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January 18, 2022updated Jan 20, 2022

Luxury Property Market Tilts Towards Younger Buyers

Younger buyers are looking for a living experience centered on wellness and luxury.

By Katharine Swindells

Across the luxury property market, whether in the Caribbean sea or closer to home, developments are seeing growing numbers of younger buyers. With partial home-working looking likely to stay, and wellbeing a permanent priority, younger buyers are looking for a living experience for themselves and their families that is centered on wellness and luxury.

At Kukui’ula, a luxury retreat in Kauai, Hawaii that offers villas and homesites for custom property, the proportion of younger buyers has more than doubled in recent years. In 2019, less than a tenth of Kukui’ula buyers were aged under 45. But in 2020 under 45s made up a fifth of buyers, and in 2021 over a quarter, with 1.5% of buyers aged under 35.

Many of these younger buyers are families, attracted to Kukuiʻula family-oriented activities and amenities. In 2019, the families buying in Kukuiʻula included 18 children. In 2021, that number more than doubled to 39 children, over half of which were aged under 12.

“The majority of our younger members are coming more often and staying longer to allow the family to unwind and escape,” says Richard Albrecht, President of Kukui’ula. “Many are taking advantage of a newfound ability to work from anywhere which enables them to extend their stay especially during school holidays.... Several families have chosen to move to Kukuiʻula full-time and have enrolled their children in local schools.”

[See also: How Covid-19 Warped US Luxury Real Estate Markets]

Kukui’ula say that many buyers over the past year are purchasing without even visiting the development, eager to achieve the sale as quickly as possible, and this is even more true for younger buyers. For buyers aged 45-54, 53% buy a property within a year of becoming a lead. But for buyers aged 35-44, that rises a whopping 84%.

At The Strand, a retreat that recently opened in Turks and Caicos, half of the real estate sales in 2021 were made to buyers in their 30s and 40s. Three-quarters of buyers had children, and half had children aged under 18.

This trend isn’t just being seen in tropical locations, but also in Mainland US. Luxury residential community Tributary, which opened this year in Driggs, Idaho, found that young buyers are eager to buy quickly and move into this remote community, which is close to the Teton Mountains and just a short drive from Yellowstone National Park.

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In 2021, 44% of Tributary sales were to buyers in their 30s and 40s, and of those buyers, nearly two-thirds have children aged under 18. Among buyers in their 30s and 40s, almost half made their purchase within just 10 days of first contact. One buyer had a transaction length period of only two days.

Kukui’ula property

Kukui’ula is a luxury retreat in Kauai, Hawaii that offers villas and homesites for custom property / ©Kukui’ula

Rendering of the living space within one of the luxury residences at The Strand /©Prompt Collective

“Younger buyers want to enjoy the western/mountain lifestyle for themselves and they want their kids to grow up experiencing our quality of life, natural surroundings, clean and safe environment and more relaxed living,” says Jeff Heilburn, Tributary director of real estate. "Many of our younger buyers are well-established in their careers and have newfound flexibility, not needing to live at the office.”

This trend has been accelerated by the pandemic but wasn’t created by it. Tumble Creek at Suncadia, a luxury community in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, has seen the number of younger buyers and families increasing strongly over the past four years.

[See also: Stan Ponte on Manhattan’s Triumphant Real Estate Comeback]

In one of Tumble Creek’s neighborhoods, Prospector’s Reach, 100% of the buyers in 2020 were aged 45 and young and all had children. In comparison, 37% of buyers in 2019 were aged 45 and under, and in 2018 it was 33%.

Particularly, younger buyers are interested in developer homesites, where they can create the perfect home for their family. Across the entire community in 2020 and 2021, almost 40% of homesites were purchased by buyers aged 45 and under, compared to just 25% in 2019.

Heather Rugh, Tumble Creek's club membership director, says this trend is driven by young, wealthy professionals looking to escape into nature from Seattle, which is just 80 miles away. And since the pandemic, it has become even easier for them to spend time away from the city.

“Many of our buyers are in the tech industry and can now work from home full-time, and those who do need to go into the office periodically do so on a limited basis,” Rugh says. “The majority of properties still serve as second homes, but we’re finding owners are using them much more frequently and are making their stays longer.”

And with younger people increasingly accruing wealth, and prioritizing wellness for themselves and their families, this trend is unlikely to end.

[See also: Luxury Brands Rush to Join Residences Craze]

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