As we head into 2019, luxury real estate may be poised for a bit of a softening. In Chicago and other major areas, numbers indicate that the supply of luxury homes is outpacing demand, causing a slowdown in the market for high-end real estate.
At the same time, the cost of luxury living in Chicago has easily started going up, with prices reaching up to $6 and $8 million. That means homes for sale in 2019 must boast some extraordinary features if it hopes for a fast sale. I’ve long said that high-end buyers are looking not just for a beautiful property in a great location (though those things do matter). Luxury buyers want to see features that make a home stand out among the rest—the je ne sais quoi of real estate, if you will.
So, what’s next? In order to ensure a home attracts buyers in today’s market, sellers should expect to invest in upgrades. For some, these may already have been done somewhere along the way, but if your home lacks unique features that will help it stand out to buyers, then it’s certainly worth taking into consideration.
The Wall Street Journal recently covered the most important features that will help your home sell in 2019, as compiled by brokers, analysts, developers and designers. This list certainly applies to Chicago, as we’ve seen a number of these features emerge as real estate must-haves in the last year or two. Here’s a recap of what features are predicted to be sale-clinchers in the coming year:
1. Retractable Glass Walls
Bright and light is the name of the game in luxury aesthetic. And while floor-to-ceiling windows and great exposures can get you there, there’s another feature that closes deals even faster: sliding glass walls that open up to the great outdoors. So, how to get there without a major overhaul? Consider replacing French or sliding doors to outdoor space with a contemporary, retractable wall instead.
2. High Ceilings
Buyers wanting tall ceilings isn’t new, but vaulted and cathedral ceilings are on the radar these days as well. For custom builders of new construction, this means considering features like these from the very beginning since they would be a massive undertaking in an already built home.
3. Quartzite Countertop
More contemporary than granite and less maintenance than marble, quartzite is all the rage for kitchen countertops these days. It’s a strong, long-lasting stone that generally comes in white to gray tones, aligning with that light-and-bright aesthetic luxury buyers are after.
4. Butler’s Pantry
A coveted butler’s pantry isn’t just extra counterspace and storage. Today’s high-end butler’s pantrys are mini kitchens of their own, hosing everything form ice makers to wine fridges and dishwashers to tuck away the mess of entertainment preparation. Homes with this feature are said to spend several less weeks on the market than those without.
5. Bonus Buildings
It might be a barn on the property, a carriage house converted to an office or studio, or an in-law apartment—but an additional building that can serve as annexed space goes a long way with luxury buyers. These not only present income opportunities for rentals, but give buyers extra “off-site” square footage for everything from guest space to entertaining, depending on the type of building.
6. Spa Bathrooms
A master bath that rivals a day at the spa has been a mainstay of luxury features for some time, but some designs are rivaling the fanciest resorts. Steam showers, heated floors, freestanding tubs are go-to upgrades. A $10,000 high-tech toilet isn’t out of the question either, and you might even have two, as dual toilets rise in popularity for the master bath.
7. Keep it Neutral
Gray tones—the lighter the better—are a safe hue for all parts of the home to make it more attractive to buyers. From window coverings to paint to floors, gray goes a long way in a for-sale home. If your furniture and décor doesn’t quite fit into “safe gray” territory, try at the very least, a fresh coat of off-white or light gray paint.
8. Smart-Home Systems
What exactly makes a home “smart?” The features can very, but the idea is that buyers expect a home to be fitted with modern technology. App-based home automation systems an control everything from lighting and music, window treatments, thermostats, and home security.
9. A Four-Car Garage
In cities like Chicago, a garage is harder to come by, and one that fits more than two vehicles is above and beyond. Whether for the extra storage or extra cars, having ample garage space is a win for sellers looking for features that will make their home stand out.
10. A Generator
As we’ve witnessed more natural disasters in the last few years, home preparedness has come to the forefront for buyers. A small generator can cost up to $50,000, while one for the entire home could cost more like $100,00. Depending on how a buyer values peace of mind, it might be an undervalued amenity—until you might need to use it.
While these are features for sellers to consider when putting a home on the market, they’re equally important for buyers to consider as well. Even though it may be several years down the line, I always encourage buyers to think about the resale value of a home they are considering for purchase, and how certain features may translate time and trends until they’re ready to sell.
To learn more about the features that Chicago sellers—and buyers—need to be thinking about this year, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at [email protected].