
“Poised for growth, Anna, Texas is just two miles west of Celina, and McKinney 20 minutes south, which makes Bodark Acres one of the best kept secrets in Collin County in terms of locale. Also neighboring Anna is Frisco, Texas… home to both the Dallas Cowboys and PGA headquarters, as well as numerous sporting arenas and teams, including soccer, baseball, NFL, and hockey.” stated Jennie Heal, President of Supreme Auctions. “Being within reach of the DFW metroplex, which is known as being the economic and cultural hub of the North Texas area, it is the ideal location for discerning homeowners who seek a more intimate place to call home.”
Providing a true personal haven, Bodark Acres spectacularly demonstrates a private and relaxing country-side lifestyle of affluence and refinement with its five-bedroom, four full bathroom main residence that comes complete with its own resort-style patio area with heated pool, spa, and covered cedar cabana terrace. The estate is comprised of two adjacent parcels and is completed with a secondary guest house residence, sheds, workshop, and of course, an abundance of acreage and open space to call your own.
“This home offers a spectacular setting and attention to detail at every turn,” stated Compass listing agent, Lori Vaden. “The seller clearly put extensive thought into every decision and design feature. Even upon the initial drive up to the property, you can feel your body decompress. It is tucked away, yet near a major highway, for the ideal commute conditions. The history of the property, the trees, the setting, and the privacy are the first features to grab your attention. You can tell this magnificent property is different the second you pass through its gated entrance. There is a massive Bois D’Arc tree that is said to be one of the oldest in the state. The home is impeccably maintained inside and out and a buyer can easily envision a life here.”
Bodark Acres will enthrall you with its majesty and draw you to a location that will fulfill your need for community savoir-faire. Culture, shopping, dining, business and legendary sporting teams are just a small taste of the lifestyle that the Dallas-Fort Worth area offers to its visitors and residents. A celebrated location, DFW is home to 23 Fortune 500 companies and continues to grow in popularity and positive reputation. Known for its diversity in business, including commerce, insurance, telecommunications, energy, healthcare, transportation and logistics, Dallas is truly an area of economic growth.
“This neighborhood is the most unique that I’ve ever lived in,” stated the current owner, Kristi Jones. “The neighbors to the east, west, and south have all grown up here in the area, including their families, some for 50 years… before the roads were even paved. This shows great loyalty, love and stability in the neighborhood. I will be sad to leave; however, it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”
Every year we select locations to highlight as Markets to Watch. This year change is underway and we take a look at some top performers, others that are beginning to transition, and a handful of under-the-radar locations that are emerging.
On track for another record with sales up more than 3 percent, Austin’s luxury patina shines ever brighter. In October, the medium home value in Barton Creek increased to $1.02 million, making it the city’s first million-dollar neighborhood. Austin’s charms include no income tax to win over newcomers, but music and tech might be tops.
Bozeman might seem like a sleeper on this list, but with ranches, the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky country it’s an under-the-radar hangout for demi-billionaires and billionaires.
Brooklyn, New York
No longer second best! Buyers are making Brooklyn a first choice. Median prices in the most expensive neighborhoods hit the $1 million mark. Israelis, Chinese and Western Europeans also gravitate here. It’s no surprise this New York City borough is No. 2 on Urban Land Institute’s Markets to Watch.
By August, the Chicago area recorded as many luxury sales as in all of 2016 or 2017. Sales of $1 million-and-up properties set a record in the third quarter with a 19-percent increase over 2017. According to RE/MAX, luxury is booming in the west loop area. Upscale suburbs trail the city. Lots of new condos and stunning new buildings open doors to more urban opportunities in a market that hangs in the balance.
Few cities have charted a post-recession course as strong as Dallas and the city remains Urban Land Institute’s No. 1 location for overall real estate prospects in 2019. But the dramatic post-recession price increases are over, say economists. Moderating prices and adjusting inventories are positive indicators that that a move back to a normal market is underway.
Real estate’s Rocky Mountain high isn’t over yet. Denver continues to rank in the top group on many lists. In the upscale bracket, a shift toward balance is underway with the inventory of $1 million-plus homes at about seven months. Year-over-year prices are up on average 9.29 percent. Boulder remains a sweet spot for luxury, ranking 10th among cities and towns with at least 10 neighborhoods considered million-dollar.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Projections call for appreciation as high as 10 percent this year. Nevada was the fastest growing state, with new platinum communities; forward-looking, innovative architecture; and spectacular views capturing the attention of buyers looking for lifestyle and tax relief.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Coastal South Carolina and Georgia are ground zero for demographic shifts and the growing ability among the affluent to live wherever they want — a trend just taking off. New developments including Palmetto Bluff add to demand for the Hilton Head region.
Moving toward balance. A long-awaited uptick in homes on the market is one of several hints of a market shift. Median prices reached a record high this fall, and homes still sell quickly. Still the inventory of homes for sale is one of the lowest in the country. Upper tier and move-up brackets are less competitive.
D.C. continues to be in the top group on watch lists but Amazon’s recent announcement makes real estate in Northern Virginia much more interesting. What the prospect portends for current homeowners is uncertain, but sure to make this a market to watch in 2019.
Park City, Utah
No longer just a ski hangout, this Salt Lake neighbor is luxury’s newest player. The most desirable neighborhoods see a shortfall of inventory. Land prices increased by 25 percent with the highest number of sales occurring at Promontory. Opportunities abound: new projects at The Canyons, a large expansion of Deer Valley, a $4 billion renovation of the Salt Lake airport and a bid for the 2030 Olympics.
Wikimedia Commons / Don Lavange
Beaches and skiing, does it get any better than that? Hipsters meet old money here. Ranked among the top 20 for entrepreneurs, the city has a growing tech industry and one of the best foodie scenes in the Northeast. Look for more new construction. Prices will continue to ease upward as more people discover this hidden gem.
Santa Barbara, California
Opportunities for buyers in many California locales continue to increase as markets shift. Median prices in Santa Barbara in November were down more than 25 percent, which is good news for buyers. The area remains a prized luxury refuge and lower prices open the door for newcomers to enjoy one of the most unique locations in the U.S.
The city’s iconic waterfront is being reimagined with a vision to increase cultural programming and urban amenities. Median prices have been increasing steadily, up 25 percent since 2014. New construction means more inventory with more on the horizon. Agents report steady and growing interest in individuals from high tax states.
Happier times are ahead for buyers in Seattle with active listings up by 41 percent. Even though inventories are still slim, it’s a good indication the frenzy is over. Closed sales in November were down 28 percent. Homes continue to appreciate but the increase has slowed to 5 percent. For buyers and sellers this is definitely a market to watch. The city still is in top groups in many rankings, but the frenzy is over.
Wikimedia Commons / Jeff Gunn
Canadian Baby Boomers and Millennials came together and turned up the heat on the luxury condos in 2018; single-family home sales decreased by as much as 44 percent. While the foreign buyers tax has reduced sales to overseas buyers, it’s also opening new opportunities for locals. Local buyers will continue to drive demand for condos here.
Luxury’s top performers in 2018. Not only are residences in demand, but new resorts are raising the bar for luxury and reinvigorating current markets. New developments in Turks and Caicos, including the ultra-indulgent Gansevoort Villas, turn up the heat on interest in the Caribbean. Easy reach from the U.S. and private enclaves generate new interest in the Bahamas. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is seeing new resorts and other regions along the Sea of Cortez are seeing new development. Mandarina in Nyarit is the site of One & Only’s first collection of private homes. Owning a private island continues to be an ultimate purchase and the Bahamas is ground zero.
Austin Board of Realtors
Michael Saunders, Founder and CEO Michael Saunders & Company
Anthony Hitt, President and CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas
Aleksandra Scepanovic, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ideal Properties Group
National Association of Realtors
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Kirkland, Washington
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Unique Homes Magazine.
Nunzio DeSantis, who designed more than 60,000 hotel rooms during his 34 years with global architecture firm HKS, opened a new hospitality architecture firm in Dallas with next generation architect and son Marc DeSantis.
Award-winning architect Nunzio DeSantis and his son Marc DeSantis have launched a specialized hospitality architecture firm, Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects. Located in Dallas’ ultra-chic Design District, NMDA brings architectural individuality to international resorts, hotels, spas and restaurants.
In only nine months since opening, NMDA has secured the work of nearly 30 different projects in some traditionally hard barriers-to-entry locations, such as Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Charleston, South Carolina. While many firms are constantly looking to increase breadth of projects, NMDA goes against the grain with its commitment to staying small and focusing solely on hospitality.
Among other accomplishments, Nunzio — who designed more than 60,000 hotel rooms during his 34 years with global architecture firm HKS — played an integral role in the Cabo San Lucas hospitality boom. He designed notable resorts that have shaped the destination, including Las Ventanas al Paraiso, One & Only Palmilla, Esperanza Auberge Resort and Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort.
Co-founder and designer Marc DeSantis’ architecture training at the University of Notre Dame and years at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York brings a structured and classical perspective to NMDA. The discipline gained under Stern’s tutelage shaped Marc’s aesthetic and attention to detail, which he imparts on the agency’s younger staff. “Many young architects today are taught about form, not how buildings are put together,” he said. “We teach young designers what makes a building real.”
Photo courtesy of Liane Swanson