It’s not easy to stay up to date on the latest in luxury real estate. The true trajectory and intensity of trends in this specialized market can be obscured by noise in the data when sample sizes or time frames are too small.
That’s according to the annual report put out by Coldwell Banker’s Global Luxury program, titled “The Report: State of Luxury 2019.” The authors of the report caution agents to avoid month-to-month comparisons and keep a long-term perspective.
Chicago is one of the many cities identified as “power markets” in the report this year, a distinction that didn’t surprise Dawn McKenna. “Chicago is absolutely a power market,” said the team leader of the Dawn McKenna Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “As a real estate professional serving both the city and western suburbs of Chicago, this means I am able to offer my clients a wide variety of lifestyle opportunities including luxury rentals, condos and single-family homes all within close proximity to transportation including two international airports.”
While the report singles out a number of factors driving the luxury market internationally, from generational issues to wellness to technology, McKenna said one particular trend is so impactful here that it actually caused her to change the geographic concentration of her business. “Urban migration is the most relevant trend driving the luxury market in Chicago. I moved my team from the western suburbs to the city in July 2017 because I saw a shift in my clients’ needs,” she said. McKenna realized that dozens of her clients were making similar moves, “downsizing from Hinsdale, buying a smaller condo in Chicago and potentially becoming snowbirds with a part-time residence in Naples, Florida.”
Of course, amenities are an important consideration for luxury buyers as well. “The majority of luxury buyers today demand a number of amenities, including a fitness center, pool deck, full-service spa, screening room, golf simulator, wine tasting room, business center, on-demand cleaning service and private chefs,” McKenna said. But while she noted that high-end buyers are always looking for spaces that cater to their hobbies and interests, there’s an intangible element that agents would be unwise to ignore. “Don’t forget security and privacy. They are often overlooked, but critical, amenities.”
As a consistently top-producing agent in Chicagoland, McKenna knows it’s not easy to make it in the high-end market, whether in the suburbs or the city. “Chicago can be overwhelming,” she said. “I would advise any local agent looking to break into the luxury market to start by finding their niche within the city, become an expert in that one area and grow from there.”