Customizing your luxury home too much might make it harder to sell

Arguing against McMansions and mass-produced homes, architects (like Sarah Susanka), environmental psychologists, and other argue that homes should be more customized for individual homeowners and residents. But could this customization make the home harder to sell? The New York Times investigates:

That, at least, has been Mr. Rooney’s experience, as potential buyers seem to find amenities he lovingly included in his dream home “more of a disadvantage,” he said. In fact, they try to use the custom extras as “a negotiation weapon,” claiming no use, for instance, for his personal salon or sports court…

Peggy Moriarty, an associate broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, says that when it comes to high-end properties with lots of amenities, golf courses and the like “get beaten up by the weather” after the first year, and homeowners “get bored.”…

Similarly, home theaters are attractive, fun and “an added plus,” but often tucked down in a basement corner. “People like to hang out near the kitchen and watch TV in the family room,” she said. Except for teenagers or “basement dwellers,” even the most magnificent theater “after the initial creation doesn’t get used that much.” The lesson here, according to Ms. Moriarty: “The toys aren’t selling the house.”

Not all brokers agree. Mr. Elliott, a broker who owns his own firm, says there is demand for amenity-laden properties among foreign buyers. “When you get to houses over a certain level,” he said, “the more amenities, the better.”

Here is the trade-off: if you customize the home while living in it, some would argue that the home becomes more personal and relaxing while the best is utilized more effectively. On the other hand, certain customizations can limit your market or can lead the seller to have to make concessions.

Three other things strike me:

1. I assume that the people who buy these larger luxury homes also theoretically have the money available to convert the space they aren’t thrilled with into something they would rather have. Does this suggest that the wealthy don’t want to undergo many home renovations? In other words, are the wealthy more or less likely to want move in ready homes?

2. I would argue that the homes mentioned in this article, a $4.25 million home, a $14 dollar home, a $1.789 million home, and a $9.475 million home (and check out the luxury details of these homes such as a par-3 golf course or a 33-foot ballroom), are clearly mansions. Early on in the article, here is how these features and homes were summed up: “idiosyncratic extravagances that supersized homes in the McMansion era just had to have.” These homes may have been built in the McMansion era but not are not McMansions; these kinds of features are ones only the truly wealthy could afford.

3. How much does staging matter when selling one of these luxury homes and how much does it cost? There is a lot of space to cover…

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