OpinionAgent

What defines a luxury home in Washington DC?

Subtle differences in homes and locations that can make or break a deal
  • Smart home technology is starting to be an expected part of many homes, and not just in the luxury market.
  • Space for entertaining is also of prime importance for luxury buyers.
  • The right location now involves more than just easy access to school or the office.
mark-lowham

Mark Lowham

Working with luxury homebuyers for over 30 years as both a developer and current CEO of a luxury brokerage, I have found there are a few subtle but important distinctions to understand when addressing the needs of those living around the nation’s capital. 

Location, features and the right kind of living spaces remain at the top of all buyers’ wish lists, but when it comes to the high-end buyer in Washington D.C., each of these considerations takes on a unique flavor.

Technology with a personal touch

Smart home technology is starting to be an expected part of many homes, and not just in the luxury market. However, buyers looking in the middle price ranges versus the higher ones have different expectations. We have recently represented developers in historic Alexandria, Virginia, who have successfully merged 18th century homes with 21st century technology. 

Mid-range buyers are likely to be focused on energy efficiency but are wary of a home with products that require a monthly fee or annual contract. Higher-end buyers, on the other hand, often expect systems and technology that can address not only energy efficiency, but also entertainment, lighting and security. Systems that are scalable and can update easily as new technology becomes available are also attractive to buyers across all price points.

Easy entertaining

Space for entertaining is also of prime importance for luxury buyers. They need both indoor and outdoor spaces that can accommodate a party for not only family, but also charitable partners, constituents and professional colleagues. Usually that means large, open rooms with access for a catering staff. But it also means that the private living spaces need to be entirely out of view.

Many homes in northwest Washington, McLean and Potomac offer a wide range of choices with plenty of room for entertaining everyone, from the President to a kids soccer team.

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Proximity to lifestyle amenities

The age-old real estate requirement of the right location remains important to buyers all across the price spectrum. However, the right location now involves more than just easy access to school or the office.

Proximity to good restaurants, high-end markets and fitness resources weighs heavily into buyer considerations. Close-in neighborhoods in Bethesda and Logan Circle, as examples, afford a wide range of lifestyle amenities that continue to attract the attention of luxury buyers. With schedules that merge family, business, philanthropy and the occasional political event into one page, D.C. families increasingly seek locations that allow them to do more with less free time.

The upcoming presidential election signals a healthy level of activity in the D.C. area market. In fact, in all but one of the past four presidential election years, sales activity has increased an average 11 percent in the fourth quarter versus the prior year. All indications are that 2016 will be no exception. This year, however, technology, space and locations that allow busy families to do even more with less time will be at the top of buyers’ wish lists.

Mark Lowham is CEO and managing partner for TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn

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