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Luxury Homes: What Makes A Home High-End?

Rachel Burris8-Minute Read
September 25, 2020

Regardless of whether you’re currently in the market for a new house, browsing luxury homes for sale can capture your attention for hours on end. These high-end properties possess stunning views, palatial scales, magnificent finishes and astonishing amenities.

They are so awe-inspiring, in fact, that it can be difficult to imagine what it would be like to live in them.

However, the word luxury has become overplayed in recent years. Listing descriptions for houses across the country may boast of luxury features, but upon closer examination, home buyers often find these houses lack the true opulence one would expect from a luxury home.

So, what is it that actually makes a home high-end?

Read this article to learn what classifies as a luxury home and explore high-end properties that are currently on the market.

What Is A Luxury Home?

A luxury home is one that is valued within the top 10% of properties on the local market. Luxury homes tend to be considerable in size, located in optimal areas, constructed and finished with high-end materials and designed with uncommon architectural details and exceptional amenities.

While the features of these homes are highly coveted, they tend to be more atypical within the market, enhancing their extravagant feel.

What Makes A Home High-End?

Luxury homes are high-end constructions. To be considered high-end, these homes typically possess seven distinct qualities revolving around their location, price, size, materials, design, amenities and prestigious history.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these qualities and see how they’re realized in luxury homes for sale. 

1. Prime Location

Location is one of the largest determinants of property value, and high-end luxury homes are built in the most enviable of all locations. Whether they’re situated high in the mountains, along the waterfront or at the center of a bustling city, these homes are found in prime locations across the country.

House surrounded by water on both sides.
  • Location: Palm Beach, Florida
  • Asking Price: $45,000,000
  • Square Footage: 17,190
  • Beds: 6
  • Baths: 9 Full, 2 Half

 

This newly constructed, resort-style property may have been built on just less than an acre, but that .89 acre is within the highly desirable “Estate Section” of Palm Beach. Surrounded by other opulent properties, this luxury home is called Lago-a-Lago (or Lake-to-Lake), which aptly describes its prime location.

The property is located on Everglades Island and flanked by the Intracoastal on the east and west. So, not only does this high-end home possess breathtaking views of the sunrise and sunset over the water, but it also has docks in the front and backyard.

2. Higher Price

There are certain counties, cities and even neighborhoods that are more coveted, and thus more expensive, than others. While high-end luxury homes are often found in these more-desirable areas, they tend to be priced even higher than the majority of properties within the same area.

Depending on the property values within the local area, buyers looking to snag a luxury property can pay anywhere from a few million dollars to over $100 million.

Luxury library with four velvet orange chairs and a chandelier.
  • Location: Elm Grove, Wisconsin
  • Asking Price: $4,100,000
  • Square Footage: 13,598
  • Beds: 5
  • Baths: 5 Full, 4 Half

 

This 5-bedroom home in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, is a prime example of how luxury homes garner higher prices than similarly sized properties in the area. In Elm Grove, a suburb that’s considered one of the country’s finest, the median sales price of a 5+ bedroom home was $600,000 in January 2020, according to Rocket Homes℠ data.

Although located in the very same suburb, the asking price of this high-end manor is 6.8 times more than the median purchasing price of the area. So, buyers who want to call this stunning property, with its 8 fireplaces and 7-car garage, home will have to spend over $4 million to do so.

3. Greater Square Footage 

When it comes to high-end homes, size matters a great deal. The greater the square footage, the more luxurious these homes are considered.

In some cases, greater square footage translates into a larger number of rooms – be them additional bedrooms, staff quarters or areas dedicated to specialized amenities. In other cases, this additional space makes for larger, open areas and colossal master suites.

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Living room with high ceilings and large square footage.
  • Location: Manhattan, New York
  • Asking Price: $76,000,000
  • Square Footage: 19,815
  • Beds: 11
  • Baths: 14 Full

 

In New York City, space is hard to come by. According to The Real Deal’s 2020 Data Book, the average Manhattan apartment sold in Q4 of 2019 was approximately 1,148.5 square feet.

Yet, this Madison Avenue penthouse is just under 20,000 square feet and boasts an additional 4,500 square feet of outdoor space that soars over Midtown Manhattan.

The five floors of this newly constructed condo provide residents with 11 bedrooms, 14 full bathrooms and spacious common areas, including a wine tasting room. The expansive terraces contain seating areas that overlook the skyline, and a private roof deck that possesses a pool and Jacuzzi, which allow you to swim up to the building’s edge and view the bright lights of the city below.

Meanwhile, the building’s ritzy amenities can be seen as an extension of the condo’s livable square footage with its lounge, playroom, health club – that includes a salt-water lap pool, sauna and gym – as well as a pet spa.

4. Premium Materials

For high-end homes, quality is just as important as quantity. If the entire property is not constructed and finished with premium materials, it doesn’t matter how many rooms it has.

Luxury homes use only the finest – think wooden herringbone floors, Italian marble countertops, decorative granite mantlepieces and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances.

Exterior of home with red brick.
  • Location: Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
  • Asking Price: $6,900,000
  • Square Footage: 16,000
  • Beds: 6
  • Baths: 6 Full, 4 Half

 

Though this Cotswold-style home was built 30 miles away from Philadelphia in 1997, its design was inspired by a 13th-century manor in Gloucestershire, England. While the estate’s 16,000 square feet and 43.27 acres certainly add an air of luxury to the property, it’s the home’s meticulous design and incorporation of exclusive materials that truly make it high-end.

To stay true to its model, the home was built with antique materials – like the roof’s 300-year-old slates – and those flown in from abroad. The English limestone, which was custom quarried, and the leaded glass casement windows, which were fabricated in the Cotswold style, were shipped in from the UK to build the house.

And details from a combination of different architectural styles, like Elizabethan, Jacobean and Georgian, were included to give the impression that the home had been passed down from generation to generation through the English Renaissance.

5. Unique Designs

Homes that appear distinctive are held in higher esteem than the cookie-cutter houses of many suburban developments. Therefore, high-end homes come in all shapes and styles, for grandeur means something different to each person.

Often, it’s the unique designs of the home – based on the singular priorities of the homeowner for whom it was built – which furnish the property with the luxury label.

Home with rounded blue and white exterior.
  • Location: Brentwood, California
  • Asking Price: $36,000,000
  • Square Footage: 16,700
  • Beds: 7
  • Baths: 8 Full, 3 Half

 

Take this cutting-edge mansion in Brentwood, which was built to encourage residents to enjoy healthy, green living. The emphasis on wellness can be seen in the property’s 70-foot infinity-edge pool, 300-square-foot green wall and 400-square-foot Zen garden. The contemporary style home features three stories of curved facade that were designed to call to mind the lines of a luxury yacht. The dynamic design includes an Italian marble driveway that winds around the structure and leads to a glass elevator that takes you up to a rooftop garden. This home was clearly crafted for car enthusiasts, given that the rooftop also acts as a 20-car auto gallery, and the driveway leads to a private garage directly adjacent to the master suite.

 

6. Decadent Amenities

 

Luxury homes blur the lines between private and public life, offering residents a slew of decadent amenities that most Americans would be hard-pressed to find in their towns. The features of these high-end homes provide comforts and pleasure that range from classic conveniences – like swimming pools and tennis courts – to more outrageous attractions – like indoor rock-climbing walls and shooting ranges. If you can dream it, it’s likely that there’s a luxury home out there that already possesses it.

Home Movie theatre in house.
  • Location: Beverly Hills, California
  • Asking Price: $129,000,000
  • Square Footage: 43,000
  • Beds: 12
  • Baths: 16 Full, 7 Half

 

Nestled in the swanky 90210 Zip Code, this Mediterranean estate, known as Palazzo di Amore, takes decadent amenities to the next level. The nearly $130 million home has six separate structures that sit atop 25 acres, overlooking the ocean and the Los Angeles skyline. Like many luxury properties, it features a massive garage, guesthouse, swimming pool, tennis court, billiards room, bar room and gym. However, what makes the Beverly Hills mansion truly jaw-dropping are the more unique amenities. The home also showcases a 128-foot reflecting pool, a plush home theater, two wine cellars that together store 13,000 bottles, an immense ballroom, a discotheque with a revolving dance floor, a two-lane bowling alley and a Turkish-style bath and spa. Furthermore, the property holds a private vineyard that produces 400 – 500 cases of six different varietals of wine per year.

7. Prestige

The prestigiousness of a home’s history can also cause it to be considered a luxury property. Whether designed in a historical style, built by a well-respected starchitect or formerly lived in by a celebrity, homes that have prominent stories to tell tend to be viewed as more high-end. However, it’s challenging to put a price on prestige. Just because a home is renowned doesn’t mean there are necessarily buyers who will be willing to pay more for it.

Michael Jordan's living room.
  • Location: Highland Park, Illinois
  • Asking Price: $14,855,000
  • Square Footage: 32,683
  • Beds: 9
  • Baths: 15 Full, 4 Half

 

Take this Highland Park estate owned by Michael Jordan. In 2012, His Airness put the 7-acre, 32,683-square-foot property on the market for $29 million. However, buyers didn’t bite. Now, 8 years and five price-drops later, the gates of the mansion, which bear Jordan’s jersey number, remain closed. Even though the home was custom designed by one of the most famous athletes of all time, buyers are not willing to pay over $14 million for a home with a fair market value closer to $4 million. Therefore, Jordan’s cigar room, circular infinity pool, tennis court, putting green and regulation-sized basketball court have been left unused, as MJ spends upward of $100,000 a year to cover the estate’s hefty property taxes.

The Bottom Line

 

While luxury homes are located in drool-worthy areas, designed with the highest quality materials and include the most outrageous amenities, they’re ultimately only worth what buyers are willing to pay for them. High-end properties tend to linger on the market longer than average-priced homes because their prestige and lavish features are incomparable and thus make valuation challenging.

Regardless of how well they’re priced, these houses don’t come cheap. If you’re dying to call a luxury property home, you must take a strong look at your finances. To find out more about financing one of these architectural gems, create an account with Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans® or call (855) 480-8624 to speak with a Home Loan Expert.

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Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.