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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.
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Montage Residences Palmetto Bluff just announced an offering in the spirit of their 15th Anniversary. Deemed “A Place to Create Forever Memories,” Montage introduces this $2.75M, 2,900-square-foot residence, decked out for those seeking the ultimate outdoor recreation lifestyle.
Situated within Palmetto Bluff, a 20,000-acre residential community and conservation preserve, this property is seated next to 32 miles of riverfront and marsh front coastline, with extensive nature trails, a vibrant Village center complete with river access, boat storage and canoe club. This community embraces its rich history natural rural landscape, and is a historical haven to gain a true sense of the Lowcountry lifestyle.
The collection of homes features charming, timeless interiors that have spacious living areas, celebrating authentic Southern tradition. The indoor-outdoor spaces flow naturally with breezy entryways, with other highlights including…
- Residences situated in a waterfront setting in close proximity to the resort
- Two, three, four and five-bedroom, single-story residences
- Indoor/outdoor sitting rooms with fireplaces
- Oversized master suites with his-and-hers walk-in closets
- State-of-the-art kitchens
- Antique heart pine floors
- Driveways and walkways utilizing Old Savannah brick throughout
Photos courtesy of Montage Residences Palmetto Bluff
Crescent Communities’ acquired businesses will remain headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, under its existing management team.
Crescent Communities, LLC, a residential and commercial real estate company, and Sumitomo Forestry America, Inc., a comprehensive housing and wood products corporation and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd., announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which Crescent Communities’ three key businesses will be acquired by Sumitomo. The transaction is expected to close by the end of June.
“We are excited to partner with Sumitomo as their investment will continue Crescent Communities’ growth strategy and enhance our capital structure,” says Todd Mansfield, the chief executive officer of Crescent Communities. “This acquisition is evidence of Sumitomo’s favorable view of our multi-product platform and geographic footprint in high growth markets. We look forward to leveraging their extensive real estate expertise, financial strength and global network to support our ongoing commitment to unleash value for all stakeholders.”
Masons Bend’s Amenity Center
“We have been pursuing further expansion of our U.S. real estate business and the acquisition of Crescent Communities is a perfect fit with our investment philosophy,” says Atsushi Iwasaki, the president of Sumitomo Forestry America, Inc. “With favorable demographics, including outsized employment growth, Crescent Communities’ markets are well positioned to support healthy long-term real estate fundamentals.
The acquired business will take the Crescent Communities’ name and remain headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, under the existing management team led by Todd Mansfield, Chief Executive Officer. Palmetto Bluff, the acclaimed 20,000-acre resort community with a Montage branded hotel located in Bluffton, South Carolina, will be retained by Crescent Communities’ existing owners, with the local management team continuing in their roles and David O’Donoghue continuing to serve as president.
The new light rail by NOVEL NoDa and NOVEL at Providence Farm
Sumitomo Forestry America, Inc. will acquire Crescent Communities’ multifamily, single family and commercial and mixed use businesses. Crescent Communities’ multifamily business, operating under the “NOVEL by Crescent Communities” brand, includes 20 communities in development and/or operations, totaling approximately 6,400 units. The company’s Fielding Homes single family home building business includes over 1,700 single family lots across 6 communities in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
The commercial and mixed use business development portfolio includes nearly 1.5 million square feet of assets, including the recently announced 742,000 square foot Ally Charlotte Center project in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition, Sumitomo Forestry America, Inc. is also acquiring Crescent Communities’ development pipeline of nearly $2 billion of real estate projects, including 5,500 multifamily units, 2,200 single family units and 2.5 million square feet of office and industrial assets.
Photos courtesy of Crescent Communities
By Alyssa Apuzzio
Palmetto Bluff, the largest remaining waterfront property on the East Coast, has debuted its second residential community, Moreland Village. Surrounded by rich history dating back 12,000 years, the architecture is designed to create seamless transitions between the indoors and outdoors.
Crescent Communities at Palmetto Bluff has committed to the recent expansion of the Crescent-managed forest area by an additional 90 acres, protecting this land from development and allowing the organization to study and maintain the land. This increases Palmetto Bluff’s protected acres to 12,631.
“The needs and interests of the land and wildlife lead everything we do here at Palmetto Bluff, and we’re in great hands with the Conservancy team helping to ensure that the Bluff’s original inhabitants, its wildlife, prosper,” said David O’Donoghue, Crescent Communities executive vice president, resort and second home.
Amenities include The Boundary, which features a bowling alley, restaurant, smokehouse, two pools, a fitness center and an art loft. Palmetto Bluff is also home to the newly expanded AAA Five Diamond
Montage Palmetto Bluff with fantastic golf, spa, canoe club, and culinary offerings — all surrounded by 32 miles of riverfront and extensive nature trails.
Palmetto Bluff is currently home to 466 families, with the long-term plan of developing another 3,500 homes.
Photo courtesy Crescent Communities