Luxurious Mansion on the Market in St. Croix

Miramar is luxurious mansion in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, in a private estate located in the most extraordinary seafront setting perched on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

The estate is custom designed to integrate comfort and elegance, with coral columns and marble flooring throughout. The impressive great room features a lavish living room, gourmet kitchen, formal bar and dining areas.

The property, listed for $8.9 million by Amy Land-de Wilde of Coldwell Banker St. Croix Realty, also includes a studio apartment, 1-car garage and a 2-car garage. A luxurious seaside mansion.

Combining island chic and luxury beachfront living in San Salvador, Bahamas, this ultra-private, 35,000-square-foot property boasts 400 feet of private white-sand beach. 

“This home, feels like a private get away,” says listing agent Margaret Glynatsis of Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty.

“From the keyless entree pads, remote-controlled air conditioner and lighting system and the positioning of the home — with slight elevations allowing for most rooms to look out into the horizon — no thought or detailed was overlooked.” 

With 3,200 square feet of living space, this home features an open-concept floor plan with 12-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, two beds, two baths and a master bedroom with a floating bathtub, shower, double vanity, walk-in closet, office space and balcony looking out into the turquoise ocean. 

“My favorite room of the home is the master bedroom as it includes 1,500 square feet dedicated to pure luxury and comfort,” says Glynatsis. “The really unique and stunning feature here is the stand alone tub in the center of the room with views of the never-ending ocean.” The home, listed for $1.499 million, is complete with a wrap around deck just steps away from the beach. “This beachfront oasis is perfect for someone looking to live off the grid, but still have access to every day modern amenities,” says Glynatsis. “San Salvador itself is a hidden gem that most people have yet to discover — the land is full of undulating hills, beautiful beaches, numerous salt water lakes, and amazing reefs that surround the greater part of the island.”

With 54 feet of beachfront, this lakefront home in Vernon, British Columbia is ideal for entertaining — it features a dock, boat lift, outdoor living spaces and two full kitchens.

Inside, details include open-concept living, vaulted ceilings, granite countertops hardwood floors and a covered deck with outdoor gas fireplace and views of Okanagan Lake. The lower floor includes waterfront living at its best with in-floor heating, a wine cellar, summer kitchen, outside shower and large walk-out patio with outdoor gas fireplace and built in barbecue.

Guests are always welcome, as the house has a self-contained 3-bedroom casita above the garage with lake views and a private deck,” says listing agent Norm Brenner of Coldwell Banker Four Seasons Real Estate, who is listing the home for $2.95 million. “It is ideal for those that want to entertain or anyone that has extended family.”

“Cap Blanc Ibiza” is in one of Spain’s most desired locations on the island — Cap Martinet, Talamanca.

The exclusive private residence of nine luxury villas was designed so each home ensures the privacy and seclusion of its owners.

“It is just a short drive to the world’s best nightlife, and some of the most spectacular white-sand beaches you can imagine,” says Richard Lacey of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Blue Moon who is representing the property. “Ibiza is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.”

The home showcases stunning architecture inspired by contemporary, Brazilian design — a work of a team of leading Dutch and Spanish architects that create these properties where outdoors and indoors merge and flow.

Notable features include floor-to-ceiling windows and large doors that provide unobstructed views of the sea and the island of Formentera. “The lounge for me is the best spot, high ceilings with lots of light, ideal for entertaining,” says Lacey.  

Listed for 3.75 million euros, the home also features 600 square meters of living space over three floors, five en-suite bedrooms, open-space fully equipped kitchen, incredible sea views, private garden with spacious swimming pool, private garage, state-of-the-art security, additional service kitchen, fitness room and sauna, and a wine cellar. There is also an optional private movie theater and separate accommodation for staff. The nine residences that make up Cap Blanc Ibiza offer unparalleled amenities and facilities for those seeking a place to relax in comfortable luxury. 

Restored and refurbished, this immaculate residence in Dublin, Ireland spans over 492 square meters. 

“The attention to detail is phenomenal,” says listing agent Karen Mulvaney of Coldwell Banker Ireland. “There are pictured buttons on the light panels that represent scenes and moods. The current owners have thought of everything.”

Features of the home include a cinema, wine room, bar, gym, playroom, office and formal drawing room. “The drawing room is magnificent and made for a family Christmas,” says Mulvaney. “And, the large open plan kitchen/dining/living room is truly the heart of this home.”

The home, listed for 3.25 million euros, also offers a master suite with walk-in wardrobes and an en suite bath, and a garden that is landscaped to allow sunlight into different areas throughout the day.

“This is the perfect period home, without the maintenance, as it’s been future-proofed with technology, even though it was built sometime after 1780,” says Mulvaney.

ACTRESS, AUTHOR AND ENTREPRENEUR SUZANNE SOMERS AND HER HUSBAND ALAN HAMEL HAVE LISTED THEIR ONE-OF-A-KIND, 72-ACRE HILLSIDE RETREAT IN PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA.

The couple, who have owned this expansive mountainside compound since the late 1970s, are listing it at $9.5 million and have selected Ron Parks of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty and Scott Lyle of Douglas Elliman Real Estate to co-list the one-of-a-kind property.

“Alan and I have finally decided to let go of our compound,” says Somers. “It’s been our private paradise; our L.A. getaway for so many years; our kids grew up here. We love entertaining on the grounds; our friends fly in from all over for a surprising south of France experience in Palm Springs. We’re changing things up a bit now and have purchased a Steve Chase-designed mid-century modern home on the other side of town. We don’t need 70-plus acres anymore; time for a new journey.”

Scattered across the main courtyard area are five buildings with 7,200 square feet of private living space, including five fully appointed bedroom suites (one of which is The Rock House by iconic architect Albert Frey), a pool house, a two-bedroom caretaker quarters, and an outdoor amphitheater carved into the mountain that seats 50 and has a dance floor that doubles as a yoga and meditation area, and offers a pool, spa, hiking trails and natural waterfall that spills down the hillside.

The compound is reachable by a private funicular, on foot or by golf cart via a private road. In the late ’70s, Somers and Hamel moved to the property as a weekend retreat; it was a safe haven, very private and an escape from their public life in L.A. Eventually, it became their permanent residence.

There have only been three owners in 100 years including the Hamels. “That says it all about this unique mountainside compound,” adds Somers.

Photos courtesy of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty.

This fantastic Mediterranean villa showcases stunning views of the Catalan coastal sea in exclusive of Punta Brava, in Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain in one of the most beautiful places of the Costa Brava. The property offers total privacy and a very impressive panoramic views of the coast.

Enter the home by the garage, which has an elevator to the solarium terrace with a bar and spectacular views. Going down, the third floor features a suite, a suite with a dressing room plus distributor room, a master suite with office, full bathroom and large dressing room with access to the garden. All suites showcase terrace and sea views.

Descending to the second floor, there are two suites, one with access to garden, living room with fireplace, and kitchen — all with access to the outside and spectacular views. Traveling to the first floor, it includes a cellar, electrical equipment room, gym, sauna, Turkish bath, and a cinema room with access to the private pool with a wooden platform. Additionally, there is an apartment for service with kitchen, living room, one double bedroom and one bathroom with shower. The garage can hold up to four cars.

The house, listed for 7.5 million euros by Coldwell Banker Prestige Begur, was built in 2012 with a modern design and high quality materials. It has a constructed area of 1,110 square meters on a 1,933-square-meter plot.

FOR YEARS, NEW TECH COMPANIES HAVE BEEN THOUGHT OF AS THE ‘DISRUPTERS’ IN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY. BUT SAVVY REALTORS ARE POSITIONING THEMSELVES AS THE AGENTS OF CHANGE.

The current market shift from buyers to sellers generates the most attention, but the number of sales and pace of price appreciation are only one swell in the wave of transformation rolling through the real estate industry. Technology is typically hailed as the disrupter, but changing demographics, new lifestyle aspirations and evolving buyer preferences are all at play in today’s real estate landscape.

“If you ask anyone that has been in the business more than 10 years, they say ‘here we go again.’  More paperwork, more platforms, more new companies, more new agents. Yet, ultimately real estate is the same. Our clients require handholding, advice, and moral support, deals get negotiated, and transactions finalize or fall apart. Yes, there are slight shifts in the marketplace, but generally, it still functions the same,” shares Lucio Bernal, a broker associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Palm Springs, who is also an expert trainer with the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

What is changing is almost every other aspect of real estate from tools to facilitate broker client relationships to virtual reality apps enabling buyers to envision making a prospective property their own. Increasingly agents are looking to their brokerages to keep pace with technology. “They are leaning on their brokerages, more than ever, to help arm them with tools, from digital marketing to smart, proactive customer relationship management systems (CRMs) that will keep them cutting edge, as well as those they can’t afford to leverage on their own,” says Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International. Additionally, affiliate groups like Luxury Portfolio and major brands have amped up marketing capabilities so agents can easily create a cohesive campaign.

There might be a technology revolution taking place in real estate, but market shifts are reinforcing the importance of the agent. “Technology has always been the present. It’s how you use it that benefits you the most,” shares Bernal. “The perfect example is: If you are dealing with a consumer, they are more likely to use you based on reputation and recognition than whether you know a certain app or technology platform. Technology should be used as a resource and compliment your ability to get face-to-face and maintain contact with a consumer.”

At this time last year, blockchain and the impact of virtual reality and artificial intelligence on real estate were being debated. Today, the chatter is about portals morphing from search engines to places to buy and sell homes, a new classification the industry characterizes as iBuyers. Opendoor, founded in 2013, started the trend, followed by others including Offerpad and Knock. Zillow and Redfin have also introduced iBuying in some markets. iBuyers purchase consumer’s homes outright using analytics that enable them to come up with a price based on the home’s perceived value, usually within days. Unlike homes sought by flippers, these are not troubled properties and offers reportedly are close to the value estimation. Other portals are beefing up offerings for consumers, adding mortgage and title services. Startups such as Purple Bricks offer a new twist on the flat-fee concept.

Investor dollars from venture capital and hedge funds are flowing into real estate, fueling many new ventures, which is another change potentially revamping the industry. “Everyone is investing in technology to disrupt or change real estate,” says Mark Choey, co-founder of Climb Real Estate, a San Francisco brokerage, which was acquired by Realogy’s subsidiary NRT in 2016. The real estate industry is rapidly shifting, and innovation is not just welcome, it’s desperately needed,” said founder Chris Lim, whose background is in marketing. Choey hails from the tech sector. Climb was the first brokerage to work with Matterport and continues to incubate emerging apps and work with new vendors.

ENABLING THE AGENT

Among traditional brokers, Keller Williams and RE/MAX are often noted for new tech initiatives, but almost every brand and national affiliate group is boosting technology offerings and platforms, often through relationships with providers and new tech venders including virtual staging, enhanced CRM and 3D tours and imaging. Technology ultimately benefits consumers, but traditional brands and affiliates say their focus is enabling their agents to do a better job.

“Everything has shifted in many different areas from the brokerage level, the buyer level, who the buyers are, what they are looking for,” says Sally Forster Jones, executive director, Luxury Estates, Compass. “I think there is a shift in the way that brokers are functioning. They are more innovative with more technology and more marketing as opposed to the older traditional real estate firms.

“Consumers care about responsiveness. They care about the fact that if they reach out to an agent, whether it be on their website or mobile app the agents gets back to them instantly, and technology can help with that,” says Marilyn Wilson, founding partner of real estate consultants WAV Group and also a founder of RETechnology.com.

“Technology has always been the present. It’s how you use it that benefits you the most. The perfect example is: If you are dealing with a consumer, they are more likely to use you based on reputation and recognition than whether you know a certain app or technology platform. Technology should be used as a resource and compliment your ability to get face-to-face and maintain contact with a consumer.”

Lucio Bernal

Broker Associate, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Tapped by Google to create a virtual staging app using augmented reality, Sotheby’s added Curate to agent toolboxes last year. Not only can a homeowner visualize a home before buying, but a partnership with a home furnishings company allows potential buyers to virtually furnish the home as well.

“A depth of understanding of what a property has is really important to consumers. The other thing that consumers are responding to online are floorplans,” says Wilson.

GETTING REAL WITH VIRTUAL

In the last year, GeoVC, a tech start-up offering 3D immersive tours and floorplans that can be created using next generation smartphones, integrated virtual staging, exterior 3D scans, and aerial 360-degree panoramas captured with a drone with interior 3D tours. “Outdoor imagery is captured using a regular drone, automatically processed into a 3D model, and integrated together with interior virtual tour. Such an exclusive experience will differentiate luxury properties with beautiful facades and roofs, and spacious lots,” shares Anton Yakubenko, co-founder and CEO of GeoCV.

“Luxury has really turned into personalization now,” comments Thompson. Tools like Curate, RoOomy and virtual staging apps enhance opportunities for personalization. Thompson explains: “Someone can walk into a home and say, ‘not my style,’ but it doesn’t matter because I have the tools that allow me to make it feel like what I want it to be.”

Even Compass, which touts itself as “The first modern real estate platform, paring the

industry’s top talent with technology,” says technology is there to benefit the agent. “Compass is building for the agent. Every program, tool, and service is (created) with the agent in mind. Many of the other real estate technology companies out there are working to improve the consumer experience and not focusing on the agent. We believe that by empowering the agent, consumer experience will be improved,” says Sarah Vallarino, head of West Region Communications at Compass.

“Talking to agents, the message we consistently heard was ‘give us technology,’” says Thompson. “They didn’t necessarily know what that technology was just that they needed it. They understood that the industry was changing, and consumer behavior was changing. They know because they’re the boots on the ground and so they can feel the shift in consumer behavior.”

As markets shift, agents are retooling, once again looking at how they do business and what skills and knowledge will be required. “It’s always either somewhat of a buyer’s market. It’s somewhat of a seller’s market. You just have to have your tools in your tool shed and the mindset to be nimble enough to adjust as you read the tealeaves, ” is Wilson’s suggestion.

“Luxury has really turned into personalization now,” comments Thompson. Tools like Curate, Ro0my and virtual staging apps enhance opportunities for personalization. Thompson explains: “Someone can walk into a home and say ‘not my style,’ but it doesn’t matter to me because I have the tools that allow me to make it feel like what I want it to be.”

AGENT PIVOTS

“Many long-time successful agents are being the clever, resourceful entrepreneurs that they are and changing with the market as the market shifts,” says Anton. “Agents today talk about how much of their time and value derives from being an educator for their clients. They partner with their clients to keep them armed with as much information, insights and insider activity as they can, so when it comes time, for example, for an agent to recommend a price reduction, the client is completely aware of the statistics, days on market, what is moving and what isn’t. Nobody wants to have an overpriced home that is sitting and not selling even in a hot market.”

“Today, clients will attempt to collect their information on their own, perhaps from incorrect sources, so agents report pivoting, now more than ever, to spend a lot of their time educating their clients,” she says.

Regarding slowing sales or price appreciation, Anton says: “I highly recommend agents tell the truth, focus on educating their following/clients, and in the process, let their own voice be heard and be themselves. If the market is cooling, share the stats and manage expectations. It’s not the time to be overly positive and cheery as you will come off inauthentic and salesy. Focus on the facts, insights and provide professional guidance.”

“Agents have to stay on top of what is available to them and the consumer. It is imperative to be able to explain the data, to have polished negotiation skills, and to know when to assist the consumer in processing that information,” says Bernal.  

“Agents should take full advantage of all the resources that the brands they work with provide. The majority of agents won’t, and that has never changed. Those that want an edge in the industry recognize that there is value in resources and take advantage of some of them. For most agents, resources are overwhelming, and therefore don’t take the time to learn and use them,” says Bernal.

Thompson recalls, “We had to dig in and find out what exactly is it that they (agents) need that will make a difference for them in their day-to-day because they think, you know, there are lots of real estate brands that tout themselves as technology companies, but they really don’t have anything really different.”

“Everything has shifted in many different areas from the brokerage level, the buyer level, who the buyers are, what they are looking for. I think there is a shift in the way that brokers are functioning. They are more innovative with more technology and more marketing as opposed to the older traditional real estate firms.”

Sally Forster Jones

Executive Director, Luxury Estates, Compass

EYE ON THE FUTURE

Mark Choey from Climb says, “I think you’re going to see a lot of change in the next year or two,” most likely from many directions. Choey is head of Climb’s Innovation Lab. Having an innovation lab, particularly for a small company, is in itself an innovation. “You’re going to have some business models that are going to evolve, like Opendoor and Knock, that are really going to change the way people buy and sell homes, but it’s not gonna change everything, right. You’re going to have Redfin, Zillow and others come out with tools and things that are going to attempt to either reduce the commission or to simplify to transaction. On the other hand,” he says, “you’re going to see traditional real estate firms arming themselves with technology.”

And while some tout themselves as technology companies, Thompson doesn’t see traditional and technology as being mutually exclusive terms. “You don’t have to be one or the other. People think of Sotheby’s as a heritage brand because we’re been around for close to 300 years now. But a heritage brand can also be tech savvy. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

Looking ahead, Bernal says, “The real estate industry has to take both a broad look and a hyper-local look at where the marketplace is based on data and individual perspectives. We say that real estate is local, yet there are many determining factors that create a web of interconnected behaviors throughout the world of real estate.”

Consider Los Angeles, Manhattan and Miami, where the impact of fewer international buyers extends beyond sales and prices. Post-recession, international buyers became a market force determining  what was being developed, locations and price points. On the West Coast, view properties and contemporary architecture were particularly favored by Asian buyers, and new builds were often geared to these buyers. Now many L.A. buyers, particularly in higher price points, are local or hail from the U.S. and have different expectations of luxury with walkable locations and neighborhoods taking precedence over views. “That’s a shift and it will continue to be a shift because we have a lot of properties coming on the market geared toward that international buyer,” says Jones.

The desire for the ability to walk to shops and restaurants is happening across all price points, according to Jones, and these new preferences are not limited to L.A. Walkability has been associated with urban settings, but increasingly this characteristic is being applied to suburbs, towns and master-planned communities.

Traffic and gridlock also add to new preferences for locations. In the not too distant future, traffic itself may be seen as even more of a disruptor than it is now, changing where people live and property types.

Photo of Lucio Bernal by Cherie Johnson for Moncherie Fotography. Photo of Sally Forster Jones by Lauren Hurt. Photo of Kevin Thompson courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

In the 10 years since the recession, residential real estate, especially in the realm of higher-priced properties, has morphed into a worldwide enterprise.

“There is no question; people have more of a global mindset. They are looking for real estate in places they love,” says Stephanie Anton, president, Luxury Portfolio International, which several years ago adopted the tagline, “We’re global. We’re local.” The phrase aptly characterizes the status of luxury today.

“The saying goes that all real estate is local, but that does not mean that all buyers are,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty in Columbia, Missouri.

Congeliano, Italy

Photo courtesy of Atlante Properties Luxury Portfolio International®

For the industry, the ramifications of globalization extend beyond merely who buys what, where. “Historically, real estate market dynamics were considered a local phenomenon. In the luxury sector, this is no longer the case, as the value drivers for prime property in one corner of the globe increasingly originate from a completely different region of the world,” explained Christie’s International Real Estate in its 2018 report Luxury Defined, noting this trend is most evident in secondary markets — second home and resort lifestyle destinations. In 2017, sales of resort and vacation homes grew by 19 percent compared to 7 percent in 2016.

Buying property outside of one’s home country is nothing new, but, until the 1980s, sales across borders were generally limited to resort enclaves or a pied à terre in Paris, London or New York, along with the occasional trophy property.

Today, rather than a specific location, high-end buyers are likely to search for a particular property type. “Buyers these days are looking in multiple markets. They’re not as geographically contained. So, if they’re looking for a ski chalet, they could be looking at a number of different countries and throughout the Rocky Mountains in the United States,” shares Laura Brady, president and founder of Concierge Auctions, who says her company initially saw indications of this trend with ranch properties, which are very unique. “Clients don’t care specifically which market they’re in; instead, they want the right property.” Founded 10 years ago, Concierge Auctions has a team in Europe and activity in 18 countries.

Perhaps it’s geography, but Americans typically first look within their own borders. On the other hand, Bob Hurwitz, founder and CEO of the Hurwitz James Company, says, “Wealthy foreign buyers are far more likely to be open minded about locations outside their country as their first choice, in my experience. It’s not difficult to understand if you travel a great deal. In many of the countries I visit on business, you will not find many Americans, but you will meet a wide variety of citizens of other countries.”

More than property and search preferences drive the shift toward a global perspective. “There are several factors contributing to the increased globalization of luxury real estate,” shares Anthony Hitt, president and CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas, who cites the rise of digital, social and mobile technologies. “Real estate is not immune to the changing patterns of consumption enabled by technology; clients have more visibility, and therefore interest, into international homes and listings.”

Experts also point to an increasingly global economy, changing work/life balance and how commonplace travel, for both work and pleasure, has become. Craig Hogan, vice president of luxury, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, plans to exchange his primary residence in Chicago for two small condos, one on Michigan Avenue and another in Puerto Vallarta. “Fifteen years ago, my partner and I never would have considered that. Today, we are mobile. Our careers take us all over the world.”

Falmouth, Massachussetts

Photo courtesy of Robert Paul Properties/Luxury Portfolio International®

“With the world that we live in now, it’s less important that you live where your business is or where you do business. So, you’ve got a lot of people just making lifestyle choices. They’re just picking the city that they enjoy the most, and they’re moving there,” shares Mike Leipart, managing partner of The Agency Development Group in Beverly Hills.

Post-Recession Roots

The foundation for today’s international dynamic lies in the early post-recession years. In 2007 and 2008, prices on average fell by approximately 17 percent across the globe. By 2009, 73 percent of the prime property locations surveyed by Knight Frank had experienced declines, and savvy buyers scoured high-end markets worldwide for bargains. At the same time, a growing uptick in wealth and wealth creation brought more buyers to the international market.

Wealth creation continues at the post recession pace, with the number of millionaires worldwide tallying at 22.3 million, according to Wealth X. Those with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million hold 40 percent of the global millionaire wealth, while the remainder is held by the ultra wealthy, those with a net worth in excess of $30 million (Knight Frank pegs the benchmark for ultra wealth at $50 million). From 2012 to 2017, Knight Frank says the number of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW)  individuals increased by 18 percent, followed by another 10 percent gain in 2017.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury estimates 32 million millionaires reside in the U.S. The U.S. remained the dominant nation for wealth in 2017, both among millionaires and the ultra-wealthy, according to Wealth X, although growth of this population and net worth in the U.S. was the lowest among the seven top-ranked countries. Japan was second with an 11-percent rise in the UHNW population, followed by China, Germany, the U.K. and Hong Kong.

Mexico

Photo courtesy of REMexico Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International®

Globally, wealth in 2017 increased in all regions, with both Latin America and Europe showing a resurgence over 2016. “The confidence of foreign buyers is back,” says David Scheffler, president, Engel & Völkers France. “The Parisian luxury market has always attracted wealthy Middle Eastern buyers and continues to do so. Qatari, Kuwaiti, Saudi and Omani clients are looking for outstanding apartments and townhouses, the so called hôtel particulier. The trend to buy luxury properties in Paris is not just reserved for the ultra-wealthy, but applies instead to a wider range of affluent buyers. Some might look for a small 50- or 60-square-meter pied-à-terre, while others look for ‘representative’ apartments in the Haussmann style, up to 12 million euro.”

Over the course of the last 8 to 10 years, cross-boarder buying surged, ramped back, and picked up again. In 2016, global sales of luxury properties retrenched, partially in response to Brexit, government restrictions on wealth and the transfer of money. Markets bounced back in 2017, with sales of $1 million-plus properties up substantially.

Christie’s reports an 11-percent increase in sales, the best annual increase since 2014. Luxury properties sold in 190 days, indicating more realistic pricing in some markets and lack of inventory in others. Exceptions included New York and Miami, which saw an influx of new inventory and a shift in buyer interest. In Toronto and Vancouver, newly introduced cooling measures from the government slowed sales.

“I don’t think there is any indication that they [international buyers] are NOT looking in Manhattan. The indication is that they are either interested in the properties at lower numbers or they prefer to wait the market out and hope to buy when things are at a bottom (I have seen this many times before. It never works!). Nobody is moving to Detroit because they can’t find what they want in New York City,” shares Frederick Warburg Peters, CEO of Warburg Realty. “Russians and Europeans are far scarcer than they were in 2010 or 2011.”

Still, both for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, New York follows Hong Kong as the best city for prime properties.  

Nassau, Bahamas

Photo courtesy of Bahamas Realty/Luxury Portfolio International®

Toronto, Canada

Photo courtesy of Harvey Kalles/Luxury Portfolio International®

Following the recession, a growing body of research focused on wealth and global cities publish multiple rankings. A city’s position may shift slightly, depending on the research, but all reports include the same top locations for luxury properties. Hong Kong places ahead of New York in Christie’s 2017 index, with New York moving up to second, followed by London, Singapore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sydney, Paris, Toronto and Vancouver.

Lower prices pushed Miami just out of the top 10, but the city remains a good example of the change international activity can spark. “The international market has arguably impacted Miami as much or more than any other U.S. market. The influx of capital from Europe, South America, Russia, China and Asia has permanently changed our community. The easiest example is by simply looking at our booming skyline,” says Irving Padron, president and managing broker, Engel & Völkers, Miami.

The highest-priced sale globally was $360 million in Hong Kong, and despite government efforts to curb rising prices, there are no indications of slowing demand for luxury residences here. Also, adding to this market, according to Anton, is continued interest from mainland Chinese buyers.

Numbers Tell the Story

Rather than sales and prices, the best indication of just how global real estate has become can be seen in the expansion of major brands, affiliate groups, and even boutique firms worldwide. “All brands are connected globally,” Hogan observes, adding that even independents need some kind of a global connection. “It’s part of the dynamic,” he says.

Coldwell Banker is in 49 countries. Sotheby’s International Realty network has offices in 72 countries and territories. Luxury Portfolio International and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World lists properties in over 70 countries. Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate’s network includes 130,000 professionals in over 70 countries. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices recently opened franchises in Germany and in London. Bob Hurwitz had already positioned his boutique firm as an international player before the recession. Today, he has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, Shanghai and Singapore.   

A global orientation can also be seen in members of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. There is “an increased focus and intentional approach as they target international buyers through affiliations with brands, networks and associations,” says general manager Diane Hartley. “In fact,” she says, “we have members in many countries outside of North America who are building relationships and sharing business with our members in the U.S. and Canada.”

Whistler, Canada

Photo courtesy of The Whistler Real Estate Co./Luxury Portfolio International

Firms based in Europe also continue to increase their footprint. Founded as a boutique firm in Hamburg, Germany, Engel & Völkers is now in 800 locations in Europe, Asia and the Americas, establishing its first offices in the U.S. in 2007. “We have experienced firsthand the globalization of luxury real estate,” says Hitt.

“For luxury and coastal markets, real estate has absolutely become more global,” shares Leipart. Like a growing number of independent firms, The Agency partners with an international real estate advisory company, Savills, which allows them to sell through 700 offices around the world. Still, he adds, “we are focused on international, kind of connecting the dots around the world as opposed to other cities in the U.S.”

In the luxury world, L.A.’s star continues to rise, and the city in recent years has figured into lists for top global markets. According to the National Association of Realtors, Florida, California and Texas remain the top three destinations for purchases from foreign buyers, followed by Arizona and New York. Still, just under half of all residential transactions for foreign buyers took place in other states. Among buyers, China, Canada, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom account for the most purchases.  

Also, Hogan points out, international buyers in the U.S. aren’t always in luxury markets. For example, Asians love to buy real estate close to a university. Another group looks for locations with smaller downtowns. Still others want a large home with a big yard near a lake or river, something hard to find in their home country.

As Much As Things Change

Even though foreign buying in the U.S. slowed in 2017 compared to prior years and to overall activity worldwide, international buyers still have their sights on the U.S. “It’s all about consumer confidence. As long as people feel that the U.S. economy is in good shape and it’s going in the right direction, they’ll buy real estate,” says Brian Losh, chairman of Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate.

Connections to local markets remain essential.  “I will say a lot of it still happens in a very traditional way. People are either coming to L.A. a lot, either they have a child in school here, or they love the area and they decide to buy a home, and they do that through a local Realtor, regardless of where they come from,” observes Leipart.

Situated between the sea and the mountains in North Chilean Patagonia, this 348,000-acre estate has been recognized as one of the greatest remaining woodlands on earth.

Listed for $150 million by Christie’s International Real Estate with Bórquez & Associates, the  one-of-a-kind property — known as Zona de Los Lagos Andinos — boasts unparalleled natural beauty and offers endless possibilities to conserve and develop.

Sited 621 miles south of Santiago and 74 miles from Bariloche, this Chilian paradise has a century-long history, yet it has been left essentially untouched.

 

“The history of the Hacienda Puchequin is as exciting as its geography,” says María José Bórquez of Bórquez & Asociado.

 

Spanish soldiers discovered the land in 1558, where they met two indigenous tribes — the Poyas and the Huilliches, who had been living in harmony with the land’s natural habitat for centuries.

From forests, mountains and granite peaks to lakes, waterfalls and beaches, the land invites a range of activities — including skiing, fishing, rafting, hiking, horseback riding, and rock climbing. “The possibilities are endless for a nature lover, and there are very few other places in the world where one can find this level of natural beauty and diversity of landscapes,” says Bórquez.

 

Although boundless opportunities await, Bórquez notes that “one of the most interesting features of the land is the rock climbing that can be done in the sector known as La Junta.” With around 50 different routes and walls more than a thousand meters high, the destination challenges climbers from across the globe.

 

A land of this scope will best serve “a lover of nature with a vision of conservation,” according to Bórquez. “[The buyer] would utilize the land in service of others, enhancing the attractions of this property by creating a tourism development plan, without intervening with the natural ecosystems or native forests,” she adds.

 

Located near the city of Puerto Montt, Chiloe and Puerto Varas in Chile, and Bariloche in Argentina, Hacienda Pucheguin offers a great location for adventurous tourists.

 

Photos courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

This story was previously featured in the Winter 2019 edition of Unique Homes Magazine.

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