Luxury homes continue to attract buyers

By: April Lehmbeck | C&G Newspapers | Published February 6, 2013

The sky’s the limit with luxury homes that boast incomparable beauty and comfort, including marble floors, vaulted ceilings, gourmet kitchens, jetted bathtubs, sweeping lakefront views and immaculate landscapes.

There are homes with basketball courts, theater rooms, libraries and exquisite outdoor spaces, where residents can warm themselves in front of stone fireplaces.

While it might seem like these homes aren’t big sellers in the current economy, think again. The luxury home market is alive and well in southeastern Michigan, according to local Realtors.

“2013 has started with a bang,” Realtor Kathy Broock Ballard, of Max Broock Realtors, said in an email. “I recently listed three luxury homes in the third week of January; all sold within the first 48 hours of listing, and two at asking price.”

Broock Ballard specializes in luxury and lakefront properties.

The homes are not only sought after by buyers who are looking for high-end homes, but they’re selling for near or even above asking price. Many of Broock Ballard’s recent sales were through cash transactions, as well.

“That is unheard of,” she said. “The rationale for cash was to be competitive with the multiple-offer scenarios we were in. 

“Our buyers ended up beating out the other bids, not having a mortgage as a condition,” Broock Ballard explained. “These buyers will most likely (pursue a) mortgage after closing, due to low interest rates; however, cash is king, thus giving them an advantage over the competition.”

Laurie Glass, a Realtor and fine home specialist with SKBK Sotheby’s International Realty, which is highly experienced in the luxury-home market, also believes the luxury real estate market is thriving.

“Location is paramount for homes in this price range, and with Oakland County being one of the wealthiest counties in the country, our area is well-represented in the luxury real estate market,” she said in an email.

Broock Ballard said luxury homes are identified based on values in any community, but she defined luxury homes as those priced higher than $750,000, as a national standard.

Many metro Detroit communities are made up of smaller homes, but luxury homes can be found all over the Oakland County area, including Rochester, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and Birmingham, as well as Wayne County communities like the Grosse Pointes and Canton.

“The growth of new construction in the late 1990s and early 2000s spread to outlying communities because of available land and close proximity to thoroughfares,” Broock Ballard said. “The relocation of Chrysler was instrumental in the development of communities in north Oakland County, as well as hospital expansion throughout SE Michigan and industrial park development housing suppliers for the automotive industry and construction community.”

When it comes to spending upwards of $1 million, buyers know what they want in their luxury home.

“Luxury homes symbolize a fabulous lifestyle, and with that in mind, buyers want an open, flowing floor plan suitable for a family, as well as entertaining,” Glass said. “The kitchen is still the heart of the home, where a warm ambiance and several different places to hang out and dine are desired.

“Formal living rooms are now libraries and home offices, and bedrooms are often all suites,” she said. “Master suites are large sanctuaries with a fireplace. Closets grab more square footage than ever, with elaborate dressing areas, and basements should be finished with an extra bedroom, full bathroom and full kitchen area.”

Glass noted a number of other amenities found in the homes, like elaborate crown moldings, fixtures and custom cabinetry.

The homes in this market include natural stone in and outside the home, bedroom suites, wine cellars, large garages with four or more bays, water features within the landscaping and pool areas or sports courts, Broock Ballard said.

“We are seeing a shift in the amenities in modest homes, as well,” Broock Ballard said. “Our culture is expecting technology, i.e. flat-screen TVs, wiring for sound systems and, of course, wireless technology throughout any home. 

“Ten years ago, this was not an industry standard in our more modestly priced arena,” she said. “Affordability has made this happen. Three-car garages are also expected in price ranges under $750,000, as well as owner’s suites with walk-in closets.”

Yet, luxury homes offer even more amenities, like indoor basketball courts, dining areas that seat more than 20 guests and even hair salon facilities, Broock Ballard added.

“With interest rates as low as they are, it is making it more affordable for someone to stretch and keep within their monthly budget, should they decide to get a mortgage,” Broock Ballard said. “This has spurred activity and I feel will continue to spur sales in the luxury market while this opportunity is available.”

Kathy Broock Ballard can be reached at (248) 318-4504 or Laurie Glass can be reached at (248) 283-8139, ext. 798 or