And Just What Is A Luxury Home?



Luxury Home Defined

by Roberta Murphy

It is a tough task in relativity to define a luxury home.

One’s perspective has as much to do with the definition as does the opulence, location or architectural significance of a particular property. One man’s simple home is another man’s castle, and vice versa.

Perhaps it is easier to consider what a luxury home is not. It is not a cookie cutter home in a subdivision tract, even if it is magnificently appointed. Why? It is probably lacking in presence, in architectural originality and may very well be lacking in coveted location.

New subdivisions throughout affluent communities are abounding in 5000 square foot stacked boxes with crown moldings, coffered ceilings and granite surfaces. The prices may reach seven figures, but do they really qualify as luxury homes? I have argued this with other luxury home specialists, and as soon as we agree upon a particular standard, exceptions to the rule emerge.

I am one of several directors with Windermere Exclusive Properties’ Distinctive Properties division in San Diego, CA. Luxury real estate in San Diego County is our specialty. It is our task to collectively approve or disapprove a listed property for that coveted “Luxury Home” designation.

It has proven to be a sometimes-difficult task. Price alone does not distinguish that status. It is location, property entry, arhcitecture, decor, decadent amenities, entertainment capability, lovely grounds and myriad other details that help a home stand out from the ordinary. A supersized McMansion does not qualify as a luxury home, unless it has the requisite extras, superior location and a view…perhaps. Or what about a cute $2 million cottage in Malibu that lacks both architectural clout and luxe surfaces? Does exquisite location make up for a dated or tacky interior? An architecturally significant home on a Midwestern prairie might qualify, even though it lacks in modern opulence.

As discerning and honest luxury real estate professionals, we believe we know one when we see it–especially when the home has all the markings of luxury, location and panache. What I am hoping occurs within this site is the discussion and display of luxury homes. I hope we can discuss trends, touches and tools that help to define the luxury home and luxury living. I am hoping we hear not only from Realtors, but from interior designers, builders, home stagers and other seasoned professionals who contribute to the luxurious homefront.

And from this continuing interchange, perhaps we can develop ongoing relationships where we can share information, ideas, trends–and perhaps even referrals to those professionals we will have come to know and respect.

This article has 12 Comments

  1. We have the same issue here in St. Petersburg, Florida. So many homes in beautiful waterfront locations are really tear-downs, so can’t be considered a luxury home despite their 7 figure price tag.

  2. Sharon: It is a tough problem in just about every market. Prime locations and lots were settled long ago, and the desirability of this scarce real estate does not diminish–though the property condition often does.

  3. To me a luxury home has several “price of entry” reprequisites that can’t be changed by the hand of man: Address (Beverly Hills), view, quantity of land surrounding it, climate, Mother Nature made activities(skiing, ocean, etc.)

    What can be controlled by the hand of man (architecture, scale, details, conveniences, views, layouts, interior decore,etc.) should be superb. So many homes today are built to “impress” w/o regard to function, beauty, classic proportions, etc. Why would anyone consider a run down or poorly designed home in a great setting a luxury property.

    It seems to me that both the man made and Mother Nature made elements must come together in unison/harmony for a property to be considered luxurious.

    Properties that have been preserved through the years embody this philosophy. They become so special that people take the time and money to maintain and preserve them.

    All the better if they also enjoy the elusive elements of authentic “community” and a focus on the pedestrian.

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