What Is a Luxury Home, and What Makes It So Special?
If you’ve ever looked over real estate listings and came across an ad for a “luxury home,” you might have thought, “Wow, this one must be special!” But what exactly defines a luxury home, anyway? Is it determined by price, location, square footage, or some magic combination of all of the above?
Well, for starters, “luxury” isn’t strictly about how much cash you blow on the purchase. It’s much more subjective, and a moving target based on what a particular area’s high-end buyers have come to expect.
“It isn’t simply a price per square foot metric,” says The Agency’s Daniel Stevenson, who specializes in selling luxury listings. “Many times luxury is simply in the eye of the very covetous neighbor.”
While it’s hard to pin down an exact definition that encapsulates this air of affluence, luxury homes do tend to have certain features in common. So whether you’re looking to buy a posh place or wondering if you can describe your current digs in such opulent terms, here are some general qualities you can expect to find in a luxury home.
1. A high price for the area
Of course, a “luxury” price depends on where you live. A million-dollar house in Studio City, CA, may not qualify, but a similarly priced home in Hemet, a mere two hours away, would be one of the priciest and most luxurious properties in town.
In general the lowest price you can expect to pay for a luxury home starts anywhere from $500,000 to $3 million, and goes up from there. Way up.
2. Prime location
No matter the city, state, or country, luxury homes are the ones with the most coveted locations, whether they’re atop a mountain, right on the beach, or overlooking the sparkling lights of the city far below. But these areas are constantly expanding and evolving: A new strip of trendy bars and restaurants can turn an otherwise average area into a hot spot that attracts high-end buyers.
3. Premier quality
The construction materials, finishes, appliances, and design all must be a cut above what’s considered standard. Marble, hardwood, Venetian plaster, crystal, and Miele appliances have all become common components of luxury homes.
4. Luxe amenities
“From Imax movie theaters to arcade rooms to decontamination showers, these homes incorporate the most exquisite amenities,” according to Stevenson. (Take a look at some of the more outrageous home amenities we’ve seen lately.)
Many high-end buyers—particularly celebrities who get accosted by paparazzi and fans when out in public—like their home to be a true refuge. As such, privacy is a premium, and can be afforded with large yards, high walls, and foliage for cover, and gated entrances with security guards to keep looky-loos from peering in or making a ruckus that might disturb the peace.
This will surprise you. Luxury home buyers are not necessarily looking for flashy mansions, but they do consider it an ultimate asset for their dwelling to have some sort of story, or history if you will. Whether the home was built by a prominent architect or situated in a noteworthy location, the value goes up if it’s not just another tract home.
Ultimately, however, the definition of “luxury home” is in the eye of the beholder.
“Luxury is the quality of the build, the location of a home, the magnitude of a property—but it is also very personal,” says Lisa Gild, an associate partner with Partners Trust. “To some, luxury is privacy with sweeping city views, and to others it’s living on the ocean with private beach. Some define ‘luxury’ as a smart home fully wired with every high-tech gadget, and others would interpret ‘luxury’ as an architecturally significant Mid-Century Modern home.”
The bottom line: “Luxury” can mean many things, so rather than automatically swooning over a certain listing boasting this term, focus on the features you’re keen to have in a home to find one that you will love.