Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Luxury Living, To Go
Newly minted, hard driving multi-millionaires are at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to buying a home.
|From the upstairs front entry, the foyer and stairwell of the Residence Ten showcase home at Oceanfront, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Builder/developer Capital Pacific Homes of Newport Beach is offering an everything-included package for buyers too busy to shop and decorate.
Newly minted, hard driving multi-millionaires are at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to buying a home. They certainly have the means to buy their trophy home, but getting the stuff to fill it takes something they don’t often have much of: Time.
Hollywood movie producer Scott Rudin could be the poster child for this syndrome in the entertainment industry. When The New Yorker did a profile of him a few years ago, well after he made his millions, the article pointed out that despite living in a luxury home, the place was not decorated and seemed to be just a place to catch a few hours of sleep. Buying furniture and adding personal touches to the home were details in Rudin’s life that would have to wait.
As ludicrous as it may sound, what would have been perfect for Rudin back then would have been the ability to drive up to a selection of oceanfront mansions decorated in a number of popular themes and be able to write one check and say, ‘I’ll take the 7700- square-foot floor plan with the country French décor’. Then, after a few months’ stay at a luxury hotel, he could pack his hanging bag and move to his new castle. Inside the totally furnished home would be paintings, dishes, silverware, and every last detail as if he had lived there for years. This type of new-home community would require a combination of a home building skills with someone very much like a Hollywood production assistant to take care of the details.
|The kitchen of the Residence Ten showcase home is ready for someone to walk in and start to prepare a meal. Silverware and dishes are available as options, above. "A potential buyer who has not contracted with us yet is asking us to completely replicate one house that would be in the $6 million range," says Capital Pacific Home’s Tim Hamilton..
The nearest possible facsimile of this situation presently exists on the Rancho Palos Verdes peninsula on the southern coast of L. A. County. The community’s builder/developer, Capital Pacific Homes of Newport Beach, is expecting to sell 79 homes that start in the $2 million to $4 million range during the next few years. Actually, Capital Pacific will likely sell the homes for much more than the base price. Take, for example, the 7711-square-foot showcase home, Residence Ten pictured on these pages. Newsweek magazine speculated that someone could buy the home for $10 million with everything included - dishes, towels, etc. But Capital Pacific vice president of marketing Tim Hamilton thinks he "could do better than that" based on the strong response from prospective buyers who toured the home and three others like it when the community, Oceanfront, opened to the public on February 19.
"We have got five or six right now who are interested in having us price everything right down to the last picture," says Hamilton. "So the selling prices will likely come in well above the listed price for the homes with standard amenities."
In terms of sales, Hamilton says, five homes were sold during that first weekend and he expected to receive contracts on other homes during the week that followed. His calendar was full of appointments from returning prospects. In addition to the busy and newly rich professionals, Hamilton says there is a range of buyer profiles from those in their early 40s with families to 60-something couples. Importantly, many have homes in other parts of the country and the world.
"This area has a huge international buyer profile, a tremendous number of Asian and Middle Eastern buyers," notes Hamilton. "Two houses on the Peninsula recently sold for $10 million. It is the location that really makes the houses feel justified in the price. You look at the quality, and you look at the attention to detail and you look at the ocean and you go ‘Oh, I understand.’ "
During a period of unprecedented prosperity in the United States and most parts of the developed world, Oceanfront is a milestone for the way it approaches the needs of the growing ranks of wealthy individuals. Capital Pacific Homes is saying to the rest of the upscale home building community that if the location is right, you can, in Tim Hamilton’s words, "tempt buyers" at any price point away from the hassle of custom home building, which includes site selection and managing the interiors and furniture.
Far from being spec homes, the four showcase homes at Oceanfront do attempt to flesh out as much as possible four distinct interior decorating themes: classical Italian style, French provincial, Spanish, and "a fourth that feels very Ralph Lauren," says Oceanfront’s interior designer, Fari of Fari International in Costa Mesa, Calif. The idea, says Hamilton, is to offer the full gamut of options and services - from a drywall shell all the way up to a complete lifestyle. "Some buyers who travel extensively and maintain very active schedules, may wish to have CPH manage the installation of their customized features and amenities. In that case, we manage the entire process for a fee and simply hand over the keys when we are done."
Indeed, Oceanfront’s chief architect had the Scott Rudins of the world firmly in mind as he went about designing the 10 basic floor plans that are available for lots that start at half an acre and go up to three-quarters of an acre. "A lot of people in this market today want a home turnkey," says architect Robert Coyle of Costa Mesa-based Iverson Associates. "They have never done the custom-home thing, and they are afraid to go that route."
Coyle, whose firm won the Oceanfront job in a competition, says it was difficult anticipating all the things that buyers at this price point would want in terms of floor plans. He says the key was to make sure that each of the plans conveyed a sense of openness and flexibility. Most bedrooms in Residence Ten, for example, can be converted into teen rooms, home gymnasiums, art galleries, libraries, offices, dens, retreats and bonus rooms. So the plan can fit well with the needs of a number of buyer profiles: families, couples or even single people who like the location and the lifestyle.
A ‘Telephone Book’ of Options
Buyers that choose to go the turnkey route, but also want to customize beyond the list of high-end standard options can do so with a huge list of products that go far beyond the usual. In fact, the list is proprietary. All Capital Pacific’s Tim Hamilton would say is that the list is "as thick as a telephone book," says Hamilton. "Our approach is to answer ‘yes’, before we even know what the question is."
To get an idea of what is possible, it is instructive to think about what comes standard in all Oceanfront homes.
A tour of Residence Ten reveals that the categories of options range from extensively designed crown molding, wainscoting, and architectural columns to unusual details like bedroom furniture, table linens, and everyday dishware.
All of this begs the question; will Capital Pacific try to replicate this home building model in other locations around Southern California?
"You would have to have the right location," says Hamilton. "Such decisions are not so black-and-white, and property like this is pretty rare."