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“Nothing is impossible.”
That’s what luxury real estate agent Ivan Estrada and luxury residential developer Tyler Jones said about making luxury homebuyers’ wildest dreams come true during the pandemic.
The duo said luxury homebuyers have taken a maximalist approach to home design over the past year, with expansive outdoor space, dedicated rooms for activities such as exercise and homeschooling, and hi-tech energy-saving systems taking center stage in consumers’ minds.
“I think for us [at Blue Heron] what we’ve noticed is people just have a much more general focus on home; they understand that they’re likely to spend more time at home than they have in the past, they want something that’s thoughtful,” Jones told the Luxury Connect crowd on Monday. “They’re thinking of [home] as a place to re-energize and give them that sense of well-being.”
“We’ve just seen a much bigger focus on the quality of design,” he added. “I think the next thing that goes hand in hand with that is, is just larger sizes, in general, for rooms, dual offices, exercise rooms [and] homeschooling rooms. In general, they want a bigger place that’s more comfortable.”
Estrada, who leads the Ivan Estrada Properties team at Douglas Elliman, echoed Jones’s sentiments and said his buyers have requested dedicated wellness spaces where they can meditate and escape from their daily worries.
“I’ve actually got a client [and] she said, ‘I need a room or just a white room with no windows so I can think,’ and I was like, that’s what you know, you’re really rich,” he said with a laugh. “So just having meditation rooms and gyms and offices, [and] not just one office, but multiple offices [is important].”
In addition to more interior space, Jones said homebuyers have placed a premium on their backyards. Instead of staring at grassy knolls all day, he said buyers are crafting more purposeful outdoor spaces with kitchens, entertainment walls and play spaces for the whole family.
“There’s outdoor living space, which is described as a more seamless extension of your interior space,” he explained. “We do a lot of outdoor media, you know, outdoor places where you can relax, read and socialize. Obviously, there’s outdoor dining too and a lot of just functional things.”
“Those [outdoor] spaces are more highly finished [and] just integrated thoughtfully with the interior,” he added. “And then there’s just kind of more yard space. People have families and kids and big goals for gathering and entertaining. There are grandparents that are planning for their kids and their grandkids, everybody to come to their homes and enjoy the yard.”
Outside of features to enhance a home’s entertainment factor, Jones and Estrada said luxury homebuyers are also adding features that address practical matters, such as energy conservation and safety.
“The other thing, I think that’s changed a lot even more recently is a focus on energy independence and energy management,” he said while explaining hi-tech energy systems that allow homeowners to manage their energy usage and sell power back to the grid. “People are just a little bit more concerned about infrastructure, so energy independence is important.”
Estrada said he’s noticed similar requests from his homebuyers in drought-stricken California in addition to heightened interest in panic rooms and security systems. “I think people are concerned about the environment, but also like safety. Living in Los Angeles, obviously, we had a couple of riots during COVID,” he said.
Overall, both men said the pandemic has pushed homebuyers and homeowners to think more about what home means to them and has provided the freedom to create a truly perfect space — even if some of the requests are outlandish.
“We’ve [built] an 18-car garage, we’ve got some glass elevators going in [and] we just finished the house that has a show shower at the entrance,” Jones said. “You can have your guests in the shower, going straight to the entrance of the home.”
“We really pride ourselves on never, never saying ‘that’s impossible,'” he added. ” It’s actually written up in our offices. It’s more about educating the client about how much time and how much money it’s going to cost. If it’s physically possible, then we do it.”