How to ensure your buyers find what they want in the city

We are in a new era of urban buyer priorities. Agents from two of the world’s top cities weigh in on what you need to know.

How can luxury agents make their clients’ lives easier? We asked top-producing agents from two of the world’s busiest financial capitals to share how they help their buyers tick all the boxes on a purchase.

The pace of today’s real estate sales makes life especially challenging for buyers in urban markets. They have a narrow window of time to identify, consider, and put in an offer on a potential property before it sells to someone else.

How can luxury agents make their clients’ lives easier? We asked top-producing agents from two of the world’s busiest financial capitals to share how they help their buyers tick all the boxes on a purchase, what those boxes usually include, and how to best support today’s savvy and selective urban homeseekers.

The top 3 essentials that every buyer is looking for

Shereen Akhtar

Shereen Akhtar, Senior Associate at Sotheby’s International Realty United Kingdom, is based in London and summarizes the must-have features most of her buyers repeatedly ask for:

  1. Outdoor living: “Whether in the form of a balcony, private garden, terrace, or a short walk to a park, I’ve seen an uptick in enquiries for apartments which have the outdoor factor,” she says. “Resident gardens have become very popular over the last few years in new developments. These are green spaces located either on rooftops or communal spaces on lower floors.”
  2. Home offices: “These have also become a key requirement, as more buyers are opting to work from home some or most of the time.”
  3. Amenities: “Urban buyers look for convenience and ease of access,” says Akhtar. “Usually this is a gym, a pool, and some leisure or recreation space they can use for entertaining guests.”

The impact of full-service

Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage

Michael J. Miarecki

Michael J. Miarecki, Global Real Estate Advisor and Licensed Agent with Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage in New York City, reminds agents that a building’s appeal goes beyond its amenities; today, its services are just as critical.

“The staff of full-service buildings were the unsung heroes of New York,” he says, in reference to the challenges of the past year and a half. “They showed up every day, helping concerned and confused residents navigate the unknown. Buyers have a greater appreciation for the efforts and energies that dedicated building personnel offer.”

Making the most of neighborhoods

Akhtar notes that cities are dynamic places with diverse neighborhoods, boroughs, and social scenes, and agents need to know their clients’ personal values and preferences. “Buyers are always open to exploring different districts within London to find their ideal home,” she says. “Some are in search of a village feel with lots of independent boutiques, while others want a more cosmopolitan lifestyle and enjoy the hustle and bustle that London has to offer.”

Even though buyers are relocating downtown for culture and lifestyle, it doesn’t mean they want city living to stand in the way of being active and getting outdoors. “Walkability in London has always been important to buyers,” says Akhtar. “With so many green spaces—Hyde Park, Green Park, Regents Park, Battersea Park, and St James’s Park—joining each corner of London to the center, people value proximity to nature.”

Managing expectations to meet expectations

Miarecki also points out that buying in the city—especially a city like the Big Apple—is going to be a balancing act because properties are often smaller. “Goldilocks, except perhaps at the loftiest of price points, doesn’t live in New York City,” he jokes. “Helping buyers accept this reality is one of the most important roles an agent can provide.”

So which feature takes priority? In the past, private outdoor spaces were a nice-to-have for Miarecki’s clients, but were easily sacrificed if it meant having more closet space or central air conditioning. That’s no longer the case; now they’re a must-have.

Consider your clients’ needs—and their dream lifestyle

United Kingdom Sotheby’s International Realty

To help assess what his urban buyers are searching for, Miarecki considers what he calls the New York City real estate circle of life:

“Young, single buyers are often looking for affordability and a neighborhood that provides easy access to their work,” he says. Proximity to friends and lifestyle activities is also a plus.

Settling in with a partner means more purchasing power—and more stuff. “Extra storage, a real kitchen, and outdoor space that permits entertaining take precedence.”

Practical considerations come with family living. “Having more bedrooms and bathrooms—and being located close to schools—usually mean a move to a new neighborhood,” he notes.

“As life comes full circle, empty nesters often look beyond the practical and leverage their expanded buying ability to begin a new phase,” Miarecki explains. “A loft becomes a great space to feature the art they’ve collected; the square footage is less for extra bedrooms and more for making a space for the hobbies they love.”

Knowing the lifecycle of their markets and clients can set agents up to best match buyers with their dream homes—especially in difficult times. And keeping a finger on the pulse of what buyers are looking for across urban centers allows agents to meet their clients’ wishlists, even as those lists change and evolve.