For those who are constantly on the go, the home has always been a place to relax and recharge. But lately some homeowners are taking it to the next level — wellness real estate, or homes especially equipped to optimize health, are the latest phenomenon to hit the real estate industry.
More than simply a gym in the building, wellness-forward homes are designed to include natural lighting, good air circulation, open-plan room design, low-toxicity and energy-efficient materials, meditation zones, and, ideally, proximity to plants and nature.
“The industry has arisen due to the growing recognition that our lives have become more sedentary, mostly due to the last 50 years of huge advances in science and technology, which in turn has resulted in us actually living longer, unhealthy and less active lives,” said Diane Hartley, president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.
This type of home, then, is meant to counterbalance a sedentary lifestyle and polluted environment by being as healthful as possible.
The trend falls in line with a growing interest in health and wellness in the United States, said Kofi Nartey, Compass’ national director of the sports and entertainment. Gym routines, healthy eating and phone apps that track everything from heart rates to sleep patterns are all a part of this cultural shift, and some homeowners are expanding their interest in healthy living into their home.
“It is a lifestyle, so it becomes a part of how people work, play, and live,” Nartey said. “Your home is an integral part of that.”
Nartey believes that interest in wellness-forward homes is only going to grow in the coming years. According to Forbes, the wellness real estate market is currently valued at $134 billion and makes up to 1.5 percent of the global construction industry. Some condos already have certain smart home features built in while a few high-end properties are specifically designed to be health oases.
“People are becoming more concerned with their health, not less,” Nartey said. “Developers and builders are aware of this trend and are looking for ways to meet, and sometimes exceed, these consumer desires.”
This interest may be manifesting itself in how certain residential and commercial buildings are constructed. The Canyon Ranch Lenox resort in the mountains of northern Massachusetts offers residents a personalized health plan and access to on-site doctors, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, behavioral counselors and spiritual advisers. The individual condos, which many people use as a vacation home, cost between $1.35 million and $3.5 million.
Nonetheless, wellness real estate is not limited to high-end condos. According to Nartey, many wellness features are already available to anyone via app. These could include smart refrigerators that feature the nutritional contents of meals on a screen on the door or health tips that can be synched into a virtual voice assistant program.
“The companies that get it right will be the ones that meet the consumer need before the consumer knows they have it,” Nartey said.
But if that sounds expensive, there are simple things agents, developers and owners can do to reach health-focused homebuyers. According to Hartley, the ideas range from installing plants or a sauna to converting an empty room into a “meditation zone.”
“Luxury is the trend leader, but as it grows this will enable developers to leverage the benefits at more affordable rates, allowing them to create more affordable smart-healthy homes and neighborhoods,” she said.