What’s hot in the luxury home market

Tuscan is definitely out, and clean, contemporary architecture is in, while today’s exacting buyers of luxury homes also want less marble and ceramic tile, and more timber and masonry.
So says Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA, who notes: “Whatever the news about the real estate sector, there is always interest in the luxury home market - and curiosity about the changing preferences of big ticket buyers. And currently, they definitely prefer the subtle and refined look to obvious opulence, and are turning their backs on fussy detailing in favour of simple, more modern designs.”
This does not mean, however, that they want less luxury. “If anything, actually, they want more upmarket features than before, just packaged differently,” he says.
Must-have features of course include round-the-clock security, upscale kitchens with high-end appliances, and expansive, double-volume living areas. “But what we are also seeing now is an insistence on smart electronics and ‘wired’ homes. Big ticket buyers expect everything from the fountain and the irrigation system to the curtains, music, heating and lighting to be automated, and both broadband and satellite Internet connections are considered essential.”
As for entertainment amenities, Geffen says, a home cinema is now almost standard in luxury homes, along with a wine cool-room or cellar, although a few new items have been added to the wishlists for outdoor entertaining, including ice-bars and barbeque islands.
Indoors, the newest trends include larger bedrooms for children, all ensuite, as well as media or games rooms and timber flooring. “However, hardly anyone wants a hot-tub or spa anymore, as they require too much maintenance for the amount of use they get.”
Outdoors, gardens are much more sleek than previously, often consisting only of decking, grass and specimen trees, he says. At least four garages are considered essential and most buyers also want a large enough area to provide off-street parking for several guests.
“But there is one factor,” notes Geffen, “that never goes in or out of fashion in the luxury home market, and that is location. Whether this is an upmarket suburb, an exclusive estate or on the beachfront, the ‘feature’ that inevitably swings the deal for big ticket buyers is a location that perfectly matches their ideas of the lifestyle they want to cultivate, the type of neighbours they would like and the amount of privacy they desire.”

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