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How to Invest in Luxury Real Estate

Aug 23, 2008
Many have seen the headlines: Well-known old homes selling for record prices. Luxury townhomes appreciating in value even as other properties sit unsold. Reports that luxury properties in Midwestern states are attracting interest once reserved only for mansions on the coast. A prominent art-auction house investigating the possibility of marketing architectural landmarks as a new form of very expensive art.

Luxury real estate appears to be an appealing investment even in the economic climate of the moment. It is worth asking why this may be the case.

For one thing, the market for luxury homes benefits from a certain amount of what one might call "insulation."

Economic troubles that may affect the willingness of buyers and sellers at every other level to, well, buy and sell, do not necessarily reach the ultra-wealthy. Also, foreign investment is a factor. Quality of life factors continue to make the US a desirable second home for wealthy foreign nationals, with the higher education system attracting people from all over the world. As a result, foreign real estate investment may help keep the market for luxury real estate in good standing. Finally, consider that wealthy people may tend to pay for important purchases in cash, which means that fluctuating interest rates and credit-market problems hold no power.

What do savvy luxury real estate buyers do? How do they make sure their investments in luxury real estate prosper? There's never a simple formula, but experts suggest the following rules:

It's important to know what "luxury" means on a personal level, and to know which type of real estate is personally appealing. Generally luxury homes are defined as those costing over a million dollars in the United States, but the word may also mean a certain kind of neighborhood, greater access to the Great Outdoors, or a room where all one's fishing trophies can be displayed. Whether it is location, space, quality of furnishings, or any other factor, an educated buyer is often ready to rank their priorities.

Buyers may also take steps to ensure the real estate company they are working with knows these priorities as well. A contract may be used to ensure that luxury real estate buyers are getting what they want, top-to-bottom. For example, a buyer might specify in the contract specific language ("restaurant grade" kitchen fixtures, for example, or a library of however-many square feet, or with glassed-in shelves). On a related point, when touring a luxury development--where a "model home" is often used for tours for potential buyers, rather than the actual home to be bought--remember that the model home may not necessarily identical to the home that is purchased.

A real estate buyer will often coordinate pre-approval, to increase the speed and flexibility in buying properties. After all, these are the sort of properties that may require a buyer willing to "strike while the iron is hot." Luxury real estate attracts people with a lot of money to spend, a secure financial situation that makes them attractive borrowers (if borrowing proves necessary), and it tends to be advertised nationally rather than locally, so a lot of people may be interested in any given property. (As stated above, too, the number of likely buyers doesn't necessarily decrease when a market downturns--that's part of why it's luxury real estate.)

While knowing their priorities, today's buyers often keep an open mind. After all, the list of states that offer great luxury properties is expanding--it's no longer just about the two coasts. Buyers may know what is desired in a neighborhood, but they may also be prepared to find it in places where it wasn't expected. Prices are appreciating, according to one expert, in over 2500 areas.

Soave Enterprises is a diversified management and investment company founded by Detroit businessman Anthony Soave that provides strategic planning, financial and other management resources to its affiliated business ventures in the real estate, automotive retailing, beer distribution, scrap metal, industrial services and transportation industries, among others.

For more information on Tony Soave and Soave Enterprises, please visit http://www.soave.com.
About the Author
Soave Enterprises diversified management and investment company founded by Detroit businessman Anthony Soave that provides strategic planning, financial and other management resources to its affiliated business ventures in the real estate, automotive retailing, beer distribution, scrap metal, industrial services and transportation industries, among others. For more information on Tony Soave and Soave Enterprises, please visit the website.
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