Vancouver Rules The World (of Luxury Real Estate)

As the most populous city in British Columbia — and the most densely populated city in all of Canada — Vancouver clearly attracts a lot of people and attention.

And according to the 2015 Prime International Residential Index developed by U.K.-based property consultants Knight Frank, Vancouver ranks #1 in the global real estate market. In 2015, the city’s high-end market was up almost 25% from the previous year. (Actual percentage is 24.5%.)

On the Index, Vancouver’s closest competitor was Sydney, Australia — which grew at a rate of 14.8% in the same time period, nearly 10% less than that of Vancouver.

Vancouver was one of only four North American cities in the top 20 (others including San Francisco at #7, Toronto at #12, and Miami at #14), and one of only eleven North American cities in the top 100. The others included Los Angeles at #22, Boston at #27, The Hamptons at #30, Washington, D.C. at #33, New York City at #39, Aspen at #53, and Chicago at #64.

The main reason for the city’s surge is a lack of supply in the face of increased international demand — while the weakened Canadian dollar is also playing a role.

Interestingly, Vancouver is not considered to be one of the cities that matter most to the world’s wealthy. In fact, Knight Frank notes that it is more reflective of the fact that many ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) who are educating their children overseas while working and living in multiple locations around the world.

When asked about Vancouver’s luxury real estate market, ILHM expert and Vancouver REALTOR® Alan Skinner noted that it "has been somewhat 'frantic' for an extended time, but we are feeling a ‘cooling-off’ approaching where rampant competition made (particularly investors) determined to "win" at all costs.

“Home seekers are being trumped by foreign investors and a levelling off of prices is likely,” Skinner continued. "Profit taking" (sale of residential property investments) may result in further price declines."

With regard to Vancouver’s appeal, Skinner opined that "desirability, livability and the spectacular natural beauty are clearly the reason demand for residential property is so high.”

Mr. Skinner continued: “Alas, the policies allowing for unrestrained investment prevalent over the past 10 years or so has encouraged not only immigrants, but substantial pure speculation by those intent on investing in a safe, appealing environment."

But this kind of phenomenon sometimes faces scrutiny and even a desire to control (or even slow down) the explosive growth. Some governments are trying to limit foreign buyers with new property taxes, as the negative effects on overall affordability can be worrisome for the average homebuyer.

Some relevant facts and figures about Vancouver:

  • Ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade.
  • Ranked as having the 4th highest quality of living of any city on Earth.
  • 9 years ago, Forbes ranked Vancouver as the 6th most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second-highest in North America after Los Angeles.
  • Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada's most expensive cities in which to live. Sales in February 2016 were 56.3% higher than the 10 year average for the month.
  • Forbes has also ranked Vancouver as the tenth cleanest city in the world.
  • Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit acknowledged it as the first city to rank among the top-ten of the world's most liveable cities for five consecutive years.

So while many would surmise that major metropolitan cities like New York, London and Dubai would be leading the pack when it comes to growth in global luxury real estate, it’s interesting to note that #1 — by a wide margin — is beautiful Vancouver!


BY THE NUMBER: THE 2016 FORBES LIST OF WORLD'S BILLIONAIRES

Over the past five years, the Forbes magazine list of The World’s Billionaires has revealed — and continues to reveal — many interesting things about the wealthiest individuals around the globe:

HOW MANY BILLIONAIRES ARE THERE?

  • In 2011, there were 1,210 billionaires (people with a net worth of $1 billion or more).
  • In 2015, that number rose to 1,826.
  • In 2016, the list actually shrank a bit to 1,810.

BIG NAMES

The top ten billionaires in 2016 (in order of wealth) are:

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Amancio Ortega
  3. Warren Buffett
  4. Carlos Slim Helu
  5. Jeff Bezos
  6. Mark Zuckerberg
  7. Larry Ellison
  8. Michael Bloomberg
  9. Charles Koch
  10. David Koch

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

A few interesting notes:

  • Five of the top seven billionaires from the 2011 list are still in the top seven: Gates (#2 in 2011), Ortega (#7), Buffett (#3), Helu (#1) and Ellison (#5).
  • We also see that the top three from 2011 (Helu, Gates, Buffett) are still in the top four.
  • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg rose from #52 in 2011 all the way to #6 today.

WHERE THEY COME FROM

It should be no surprise that the tech sector continues to lead the way in creating billionaires. Also of note:

  • In 2011, about 1 in 3 billionaires (413, or 34%) were from the United States.
  • Today, 540 billionaires are from the U.S. — or 29.8% of the list.
  • Today, eight of the top 10 billionaires on the list are from the United States.
  • China has the second most at 251, and Germany is third with 120.
  • The Asia-Pacific region has 590 total — making it the region with the most billionaires.

 


Leaders in Luxury Advisory Board Named for 2016 Conference in Tucson

We at the Institute are thrilled to announce the 2016 Advisory Board for our annual “Leaders in Luxury” event — taking place at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Tucson, AZ, from October 10-12.

We selected six of the industry’s top professionals to serve as Advisors for this year’s annual event. They are:

Every member of our Advisory Board is an exceptional luxury real estate professional from across North America or Canada and is a leader in his/her luxury residential market.

Our advisory board this year will be playing a more substantial role than in years’ past. We have asked these individuals to provide their expert input on everything from content, to speakers, to overall experience improvement. We’re excited about the ways in which we are raising the bar this year in Tucson on some of our signature LIL experiences that our attendees have come to love and expect, continuing in the tradition of being the industry’s preeminent luxury real estate event.

The incredible scenery of the Tortolita Mountains foreshadows the exceptional experience we’ll have — with world-class speakers, fresh industry-leading content, an unparalleled list of top-producing attendees, and much more.

For more information about Leaders In Luxury, visit www.LeadersinLuxury.com or email info@luxuryhomemarketing.com.


PYRAMID-SHAPED YACHT "LEVITATES" WITH LUXURY

This story is about a luxury yacht with expected amenities — such as gorgeous sun decks and elegant eating areas — but also a high-tech twist or two.

Created by London-based architect Jonathan Schwinge, the Tetrahedron Super Yacht’s unique design is based on a three-based pyramid shape. But beyond the vessel’s four faces and six leading edges (which provide greater stability), it actually appears to float above the water — thanks to a single vertical strut on a torpedo hull that remains underwater.

According to Schwinge, the yacht will lift above the water (at speed) on side-mounted, adjustable hydrofoils. This enables the vessel to travel smoothly — even in choppy waters — and reduces seasickness by eliminating any rocking or heeling.

The yacht features a take-off speed of 15 knots (17.2 MPH), and can reach speeds as high as 38 knots (43.7 MPH) above the water line. Its range is 3,000 nautical miles.

Schwinge believes that his design will reshape the “modern superyacht” into a simple enclosure that can function as “an elevated mode of travel above the water line.”

While there is no price tag on the Tetrahedron Super Yacht, it’s easy to see that this kind of vessel would be coveted by high-tech fans who can afford such a luxury item.

 


TOP 7 HOTTEST PLACES IN THE U.S. TO MOVE TO - AND BUY A HOME

Forbes magazine recently answered two important real estate questions:

Where are people moving to?

And where are people investing in homes?

At the end of this article, we’ll answer our own question: What are the most attractive cities for movers and for homebuyers?

To determine where people are moving to, Forbes examined the population growth (or decrease) in major cities throughout the U.S. They focused on a variety of factors — specifically, economic opportunities, affordable housing, and cost of living.

The cities that the most people are moving to are:

  1. Austin
  2. Raleigh
  3. San Antonio
  4. Denver
  5. Nashville
  6. Charlotte
  7. Orlando
  8. Houston
  9. Oklahoma City
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth

 

Austin and the other Texas cities owe much of their success to the state’s excellence in job creation and overall business growth — thanks in part to corporate-friendly laws and taxes that have supported new companies and attracted existing companies looking to relocate.

Elsewhere in the southern states, Raleigh and Nashville continue to grow thanks to the technology, manufacturing and business services strengthening their respective economies. And many movers are also heading to the Mountain States and the Pacific Northwest, taking advantage of the mostly strong economic growth and affordable housing costs.

It’s one thing to move, but it’s another thing to get a mortgage and purchase a home. The top 20 cities where people are buying homes are:

  1. Grand Rapids
  2. Orlando
  3. San Antonio
  4. Charlotte
  5. Salt Lake City
  6. Dallas
  7. Austin
  8. Fort Lauderdale
  9. Seattle
  10. Cape Coral/Fort Myers
  11. Indianapolis
  12. North Port/Bradenton/Sarasota
  13. Nashville
  14. Tampa
  15. Charleston
  16. Denver
  17. Madison
  18. Jacksonville
  19. West Palm Beach
  20. Boise

 

This list considered factors including job growth, population increases and expected home price appreciation. Although nationwide housing prices are on the rise, overall wages are unchanging — so many 2016 homebuyers are finding it difficult to afford a new residence. For investors buying rental properties, these conditions can be beneficial for their strategies.

Geographically, more than half the list includes cities located in Southern states — a good thing for the movers in the first list above. These cities include seven Florida locations and three Texas markets — indicating that movers and investors alike are finding these states to be appealing places.

Florida can attribute its success to lower housing prices, thanks to the recession which had retirees and vacationers staying at home — driving down demand. And Texas, shielded from much of the economic downturn, features affordable housing and a diverse economy that make its major cities a strong choice for investors.

By cross-referencing the 1st and 3rd lists in this article, we can identify the seven cities that are most attractive to movers and homebuyers (by appearing in the top 20 on both lists):

  • Austin
    • #1 on the movers list, #7 on the homebuyers list
  • San Antonio
    • #3 on the movers list, #3 on the homebuyers list
  • Denver
    • #4 on the movers list, #16 on the homebuyers list
  • Nashville
    • #5 on the movers list, #13 on the homebuyers list
  • Charlotte
    • #6 on the movers list, #4 on the homebuyers list
  • Orlando
    • #7 on the movers list, #2 on the homebuyers list
  • Dallas
    • #10 on the movers list, #6 on the homebuyers list

 

So, the answer to our question above — “What are the most attractive cities for movers and for home-buyers?” — appears to be a simple one: Cities in the South! (And Colorado, too.)

 


Trendingwatch: High-Fashion with Designer Names

Today’s luxury homes feature dozens of amenities never seen before, or even dreamed of. One of the fastest-growing concepts in the luxury residential market is the “branded property” — a residence associated with luxury brands and high-end designers.

Among the big names working to develop these beautiful properties are Armani, Versace and Bottega Veneta, among others. These designers are each bringing their own unique styles and sensibilities to projects around the world.

Armani’s upcoming projects include the Smart Hero-Central Park Plaza complex in Beijing — the renowned designer will be creating the residential units, shared areas and various amenities, to be completed by the end of 2017 — as well as the Century Spire residential tower in one of the Philippines’ top luxury districts, due to be completed by the end of 2018.  

In addition, Versace has begun work on its AYKON Nine Elms project in London (scheduled to be completed in 2020), and is nearly done with projects in Beirut and Jeddah. Bottega Veneta recently started developing its initial residential design work. And Eisenzahn 1 — a major property in Berlin — will feature design work by creative director Tomas Maier and furnishings from the luxury brand’s home collections.

While a famous name on the side of the building is a major selling point, this trend is more about what each designer/fashion brand brings to the actual properties. Homebuyers and investors alike are looking for aesthetics, comfort, amenities and lifestyle when it comes to a luxury residence — and a world-famous designer’s creativity can give a property a decided advantage over other luxury homes.

There are varying levels of brand association per property — some projects and brands are limited to the design of the common spaces and individual units in a building or complex. Others have brand associations incorporated into the amenities and additional features of the property.

But some owners may pay for the privilege of having the brand’s interior design team on the project give them personal consultations to add an even higher level of customization to the residence — or a complete branded design with furniture at an exclusive price.

Overall, these branded residences are often priced 30% to 50% more than unbranded properties. Not that a larger price point deters luxury homebuyers; many of these projects sell out quickly.

This is likely due to one of the basic tenets of the fashion industry — reinvention can revitalize an entire product line. In this case, the reinvention is the concept of residential development, which is now incorporating a new level of branding and design into these projects to attract luxury homebuyers.

Because these branded residences are currently located around the world, they may be some investors’ first experience with an international purchase. This means dealing with a different country’s real estate laws, as well as the unique issues of owning a property halfway around the world. But having a world-famous brand associated with the home can boost an investor’s confidence and provide a sense of security.

While this trend has already taken hold in hospitality — many hotels have established associations with luxury brands — the enjoyment of high-end accommodations, amenities and conversation-starters is taken to a new, longer-lasting level with branded residences.

And while this trend creates substantial opportunities for investors, it’s also an appealing option for home-buyers to have a unique property created by world-class designers.

 


Millennials: The Next Generation of Luxury Spenders

You’ve heard all the complaints about Millennials. Spoiled, lazy, entitled kids who think the world revolves around them.

But stereotypes are just that — stereotypes. And it’s foolish to think that this generation — which will be larger than the huge “Baby Boomers” demographic — is nothing but overindulged, smartphone-addicted brats.

In actuality, there are plenty of hard-working, successful young professionals among Millennials, who are emerging as “the next big market.” Just like every generation, they include ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) whom real estate professionals should work to understand — since they’re your potential clients.

According to MarketWatch.com, a UBS study shows that Millennials have unique spending habits. They usually prefer travel and entertainment over material goods, and they exhibit more brand loyalty than previous generations.

However, the Millennial UHNWIs do appreciate high-end accessories and upscale fashion brands, especially European luxury brands. And probably because they feel optimistic about their personal financial futures, many spend more money on luxury items than consumers over 35.

Because of their large numbers, the Millennials are already affecting the real estate markets. According to a study on LuxuryDaily.com, this generation actually has more UHNWIs among them for two main reasons: inheritances (as with most generations), and early professional successes in the technology industry.

That’s one reason that, on average, Millennial UHNWIs who recently purchased a home spent about $5 million — which was triple the amount of the Baby Boomers, and almost as much as “Generation Xers.”

This Millennial influence is evident in the changing home search requirements. About 33% of UHNWIs want a home gym (this percentage was lower just three years ago), and they also want a “green” or LEED-certified property.

And as for “location, location, location,” Millennials aren’t as limited. Because they can work remotely or their business is location-agnostic, tech-driven cities (Bellevue, WA; Bend, OR; Boulder, CO) are appealing to younger UHNWIs.


Who Really Owns Old London's Largest Private House?

In northwest London, a tony suburb called Highgate is the site of London’s largest private house — estimated to be worth more than 100 million pounds (approximately $142.3 million).

Witanhurst — an eleven-acre property with an expansive, multi-level mansion — has been the subject of rumors for many years, because no one has been definitively named as the owner. And with massive renovations taking place for nearly a decade, rumors and complaints are common among the Highgate community.

These changes have included: demolishing the old service wing and replacing it with a 3-story, Georgian villa called the “Orangery”; a new, connected basement measuring more than 40,000 square feet and including a 70-foot swimming pool, movie theater and parking for 25 cars; a second connected basement beneath the gatehouse, and more.

Once the renovations are complete, the home will have about 90,000 square feet of interior space — making it the second-largest mansion in London, after Buckingham Palace.

While the original estate dates back to the 1770s, the current “Queen Anne style” house was built between 1913 and 1920 for Sir Arthur Crosfield, a wealthy soap merchant. It’s currently “Grade-II” listed, which is an important historic and architectural designation.

With 25 bedrooms, a 70-foot-long ballroom and views over nearby Hampstead Heath and London itself, Witanhurst (“Parliament on the Hill” in Old English) has had several owners since Crosfield.

But as of 2008, no family had lived in the home regularly for decades. However, it had been used as a location for filming movies and TV shows, including The Lost Prince, Tipping the Velvet and Fame Academy.

The ownership of the home was the subject of much debate for years. Public records were unclear. Real estate agents, architects, contractors and attorneys kept quiet and even claimed to have signed confidentiality agreements. Recent rumors claimed that the home belonged to a family from Russia, but their identity remained a mystery.

In the last decade alone, the property exchanged hands several times. It was put on the market in 2005, then bought by a developer for 32 million pounds in 2007. The local council demanded that repairs be made, and after they were completed, it was again put up for sale — with an asking price of 75 million pounds.

And then, Witanhurst was sold for 50 million pounds in 2008. The buyer was an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, said to be owned by the family of Andrey Guryev.

A Russian businessman and legislator, Guryev is one of Russia’s 30 richest people. According to Forbes, his personal fortune is approximately four billion dollars. But like the property that his holding company purchased, Guryev is a quiet man who remained so even during his career in politics and public service — rarely taking the floor to speak.

Why has Witanhurst maintained such public — even international — interest? A huge, luxury mansion that rivals a nearby royal castle, with a unique and mysterious history of ownership — it makes for quite an intriguing story.

Imagine having Witanhurst as YOUR listing!


A Luxury Home — On The High Seas!

For some, a dream home is a gorgeous mansion with acres of beautiful greenery. For others, it’s a elegant penthouse in an urban skyscraper. For Florida widow Lee Wachtstetter, it’s a 1,070-passenger luxury cruise ship — the Crystal Serenity.

During her 50-year marriage, “Mama Lee” (as she’s known aboard the ship) went on nearly 90 cruises with her husband. And during her eight-year stay aboard the Crystal Serenity, she’s done nearly a hundred more, plus 15 world cruises. After her husband passed away, Wachstetter decided to sell their five-bedroom, 10-acre home in Fort Lauderdale and make her new home in a “location” that she had grown to love — the ocean.

Although she admits that her single-occupancy, seventh-deck stateroom has “limited” space, Wachstetter enjoys all of the amenities of the Serenity, which set sail on its maiden voyage in 2003. Approximately $164,000 a year covers her cabin, regular and specialty restaurant meals (with beverages available at lunch and dinner), gratuities, nightly ballroom dancing with hosts, and Broadway-type entertainment. In addition, there are the captain’s frequent cocktail parties, movies, lectures and other scheduled daily activities.

And this isn’t Mama Lee’s first “home” aboard a cruise ship — she previously lived for three years on a Holland America ship. But when they discontinued their dance host program — she’s loved to dance her whole life — she decided to “move” to the Crystal Serenity. After all, the Crystal Cruise Line is always rated among the world’s best, and the Serenity is their newest ship.

And Wachtstetter enjoys the communal dining experience of a cruise ship, regularly sitting at a table for eight and making new friends. Of course, with all of the delicious culinary options on the menu, she confides that she’s working on losing a few extra pounds that she gained since coming on board.

Most days, Mama Lee can be found doing needlepoint in the Palm Court lounge — it’s “her second love.” Everything that she makes, she gives to staff members of the 655-person crew; in turn, they have become like family to her, providing a near-concierge-level of service. 

She’s able to keep in touch with her three sons and seven grandchildren via her laptop computer. And whenever the Serenity docks in Miami — as many as five times a year — she visits with the family members that live nearby.

Mama Lee isn’t the only full-time resident on a Crystal cruise ship — there are three others living a similar lifestyle. But Wachtstetter has been doing it the longest. She credits her late husband, who told her “Don’t stop cruising” before he passed away. Today, Mama Lee claims that she’s living a “stress-free, fairy-tale life.”


7 "Uber"-Like Companies for the Jet Set

Thanks to technology, taxis and limousines no longer have a monopoly on on-demand automobile travel. Companies like Uber, Lyft and others have harnessed mobile app technology — and a ready workforce of freelance drivers — to change the way people get from Point A to Point B without even buying one car.

So it only makes sense that this concept is changing air travel for people who use private jets for business or pleasure. Here are seven of the most popular companies who are making private air travel more accessible and convenient for the jet-set:

Blade 

A crowd-sourced, short-distance air travel provider that focuses on flights between New York City, the Hamptons, Mohegan Sun Casino and major surrounding airports. Launched in 2014 by co-founders Rob Wiesenthal (a former music executive) and Steve Martocci (GroupMe co-founder), travelers use a mobile app to instantly book seats on helicopters and seaplanes.

Ticket prices range from $395 to $695, although for a higher price travelers can do a custom charter flight to a destination of their choice — or even fly on a faster aircraft.

Jet Smarter 

Founded in 2012, this company enables private jet charter around the world via a mobile marketplace. Travelers use the app to connect to chartered flights, including more than 3,000 aircraft of all makes and models.

To offer this convenience, JetSmarter takes advantage of the “empty legs” of the aviation industry — which means the vacant 1.5-million-plus hours of flight time spent en route to pick up other passengers. The company buys about 35,000 hours of reservations on those flights ahead of time, which are then available exclusively via the app.

Members pay a $3,000 initiation fee and $9,000 a year for unlimited access to private flights. On the flip side, carriers can use the app to manage their inventory in real-time to fill their flights instantly.

Magellan Jets 

One of the earliest of these innovators in the air travel space — becoming the first private jet company to have an app on iTunes, as well as the first to guarantee in-flight WiFi. The company was launched in 2008, and is renowned for its personalization options — even down to the snacks and magazines — providing customers with all the benefits of owning a plane without actually owning it.

Travelers can book flights based on origin, destination and type of aircraft they prefer, and it will arrive anywhere in the U.S. in eight hours. 

NetJets 

In 1986, the NetJets program was created as the first fractional aircraft ownership program. After enjoying the NetJets service for three years, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman & CEO Warren Buffett acquired NetJets Inc. for $725 million in 1998. While other companies allow users to buy seats on existing flight routes, NetJets actually has its own fleet of planes — selling fractional ownership to corporations or wealthy individuals in exchange for flying time on the largest private jet fleet in the world (more than 650 aircraft worldwide).

NetJets offers several different programs, but the basic offering is guaranteed access to an aircraft with as little as four hours notice. Users pay a monthly maintenance fee and an “occupied” hourly operating fee — which is only charged when an owner or guest is on board, not when the aircraft is going to pick up a passenger or flying to another destination after completing a flight.

SurfAir 

Created for business executives who needed to travel between Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, SurfAir offers “all-you-can-fly” unlimited flights for a fixed monthly fee of $1,950 a month (plus a $1,000 signup fee).

Since 2013, the airline has provided West Coast flights that now include Burbank, Carlsbad, Hawthorne, Monterey, Oakland, Napa, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, among others. Travelers can book a seat “on demand,” but need to choose from already-scheduled flights. They can make reservations up to a month in advance or as close as 15 minutes before a flight leaves, if seats are still available.

Wheels Up 

This company offers membership programs that greatly reduce the cost of flying privately, enabling travelers to use their app to book flights, arrange a ride-share, and even plan a luxury experience at their destination.

The company, founded in 2013, is unique in that joining the “club” requires no up-front financial or long-term commitment. Members pay an initiation fee and low annual dues to have access to flights at a reduced rate with guaranteed availability; pricing is set on a “pay-as-you-fly” basis, so travelers pay only for hours flown.

In addition, membership includes enrollment in the exclusive “Wheels Down” program, which is billed as “the ultimate lifestyle, events, concierge and partner benefits program.”

XOJET 

Established in 2006, the company provides fixed-price, one-way private charters between major U.S. cities. Customers can buy a set number of flight hours to use per year.

With 40+ super mid-size business jets, XOJET’s private jet charters and flight programs enable travelers to choose their arrival and departure locations, then book if the flight is available — or use a fixed-price charter on predetermined routes when available. Depending on their preferences, members can pay a deposit of $100,000 or $200,000 for the ability to charter a jet whenever they want. The company also offers specially designed VIP experiences, such as rainforest excursions to Costa Rica, wine-tasting vacations to Napa, and deluxe skiing trips to Whistler.

All in all, travelers who can afford the extra cost — and prefer flying without airport hassles and more-cramped-than-ever cabins inside commercial airplanes — have plenty of new options for private air travel. With the advent of innovative, easy-to-use technology, it’s more convenient and personalized than ever!