The Wealth Report 2023, published by Knight Frank earlier this year, gave us a comprehensive review of prime property markets, global wealth distribution and luxury spending trends.
However, how do these luxury trends translate into what spaces and amenities wealthy buyers seek in their next property purchase? And how does this differ between our London and countryside clients? We asked Philip Eastwood (Partner, London) and Mark Lawson (Partner, Country) to share their insights.
London – by Philip Eastwood
I’ve seen a spike in demand from London buyers favouring functional, usable, and low-maintenance spaces.
As the cost per square foot in London is so high, clients want to maximise the use of their space and prefer properties with areas that can be enjoyed daily rather than occasionally. For example, some of our clients don’t want swimming pools that are rarely used and have high maintenance costs. It’s come full circle. They would rather have a really good utility room for daily use or even more extensive wardrobes. Many clients already have homes in places like Majorca, Ibiza, and the South of France with a pool, so they don’t need one in their basement.
Clients often insist on property features that make life more comfortable and efficient. Double glazing, air-conditioning, fibre broadband, on-site porters and parking are all prerequisites. These requirements outweigh extras like saunas, cinema rooms and gyms. Even some high-end lighting systems with complicated control systems have become passé as clients look for wireless and smart AV solutions.
This pursuit for practical spaces also crosses over into the condition of a property. My clients want their homes to be turn-key and a finished product. That means they expect a well-fitted kitchen, a good shower, and top-end interior design and materials. Very few clients have the appetite to take on a lengthy refurbishment project.
The topic of security is also becoming more prevalent. Clients are interested in how safe a street is and the security systems available. The notion of a panic room can make people feel uncomfortable. However, some London roads employ private security firms to reduce crime. For example, Chelsea Square and Brunswick Gardens have regular patrols with guards and dogs – all paid for by the residents.
Lastly, I have noticed that clients continue to look for properties with considerable floor-to-ceiling heights and big walls. Why? Well, with art investments rising by 29% in 2023 and the stellar prices paid for museum-quality works of art by ultra-wealthy collectors, our clients need bigger spaces for bigger art pieces!
Country – by Mark Lawson
As London buyers crave pragmatism, we receive more extravagant requests in the countryside, where our clients have plenty of space to work with.
To complement outdoor country living, no country home is complete without a boot room. A client of mine built himself a new boot room where each family member had their own named space, polished oak locker, each with a heater to dry out and warm up two pairs of Wellington boots. It also included heated coat, hat and glove sections.
Often, dogs have their oak-panelled beds with their names, a shower or wash area, and sections for all their leads.
There is also demand for the ‘butler’s pantry’ as an amenity, a space that allows the host to prep for meals without entering the kitchen. These spaces are becoming more multi-functional and elaborate, and I expect this will be a trend that grows as interior designers continue to push the boundaries.
I have had clients with specific needs for wardrobe space and storage. I once had a client who had an online database for the contents of her wardrobe so that she could track precisely which pieces of clothing were in her houses around the world. We have also seen clients with refrigerated wardrobes for those with pieces of clothing that are preserved best at lower temperatures, like faux fur and suedes.
Another popular area is the continued interest in well-being spaces and wellness activities. Padel tennis is the fastest-growing sport in the world – lots are installing courts at home. The craze spread quickly amongst country house owners and purchasers, with many building courts on their land. We have also seen clients asking for ice baths, cryotherapy chambers and meditation spaces – dedicated rooms for recovery, reflection and spirituality.
Finally, an increasing number of wealthy individuals are interested in sustainable and eco-friendly features, such as solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and eco-conscious building materials. This means they can offset the costs of running high-end amenities such as pools and home cinemas.