Saturday, March 29, 2014

Richey Rich Orders a Home

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early…unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand… -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I must say I have ever only sold a couple of $1 million plus properties. But I thought it might be amusing to discuss what the very rich look for in a home.

First of all in general, price is no object. When you and I might say, “Don’t bother showing me property I can’t afford.” The average Millionaire/Billionaire is more likely to suggest they want a particular group of must have features.

In Florida, the number one request is a water feature. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are, even poor people like water features (ponds, mini-lakes and waterfalls).  But the wealthy can specify the quality of the water-frontage.  Gulf frontage, Bay frontage, or wide water open views will all be appealing. Golf course frontage and views of wide-open land are a distant second, except for the hunters or golf nuts.

Privacy is a big request, but by privacy they don’t necessarily mean there must be a significant distance or buffer between homes. It does mean they do not want to see or hear the neighbors. Privacy can also mean security—and security is an area in which more is better. Cameras, gates, special locks and security management are all important to these buyers.  And privacy can extend into the home as well, where his and her rooms have become more of a requirement—separate closets, bathrooms and even bedrooms, plus his and her offices are not unusual requirements.

Size is also key—unless the home is a well-known (smallish) icon in the area, like, say a Frank Lloyd Wright home--size matters.  Big is good, bigger is probably better. Where the average house in the area may have 1800 feet under air, the mega rich are looking at 10-20,000 feet (that’s a half acre of house).  As a matter of fact I just heard of a mega rich couple that wanted to downsize from 10,000 feet to a home in the 5,000 square foot range.

New construction is fine, so long as it’s all finished and ready to move into.  A large home say 5,000+ square feet could take 2 years to build, and the mega rich are always in a hurry, so there’s no appeal in building from scratch, or rebuilding an existing home and the confusion of living in a construction site and freshly planted landscaping.

The rich often have requests for specialty items in their home. An elevator is a nice feature, and then there are rooms designed for special uses.  You might have a sewing room, but the rich will expect a wine cellar, an art gallery, a writing room, even a gift-wrapping room, a large garage with a half dozen stalls or more, and probably an exercise room. The biggest difference to me is the special purpose rooms that are requirements.

Things that they once looked for—like a home theatre or even a fancy kitchen—have lost their appeal. The home theatre has become less a must have with the advent of large flat screen televisions which can be wall mounted and concealed in the woodwork or a piece of furniture.  And fancy kitchens? If you were mega-rich, why would you need a fancy kitchen as long as your catering kitchen was convenient and efficient?

I once asked a very wealthy client what it’s like to be so well off.
“Look,” he said. “I think all it does is make things easier. I don’t think it changes you that much. The happy guy who later makes tons of money is still happy. But if somebody’s a jerk before he makes it, he’s a jerk when he’s got a billion dollars.”
Dane Hahn is a real estate professional affiliated with Sarasota Realty Associates. He can be reached at 941-681-0312 or by email at See him on the web at



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