Lucio Bernal Joins The Institute as an Expert Trainer

We are proud to announce the addition of renowned Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices luxury real estate professional Lucio Bernal to our roster of expert trainers.

Based in the Palm Springs (CA) region, Lucio is a successful luxury real estate professional — and much more. He’s a relocation specialist, an influential industry leader, and a highly skilled and experienced trainer.

“I truly enjoy giving my friends in the industry all the tools they need to succeed,” Lucio said. “Serving as a Trainer for The Institute on a national level allows me to help real estate professionals who want to learn how to succeed in serving the luxury real estate market.”

Lucio is currently a REALTOR and the Director of Training at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Palm Springs, where he is also a member of the prestigious Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chairman’s Circle. He has earned both the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® (CLHMS) designation and Million Dollar Guild® recognition from The Institute.

Additionally, Lucio has been recognized in the industry for his reputation for serving clients and his achievements in sales. Most recently, the Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS® (PSRAR) named him 2015 REALTOR® of the Year, and he has been elected President beginning in 2017.

“We are extremely excited to add Lucio to our team because he brings a unique combination of passion for teaching and performance with nearly 20 years of real estate experience. He’s a practicing agent who enjoys teaching others how to incorporate the tools offered by The Institute, which help agents succeed in the luxury market,” said Diane Hartley, general manager of The Institute.

You can view Lucio’s Institute bio here and learn more about our other expert trainers at www.LuxuryHomeMarketing.com.


Seeking the Amenities Advantage in a Competitive Real Estate Market

In an increasingly competitive market, owners, developers and builders are having to “keep up with the Joneses” — especially if the Joneses have a car-sharing service, a personal shopper and pet grooming.

Because the vast majority of multifamily units that have been recently constructed in the United States are rental apartments, investors are flocking to this sector seeking healthy returns. And with more and more people turning to apartment living, demand is high — and property owners and managers are competing with each other by offering amenities that are usually found in the most luxurious of residences.

So what are these amenities being offered?

“Urban Living” lifestyles. Many renters want to be close to everything — work, home, shopping, restaurants, etc. — whether they’re in a major city or the suburbs. Many new apartment and condominium communities are designed to be walkable, while providing amenities and technology to enable this “live-work-play” lifestyle.

Luxury and high-end features. Previously limited to luxury developments, many more affordable communities are offering infinity pools, upgraded design options, and other attractive features to bring in renters.

Energy savings. From more efficient HVAC systems, central solar hot water systems, LED lighting, rainwater collection, and wind or natural gas turbines, there are numerous ways to provide renters with more affordable and environmentally-friendly living.

More useful common areas. While apartment sizes are generally shrinking, common areas are growing — and providing renters with features they crave. USB ports, WiFi, and other Web-access features are everywhere, as well as more durable furniture and carpeting — enabling both social and work functions. Some of these common areas are on rooftop decks and terraces, and even include big-screen TVs, kitchens with BBQ grilles and pizza ovens, and even cabanas.

Fitness centers with more muscle. While the fitness center has become a place where tenants gather, socialize AND work out, the options available have expanded greatly. With classes for yoga and Pilates, aerobics, spin classes and more, renters have more exercise choices than ever.

The latest technology. With more people “cutting the cord” from cable TV and leaving satellite TV, builders need to ensure that their projects are friendly for these tenants — installing cloud-connected devices and enabling the fastest Internet access available. In addition, more buildings are giving their renters more control over their environments thanks to technology — from their entry doors to lighting and HVAC systems.

There are many other amenities, features and options being made available to today’s renters. Here are some of the more popular ones that haven’t been mentioned above:

  • Bike storage and repair
  • Car-sharing service
  • Child-care service
  • Concierge
  • Cooking classes
  • Dry cleaning/laundry service
  • iCafe
  • Package delivery management
  • Personal shopper
  • Pet grooming
  • Rock-climbing wall
  • Spa/massage center
  • Tech/business center
  • Wine cellar

So whether you’re a renter or home buyer, a real estate professional or a building owner, it’s good to know the amenities that are now available — and which of them you might be looking for!


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!