Set on 24 conserved acres in the Radnor Hunt countryside, in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, Chester County’s Delchester Farm offers panoramic views. The well-maintained estate, with its elegant home, stone-and-wood barns and a guest cottage, exists within a landscape of quiet beauty. It was first constructed by one of the financiers of the Revolutionary War, was later expanded by renowned architect R. Brognard Okie and extensively renovated in the last 20 years.
“The property is ideal for large gatherings of family or friends — the current owners just recently hosted a beautiful wedding behind the main house,” says Deborah Dorsey of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox and Roach, who is listing the property for $5.45 million. “And the circa 1795 Pennsylvania fieldstone bank barn could be converted into an amazing ‘party barn’.”
A long drive passing split-rail fences and open pastures leads to the main house, built of Pennsylvania fieldstone. The entry hall features a black marble floor, French doors at either end, and ten-foot ceilings that continue throughout. The living room feels both elegant and welcoming, with its dark wood floor and carved fireplace mantel. Across the hall stands the original parlor, with another fireplace, a bar, and an original door topped with a glass transom. The home also features a kitchen with a black granite island; a conservatory with a glass ceiling and bluestone floor; and a master suite with a carved antique marble fireplace and French doors to a private balcony. Outdoors, the home features multiple bluestone patios (both covered and uncovered), a pool, and a first-rate equestrian facility and barns.
“The property is perfect for someone looking for a family compound within commuting distance of New York, Philadelphia or Wilmington,” says Dorsey.
For more about this property, contact:
Deborah Dorsey, Associate Broker, REALTOR®
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach, REALTORS®
C: 610-724-2880 O: 610-527-6400
This spacious apartment in Calata Marconi features two levels with four windows (two on each level) overlooking the sea — a true rarity in the most exclusive and well-known village, positioned at the heart of a green promontory surrounded by the bluest sea. The first level features a living room with an elevated dining area and a corridor that leads to the guest bath and the kitchen. “There is so much natural light coming in and it really feels like pie dans l’eau — it’s truly on the water,” says Niccolo Pigni of Engel & Volkers, who is listing the property for 2.75 million euros. “There is no other property in Portofino like this one.”
The internal stairs lead to the second level, which includes three bedrooms, two baths and a studio. “It’s basically 2 condos merged together,” says Pigni. “And, it has three entrances — two in the front and one in the back — guaranteeing privacy and independence.”
Fine architectural details throughout include on-site wooden beams in the living room, that together, with the colorful facades of the building, make this property a unique masterpiece. Direct access from both the road and the sea level are available. “It is perfect for someone who owns a yacht and wants a pied-a-terre to impress guests when he/she comes to Portofino” says Pigni. “Or for a unique properties collector — it is so rare that it is like an art piece to be collected.”
For more information, contact:
Engel & Völkers – California
The trends changing houses in 2020 and beyond.
By Camilla McLaughlin
New values, shifting demographics and technology are all transformative agents in 2020, and each will shape real estate and design well into the next decade. Some, such as outdoor living, are not new, while others, including the importance of ancillary spaces or a desire for slightly smaller but highly customized homes, are just getting underway. Farmhouse is out; contemporary, along with modern interpretations of traditional styles, is finding favor with architects and home buyers. Attitudes about what’s important in a home beyond an open floorplan, and even the open concept itself, are being reconsidered and revised. Color is back. Experts tell us the passion for grey and all-white kitchens is waning, although in practice designers also say neutrals still dominate.
Got all of that?
Even the term “move-up buyer” has a new meaning. “Move up doesn’t necessarily mean move into a bigger home as it did for previous generation,” explains Leigh Spicher, national director of design studios for Ashton Woods. “Today’s move up buyers expect quality and are willing to invest in special features in their home.” For upscale owners, preferences are likely to lean toward diversification in favor of several properties in different locations rather than a large estate home.
Each year, The Best in American Living program (BALA), an annual design competition held by the National Association of Home Builders, showcases award-winning design and architecture and pinpoints current and growing trends. Awards this year, based on homes built in 2019, showcased a range of styles from midcentury modern to transitional to contemporary expressions rooted in traditional styles or regional aesthetics.
Another change, according to Don Ruthro , principal at Dahlin Group Architecture Planning and this year’s judging chair, is more homes with the same style inside and out, which he says conveys a greater sense of authenticity.
Even in production homes architects are pushing for more character and uniqueness with thoughtful, well edited design elements. Well edited, according to BALA, means a genuine purpose of place and points of interest that draw the eye across the facade without all of the fussiness of past decades.
Curated design details are another design trend BALA judges highlight. “It’s clear that buyers want their home to feel personalized to their taste. From ceiling textures to shelving choices to mullion size. Every detail matters, and today’s educated buyers won’t settle for anything less,” they explain.
Other trends play into the desire for personalization. Anything that adds texture is on trend, especially wallpaper. Also enhancing personalization are unique applications of wood to highlight forms and also warm up interiors. Compared to prior years, the use of wood, often a dark hue with a matt fi nish, mixed with other surfaces, was very much in evidence in homes, new and remodeled, constructed to showcase current trends at the International Builders Show. Adding to the depth created by an overlay of textures in a home is the use of mixed metal finishes, with gold tones very much in evidence.
No facets of design are left to chance or convenience, even lighting. “Like other design details, just installing what’s on hand without added thought about placement just won’t fly with the 2020 buyer,” further advise BALA judges. Curated design details, personalized lighting design and texture were all highlighted as trends buyers can expect to see in homes over the next few years.
Even though kitchen, great room and dining — casual or formal — combined into a central living space continues to dominate, how that space is organized and expressed in an overall fl oorplan is slowly evolving. “Open space plans for the family room, kitchen, and dining area are still going strong. Our challenge in open plans is how to defi ne each space and give it some separation while still maintaining the overall open feel,” says Chicago designer Donna Mondi.
In California, designer Christine Markatos Lowe says the open plan is going strong, and perhaps the biggest change has been the addition of a second functional space to kitchens. For higherpriced homes, the presence of a back kitchen, whether a full-blown kitchen, a large walk in pantry or a butler’s pantry, has become a must have, central to keeping the main kitchen streamlined and clutter free.
Colorful kitchens? Maybe.
Examples at the national kitchen and bath industry show refl ected forecasts calling for color to punch up kitchens. Dark blues and earthy greens combined with wood finishes often clad lower cabinets and islands. Still, a number of designers express reservations regarding too much color. Wood cabinets continue to be on trend, mixed with other finishes.
“There has been a shift back into furniture-style cabinetry, exposed appliances (there’s always a place for LaCornue!), and especially statement marble countertops. European influences have made their way into the modern kitchen and I couldn’t be happier,” adds Mondi.
Another trend in renovations, Lowe says, is to open sightlines so rooms feel more connected to each other but still have their own language. “So it’s a combination of both things we’re seeing.”
“The main living spaces are getting bigger and more integrated with each other, but a good architect will design in such a way so they feel like individual spaces even though it’s part of one room,” says Bob Zuber, AIA, who is a partner at Morgante Wilson Architects in Evanston, Illinois.
Tricked Out Extras
Chances are what makes a house special for most buyers is not the number of bedrooms or even a great open plan but extras, what K. Tyler, also a partner and head of Interior Design at Morgante Wilson, dubs ancillary spaces. From tricked out mudrooms and laundry rooms to glass-enclosed wine rooms to pantries and second kitchens, what might be extras are essentials to buyers often shaping a unique living experience and often tilting them in favor of a certain house or floorplan. Offices, dens and studies will continue to be important additions to open plans. Nine times out of 10, homes with these features are going to be preferred over ones that just have big rooms, says Tyler.
Signature front entries are also gaining prominence. Expect to see continued emphasis on front entries. Foyers are designed to be functional but also to make a dazzling first impression.
Preferences for these features and quality over square footage extend to a range of price brackets. According to the National Association of Home Builders annual survey of buyer preferences, more buyers overall are likely to choose less square foot but higher quality homes with desirable features such as large walk-in master closets and energy efficient windows and lighting over large homes with fewer features.
Innovative materials continue to be important change agents. Consider outdoor living, one of the most transformative trends of the last decade. The modest pool and patio is now an array of open air venues and outdoor rooms. Pools and fire features are equally artful and functional. Rather than just an amenity tacked on to the house, outdoor connections are now the main orientation and organizing element for plans. Transitions between the two are hardly noticeable thanks to new materials and finishes, extending flooring beyond interiors. Master bedrooms morph into full blown retreats with their own outdoor spaces.
Innovative plans further bring green spaces deep into the home via interior courtyards. Expect to see more ways to bridge inside with outside as the decade progresses. Most recently, super large panes of glass and larger glass doors, further enhance visual connections and light-filled interiors. In most regions of the country, an indoor/outdoor sync is considered a “must have” for luxury, and there are no indications the penchant for outdoor connections will diminish. Among BALA trends, expansive largeformat windows along with sophisticated indoor/outdoor connections figured prominently.
Thinking Long Term
Beginning with the recovery, the tenure of homeownership increased. Instead of the 4.21-year average, typical from 2000 to 2007, ownership extended to 8 years or longer, hitting a record high in the end of 2018, with some cities — Boston, San Francisco and Hartford — charting tenures of 10 years or more. Whether or not this is a trend worth watching or simply a blip on the charts remains to be seen, but it is a solid indicator of changing attitudes toward home that spills over into design, interiors, even furnishings. Increasingly owners in almost all price brackets are thinking long term and lifestyle when it comes to their homes.
Resale seems to have moved to the back burner. Instead, consumers look for features and fi nishes that uniquely sync with and enhance their lifestyle. “I would say people are tailoring the house more specifically towards they way they want to live,” explains Zuber, noting sometimes those same features will also enhance resale.
According to Ashton Woods’ 2020 design trends survey, 86 percent of today’s buyers said home personalization is important.
Another indication of consumers anticipating longer ownership is growing interest in fl exible spaces and also in accommodating a range of ages. The term flexible spaces is taking on a new meaning. Instead of extra footage for a mancave or teen hangout, it’s viewed as versatile rooms that can change over time, explains Spicher. Perhaps a nursery today and a home o ce tomorrow. Or as many owners (55 percent in Ashton Woods Design survey) say, space that can transform into additional living space in the future for an aging family member or boomerang children.
More clients even in the 40s are looking to use the house when they are older and are planning to these accommodations with wider doors and space for an elevator shaft, say Tyler and Zuber.
Smart Home Challenges
In the next decade, smart home technology will change homes more than any other factor. Already new homes beyond a certain price point include a range of apps and devices, particularly in the kitchens, where manufacturers are already adding connections among appliances such as the hood with a range top. Also, voice control. Some brands also incorporate technology that enables some repairs to be made remotely. “What’s exciting is that every passing second, we get one step closer to a context-aware smart home. Manufacturers are pushing the boundaries. Developments in the areas of sensing technology and AI will result in appliances, fi xtures and systems that automatically respond and adapt to our home and environment changes,” says Kate Bailey, senior director of Category Management at Ferguson Enterprises.
“It’s not so much about new things as it is about things getting smaller, faster, lighter better integrated, so they get to the point where smart becomes livable and something you want to put in your homes,” says Melissa Morman, client experience officer at Builders Digital Experience.
Looking ahead, the key, the most transformative feature will be the development of an operating system that will integrate diverse function which will enhance integration and connection of devices and enable a home to further adapt to changing conditions.
Also on the horizon is a desire for homes to be a nurturing center for wellness, a capability that will be enhanced by new technology.
With approximately 445 feet of water frontage, this property is set on 4.3 acres in Grosse Point Shores, Michigan and showcases panoramic views of Lake St. Clair.
The mid-century modern main house features four bedrooms and a heated terrace. Most of the main rooms have beautiful views of the lake. The house has been expanded and undergone extensive renovations to create what is now a 5,490 square foot home. The charming mid-century modern ranch style was retained and the great room features a stunning wood-paneled cathedral ceiling, two fireplaces, and floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, which provide fantastic views of the lake. The open floor plan, along with the skylights, allows the home to be filled with even more natural light. The master bedroom suite includes two baths, an office and a walk-in closet.
The current owner purchased the adjacent property, which was then razed to create the gigantic 4.3-acre lot on the water. The property also includes a charming guest cottage with lake views and a quaint 1,065-square-foot farmhouse with two bedrooms, plus an additional carriage house.
The estate, listed for $9.5 million by Kay Agney of Higbie Maxon Agney Realtors, is one of the largest estates in Grosse Pointe — and the scenic home is the ideal place to lead a quiet life, surrounded by trees, with a perfect view of lake St. Clair.
Photo courtesy of Kay Agney.
All photos courtesy Horticus Living.
Having a large collection of plants is amazing, but it can get a little crowded with our floor space disappearing pretty quickly. This is particularly true for city dwellers.
43 percent of Londoners live in a flat, the most of any region in the UK, promoting the move of our gardening skills to our balconies and our living rooms. With the mean average UK one-bedroom home being 46 square meters ( or 495 square feet), according to Riba, space is one of the issues these horticulturalists face.
By focusing on a desire to nurture carefully grown fauna, UK company Horticus Living has rethought the living wall, made it more flexible, and kept the practice of cultivation while keeping a minimalistic lifestyle.
Horticus is a modular living wall system that can grow in keeping with your botanical demands. You choose the size and layout according to your preference and it doesn’t have to be all plants either. Use an empty planter for mementoes or select from pods with different functions.
You can grow your living wall at your own pace. There is no need to get a lot of plants straight away to have the impact.
Horticus Living’s small kit consists of 1 powder coated steel frame and 3 terracotta planters and can add a touch of jungle to a bathroom, bring fresh herbs to a kitchen and a sense of calm to a living room. Planters are made from terracotta and can be lifted in and out of the frame. Even better, the planters can be watered from above through a grid of watering holes.
The combination of powder coated frame with terracotta brings a natural feel to interiors while offering a fantastic contrast to the greenery.
Designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, this estate in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania, sits on a sloping hillside, nearly invisible from the road.
The main home is grand without being grandiose, a quiet elegance that offers multiple experiences. Features within include two entertainment patios, a two-story library, four bedrooms, three full and 1 half baths, and a private office in the master suite. There are many fine details throughout, including five wood-burning fireplaces, a circular staircase, a custom light tower in the foyer. granite countertops and a kitchen island.
As one turns down a pea-gravel drive past a series of perfectly placed pines and hemlocks, a sharp 120-degree turn to the west reveals a remarkable village-like cluster of five buildings on the left with the barn across the drive. From the moment you turn down the drive, there is a sense of calm discovery. “Good architecture doesn’t really over-power its surroundings, it makes the site look better,” said Jacobsen.
The property is listed by J. Scott Laughlin of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox and Roach for $1.295 million.
A star property itself, this private estate offers incredible attention to detail and elegant interiors that exude sophistication.
Patrick Fogarty of Hilton & Hyland represented the buyers, German national Ekkehart Hassels-Weiler and his new husband Omar Romero, who were eager to acquire this unique home. Fogarty says the home was on the market for less than a month and bought in under four.
Externally, the home is almost mysterious at first glance, as the long driveway affords complete privacy from the street. That mystery transitions into pure awe once the house is in full view, as Fogarty says the home’s proportions and classic design give it a grand feel that enhances with every meticulous detail. “The style is timeless rather than of the moment,” he says, adding that the overall aesthetic is tasteful yet opulent.
Built and developed by the seller, British property developers Ian and Richard Livingston, the estate greets visitors with a graceful motor court that features both trees and fountains. The front doors open to a striking grand entry with 30-foot ceilings and walls of marble, all opening up to a grand staircase and detailed floor plan. A strong yet beautiful harmony is felt in every room, from the dramatic kitchen to the tasteful master bedroom and baths. Interestingly, Fogarty notes that though “the home is grand in scale, [it] still manages to feel like a home.” Other features of this estate include a master wing, gym, theater, guesthouse, staff quarters and bocce court. The expansive backyard also boasts an ozone pool that highlights the perfect California indoor-outdoor lifestyle.
Only approximately five minutes from Rodeo Drive, the 8-bedroom, 11-bath home remarkably reflects a sense of tranquility and serenity, allowing the new owners to relax with complete privacy. The blend of rich landscaping and natural materials, such as stones, wood, steel, and brass, also enrich its character and depth, making it a true sanctuary.
Photos by Berlyn Photography 2019.
Maroon Bells ASPEN / COLORADO
Photo: Vkoulampet / wikimedia commons
Originally named for the abundance of aspen trees in the area, Aspen’s abundance has grown exponentially in terms of luxury, from fine restaurants and world-renowned ski resorts to some of the most artistic and culturally stimulating experiences. These aspects and more are appealing to buyers and continue to shape Aspen’s diverse, high-end lifestyle.
Though the market is plentiful with a large inventory of luxury property options, the Aspen market is finite due to local and state development rules that restrict building in certain areas of the town, according to Craig Morris of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. “Supply and demand are always in favor of our sellers,” he says, but adds that what people want is nearly always achievable. These demands result in an interesting balance of both classic, historic homes with original architecture, and newer construction primarily built on “teardown” properties.
This interweaving of old and new structures is special to Aspen, says Carrie Wells of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, as it further adds to the character of the town and continues to bring in affluent buyers seeking luxury amenities. She notes that particularly in downtown Aspen, the “core,” new residential developments are not permitted and current properties have become more valuable. Wells, and other agents like Robert Ritchie of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, say buyers have grown to cultivate lifestyles in Aspen to fit their own needs. Bespoke estates are either renovated internally, increasing their worth, or new homes are being built more beautiful and upscale than the last. Though Aspen seems to be constantly changing, Ritchie says changes help “shine it up” and ultimately makes the town look good.
And truly, “looking good” is an understatement when considering the luxury and culture that exist in every corner of the city. From an exclusive G650 club and top-rated restaurants to a variety of world-class ski resorts and outdoor amenities, Aspen’s elite can find their true home in a place like this. Whether you hit the slopes or visit the Aspen Music Festival every year, Aspen is a place that can fit any lifestyle, which to buyers is often a priority. “We live in our own little fantasy world and people often suggest that living here is not ‘the real world,’” Morris says. “It’s the ‘real world’ to those that decide to put living and lifestyle at the top of their list, and when they do, they never look back.”
Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate
Page 54 & H&E 161
©istockphoto.com / ClaudioVentrella
While the pace of wealth creation may be slowing, the story now is how it’s spreading around the globe.
“The increasingly footloose nature of wealth.” That’s how global consultancy Knight Frank characterizes today’s trend in affluence. When it comes to real estate, all it takes is a quick look at the worldwide activity of major brands to see a clear illustration of this concept.
The locations of new affiliates of Sotheby’s International Realty in recent months include Oklahoma City, Arkansas and Kansas, along with Cyprus, Slovakia and Qatar. Qatar is the second location in the Middle East for Sotheby’s. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has extended its reach to global hubs, partnering with major firms in Europe and the Middle East. Now, they count Berlin, London, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona, Dubai and Frankfort in their network. Coldwell Banker has offices in 49 countries. Luxury Portfolio International, the luxury arm of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, has affiliates in more than 70 countries.
“The fact that the world is becoming smaller and smaller, the speed of information flow, and travel contribute to people’s interest in owning properties elsewhere, both for Americans and foreign nationals,” explains Joyce Rey, executive director, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
Markets may go through cycles and new partnerships emerge, but the foundation of global real estate hasn’t changed. “The luxury buyer understands that one of the best, if not the best, investments they can make is property,” explains Michael Jalbert, executive vice president, Global Field Operations for HSF Affiliates, the parent company of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
Chatter regarding a potential recession might form a smokescreen, but wealth creation will continue to be a constant, according to Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report, which forecasts a rise, over the next five years, of 22 percent in the number of individuals whose net worth exceeds $30 million, a group often classified as Ultra High Net Worth, UHNW. Over the next year, existing UHNW, especially in the U.S., expect their wealth to increase.
When Rey began her career in the 1970s, foreign buyers were a rarity, especially in Southern California. Today, she says, the percentage of foreign buyers purchasing ultra-luxury properties, those priced above $20 million, has remained pretty steady. “Usually it waffles between about 20 percent to 25 percent. And that hasn’t changed over the years.” For the first nine months of 2019, foreign buyers accounted for 31 percent of purchases of $20-million plus residences in Los Angeles’ tony west side.
Rey was one of the first to reach outside U.S. borders to forge connections. After the increase of Japanese buyers in 1980s, she traveled to Japan to meet one-on-one with agents and potential buyers. “I feel if a quarter of your buying population is foreign, you should be reaching out to the foreign market,” she says.
Bob Hurwitz, founder and president of the Hurwitz James Company (HJC), was also on the leading edge of the global outreach. “In the early 90s, I recognized that the buyers for my highest-priced properties were more and more often originating from overseas. This was actually before the Internet was even a reality for marketing purposes. As a result, I started focusing a significant percentage of my marketing to exposing my listings here in the states to affluent foreign buyers.” He also created a network of HJC representatives to promote his listings overseas. Currently, Hurwitz represents nearly $3 billion in luxury properties and developments worldwide.
Even those who work in the global arena today are occasionally surprised by the geographic diversity of investors and buyers. “One stat that recently jumped out at me is Aruba is home to 90-plus nationalities and ethnic groups, which I thought was fascinating,” shares Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International. “One of our affiliates there also pointed out that many of their buyers are coming from India.”
And this isn’t an isolated instance. Indian buyers are cropping up in many other primary and second-home locations, including Portugal. Among foreign buyers in the U.S., India ranks third after China and Canada. India is expected to lead the five-year growth in Asia’s ultra-high net worth population with a 39 percent increase, followed by the Philippines (38 percent) and China (35 percent).
Increasingly, the ultra-wealthy are not necessarily tied to one country or one region. Approximately, 26 percent plan to emigrate in the next year. Already, more than a third hold a second passport and 22 percent plan to buy outside their country of residence, according to Knight Frank.
However, 2018 saw only a marginal increase (0.8 percent) in the size of the ultra-wealthy population, which Wealth X describes as a “marked slowdown” from the year earlier. The combined net worth of the ultra-wealthy declined 1.7 percent, the first annual fall in three years, according to Wealth X. However, it’s important to view these changes in context, because 2017 saw dynamic wealth creation with double-digit growth in the number of ultra-wealthy and impressive gains in asset markets.
The global outlook this year is nuanced. Rising interest rates and the end of quantitative easing means we are reaching the end of super-charged returns on everything from classic cars to art and property, according to Knight Frank. Government policies continue to transition as some countries seek to attract wealth, with a record number offering citizenship and residency through policies regarding investment, while others restrict outflows of capital. Others, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK will continue to make it more difficult for wealthy non-residents to purchase properties.
Looking ahead, expectations are for slower price growth in key markets. But, as with any correction, a shift in values is an opportunity to which buyers respond, something that is already happening in London, where agents see a potential turnaround, particularly for higher-priced properties, underway.
“London’s general property market has experienced a slowdown and fall in housing prices. That said, the luxury property market is certainly bottoming out and we are experiencing buyers returning to the market, which is demonstrated by our revenues being up 146 percent year on year,” says Martin Bikhit, managing director at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co.
“Given all the uncertainty of Brexit, values in London have come down significantly. It’s a buyers’ market,” says Jalbert.
The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to sterling makes the value equation even more appealing. “American buyers have been able to take advantage of savings up to 45 percent compared to the 2014 peak of the market. U.S. buyers believe that the market is going to spike post-Brexit and there is now an opportunity to buy competitively. Indeed, this is illustrated by the fact that American hedge funder Ken Griffin was the buyer behind two of London’s most expensive property transactions within the past year,” according to Bikhit, who calls this surge a “pre-Brexit boom.”
Hurwitz sees luxury penthouses in many traditional hot markets, including London, as good opportunities for buyers, since those prices have seen a big decline. Other recommendations in Europe include France as well as Tuscany, which, he says, has an appeal that transcends the strictly financial. “Finding something totally renovated in an authentic manner is key.”
A flat or pied-à-terre in Paris has become a rite of passage for Americans, says Anton, noting reports of particular interest coming from Silicon Valley. Paris is one of the bright spots in Europe, placing third on Knight Frank’s list of the
fastest-growing luxury markets.
“France and Italy are still two of our top locations and our offices are expanding in numbers and experiencing a very solid claim in the market,” says Craig Hogan, vice president, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
Berlin is Europe’s rising star. It has topped Urban Land Institute’s list of markets to watch in Europe for four years in a row, and currently ranks second after Madrid on rankings of the fastest-growing luxury real estate markets. Luxury residential here is a small but vibrant niche, with the number of privately owned apartments selling above 1 million euros growing by 17.5 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Stefan Schulze, COO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate, says, “If Berlin succeeds in further expanding its potential in scientific and culture fields and remains one of the influential centers in Europe, it can be deemed certain that not only the number of premium new development projects but also the quality of luxury real estate will continue to grow sharply.”
Global Buyers in the U.S.
From the perspective of foreign buyers in the U.S., Hurwitz says, the market has changed multiple times over the last few years, fueled by factors as diverse as the attitude and oversight of a foreign buyer’s own government regarding money leaving their country, to crushing economic changes in their country of origin, to U.S. government restrictions on shell companies buying, to various others. Hurwitz says, “I still believe the U.S. is a safe bet and I am telling my clients to buy here.”
During the 12 months from April 2018 to March 2019, global purchases of U.S. properties fell sharply, with purchases declining by 36 percent. The dollar volume as well as the average price also declined. Rather than lack of interest from potential buyers, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, cites what he calls “a confluence of factors — slower economic growth abroad, tighter capital controls in China, a stronger U.S. dollar and a low inventory of homes for sale.”
John Smaby, NAR president, adds, “There is still significant interest in U.S. properties across the globe, and the U.S. is still seen as a safe, secure place to invest.”
©istockphoto.com / _ultraforma_
©istockphoto.com / mammuth
©istockphoto.com / Givaga
©istockphoto.com / SeanPavonePhoto
Global Bright Spots
Along with real estate professionals from over 27 countries, Stephanie Anton recently returned from her company’s international conference in Athens. “It was thrilling to hear and see firsthand about so many bright spots in the market,” she says, including places where property markets were hard hit by political and financial turmoil during the recession. “One that was particularly obvious was our host city itself. The optimism of the Greek people was palpable.”
Both Spain and Portugal are seeing an influx of buyers and a surge in sales. Both suffered during the recession and are experiencing a strong turnaround.
“I think there is a sentiment of Europeans kind of holding their breath and waiting to see what happens with Brexit. But yet, there are also bright spots and the bright spots are more of those second-home markets because they’re lifestyle purchases. And so people are less concerned about the economic impact of Brexit because of making decisions on purchasing second or third homes,” Anton observes.
Some of the strongest luxury markets this year have been in resort locales. San Miguel de Allende continues to rank at the top of best cities and second-home destinations. “Our typical luxury buyers are investors looking for properties to take advantage of the lucrative vacation rental market, or shopping for their second or third vacation homes,” says Nancy Howze, with CDR San Miguel.
“Upscale consumers tend to have a broad world view,” says Jalbert. “They understand markets and are attracted to a range of places. Buyers in different parts of Europe are looking for a weather change, so it’s no surprise to see the resurgences of locations along Costa Del Sol and Portugal.” Jalbert adds that almost 100 percent of the luxury transactions in their eight offices in Portugal are from buyers outside the country. “It’s just an incredibly enchanted place where they have beautiful properties, but where there has also been significant investment in infrastructure,” he says.
One thing that has remained constant across the globe is the attitude of the elite regarding buying. Some of the highest sales in the last year can be tracked to global buyers, according to Hogan. “They will spend the money but need to know it’s a wise decision.”
On tablescapes, in kitchens and baths, garden and great rooms, green seems to be having a moment.
Photo courtesy of marvin Windows and Doors
Extensive windows and doors link to greenery outside and bring nature inside.
©istockphoto.com / martinwimmer
Photo JORDAN STEAD / Amazon
Not too long ago, it was difficult to spy even a vestige of green in a room. Today, it’s almost impossible to find new interior scheme without a spark of green. “We’re seeing emerald green used on everything from walls to cabinetry to tile and even lighting,” observes Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams.
Green hues, especially deep vibrant shades, seem to be everywhere along with living greenery and plants. But rather than a fleeting color preference, the passion for green might also be the first sprouts, indications of a more transformative movement — biophilic design — edging into residential design and architecture.
Biophilia, according to consultants Terrapin Bright Green, refers to humankind’s innate biological connection with nature. Although social psychologist Eric Fromm first coined the phrase “biophilia,” the concept wasn’t popularized until the 1980s when biologist Edward O. Wilson took up the mantle. Biophilic design introduces natural elements, organic forms, light and water into the built environment. Research shows integrating natural elements increases productivity, enhances creativity and improves mental health. “We’re getting evidence-based design, especially in the healthcare industry, that just by having a view of the outside a patient recovers quicker and requires less medication and attention after surgery,” observes Miami designer B. Pila.
“The use of green in home interiors is picking up steam,” explains Stephanie Pierce, director of design for MasterBrand Cabinets. “There are a variety of shades cropping up today, particularly in the kitchen and bath from deep emeralds to soft sages and dark ivies. Deep, moody hues are making a bold impact on these spaces. The effect is as cozy as a warm blanket.”
“Touches of rich, verdant green can make it feel as though you’ve escaped to the outdoors and are soaking up the invigorating effects of nature — without even leaving your home,” shares Wadden.
“With the growing interest in wellbeing in all aspects of our lives, including the home, people are using nature-inspired lush greens to bring comfort into spaces,” explains Christine Marvin, director of corporate strategy and design at Marvin Windows and Doors. “Emerald green is a bold color that perfectly balances glamour with calmness, evoking a sense of relaxation and inspiration.”
Three spherical conservatories forested with more than 40,000 plants and trees allow Amazon employees to work while surrounded by nature.
Photo courtesy of sherwin-williams
Green, whether an accent or main course, is a mainstay on design menus.
Until recently, biophilic principles were utilized primarily in commercial structures, and the inclusion of nature — living plants, park-like oases, organic forms, natural materials including wood and stone, water and light — is revamping corporate settings including Amazon, Apple and Google. Last year, Amazon’s long-awaited biophilic project, The Spheres, opened on the site of its original headquarters. The three glass and steel domes are forested with more than 40,000 plants. Along with plants and a four-story-tall green wall, there are waterfalls, a river, walkways and meeting spaces. Hotels and other commercial spaces are implementing biophilic design practices but with more modest expressions.
For residential buildings, the addition of natural elements and connections with the outside has been an ongoing evolution, partially in response to consumer attitudes rather than a dedication to biophilia. Designers are just catching on. “Consumers are more educated in wanting healthier lifestyle choices,” says Angela Harris, creative director and principal of TRIO, an award-winning interior design firm in Denver.
Current residential design merges indoors and out, organic and humanmade, using visual and real connections. The integration of outdoor spaces is a response to consumer lifestyle demands, but the end result potentially delivers the cognitive, psychological and physiological benefits biophilia advocates tout.
“We’ve noticed an increase in demand for bigger windows over the past five years, as more people want to feel connected to the world around us while we’re indoors,” comments Marvin. “In a world that’s become fast paced and where our living and workspaces are merging, letting light in allows us to feel alive and connected to space outside our homes. Incorporating large windows into the home plays a significant role in achieving this ‘outdoors in’ feel and connecting to nature. We’re also seeing a pull towards large window walls, or many windows that are mulled together to create a wall of light that heightens the experience of light in a home.”
It may seem biophilia is just another quick moving fad, but more than one organization is promoting the concept and actively formulating certifications for buildings under the auspices of groups such as the International Living Future Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit that encourages sustainable practices and wellness. In 2016, a cadre of architects, builders and researchers formed the Biophilic Design Initiative to further the movement. Biophilia is also part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s WELL Building Standard.
Whether or not biophilia will exert a long-term influence on design remains to be seen, but there is a good chance wellness and nature will be an important aspect of design’s new normal.