By Mona Jalota
True luxury means different things to different people, but for most consumers the term connotes rarity, quality, and refinement. Once upon a time, luxury was the entitlement of the rich. Today luxury is mass – aspirational, simply because luxury and excellence have, over time, become synonymous.
Looking at the changing face of luxury from the real estate perspective, the following trends have changed over the time and redefined luxury:
Location centric to Location agnostic: Traditionally prominent addresses and prized ZIP codes are no longer the defining baseline concept for luxury homes. HNWIs are expanding the borders of traditional luxury locales, and are willing to pay a premium in emerging luxury areas if the amenities and lifestyle offerings are right. The evolution of high-end commercial real estate is also driving this phenomenon. This trend is seen especially in the younger affluent buyers, who after being priced out of the traditional luxury areas have embraced non-traditional areas where new developments are offering high-quality services and amenities.
Opulence to Conscious Living: From earlier trends of large opulent spaces with scant regard of environmental impact, the trend has shifted towards owning a home that doesn’t negatively impact the community. The demand for more sustainable and healthy environments has placed not only placed greater emphasis but has also fuelled a trend toward conscious living. Affluent buyers are increasingly looking for homes near a vibrant community rich with cultural offerings and outdoor activities, as well as opportunities to volunteer and make a difference.
Materialism to Experiential: Today’s new wealthy consumers are more informed, more globally exposed, and more sophisticated than previous generations. Economic imperatives are no longer the key drivers for purchases. Buyers are increasingly seeking to spend money on property features that could be described as ‘experiential’. The growing trend is a preference for homes that have access to amenities that enrich family life and lifestyle options that can be experienced every day, like meditation gardens or outdoor spas, etc.
Size to Convenience: The resurgence of urban downtown cores in many major cities and changing age dynamics are having a significant impact on the home-buying preferences of the world’s most affluent. Emerging trend is of affluent families opting to ‘downsize’ from large single-family homes into generously-sized condominiums, with the younger generation opting for developments that are within walking distance of offices, shopping, and restaurants. This shows a greater affinity for convenience in the buying patterns
Age Specific to Multi-Generational diversity: From the earlier days where the elders of the generation built homes/ purchased luxury homes with not much provision for the coming generations except the value of the property, the trends are shifting towards an increasing demand for luxury homes with spaces that have the flexibility to adapt to generational diversity and entertaining requirements. A wide array of amenities and entertainment for the entire family are increasingly a priority for affluent home buyers. The emphasis is on multi-functional spaces that can accommodate living and entertaining needs of the different generations under one roof.
Privacy, discretion and exclusivity: There is a conscious shift in the definition of luxury from the 60s and 70s to today with ostentatiousness being abandoned in the favor of the subdued, understated and out-of-public eye homes. Privacy, discretion and exclusivity have become the key criteria of defining luxury to new age buyers. Luxury is no longer about brash displays of wealth, instead there is a continuing shift from ostentatious displays of one’s wealth, to a more restrained expression of tasteful understatement. Scaled-back, quality-over-quantity luxury will continue to be one of the key tenets behind many prestige property acquisitions.
(The author is Director-International & NRI, Residential Services, Colliers International India)