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A Definition of Luxury

“I know it when I see it.”

That’s what you hear when you ask what defines a “luxury home”. Surprisingly, you often hear it in our business from agents and brokers. Unfortunately, ambiguously “knowing it when you see it”, really doesn’t help us with the parameters of what a luxury home is.

So, I’d like to take this entry and give you my definition and the fundamental characteristics of what makes a house a luxury home.

First – as with all real estate – we look at location. Location is something that is finite and really can’t be controlled. So location is a relatively easy piece to define. Is the home located within a prestigious address? Is the home located on a lake or other body of water? Is the home in an exclusive neighborhood, on a larger piece of land or have some special feature – views, climate, etc.? Is the home within walking distance of a downtown setting? A very large part of the identity of a luxury home is its location.

Second, we look at something called “property entry”. This is basically the first impression of a home that you get when you drive up or first view the home. Is the home in a gated community? Is the driveway long and winding and are the grounds immaculate? Is the driveway paved or is it brick pavers? Some of the larger homes have gatehouses that serve as the first impression. What is the first impression that your home presents? This is the property entry.

Third, we look at the architecture of the home. Did a prestigious architect design the home? Is the architecture unique to the area it is in (not a cookie cutter of the other homes in the area)? Is the architecture significant and does it offer originality (basically, is the home more of a “one of a kind” in its architectural design)? Is the layout functional? Does the design of the house take advantage of the unique location features? How does the architecture fit in with the natural features of the area?

Fourth is about décor. This is an area that the homeowner really has control — which is both good and bad. We all know that we can’t account for taste and we all have differing opinions on how our homes should be decorated, so when we look at décor, we look at quality. In a luxury home, the décor should be superb and preferably classic for sustainability and longevity. “Decorating for the moment” or following the latest trend can be a knock on the luxury factor.

Fifth, we like to look at amenities that are available in a home to define it as luxury. Granite, stainless steel, hardwood floors, marble, crown moldings, vaulted ceilings, fixtures (particularly who manufactured the fixtures), numbers of bedrooms, numbers of bathrooms, cabinetry/amenities in the kitchen (particularly high-end manufacturers), three-car garages, saunas/steam rooms, swimming pools are all characteristics of luxury homes.

Next we need to consider the entertainment capabilities of the home. Luxury homes are typically used as showpieces by the owners and their abilities to “host” are favorable features. Floor plans should be open and flowing with large dining areas, large kitchens with a number of amenities, open areas that can host a number of people and large decks or patios are all typical entertainment features of a luxury home.

Finally, we consider the surrounding grounds of the home when classifying for luxury status. Professional landscaping is a must for a luxury home as the exterior sets the tone for the entire home. Many homes have a landscape architect involved to create a theme for the house. Luxury homes will always have immaculately maintained grounds that the owners take a great deal of pride in.

With these factors in mind, you should now have a better understanding of what defines luxury and exactly what we as real estate experts use to define these properties.

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