Even in a tight market, buyers can still get advantages in new developments
When Ryan Wolitzer was looking to buy an apartment in miami beach Late last year, several beachfront properties caught his eye. All were two-bedroom homes in high-end buildings with lots of amenities and walls of glass, high ceilings, and an abundance of natural light. But only The Continuum, in the south of the city’s fifth arrondissement, came with a freebie: a membership in the Residence Yacht Club, a private club that offers excursions on luxury yachts ranging from day trips to southern Florida to a month in the Caribbean. Residents receive deeply discounted charters on premium boats that have top notch finishes and are stocked with premium spirits and wines. Mr. Wolitzer, 25, who works for a sports agency, was sold.
“Access to premium yachts influenced my decision to buy from The Continuum and is an incentive I take full advantage of,” Mr. Wolitzer said. “It’s huge, especially in my job where I deal with top athletes, to be able to give them access to these incredible boats where they benefit from excellent service. I know they will be well taken care of.
Homeowner gifts and perks, such as private club memberships, are a mainstay in the world of luxury real estate and aim to entice potential buyers to sign on the dotted line.
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According to Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of real estate appraisal and advisory firm Miller Samuel, this is primarily a national phenomenon.
In the US residential real estate market, freebies are offered both by developers who want to move apartments into their upscale buildings and by individuals who are selling their homes. They range from modest to exaggerated, Miller said, and are more prevalent when the market is weak.
“When sales are lagging, giveaways increase in an effort to entice buyers,” he said. “These days, sales are slowing and inventories are rising after two years in contrast, suggesting we may see more in the future.”
Many of these extras are particularly prevalent in South Florida, Miller said, where the market is normalizing after the unprecedented boom it has experienced during the pandemic. “The frenzy in South Florida was intense compared to the rest of the country because it became a place where people wanted to live full time,” he said. “Now that the numbers are approaching pre-pandemic levels, freebies could push hesitant shoppers over the finish line.”
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Kelly Killoren Bensimon, real estate salesperson for Douglas Elliman in Miami and New York, said the freebies she’s encountered in her business include everything from access to the yacht and use of a summer home to magnums of expensive wine. “Someone I know who was selling a $5 million house in the Hamptons even threw away a free Mercedes 280SL,” she said. “They didn’t want to lower the price but were happy to sweeten the deal.”
A car, an Aston Martin to be exact, is also a lure at the Aston Martin Residences in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Buyers who purchased one of the building’s Row 01 apartments – a collection of 47 oceanfront residences ranging in size from 3,500 to 3,900 square feet and priced at 8, $3-9 million – had a choice of the DBX Miami Riverwalk Special Edition or the DB11 Miami Riverwalk Special Edition. The DBX is Aston Martin’s first SUV and sells for around $200,000. This may have helped propel sales given that all apartments are sold out.
The $59 million triplex penthouse, meanwhile, is still up for grabs, and the buyer will receive a $3.2 million Aston Martin Vulcan sports car, one of only 24 ever made.
“We want to give owners the chance to experience the Aston Martin lifestyle to the full, and owning a beautiful Aston Martin is certainly a highlight of that,” said Alejandro Aljanti, Marketing Director of G&G Business Developments, the developer of the building. . “We wanted to include the cars in the package of our most exclusive units.”
Another recent head-turning perk is the $800,000 furniture budget for The Estates at Acqualina’s north tower condominium buyers in Sunny Isles, Florida. The 94 residences sold last year, according to sales president Michael Goldstein, and had a starting price of $6.3 million. “You can choose furniture ahead of time, and when buyers move in later this year, all they’ll need is a toothbrush,” he said.
Then there’s the $2 million art collection that was included in the sale of the Four Seasons Residences penthouse in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. The property recently sold for $15.9 million and spans 8,800 square feet. Designed by renowned firm ODP Architects, it features contemporary paintings and sculptures by notable names such as American conceptual artist Bill Beckley and sculptor Tom Brewitz.
But it’s hard to top the millions of dollars in extras that were attached to the 2019 asking price of the $85 million, 15,000-square-foot duplex at the Atelier in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. The list included two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Lamborghini Aventador, a million-dollar yacht with five years of mooring fees, a summer stay at a Hamptons mansion, weekly dinners for two at the sumptuous French restaurant Daniel and a butler and private chef. for one year. And most outrageous of all: a flight for two into space.
It turned out that the so-called duplex was actually a set of several apartments and an unsold listing. However, it generated a lot of hype in the press and in real estate circles and was a marketing success, according to Mr. Miller.
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“A list like this that looks almost unbelievable with all the freebies will get a lot of attention, but it’s unlikely to increase sales,” he said. “Empirically, this is not an effective tactic.
On the other hand, Mr Miller said more reasonable but still generous freebies, such as yacht club memberships, have the potential to tempt undecided buyers into selling. “A nice but not too lavish gift won’t be the most important thing in their decision, but can be a big factor,” he said. “It’s a feel-good incentive that buyers think they’re getting at no extra cost.”
Examples of these bonuses include a 1 Hotel South Beach private beach club membership that buyers receive with the purchase of a residence at Baccarat Residences Brickell, or a one-year membership at the Grand Bay Beach Club in Key Biscayne. for those rushing for a home at Casa Bella Residences by B&B Italia, located in downtown Miami and a residential project by the famous eponymous Italian furniture brand. The price of a Grand Bay Beach Club membership is usually $19,500 initiation fee and $415 monthly dues.
Still attractive but cheaper perks include the two-hour cruise around New York on a $1,900 wooden Hemmingway boat for shoppers at Quay Tower in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. Building developer Robert Levine said he started offering the boat trip in July to help sell the remaining units. “We’re almost 70% sold, but, of course, I want everything to go,” he said.
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There’s also Hermès’ $1,635 Avalon jet blanket for those closing a unit at Ten30 South Beach, a 33-unit boutique condominium; in Manhattan’s Financial District, a custom artwork by acclaimed artist James Perkins is offered to buyers of Jolie, a 42-story apartment building on Greenwich Street. Perkins said the coin’s value depends on the purchase price of the home, but the minimum is $4,000. “Upscale homes are getting bigger jobs,” he said.
When gifts are part of a total real estate package, the sale can become emotional and personal, according to Chad Carroll, realtor at Compass in South Florida and founder of The Carroll Group. “If the buyer likes the freebie, the transaction takes on another dynamic,” he said. “A gift becomes the kicker they like the idea of having.”
Speaking from his own experience, Carroll said sellers can also have an emotional connection to the exchange. “I was selling my house in Golden Isles last year for $5.4 million and that included my jet ski and paddle boards,” he said. “The buyers were a family with young children and loved the water toys.” Mr Carroll could have held out for a higher bidder, he said, but decided to accept their offer. “I loved them and wanted them to create the same happy memories at home that I did,” he said.
The family moved in a few months later.