Markets to Watch in 2019

Every year we select locations to highlight as Markets to Watch. This year change is underway and we take a look at some top performers, others that are beginning to transition, and a handful of under-the-radar locations that are emerging.

Austin, Texas

On track for another record with sales up more than 3 percent, Austin’s luxury patina shines ever brighter. In October, the medium home value in Barton Creek increased to $1.02 million, making it the city’s first million-dollar neighborhood. Austin’s charms include no income tax to win over newcomers, but music and tech might be tops.

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman might seem like a sleeper on this list, but with ranches, the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky country it’s an under-the-radar hangout for demi-billionaires and billionaires.

Brooklyn, New York

No longer second best! Buyers are making Brooklyn a first choice. Median prices in the most expensive neighborhoods hit the $1 million mark. Israelis, Chinese and Western Europeans also gravitate here. It’s no surprise this New York City borough is No. 2 on Urban Land Institute’s Markets to Watch. 




Chicago, Illinois

By August, the Chicago area recorded as many luxury sales as in all of 2016 or 2017. Sales of $1 million-and-up properties set a record in the third quarter with a 19-percent increase over 2017. According to RE/MAX, luxury is booming in the west loop area. Upscale suburbs trail the city. Lots of new condos and stunning new buildings open doors to more urban opportunities in a market that hangs in the balance.

Dallas, Texas

Few cities have charted a post-recession course as strong as Dallas and the city remains Urban Land Institute’s No. 1 location for overall real estate prospects in 2019. But the dramatic post-recession price increases are over, say economists. Moderating prices and adjusting inventories are positive indicators that that a move back to a normal market is underway.


Denver, Colorado

Real estate’s Rocky Mountain high isn’t over yet. Denver continues to rank in the top group on many lists. In the upscale bracket, a shift toward balance is underway with the inventory of $1 million-plus homes at about seven months. Year-over-year prices are up on average 9.29 percent. Boulder remains a sweet spot for luxury, ranking 10th among cities and towns with at least 10 neighborhoods considered million-dollar.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Projections call for appreciation as high as 10 percent this year. Nevada was the fastest growing state, with new platinum communities; forward-looking, innovative architecture; and spectacular views capturing the attention of buyers looking for lifestyle and tax relief.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Coastal South Carolina and Georgia are ground zero for demographic shifts and the growing ability among the affluent to live wherever they want — a trend just taking off. New developments including Palmetto Bluff add to demand for the Hilton Head region.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Moving toward balance. A long-awaited uptick in homes on the market is one of several hints of a market shift. Median prices reached a record high this fall, and homes still sell quickly. Still the inventory of homes for sale is one of the lowest in the country. Upper tier and move-up brackets are less competitive.

Northern Virginia

D.C. continues to be in the top group on watch lists but Amazon’s recent announcement makes real estate in Northern Virginia much more interesting. What the prospect portends for current homeowners is uncertain, but sure to make this a market to watch in 2019.

Park City, Utah

No longer just a ski hangout, this Salt Lake neighbor is luxury’s newest player. The most desirable neighborhoods see a shortfall of inventory. Land prices increased by 25 percent with the highest number of sales occurring at Promontory. Opportunities abound: new projects at The Canyons, a large expansion of Deer Valley, a $4 billion renovation of the Salt Lake airport and a bid for the 2030 Olympics.

Wikimedia Commons / Don Lavange

Portland, Maine

Beaches and skiing, does it get any better than that? Hipsters meet old money here. Ranked among the top 20 for entrepreneurs, the city has a growing tech industry and one of the best foodie scenes in the Northeast. Look for more new construction. Prices will continue to ease upward as more people discover this hidden gem.


Santa Barbara, California

Opportunities for buyers in many California locales continue to increase as markets shift. Median prices in Santa Barbara in November were down more than 25 percent, which is good news for buyers. The area remains a prized luxury refuge and lower prices open the door for newcomers to enjoy one of the most unique locations in the U.S.

Sarasota, Florida

The city’s iconic waterfront is being reimagined with a vision to increase cultural programming and urban amenities. Median prices have been increasing steadily, up 25 percent since 2014. New construction means more inventory with more on the horizon. Agents report steady and growing interest in individuals from high tax states.


Seattle, Washington

Happier times are ahead for buyers in Seattle with active listings up by 41 percent. Even though inventories are still slim, it’s a good indication the frenzy is over. Closed sales in November were down 28 percent. Homes continue to appreciate but the increase has slowed to 5 percent. For buyers and sellers this is definitely a market to watch. The city still is in top groups in many rankings, but the frenzy is over.

Wikimedia Commons / Jeff Gunn

Toronto, Canada

Canadian Baby Boomers and Millennials came together and turned up the heat on the luxury condos in 2018; single-family home sales decreased by as much as 44 percent. While the foreign buyers tax has reduced sales to overseas buyers, it’s also opening new opportunities for locals. Local buyers will continue to drive demand for condos here.

Resort Markets

Luxury’s top performers in 2018. Not only are residences in demand, but new resorts are raising the bar for luxury and reinvigorating current markets. New developments in Turks and Caicos, including the ultra-indulgent Gansevoort Villas, turn up the heat on interest in the Caribbean. Easy reach from the U.S. and private enclaves generate new interest in the Bahamas. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is seeing new resorts and other regions along the Sea of Cortez are seeing new development. Mandarina in Nyarit is the site of One & Only’s first collection of private homes. Owning a private island continues to be an ultimate purchase and the Bahamas is ground zero.

Thanks to:

Austin Board of Realtors

Michael Saunders, Founder and CEO Michael Saunders & Company

Anthony Hitt, President and CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas

Aleksandra Scepanovic, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ideal Properties Group

National Association of Realtors

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Kirkland, Washington

RE/MAX  Canada



This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Unique Homes Magazine. 

From Cabo to Costa Rica, these island destinations are offering year-round surfing experiences for both beginners and experts.

Photos courtesy of Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection



Cabo, a year-round surfing destination, offers diversity in break direction and level of difficulty — in addition to unparalleled coastal scenery, according to


While many choose to surf in Cabo during the summer months of June through August, the fall months of September to November are also a great time to catch waves.


Nestled between rugged desert mountains and the sparkling Sea of Cortez, Querencia is located on the best surf break in Cabo. Q Beach Club features the Q Surf Club, which provides a wide array of water sports and activities, including surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling.



In recent years, Nicaragua has become an increasingly popular spot for surfers due to the consistency of the waves and good weather conditions.


Offering a range of new surf experiences for owners and guests, Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection is furthering the growth of surfing in Nicaragua.

In partnership with the luxury surf outfitter Tropic Surf, Mukul is bringing its surfing experience to a whole new level. At the resort, led through Tropic Surf, is a coaching plan that helps guests go from a “white belt to black belt” in surf, and it is led by the resort’s “surf sensei.”  

The property is also launching a Siren Surf Safari experience, an all-female experience designed to challenge and empower women through a curated itinerary of physical and wellness experiences. Women of all ages and life stages are invited to brave waves, meditate and take part in ancient healing rituals.



Surfing is deeply intertwined with Hawaiian culture and history, as the first written account of surfing was actually recorded there, according to



Whether a beginner or expert, surfers can take in the rich culture of Hawaii while learning the ins and outs of surfing in a beautiful, tropical destination.



Set to open in June and nestled between the uncrowded sands of Running Waters Beach, Timbers Kauai – Ocean Club & Residences at Hokuala offers surfers the best of both worlds.



Owners and guests at Timbers Kaua’i can have a private surf lesson through The Beach Club, with surfboards and gear ready and waiting. Partnered with island-favorite adventurers Kauai Beach Boys, The Beach Club allows owners to ride with some of the best surfers on the island.

Photo courtesy of Querencia

Costa Rica


Across the globe, Costa Rica maintains its position as one of the world’s most beloved surf destinations. Consistent, high-quality waves with a variety of breaks make it a surfing destination for both beginners and advanced surfers.


The tropical destination offers a wide variety of world-class surfing options, including Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point, which are both a short distance from Four Seasons Private Residences Prieta Bay at Peninsula Papagayo.

Owners and guests at the Four Seasons may enjoy access to the luxury surf school offered by Tropicsurf at the adjacent Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, which offers lessons at the resort’s Playa Blanca.

Opening in late 2019, The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences will immerse its guests and residents in a world of unrivaled ocean views, lush green spaces and incredible dining and entertainment experiences.

By Brielle Bryan

Enhancing the landscape of Dubai, The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences will be the first ‘Super Prime’ residences of its kind in Dubai. To be located on the crescent of The Palm Island next to the existing resort called Atlantis, The Palm, The Royal Atlantis will provide a rich cultural and sophisticated lifestyle experience to all its guests and residents. All who visit or live within this luxurious expanse will find themselves immersed in a world of unrivaled ocean views, lush green spaces and incredible dining and entertainment experiences.
Opening in late 2019, this luxurious 43-story building will offer 231 residential homes comprised of two, three, four and five-bedroom residences including skycourts, penthouses and garden suites ranging from 1,434 to 17,088 square feet. The property will offer more than 90 swimming pools in total, a Givenchy Spa, Beach Club and bespoke interior styling and art work by Sybille de Margerie.
New York City’s Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed the exterior of The Royal Atlantis, while the interiors of each hotel guest room and suite were designed by London-based G.A Design. David Mexico Design Group, renowned for creating a new paradigm in architecture and design, created Dubai’s newest icon, a sky-high infinity sky pool, elevated at 295-feet. Similarly, another ground level central water feature encompasses jaw-dropping fire and water elements by Californian master creators, WET Design.
Kerzner International, which owns multiple luxury hotel resorts including Atlantis, The Palm, will be bringing The Royal Atlantis to Dubai. Renowned for innovative food and beverage concepts, Kerzner International has a series of new world-class restaurants with award-winning celebrity chefs for The Royal Atlantis, as well as new entertainment experiences. Similarly, residents and guests will have access to the existing 23 dining establishments at Atlantis, The Palm at their fingertips, bringing a Michelin Star chef directly into their private residence at The Royal Atlantis.
Sybarites that stay in The Royal Atlantis can adventure nearby and discover exotic marine life at The Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis, The Palm, take the plunge at Aquaventure Waterpark or indulge in culinary lessons.

Photo courtesy of the Property of The Royal Atlantis Residences

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The current trend of voice-control technology has inflicted immense change on the real estate industry, creating another set of expectations for high-end homes or spaces to exceed.
This trend has found a new home in hotel rooms and is enhancing the way resorts cater to the needs of guests.
Wynn Las Vegas and Amazon recently announced plans to equip all 4,748 hotel rooms at Wynn Las Vegas with Echo, Amazon’s hands-free voice-controlled speaker. The introduction of this technology into every guest room, beginning this month with installation in suites, will be an industry-first in the world, allowing every guest of Wynn Las Vegas to control various hotel room features with a series of voice commands via Alexa, the brain behind Echo.
“As we have moved through the years, technology has always played an important part in our resorts,” says Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts. “The thing that Amazon has done with Alexa is quite perfect. If I have ever seen anything in my 49 years of developing resorts that has made our job of delivering a perfect experience to our guests easier and help us get to another level, it is Alexa.

“The ability to talk to your room is effortlessly convenient. In partnership with Amazon, becoming the first resort in the world in which guests can verbally control every aspect of lighting, temperature and the audio-visual components of a hotel room is yet another example of our leadership in the world of technology for the benefit of all of our guests,” says Wynn.
Alexa will be fully operational in all guest rooms by summer 2017, and will initially control guest room lights, room temperature, drapery and the television. As the project evolves, future features such as personal assistant functions will be introduced.
“Millions of people already enjoy interacting with Alexa at home via their Echo devices, and now they will be able to experience the same convenience while traveling,” says Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa. “Wynn Las Vegas is known for its comfort and luxury, and we are excited to work with the resort to enhance its guest experience with Alexa.”
Alexa is a the brain behind Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices — just ask and she’ll answer questions, read the news, set timers and alarms, recite calendars, check sports scores, control smart devices in-home, and more. Since Alexa runs in the cloud, she is always getting smarter — plus it is simple and free for developers to build Alexa skills and integrate Alexa into their own products. In the U.S., there are already more than 6,000 skills available for Alexa.
Wynn Las Vegas was not the first hotel to install voice-control technology in their hotel rooms, however. In August 2016 Aloft Hotels implemented the “Project Jetson” initiative in several of their hotel locations, which moved to enable control temperature, light and other room settings. Guests could control these settings through a custom Aloft app on iPads included in their rooms.
With people’s increasing desire to have control over their experiences, who knows where advances in technology will lead resort owners in the future.

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