Questions to Ask When Buying a Luxury Home in the St. Louis Area
Searching for a luxury home in the St. Louis area might take more effort than you’d think it should. It’s not that the region doesn’t have a robust market of magnificent homes—it most certainly does! The problem is that luxury means something different to everyone. The word is tossed into listings all the time, but just calling a house a luxury home doesn’t make it so.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines luxury as “a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort.” These questions to ask when buying a luxury home in the St. Louis area will help homebuyers zero in on what that looks like from their unique perspective.
Many people know about the luxury homes in affluent and distinguished areas of St. Louis like Chesterfield, Ladue, and Town & Country, but an experienced agent can uncover hidden gems all over the region.
How Do You Define Luxury?
Every buyer wants to find a house that offers good value for the price and is in a good location. Those are a given no matter what their lifestyle or budget. Luxury home buyers are looking for something that goes far beyond those basics. They want something that is unique and makes a statement. A home that feels special where they can enjoy the utmost in comfort and a little—or a lot—of pampering.
Once you get past the standard questions of school districts, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and price, these eight questions—and the help of a good realtor—will help you learn if a St. Louis area home meets your standard for luxury.
1. What Makes it Noteworthy?
Luxury home buyers are usually not impressed by a cookie-cutter house that is just like the neighbors. Instead, they want something that stands out. Something that is in line with the status and success they’ve achieved.
While prestige goes hand-in-hand with a high asking price in real estate, money isn’t the only factor. A home’s story is often what appeals to the buyer. Does it, or its neighborhood, have historical significance? St. Louis’s Lafayette Square and the Central West End are peppered with grand homes on the National Historic Register.
Was it built by a notable architect or does it feature a famous interior designer’s work? Perhaps it is the former home of a celebrity. All of these things can make a house more interesting to a buyer.
The way the house is built or designed can be noteworthy too. Buyers might be intrigued by a home with an ultra-modern design, one that blends into the wooded scenery, or one built from sustainable materials with solar panels and little to no carbon footprint. Even features that may be unusual or even weird to some might be wonderful to others.
2. What’s Special About its Location?
In St. Louis, we don’t have the advantage of mountain views or a house right on the beach, but there are plenty of locations that may suit a buyer’s idea of luxury. For some, this might mean a condo looking out over the city’s skyline, perhaps with a view of the Arch. For others, a large home on a golf course, complete with unobstructed views of the greens and club amenities.
Whether a home buyer would be proud of how their home and lawn looks from the road, or if they prefer the concealed luxury of a house hidden down a long driveway is a personal preference. Either way, St. Louis luxury homes can offer a variety of special locations.
3. Will I Have Privacy?
Speaking of houses that are either visible from the road or hidden, privacy is often a hallmark of luxury. This could come in the form of a gated community with an attendant. Or in the case of a condo, a doorman or concierge who will not only help protect your privacy but is available to help with deliveries and other tasks.
Many people prefer that certain parts of their homes such as the backyard or pool are not in the line of sight of any of the neighbors or pedestrians on the street. They may look for a house that is a good distance away from the closest neighbor, is down a hidden drive, or has trees or other features blocking the view.
4. How “Smart” is it?
Homebuyers today want the latest technology, even in an older luxury home. It’s important to ask what “smart” features are already installed. A security system is an important feature, as are other safety measures such as locking gates, motion-detecting lights, or even surveillance cameras.
Smart devices aren’t just for luxury homes anymore. For a reasonable price, just about anyone can view a doorbell camera or adjust their thermostat with a smartphone. But the buyer of a luxury home might expect features such as automatic or voice-activated lighting, window blinds, sprinkler system, and entertainment system. A whole-house generator can eliminate the inconvenience of a power outage. Heated floors may be in many new homes, but did you know there are radiant heating systems that will melt the snow and ice from walkways and the driveway?
All of these smart devices can make life not only easier but more luxurious. A buyer will be interested in what the house can offer, or how much extra it will cost to install such amenities.
5. Does it Offer Inviting Outdoor Living Space?
Outdoor living space is an important selling point for all homes, but especially luxury homes. Hot St. Louis summers cry out for a patio with a pool and perhaps a shady pergola. A built-in grill or outdoor kitchen, bar, dining and seating areas, and fireplace or fire pit is appealing too. Surround it with manicured gardens and water features to round out the space.
Buyers of luxury homes want space outside where they can entertain or unwind with their families. Some may have a tennis or basketball court on their wishlist. Or even a barn for horses. A luxury dream home should accommodate whatever activities suit a buyer’s lifestyle.
6. What High-End Features Does it Have?
It’s often said that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. While luxury homebuyers usually have a wishlist that goes well beyond those two rooms, they are still important. The kitchen in a luxury home should be fit for a chef. High-end appliances, workspaces, and a walk-in pantry are a must for most buyers, whether they do their own cooking or not.
Find out if bathrooms have spa-like amenities like steam showers, sunken tubs, and bidets. All of these things fit with most people’s ideas of luxury.
Bedrooms, especially the master bedroom, should be an oasis according to most people shopping for a luxury home. Perhaps a sitting area or fireplace is something on the list of must-haves. And no luxury bedroom is complete without a spacious, Instagram-worthy, walk-in closet and dressing room.
7. Are There Any Specialty Features That Fit My Lifestyle?
When you’re in the market for a luxury home, you’ll want to find one with special rooms that fit your lifestyle and what makes you… you. That may be the tennis court, basketball court, or horse stables outside. Or it could mean a special room for your gym, yoga studio, or home office. Entertainment space like a billiard or game room, bar, or home theater might be what you are looking for. A wine cellar, library, a garage for classic cars, or a special room to showcase memorabilia might be what makes a house “the one.”
Looking for specific features that speak to your lifestyle can help narrow the search for a luxury home. Ask if the house either already has what you’re looking for, or if it can be modified to accommodate it.
8. What Special Costs Can I Expect?
An important question to ask is what special costs you may incur with a luxury home. In addition to paying a premium price for the property, there may be HOA fees or membership fees in the case of a country club or golf course. A luxury home will usually require additional home care which could be expected. Unless you plan to do it yourself—which probably doesn’t fit your idea of luxury living—the pool, lawn, and gardens, and the house itself will need to be cleaned and maintained. Add to that security fees, higher utility bills if the house is large, and property taxes, and the house can cost significantly more than expected. It’s best to ask about and be prepared for these things before making an offer.
Finding Your Luxury Dream Home Requires the Right Agent
Exclusive listings are not always advertised, and rarely have open houses, so it’s important to find an agent who can get you in to see the luxury homes that are available. The real estate agents at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties understand the luxury home market in the St. Louis area. Asking these questions will start the conversation that will help your agent understand what luxury means to you and your family. Together, we’ll find your luxury dream home!
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