There are many ways to enjoy the last days of HBO’s "Succession." One way is through the lens of luxury real estate, which is why penthouses, townhouses, compounds and castles are top-of-mind right now for ultra-wealthy people and family office members.
“Right now, top wealth wants to put their money into townhouses,” said Tyler Whitman, a power broker from The Agency in New York who specializes in such properties. “It’s for privacy and control. Many of my wealthy clients don’t want the condos, with the hundreds of neighbors and all the rules. They don’t want anyone monitoring how and when they use their home.”
It should come as no surprise that, as Whitman puts it, “Really wealthy people enjoy their freedom.”
Are his ultra-wealthy clients simply over condos? “There are still trophy purchases in the condo world. Special New York properties with true architectural significance will always perform, but it’s hard to put a true calculated valuation on that. Those properties trade more like a piece of art would.”
As for the Hamptons, Whitman confirms that the main issue this year in its luxury market is the inventory crunch. As far as what’s in demand, Whitman said, “It’s not all about a beachfront property.” Waterfront comes with its own set of problems, he explained.
“It’s always going to fetch a huge price point, sure,” Whitman said. “But what we’re seeing are people gravitating to bigger pieces of land a few minutes away from the beach, with vast and beautiful landscaping. If it’s a compound, all the better. If there are guest houses on the property, that’s ideal. With the extra space and land, you can get nonbeach properties — for, say, $60 million and over, we see homes that can entertain hundreds of people, which matters to certain people out East.”
When it comes to aesthetics, the trend toward modern farmhouses has faded, he said. “More and more of my clients are like, ‘If I see another modern farmhouse, I’m going to be sick.’ ”
Whitman’s wealthiest clients are also buying property in Florida and Texas. “But you know what trend I’m really seeing? Montana. They’re buying gorgeous mountain homes that are truly private and remote.”
A WEALTH OF ‘WELLNESS’
Hilary Farnum-Fasth owns Corcoran Reverie, a high-end real estate brokerage and an affiliate of Corcoran Group LLC that specializes in luxury properties in Florida and Nashville. “When you step into the luxury space down here right now, in 2023, the sky’s the limit,” Farnum-Fasth said. “We are seeing simulator rooms to elevate your golf swing, to the ultimate in man caves — where your entire garage is built around exotic cars; his-and-her bathrooms to complement oversized private closets; and elaborate game rooms that include virtual reality, pool and throwback arcade games.”
Any popular outdoor design for the houses being sold top-dollar or custom-built likely must include pickleball and sand volleyball courts, putting greens, private rooftop pools and obviously a primary pool. Don’t forget, she said, “wellness-based features for the home, like saunas, elaborate home gyms and cold plunge tubs – those are all the rage!”
In Florida and Nashville, the luxury real estate market is thriving. An analysis of U.S. Census data by the Inspection Support Network shows that Nashville has been the fifth-fastest-growing large metro area in the country in the past five years. “The most luxurious properties in northwest Florida are the ones that fuse indoor and outdoor living,” she said. “This means that you may not have a huge interior footprint but may have twice as much deck and exterior living space, making it perfect for embracing the Florida lifestyle.” Think infinity pools and, once again, the essential pickleball court.
While the real estate boom has slowed in much of the country, high-end Nashville real estate is booming. “In Nashville, location is huge,” Farnum-Fasth said. “Being close to the right lifestyle matters, whether that includes proximity to private or public schools, parks, or best dining and shopping.”
In Nashville, a move-in-ready home is crucial, “whether they are seeking an estate for acreage, historical detail, a renovated home with a modern professional kitchen and an infinity pool, or a subdivision with luxurious amenities like a luscious community garden,” she said.
What advice would Farnum-Fasth give an ultra-wealthy client with the world at his or her fingertips? “I would tell them to buy land and develop it,” she said, adding that although it takes considerable work, time and effort, there is plenty of upside to dramatically increasing the value of the property.
“The reality is most people don’t have the ability or desire to wait multiple years to bring a piece of property to life,” she said. “But for those who do, there’s a strong financial reward there in the end."