The Beauty Of Boho Chic

Originally appeared on sothebysrealty.com.

Bohemian design has a piecemeal quality—as if every accent, object, and furniture find was picked up along a storied journey through time. Yet the beauty of it is that everything has its rightful place in a well-worn tapestry. Crafty and colorful, worldly, and eclectic, the carefree look is also homey.

Born with a free-spirited vibe, bohemian design came into being in early 20th-century Europe—specifically England, Austria, and France—as part of a movement of nomadic artists who balked at convention and embraced a creative lifestyle that disrupted tradition. The aesthetic “was a reaction to the more formal living arrangements that had taken place prior,” says Alexander Doherty of Alexander Doherty Design based in New York and Paris.

Clare Louise Frost, co-owner of Tamam, a line of textiles and décor in Manhattan, describes it as “a design version of an urban, peripatetic, artistic, and intellectual lifestyle, which favored art and creative work above a life directed by making money and purchasing status comforts. It’s a design scheme that favors the labor of love and the collected piece over the templates of the more traditional,” Frost says.

A living room designed by Jessica Davis.
A living room designed by Jessica Davis

 

“I see bohemian style as a way of life more than a design aesthetic,” says Michelle Salz-Smith, founder of Studio Surface, a design firm in Del Mar, Calif. “We are all craving that free-spiritedness more than ever. There’s a sense of curiosity, adventure, and poetry in it.”

Layered and full of life, bohemian-style décor was expressed through textural elements such as shawls draped over lamp shades, rich colors on walls, and a lack of boundary or design norms. “There were lots of mismatching shapes that didn’t necessarily work together and the overall sense that anything would do,” Doherty says. “Color palettes were very saturated with purples, oranges, chocolates, and other jewel tones.”

After the 1920s, bohemian design all but faded away; however, it has come back full force over the past 20 years with a more modern vernacular, Doherty says. “Now, it’s much more eclectic and denotes a very informal lifestyle with flea market finds mixed with antiques.”

At its core, the effect is comfortable, cozy, well-traveled, and atmospheric, says Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo of Laurie Blumenfeld Design in New York. “It’s a feeling that artists have been there—as if you’ve been transported to another land. You look around the space and want to learn the stories behind the pieces,” she says. Weaving together a visual about your life, travels, and loves takes some storytelling in the details of the design.

 

A close-up view of the living room designed by Jessica Davis shows how layering colorful artwork works
A close-up view of the living room designed by Jessica Davis shows how layering colorful artwork works.

 

Mix, Don’t Match

The essential elements of bohemian design include artful touches, an unabashed use of color and pattern, a sense of playfulness, and items that are meaningful to the owner, says Elisabeth Rogoff, principal at Champalimaud Design in New York. “There should be an ease to it all and a mix of pieces from across various styles and patterns and in all sizes and scales, as well as a mix of materials and textures,” she says.

Blending old and new is one of the best ways to pull off the look. This means combining family heirlooms with things you’ve collected along the way—décor from your travels or around the block, Frost says. “Make sure the room has a feeling of warmth and completeness, without diving toward clutter. Antique and vintage pieces are ideal, but quality and condition are a consideration, especially for pieces like pillows that will receive heavy use,” she says. Consider mounting and framing antique textiles on the walls and including bookshelves bursting with tomes, as well as a variety of artwork. “It is the exact opposite of going into a showroom and picking things out where there is going to be the same vernacular that goes from one object to another,” Doherty says.

Another way to create an eclectic, lived-in space is by melding high and low with interesting objects, textiles, and furniture, says Sarah Henry, managing director at Paris-based La Manufacture Cogolin. “Rugs are essential, and if there is a lot of bold pattern on the floor, it’s better to have less on the furniture, or vice versa,” she says.

To ground the space, Rogoff suggests keeping one or two main color themes, particularly for the largest pieces. “It’s essential to have a color story in mind as the base of the room’s palette and then build off that by having no color story in mind, but by instead relying on a mix of textures and patterns to activate your personal ethos,” she says.

Don’t be afraid of color—and mixing colors that you might normally think clash, says Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis, a design studio based in New York and Atlanta, and make sure there are plenty of natural textures in there as well.

An office area by Alexander Doherty, who likes to incorporate collected pieces.
An office area by Alexander Doherty, who likes to incorporate collected pieces

 

Let There Be Layers

Bohemian style infuses a space with life because of its eclecticism. “You can choose things that have a story and your home suddenly becomes more of a varied historical lesson,” Doherty says. Layering is an ideal way to achieve a collected look. “It also allows you to bring in and be inspired by many different regions,” he says. For example, fabrics from the Middle and Far East, furniture from Europe, or accessories from Asia. “Collected can feel bohemian but also sophisticated at the same time,” Doherty says.

The key components of bohemian design are comfort and usability, a mix of high and low and old and new, patterns, textures, and things from various places you’ve been, Frost says. “Light where you need it, pillows where you need them, an ottoman that can be a perch or table, a travel trunk you use as a coffee table,” she says.

Layering different patterns, textures, colors, and interesting accessories can lend depth to a room, and reflect the owner’s travels and culture in a relaxed environment, Henry says. She recommends using pillows to layer in patterns. “Wood side tables and interesting stools can bring a different type of texture and sculpture to a room,” Henry says.

Blumenfeld-Russo suggests combining a neutral base with a contemporary statement piece (think rugs, or furniture) and layering in a collection of well-curated objects such as pottery, sculptures, or baskets.

“While bohemian décor and design falls on the maximalist spectrum, I aim to balance the design with minimal touches, be it a clean-lined furniture piece or the blank canvas of a white wall. The room should feel eclectic but also have negative space and room to breathe,” she says.

 

A warm-yet-chic bedroom by Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo
A warm-yet-chic bedroom by Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo.

 

Play With Patterning

Adding life to the look is as much about color as it is about pattern. Frost suggests using patterns that are reproductions of French or British prints or brocades such as abstract florals. “Nothing too palatial or rigid or too country,” she says. “Bohemian is an urban style,” Frost says.

Salz-Smith loves Spanish patterns that hearken back to times of antiquity; “a good chintz fabric to add unexpected botanical flavor.” She sometimes taps a mural artist for both indoor and outdoor graphics that are singular to the home.

The trick is to use patterns of different sizes and shapes, such as a small Indian block print combined with a large cabana stripe, so that they don’t compete, Davis says. “Pattern is all about varying scales and finding one element, whether it be a color or theme or texture that unknowingly makes everything tie together in an easy way,” Rogoff says. “Elevate the look by using an artful eye that understands color and scale relationships. Respect the idea that beautiful pieces complement each other no matter how different they are.”

Cue the Comfort Factor

The look should evoke the geography of a life, Salz-Smith says. “I love the idea of home as an autobiography, especially when we work on second and third homes that should convey a lived-in warmth,” she says. “Forget contrived and perfect; these homes reflect a spirit of harmony, an emotional connection with place, time, and culture.” She prefers comfortable seating from designers, including Croft House and Michael Robbins. “No spindly chairs. We never want clients saying, ‘Be careful sitting on that.’”

Textures in textiles/rugs should be entirely geared toward comfort, too, Frost says. “A cashmere throw on the sofa for snuggling with a book, or pillows that don’t match per se but are in the same color family,” she says. “I think of warm textures, too, not the shiny sheen of silk, but the warmth and hand of cotton, linen, or wool,” she says.

“A bohemian room is intimate and not a showpiece for guests,” Frost says. She recommends using furniture in a British or more classic style rather than a sleek modernist look. Coffee tables and side/occasional tables can be done in walnut or cherry or use brass or copper tray tables where you need them. “Comfortable chintz sofas, striped armchairs, kilim ottomans; mix in some rattan or leather, fibers, surfaces, and textures. Think warmth, think comfort, think of reading your favorite novel and your ideal place to do it,” Frost says.

A space designed by Michelle Salz-Smith, who says she sees bohemian as a way of life, rather than a design style.
A space designed by Michelle Salz-Smith, who says she sees bohemian as a way of life, rather than a design style

Modern Marvels

Originally appeared on sothebysrealty.com.

“Less is more.”

That was the edict of one of modern architecture’s patron saints, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and is still a guiding principle for many contemporary practitioners. Geometric shapes, a lack of ornamentation, open, efficient floor plans, and seamless indoor-outdoor living are hallmarks of modern masterpieces. But above all, materials—glass, steel, and concrete—shape the designs.

Van der Rohe himself was a glass-and-steel devotee, as evidenced not only by his signature glass box skyscrapers (such as the Seagram building in New York), but also the private homes he designed.

One of his most famous is the Farnsworth House, a one-level glass home, framed in white metal. Located about an hour from Chicago, it was completed in 1951 and is now a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Van der Rohe, born in Germany and part of a migration of architects to the U.S. before World War II, was part of the International Modern school. But other styles, such as Dutch De Stijl architecture, also incorporated many of the modern elements.

One example is the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht in the Netherlands. The residence was designed by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for the woman he loved, Truus Schröder, and her three children, according to Natalie Dubois, curator of the house, which is now a museum. Rietveld was inspired by the Dutch artistic movement De Stijl. Fluid transitions between interior and exterior, clean lines, and the use of primary colors next to white, gray, and black (think Piet Mondrian, who was one of the leaders of the movement).

But Schröder had ideas, too, and wanted a home that was less constrained than most traditional builds.

“It’s based on the way she wanted to live,” Dubois says. That meant a glass facade, which was new at the time, open interior spaces with sliding walls, little to no ornamentation, and built-ins and furniture that have multiple uses. Visitors to the home often compare it to a houseboat, mobile home, or modern tiny house, where everything is multifunctional and compact, Dubois notes.

Many of the design elements seen in these homes are still popular with today’s architects. Take the Lost House in London by architect Sir David Adjaye, winner of the 2021 Royal Gold Medal, an award approved by Her Majesty The Queen and given to those who have had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture.

The 4,000-square-foot residence gets its name from its simple entryway, according to listing agent Guy Bradshaw of United Kingdom Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’s literally just a front door,” he says. “You could walk by it every day for 10 years and not know it’s there.”

The Lost House in London was designed by Sir David Adjaye. It looks understated from the outside, but is architecturally sophisticated inside

£6,500,000

Property ID: MFL5LR | sothebysrealty.com

United Kingdom Sotheby’s International Realty

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But beyond that door is an open living space with textured black walls and three light wells that create glass-encased interior courtyards and flood the space with sunlight. One of those light wells is at the center of the space and features a fishpond, while the others create gardens within the home.

The Lost House interior, has black walls and three light wells.
The Lost House interior, has black walls and three light wells

 

“This home was created in 2004 effectively out of nothing,” he says. “It was an old storage yard, and Sir David Adjaye created this incredible U-shaped home with volume, space, and the clever use of light.”

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, listed for £6.5 million, also features an indoor pool, a large office above the garage, and a lime-green sunken entertainment room that brings color to the otherwise dark palette.

In Spain’s Balearic Islands, the color scheme is decidedly lighter. There, affluent foreign buyers are looking for minimalist homes with views, clean lines, and outdoor space, says Alejandra Vanoli, managing director of VIVA Sotheby’s.

One such property is a newly completed four-bedroom, four-bathroom villa in Palma de Mallorca. The white box structure is like a modern version of Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, but with mountain views. And although there are floor-to-ceiling windows, it is also partially covered by Iroko wooden cladding that brings warmth to the minimalist architecture.

“The construction is very solid with a lot of noble wood,” says Vanoli, adding that home automation allows owners to control and monitor the residence from afar. There’s a pool and lounge area, outdoor fireplace, oak flooring throughout, travertine marble floors, and radiant, underfloor heating. The property is listed for €3.5 million and is represented by Sandra Cosio of Mallorca Sotheby’s.

A white box home in Palma de Mallorca, nails indoor-outdoor synergy
A white box home in Palma de Mallorca, nails indoor-outdoor synergy.

The preferred materials of modern architecture, exposed steel, concrete, and lots of glass, are also on display at a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home on the market in Seattle. Like the Mallorca home, it incorporates natural elements to take the edge off the minimalist design.

“The materials, while restrained in the home, are still very rich and so well defined,” says listing agent Moira Holley, the founding director of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty and a co-founder of the firm’s resale division. “The use of the materials is really exquisite.”

Double-height windows in the center of the residence, asking $2.45 million, allow for far-reaching views of the Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island, and the Olympic Mountains. The main floor has an open-floor plan with a fireplace surrounded by cold-rolled steel and walls lined with bookshelves.

Designed by Seattle-based Eric Cobb, one of the top-five contemporary architects in the Northwest U.S., the residence has two terraces that extend the living space outside, Holley notes. On the upper level, the outdoor space is adjacent to the primary bedroom suite and features a spa with “the most incredible view.”

In fact, Cobb’s ample use of glass means there are vistas from almost everywhere in the house, including the garage.

“Luxury equals a view for your car,” Holley jokes.

€3,500,000

Property ID: 9RE8SE | sothebysrealty.com

Mallorca Sotheby’s International Realty

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A white box home in Palma de Mallorca, nails indoor-outdoor synergy

Totally Tactile

Originally appeared on sothebysrealty.com

A truly inspired interior isn’t just something pretty to look at, it’s an immersive experience felt through every sense—including touch. The plushness of a shaggy rug underfoot, the splendor of running your fingers through a faux fur hide, the cozy lure of a hand-knit ottoman—by incorporating texture and tactility into your design, the look and feel becomes interactive. “Careful and thoughtful layering of a space makes a room come alive,” says Rome, Italy-based architect and designer Achille Salvagni. “Alongside color and materials, tactile elements are extremely important. These are the details that can complete a room and transform it from a clinical, sterile environment into a warm and inviting space,” he says.

Tactility can be expressed in many ways, through textured fabrics and materials, through the art of layering, whether rugs or throw blankets, or through accents and artwork that bring a sense of warmth and depth to a room. “It is important to mix the ingredients in the same way a chef creates a perfect dish, bringing all the flavors together in a harmonious balance,” Salvagni says. Contrasts between hard and soft finishes and light and dark colors are essential. And the room shouldn’t be too crowded—individual pieces need to be able to breathe and stand out on their own, Salvagni says.

Achille Salvagni, who designed the room below, says tactile elements can complete and transform a room into a warm, inviting space
Achille Salvagni, who designed the room below, says tactile elements can complete and transform a room into a warm, inviting space.

Focus on Fabrics and Finishes

The fabrics and textiles you choose are key to creating a sense of tactility. Los Angeles-based interior designer Peti Lau uses plush fabrics, such as cashmere, velvet, and mohair, to add softness to a room. “It’s the same feeling when you put on a high-quality cashmere sweater—it’s just so yummy—the same goes for designing a room with fabrics that are super soft to the touch,” she says. Cashmere can be applied as window treatments. “It drapes beautifully, is incredibly soft, and the consistency of color can be very soothing and set the tone of the room,” Lau says. Lush fabrics such as velvet, embroidery, or silk also work well for drapery.

Woven fabrics, such as mohair, are a great way to introduce textures. They lend incredibly rich color to an upholstery piece and are very durable, Lau says. She also loves to use Mongolian cashmere or a sheepskin rug in a bedroom. “It’s a fantastic way to be connected to your senses—waking up and the first thing your feet touch is that soft, plush rug,” she says. Rugs can also be layered—a faux fur hide over a natural fiber, for example. Designers Michael Violante and Paul Rochford of Violante & Rochford Interiors in Santa Fe, N.M., create a sense of touch in a room by incorporating upholstery on chairs, sofas, ottomans, and lampshades, and through artwork and antiques, wallpaper, glass and steel tables, baskets, and other woven materials like seagrass. They also love to use textiles, such as Navajo rugs, as wall hangings. Tactile finishes aren’t just limited to fabrics, upholstery, or rugs. They can also be applied to walls. Salvagni suggests using alpaca or bronze wall panels.

Nubby wallpaper, plaster-style wall treatments, upholstered pieces, textured tile or wood flooring, and light fixtures are some of the ways you can add a palpable touch to a space, says Nina Magon, founder and principal of Nina Magon Studio in Houston.

Magon first considers the use, durability, and location of the tactile piece itself. “It can be beautiful and add interest, but if it does not wear well, or doesn’t feel good, i.e., fabric that is coarse or scratchy, then it is not functional,” she says.

A bedroom by Peti Lau combines textures and colors.
A bedroom by Peti Lau combines textures and colors

Look to Layering

Layering touchable surfaces adds more interest and depth within your design. For example, using a range of different fabric throw pillows on your sofa will create beautiful layers and add interest for the eye with a range of textures, Magon says.

Salvagni chooses to layer natural textiles including sheepskin, wool, mohair, and velvet, and then adds throw pillows—all while introducing other materials like parchment, bronze, fine woods, marble, onyx, and Murano glass in the way of furniture and accessories in other areas of the room. Rugs, whether hand-tufted wool or silk, against a hardwood or stone floor for contrast, are another way Salvagni adds a tangible quality. “Each of these has a different feel and can help the ambience change during the day along with different levels of light,” he says.

Successfully layering is all about contrasting different elements, say Violante and Rochford. “You don’t want rugs to be too bulky, or accent pieces to be overwhelming; a balance between all the different textures will give you an environment that is comfortable yet stylish, with a bit of depth—and the effect of many things pulled together to create one unified feeling or experience.”

Salvagni creates harmony between textures and colors. “You can have contrast, but it must be balanced and resonate with something else in the room,” he says.

Create Balance

Balancing smooth surfaces with textured ones is key, Magon says. Color and texture are also important. “Make sure the color and texture of your tactile surfaces blend with the other elements in your space so everything feels cohesive,” she says.

Violante and Rochford opt for soft, sheer window treatments along with stone or wood on the floor with a rug adding into the mix. “What you want is a lush, elegant tactile experience that works harmoniously,” they say.

To keep a space balanced, Salvagni uses natural materials for upholstery along with velvet and mohair. “Velvet curtains can be used to lend a sense of drama and grandeur or on the contrary, silk or sheer curtains give lightness to a room,” he says. “Colors, materials, and textures will bring all the pieces together.”

A chic yet warm room designed by Violante & Rochford Interiors
A chic yet warm room designed by Violante & Rochford Interiors.

Sotheby’s International Realty Sees 32% Sales Growth, Achieving $150 Billion In Global Sales Volume In 2020

Originally posted on sothebysrealty.com.

Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce that its affiliated brokers and independent sales professionals achieved a record US$150 billion in 2020 global sales volume, a nearly 32% increase in sales growth year over year, as the definition of home changed for consumers around the world. Due to a longstanding commitment to innovation, Sotheby’s International Realty® agents were able to seamlessly help clients navigate the changing market dynamics brought on by the global pandemic with existing technology offerings which propelled business momentum.

Agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty quickly pivoted to address the impact of the global pandemic,” said Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty. “Thanks to innovations we pioneered nearly a decade ago, our affiliated companies and agents made the impossible possible. Their adaptability to serve clients safely further extended our position as a leader in luxury real estate.”

Long-Standing Commitment to Virtual Technology Paved Way for Success

Sotheby’s International Realty continued to lead the industry and was well-positioned to meet the needs of consumers as the buying and selling process became increasingly virtual. Sotheby’s International Realty agents accelerated the use of the brand’s existing video, virtual reality, and live-streaming technology to produce new forms of content that engaged buyers and set a new standard for marketing luxury properties. Currently, buyers can safely tour more than 6,000 properties via virtual reality or video on sothebysrealty.com. Property videos also proved engaging on social media where the brand’s YouTube channel delivered 43 million views, or the equivalent of more than one million hours watched.

As a leader in the luxury real estate industry, Sotheby’s International Realty is able to anticipate trends,” said Chief Marketing Officer, Bradley Nelson. “Our priority remains to present listings in the best possible manner and to provide a superb end-user experience however buyers prefer to search for their new home. Virtual technology has been at the forefront of our marketing strategy for several years and comes as naturally to us as our commitment to high quality service.”

The brand also unveiled a new website, sothebysrealty.com, available in 14 languages and nearly 60 currency conversions, to continue serving its growing international clientele and fuel referrals worldwide. The website achieved a notable amount of traffic for the brand with 37 million visits in 2020. Property videos on the site produced by Sotheby’s International Realty agents were especially popular and played nearly 13 million times in 2020, totaling more than 90,000 hours watched.

A Year of Strategic Growth and Record Achievements

Despite travel restrictions, Sotheby’s International Realty remained committed to expanding its global footprint and achieving strategic growth. In 2020, the brand opened more than 50 new offices across the world, bringing the brand’s total presence to nearly 1,000 offices in 75 countries and territories with approximately 24,000 independent sales associates worldwide.

The brand’s existing affiliated companies around the world continued to grow in 2020. Sotheby’s International Realty increased its total domestic presence to 45 states around the country. Sotheby’s International Realty facilitated affiliate expansions through  12 domestic M&A transactions, including California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, and Washington.

The brand also continued to expand internationally in key markets and opened offices in seven new territories. In Europe, the brand expanded to Ukraine, Romania, Montenegro, and in Germany. In the Asia-Pacific region, the brand opened its first office in South Korea and expanded in the Caribbean and Latin American region with two new offices in Paraguay and Antigua & Barbuda.

Our international footprint is one of our greatest competitive advantages,” said Tammy Fahmi, vice president, global operations and international servicing. “Our brand’s locations are in the most desirable places around the globe, so our clients know they can rely on our local market expertise wherever they are looking to buy or sell.”

As affluent individuals looked to acquire secondary homes in markets around the world, Sotheby’s International Realty agents acted as true global real estate advisors and referral volume surged by 42% to US$2.9 billion in closed sales volume.

Our 2020 results prove what is possible when you focus on quality above all else. We remain proud to be the real estate brand of choice for so many luxury real estate experts and affluent clients. We will continue to work tirelessly to prove their trust has been well placed,” concluded White.

Gulf to Bay Sotheby’s International Realty Named Top Brokerage on Boca Grande

The numbers are in and according to Stellar MLS, Gulf to Bay Sotheby’s International Realty represented the most buyers and sellers in total units sold and also recorded the largest volume of sales for 2020. The information was collected and reported by real estate data company Lalapoint, LLC from January 1st, 2020 through December 31st, 2020.

Click here to read more about the volume of deals represented.

Click here to read more about the number of buyer and seller units represented.

Town and Country Magazine Hosts Tour of Boca Grande’s Newly Renovated Gasparilla Inn

gasparilla inn

Photography by Brantley Photography

Since its 1913 remodel, the Gasparilla Inn & Club has been a power hub in the sleepy village of Boca Grande, located on a barrier island between Naples and Sarasota. Titans of industry like J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford vacationed there, as did Hollywood elite like Katherine Hepburn. But after a century of vacationers, the shabby-chic transomed rooms (sans air conditioning), peanut butter and bacon canapes at cocktail hour, and a strict, clubby dress code, were in need of a refresh. The designers to call? Interior design duo Palm Beach native Mimi Maddock McMakin, Cece Bowman and Mackenzie Hodgson of Kemble Interiors. A team who intrinsically understood which Lovey and Thurston Howell-esque touches should stay, and which were ready to enter a new era.

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INTRODUCING…LUXURY OUTLOOK 2021

Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce the release of its inaugural 2021 Luxury Outlook report which examines high-end residential markets across the globe in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The comprehensive report provides insight into the world’s top primary and secondary markets and the anticipated wealth trends that will drive discretionary investment in the coming months. The report reveals that global wealth is forecasted to grow and pandemic trends are expected to persist in the year ahead. With priorities shifting toward larger homes with special amenities, including “Zoom rooms,” multiple offices and workspaces, and an increased interest in sustainable homes with wellness and technology features, the Luxury Outlook highlights new spending habits and homebuying trends.

“As a leader in luxury real estate, it was important for us to analyze trends emerging from the most unparalleled year in modern history,” said Bradley Nelson, chief marketing officer for Sotheby’s International Realty. “The pandemic recalibrated interest in larger, greener properties, secondary cities, and geographies with favorable tax and emigration policies. These preferences are likely here to stay for the foreseeable future, and it was important for us to provide a resource to those looking to navigate the months ahead.”

Join us as we explore these market-shaping forces and more on luxuryoutlook.com.

MILLENNIALS ARE CHANGING THE LUXURY REAL ESTATE MARKET

In sharp contrast to the “slacker” stereotype that has defined their generation, millennials aren’t living in parents’ basements. They’re buying multimillion-dollar homes.

At 38%, millennials—adults born from 1981 to 1996—represent the largest share of home buyers in the U.S., according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors released last year. “They’re just as interested in owning a home. They just waited longer to buy their first one,” says Bradley Nelson, chief marketing officer of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Breaking from the notion of a “starter home” that older generations embraced, wealthy millennials, Nelson says, are going big.

relates to Millennials Are Changing the Luxury Real Estate Market
This $17.5 million, six-bedroom home is on the market in Austin, Texas.
Photographer: JP Morales for Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty

“In the past, people bought a modest property, lived in it until starting a family, and then traded up to a larger property,” he says. “Millennials are finally coming out of the gate, and it’s not uncommon for the first purchase as a first time homebuyer to be a multimillion-dollar luxury home in the U.S. or internationally.”

As a result, millennials are quickly becoming a dominant force in high-end real estate.

relates to Millennials Are Changing the Luxury Real Estate Market
This $46 million house for sale in Aspen, set on 115 acres, contains 17 bedrooms.
Photographer:  Michael Brands for Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty

Millennials are the most educated generation in history, have higher earnings, and are set to inherit more than any prior generation, according to a May 2020 report by the Brookings Institute.

Characterized by their tech savvy and environmentally conscious values, millennial preferences are poised to dramatically shape the market, a dynamic that has been on display during the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning almost immediately after the coronavirus hit, for instance, buyers began to flock to areas that offered walkability, nature, and a well-rounded quality of life. (Think food and an art scene.)

Total sales volume in Aspen hit a record high of more than $1.5 billion in the third quarter, while in some neighborhoods of Park City, Utah, median sales prices spiked by more than 50% during the summer, according to Sotheby’s 2021 Luxury Outlook.

Outside the U.S., the Mornington Peninsula outside Melbourne on Australia’s southeastern coast has also seen a similar influx, the report states.

Permanent Changes

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A $5.7 million home for sale in Koh Samui, Thailand.
Source: Kaya Estate for List Sotheby’s International Realty

Going forward, developers are likely to integrate touchless, high-tech features into more homes and focus on bolstering sustainability credentials in new buildings, Nelson says.

From energy-saving geothermal systems and solar panels to green roofs, “these are the features that are most attractive,” he adds. “If a home is move-in ready and environmentally conscious and has a Tesla charger installed in the garage, those homes are generating a premium, because you have so many buyers interested in competing for them.”

Overall, the luxury real estate market is ripe for growth.

According to a December Sotheby’s International Realty survey, 63% of affiliates polled said they expected luxury home prices to rise over the next three years in their respective markets. More than 70% of respondents reported heightened demand at the end of 2020.

Luxury Headwinds

relates to Millennials Are Changing the Luxury Real Estate Market
A mansion in Montecito, Calif., that’s on sale for almost $17 million sits on just over 4 acres.
Photographer: Matt Wier for Sotheby’s International Realty

In the short term, however, disjointed vaccine distribution and renewed quarantine restrictions could hamper foreign buyer interest. Only one-third of Sotheby’s affiliates expect to see an uptick in demand in the first half of 2021, according to the report.

Additionally, amid indiscriminate declines in overall tax revenues caused by the pandemic, governments globally are reassessing property and wealth taxes as a means of filling budget gaps.

“Across all buyers, tax implications are going to be larger part of their home-purchase consideration,” Nelson says.

For the fast-growing cohort of young, affluent buyers eager to snag their dream homes, millennials face slim pickings for options that meet their unique tastes. “Inventories are at near-record lows in general, and especially for the homes with the features they’re looking for,” he says.

Still, Nelson adds that with “wealth creation growing and cost of capital declining, it’s a promising storm for the high-end housing market.”

SIGNIFICANT SALES | 2020 Highlights

From the sale of the highest-priced home in the history of Vail, Colorado, to that of an architectural masterpiece in Las Lomas, Mexico, highlighted here are 10 Significant Sales from 2020 represented by the Sotheby’s International Realty® global network.

Vail, Colorado

Sold for $57,250,000 | Tye Stockton, LIV Sotheby’s International Realty

East Hampton, New York

Sold for $45,000,000 | Frank Newbold and Valerie Smith, Sotheby’s International Realty – East Hampton Brokerage

McLean, Virginia

Sold for $45,000,000 | Russell Firestone and Mark Lowham, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty 

East Flanders, Belgium

Sold for €18,000,000 | Dirk Hoebrechts, Belgium Sotheby’s International Realty 

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Sold for $38,00,000 | Lexi Cerretti, Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty 

New York, New York

Sold for $35,140,000 | Stan Ponte, Sotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage

Sydney, South Australia

Sold for $24,600,000 AUD | Michael Pallier, Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty

Montecito, California

Sold for $32,250,000 | Dusty BakerEric Lavey, Sotheby’s International Realty – Montecito – Coast Village Road Brokerage, and Michael Dreyfus, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty

Aspen, Colorado

Sold for $32,000,000 | Craig Morris, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty

Las Lomas, Mexico


Sold for $4,750,000 | Jessica Potts and Laura de la Torre, Mexico Sotheby’s International Realty