Based on interviews with luxury agents, the top 10 must haves for today's multi-million dollar homes follow:
- Elevator car lifts, indoor car washes - Luxury homeowners spare no expense for their priceless automobiles. Avid car collectors, especially in city homes where property size is limited, install elevator car lifts to expand garage capacity. Keeping a fleet of cars clean is no small feat. In fact, for many it necessitates an on-premise indoor car wash.
- Walk-in refrigerators - Professional kitchens akin to what one may find in a five-star restaurant have taken over luxury homes. With growing emphasis placed on home entertaining, walk-in refrigerators and multiple ovens, sinks and dishwashers are the norm for even the novice gourmet.
- Spas, gyms and yoga and Pilates studios - The home gym has undergone a makeover and the focus now is on complete health and wellness facilities. Professional-style spas complete with steam rooms and massage rooms overtake the outdated sauna or whirlpool. Yoga and Pilates studios trump stair climbers, treadmills and rowing machines.
- Wine cellars and tasting rooms - Grand wine cellars often found in Rosedale, Forest Hill or Westmount residences are the norm for today's connoisseur. Individual cellars for red and white wines, as well as specialized tasting rooms equipped with various sinks and buckets for wine sampling are becoming all the rage.
- Concierge services - Concierge services are no longer limited to condominium owners or hotel guests. Today's luxury homeowners utilize companies specializing in concierges. From making dinner reservations to picking up dry cleaning or purchasing opera tickets, concierge services are now a common trend within many luxury neighborhoods. There are several companies that will provide typical concierge services to homeowners - essentially acting as a live-out butler.
- Media rooms - Media rooms that rival the local public theater are as prevalent in luxury homes as the family room. These windowless rooms typically boast a theater-size screen, surround sound and rows of plush seats to accommodate large groups.
- Wrapping and sewing rooms - Specialized rooms to accommodate particular hobbies or tasks, which are completely outfitted help to keep homeowners organized, are very popular. Dedicated rooms for gift wrapping boast everything from ribbons to paper varieties to bags and bows, while sewing rooms have every type of thread, button and zipper imaginable with tables and machines tailored to the homeowner's needs.
- Structured wiring and security - A wireless home is a thing of today. Many luxury residences feature security capabilities (e.g. door locking), entertainment options and light settings that can be accessed remotely throughout a home in various rooms. Some properties are even equipped to remotely control security features in far away cottages or second homes. Another innovative perk for those with deep pockets are security systems that allow property owners to view their home while at work, at the cottage or on holiday.
- Home elevators - As homes are increasing in size, and are being built higher to accommodate several floors, home elevators are becoming an accessory of convenience as well as necessity.
- Heated driveways, walkways and garages - Manual snow removal is a thing of the past for those in exclusive neighborhoods that favor heated driveways, walkways and even garages. Built on top of heating coils, snow melts as soon as it touches these warm surfaces.
Don't think there are many surprises here. The wine cellars, gyms, elevators, and media rooms are old standbys. Heated driveways certainly make sense in snowy climes, but of course we won't find them on the wish-list down here in Texas!
It is interesting to note the inclusion of concierge services. Not only do we see these services being offered as a value-add by builders and developers, but increasingly by luxury agents too.
As always, lists like this underscore the fact that luxury (and selling luxury) is all about lifestyle.