By Julie Faupel
Over time, luxury has become a ubiquitous term. In one manner, it was being overused long before the paradigm-shift of COVID and the dynamics of 2020 and 2021, but it’s also illustrative of the especially dynamic nature of “luxury” in recent years.
For example, Baby Boomers definition of luxury may have been encapsulated in the “things” that they collected, the status implied by driving a European sports car, owning a fine watch, or carrying a specific handbag. Subsequent generations have shifted that definition of luxury to the currency of “experiences”. These consumers focus on the adventure of travel, the joy of live entertainment, the energy of sporting events shared with friends and loved ones. Of course, unless you were there, these luxuries were less apparent than a hood ornament or a label but enter the technology of social media, and we all got to share in the indulgences of our friends and family as they touted their experiences in real time.
Now, how does that play out in real estate?
It used to be that a monologue of a beautiful listing – the dreaming about an incredible escape – was enough to entice a visit, a showing or (at a minimum) an inquiry. Now, we spend literally $100’s of thousands of dollars on those same monologues with little effectiveness and no way of measuring who or why prospects are reaching out to us about our listings. Enter the age of innovation and change and we are seeing a new breed of trusted advisor emerge; a colleague who is both valued by their personal relationships but enhanced by the data available through technology.
At the intersection of luxury and technology come some very interesting learnings. We’ve emerged from the first three years of this decade, years riddled with uncertainty around a global pandemic, social unrest, political discourse, and natural disasters. Regardless of your age or demographic, luxury has made a monumental shift in the minds of the global population, and we are all, perhaps, a little more united in how we describe, seek and experience “luxury” in our daily life.
How many have recently enjoyed a special occasion “zoom” call with family and/or friends that live great distances away? How many have made “new” friends over Zoom or Skype or Google Meet? My life has become so technology-centric that I struggle to remember who I’ve met in-person and who I am strictly a Zoom Acquaintance with. That said, I’ve also become more efficient at researching my clients, vetting buyers and using technology to provide insight and efficiency that never existed before.
At the bottom line of this paradigm shift, there are three things driving our latest definition of luxury…
Trust. Below are some of the trends being shaped by this latest definition of luxury.
Finding Community in New Venues: Time
The value and emphasis on how and where we spend our time was no more evident than the global pandemic. Emerging from quarantine those with the flexibility to ensure they are not separated from their family or loved ones are seeking refuge with larger properties and compounds. The ability to accommodate generations of family, extended family and the necessary support staff is critical and driving demand for properties that, historically, would have been more challenging to sell.
Families traveling with chefs, educators, trainers, etc. who want to ensure that they have the services they need in accordance with their schedule and location is imperative. Even now, the borders have opened, travel has increased, but technology still prevails. We can literally tour a property, understand the views, experience the amenities without ever leaving the comfort (or safety) of our own living room saving valued time and ensuring that our priorities remain where they should be; with family and loved ones.
Urban isn’t bad; it’s back and it’s better: Time and Truth
The global shift in values and how we all experienced the mind shift of 2020 and 2021 is also a great indicator of an emerging definition of luxury. No one’s experience was unilateral and neither is anyone’s definition of their individual “truth”.
Whether clients have elected to leave the cities altogether or reallocate their time spent in different destinations, it’s become a necessity for them to understand and define their own “truth” and then find creative uses for ensuring their experience is accommodated. Appreciation for nature. Better air filtration systems. Wellness programming. Whether projects in the cities enable public spaces designed to ensure comfortable distance for meeting friends and neighbors, a touchless delivery system for room service, dry cleaning or packages, developers are embracing these needs and adapting their product to individual truths accordingly.
Making the Lifestyle Accessible: Truth
There’s no denying that there has been a flight to destination markets as we’ve all learned that “work” can happen remotely. A trend before COVID and a necessity now, developers are capturing the imagination of the aristocracy who want to be surfers, ski-bums, cowboys and making it happen in their high-concept communities. Whether through technology-informed communities that incorporate various lifestyle attributes or through the AI that helps us to understand a deeper level to the client’s psychology, the top real estate professionals understand that we need to understand and adapt to their new “truth” before our clients do.
Citizenship, by Investment: Trust
As trusted advisors, many of us have heard from our clients frustrated that international travel was restricted and seeking protection from social unrest and socio-economic risk. As a result, the affluent are seeking passport and residency diversification in some spectacular international destinations. In many cases, developers are offering, through the sales launch, preferential pricing, attractive rental returns and a developer buy-back options. If the project is also a Citizenship by Investment approved developer, a villa purchase provides investors an opportunity to apply for Citizenship. With visa-free access (in some cases) to over 140 countries and an attractive tax regime, the affluent are positioning themselves to take full advantage in a completely trusted environment as this trend continues to drive demand.
For many, life today is about adjusting to a new normal in the aftermath of one of the biggest disruptions of all time and the paradigm of luxury is no exception. As the psychology of the world has forever been changed, there is a silver lining in that many of the trends defining today’s luxuries are focused on family, loved ones, health and wellness and the environment. And, more than ever, it seems that technology is playing a defining role in helping those who serve this demographic in a more efficient and effective way. It’s understood that as trusted advisors we are fostering the luxury of inclusive vs. exclusive and deeper connection by our own technology-enhanced tools and access to data. We are ushing in a new era of innovation and change and there is no doubt that we have a very dynamic future ahead as we continue to navigate the technology and currency of luxury.
To read the full magazine or more John Eric Home articles, please visit: www.johnerichome.com.
Meet Julie Faupel
Julie’s 20+ year career is defined by working with affluent clientele and understanding and defining luxury hospitality, technology, marketing, fashion, and real estate. Most recently, Julie was named one of 2023’s “Women to Watch in Luxury” by Luxury Daily because of her unique insight into what shapes consumer psychology in luxury buying.
Among her many accomplishments, Julie is the CEO and Founder of REALM, a real estate technology platform that serves elite real estate professionals. In 2022, REALM was recognized as the “Best Luxury Technology” by Inman Media. In addition, Julie co-founded the largest real estate company in the Teton Region, and she is a member of the top-producing real estate team Graham-Faupel-Mendenhall which is historically ranked in the top 100 teams in the US by the Wall Street Journal/Real Trends. Her clients include Fortune 100 CEOs, government dignitaries, heirs and heiresses, technology executives, and other notable figures.
Julie is a frequent media expert and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times, Luxury Daily, and Leaders Magazine. Julie is a member of the Young President’s Organization where she serves the Global One chapter as Membership Chair.
Julie and her husband, Matt, are philanthropists and avid supporters of entrepreneurship acting as angel investors to a number of startup ventures. In her spare time, you will find Julie skiing, hiking, biking, paddle boarding, and enjoying Jackson’s active lifestyle with her husband and their menagerie of animals.