Luxury real estate is making a comeback throughout the country, and some of the hottest markets have a lot more in common than solely an expensive price tag — from thriving and diverse economies to historical significance, a multitude of colleges and hot spots, and great weather (at least for part of the year).
Here’s a glimpse at some of top places to find the finest amenities homes have to offer.
New York City
Entire books could be (and have been) written about luxury real estate in the greater New York area. As the city grew — and grew, and grew — luxury markets sprung up outside the boroughs, as power brokers used their Manhattan paychecks to finance everything from “cottages” in the quintessential summer celebrity hangout of the Hamptons to bedroom communities filled with mini-mansions on former farmland in New Jersey and Connecticut. When it comes to luxury in New York and the surrounding areas, it’s all about where you want to be and what you need in a home, because the options are endless.
For those looking to live right in the middle of the action, One57, under construction in midtown Manhattan, offers it all. Called “the global billionaire’s club” by the New York Times, the soaring, 1,004-foot tower overlooks Central Park and has nine full-floor apartments. On a clear day, residents can see all the way to the Bronx. Amenities include all services of the attached Park Hyatt Hotel as well as a “discreet side entrance,” pet wash area, performance hall, private dining room, billiard room and a 24-foot aquarium.
Pricey Big Apple purchase of 2012: Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev spent $88 million on a penthouse for his 22-year-old daughter.
Second only in size to New York, Los Angeles is a city built on the California dreams of its many residents who move there in pursuit of fortune and fame. Like its starry-eyed population, the homes that make up L.A.’s luxury market are as different as can be, from tiny bungalows that sit on some of the country’s most expensive land to massive modern glass-covered marvels overlooking the Hollywood hills. Spectacular suburban luxury living can also be found in Los Angeles County in areas such as Pasadena.
In L.A., a valuable feature for its famous luxury residents is the ability to keep the paparazzi at bay with high hedges, fences, security systems and long driveways. An early 2000s ordinance prohibits hedges over 6 feet high, making homes with existing high hedges quite the commodity among celebrities, who now trade these homes like deeds in a Monopoly game.
San Francisco is known for real estate prices as steep as its legendary hills, so more or less everyone pays luxury prices. Residents will tell you the pricey real estate is well worth it for the quality of life in this quirky, inclusive and truly charming area of the country. Tony Bennett’s not the only person who left his heart in San Francisco: Almost everyone who has visited or lives there feels the same way.
Famous for its turn-of-the century Painted Ladies, or Victorian-style homes — many of which have been lovingly cared for, restored and modernized over time — San Francisco offers luxury in the old as well as in new condos that have recently popped up in the Financial District and South Beach (yes, in San Francisco) neighborhoods.
In San Francisco, two of the priciest neighborhoods offer location-based luxuries — Presidio Heights and Sea Cliff. Presidio Heights is made up of mainly two-level single family homes with coveted yards at the front, back and sometimes sides of the properties. Sea Cliff, as the name implies, is situated directly on the Pacific Ocean and features stunning views of sunsets so breathtaking, you wouldn’t believe they are real. Sometimes luxury comes solely in the form of an impeccable location.
With waterfront and oceanfront property abounding, every part of Miami has its own distinct flavor of luxury property, from celebrity-owned mega-mansions to soaring condos offering the ultimate in style and amenities. Miami began as an escape from the cold North, and while it remains a haven for snowbirds and a great investment for overseas buyers, it now has its own thriving year-round sense of culture and community. With sunny days and a sizzling nightlife, Miami takes luxurious living to a whole other level.
One example of Miami’s glamour is the home of a name synonymous with luxury: Versace. Gianni Versace’s Casa Casuarina mansion has 10 bedrooms directly on Ocean Drive and a 24-karat gold inlaid pool.
Our nation’s capital is more than just a hub of politics. It’s a cultural powerhouse where independently spirited artists, writers and musicians create alongside government workers and contractors living out the 9-to-5 lifestyle. It’s a true melting pot of cultures, cuisines and viewpoints with history around every corner. Like other luxury hot spots, there is something for everyone, from the old classic residences on Capitol Hill and Georgetown to new luxury construction throughout the district and in the bedroom communities of Northern Virginia and Maryland.
Georgetown is home to many of the most luxurious homes in the District of Columbia, with gorgeous views of the National Cathedral. Many of these beauties, some dating to the 1800s, have other luxe features including staff quarters, private saunas, koi ponds and room to throw little “get-togethers” for up to 150 guests.
Can’t decide which of these luxury markets you love the most? Why not buy in each? If you can afford it, these cities have a lot to do, see, eat and experience, making every day a new adventure.