While the pinnacle of residential real estate is measured and determined by absolute price, expensive does not always constitute or define luxury. What qualifies as luxury in the global residential property sector varies considerably from market to market, both in terms of price and the characteristics of a home. Stratospheric prices and exclusive addresses are not always synonymous with spectacular architecture and unbridled luxurious opulence.
The rarified top-end of global real estate markets is increasingly being driven by a largely distinct set of forces propelled by a concentration of global wealth with high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) driving property prices to ever increasing record-setting levels for a handful of the most expensive properties in the world.
According to the latest market report by Christie’s International Real Estate, 2014 marked the first time in history that the top-5 most expensive homes sold in the world all exceeded a $100 million USD price threshold. Super-rich buyers looking for unique properties and signature trophy homes dominated the top of the market spectrum pushing global demand for prime properties higher than ever before.
The World’s Highest Priced Homes in 2014 (US$, unit sale price)
“You’re looking at a universe of over 1,800 billionaires who are starting to become members of this club of collectors of the most unique and incredible real estate in the world,” Dan Conn, Chief Executive Officer of Christie’s International Real Estate, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.
Here is the top 5 list of the most expensive publicly recorded home sales worldwide for 2014:
1. $147 Million – 60 Further Lane, East Hampton, NY, USA
A seaside Hampton’s property purchased by a billionaire Wall Street hedge-fund manager set the record for the most expensive residential home sold in the world for 2014. Public records indicate that Barry Rosenstein of Jana Partners purchased the three-parcel 18-acre private beachfront residence at 60 Further Lane in East Hamptons, NY for $147 million USD. The extensively landscaped property included a home built within the last 10 years by the previous owner, the late Christopher H. Browne, managing director of a New York investment firm Tweedy, Browne Company and his partner, architect Andrew Gordon.
2. $146 Million – Villa on Claude Vignon Avenue, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
Long considered to be one of the most popular destinations among the world’s rich elite, the ritzy Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Villas on the French Riviera have continually captivated true lovers of prestige properties with some of the highest property prices in Europe. In late 2014, German luxury real estate brokerage Engel & Völkers announced the sale of one of these private villas on Claude Vignon Avenue in the resort city of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat for €120 million. Valued at $146 million USD at the time of the purchase to an undisclosed buyer, the total area of the residence was apparently only 600 sq. meters which means that each square meter cost the buyer approximately €200,000.
3. $120 Million – Copper Beech Farm, Greenwich, CT, USA
Originally the most expensive single-family home ever publicly listed for sale in the United States at $190 million, the historic Greenwich, Connecticut estate, known as Copper Beech Farm, sold for $120 million USD in April 2014. Located at 499 Indian Field Road in the private Mead Point enclave of Greenwich, the seaside waterfront estate was sold by John M. Rudey, a timber magnate, and his wife, Laurie Rudey, who purchased the property for a reported $7.55 million in 1982. Dating back to the 1890’s, the 50-acre estate was named for the copper beech trees that populated the property. Originally built in 1896, the property is recognized as the largest waterfront estate on the coastline between Greenwich and New York City.
4. $104 Million – 35 South Bay Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong
Although sky-high real estate prices are a well-known norm in Hong Kong, most people would guess that the cities highest priced properties are to be found in the exclusive area known as The Peak. However that is not where you will find the most expensive private home ever sold in Hong Kong. In August 2014 a two-story 7,204 sq. ft. detached residential home on an 18,800 sq. ft. lot at 35 South Bay Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong was sold for a record-breaking price of $104 million USD. According to local reports, the purchaser was Jean Eric Salata, the Chief Executive Officer of Baring Private Equity Asia.
5. $100.5 Million – One57 Penthouse Unit 90, New York, NY, USA
Extell Development’s lavish One57 tower arguably ushered in a new era of super-luxury skyscraper developments in Midtown Manhattan and gave rise to the so-called Billionaires Row in New York. Its stranglehold on the city’s super-lux apartment market was reinforced on December 23, 2014 with the sale of penthouse unit No. 90, which spans the top two floors of the 1,004-foot (306-meter) tower for $100.5 million USD. Last listed for $115 million, the 11,000 sq. ft. duplex penthouse occupies the 89th and 90th floors at the pinnacle of the landmark One57 building. Extell Marketing Group handled the transaction, shielding the identity of the buyer with an aptly named limited liability company, P89-90 being declared as the registered owner.
The top-end of the real estate market has always been defined by a buyer’s desire, motivation, and capacity to secure ownership of a property – whether it is worth it or not. In this realm of the super-rich buyers, distinct and personal factors beyond value restrictions often drive purchase decisions. As a result, a property’s purchase price may not align with what a normal person would realistically rationalize as these buyers do not follow normal value paradigms. Although some of these properties may not seem to fall into the standard assumptions of a luxury property, they all deserve the expensive moniker.