Luxury is clearly defined by the Miriam-Webster dictionary as "a condition of great comfort, ease and wealth" and "something that is not usually or always available. However, when applying this term to real estate this definition does not always apply. While New York City is inarguably experiencing a huge surge in "luxury" real estate, the qualifications required to rank in this elite market are somewhat of an anomaly.
The New York Observer took a look at the increase of "luxury" listings and their break from exclusivity. The article notes that real estate in New York City today is anything but unavailable. So, if luxury is no longer qualified by exclusivity then what does qualify it?
There are two ways to define the luxury real estate market. One is based on the building, unit features and amenities. The other is based solely on price. A big focus in the sale of new developments is the building's branding. This is often constructed around the idea of "luxury"- advertising as many "luxury" features as possible. However, since high-end finishes, state-of-the-art appliances, and necessary services have become commonplace, the line between luxury and standard has become blurred.
While price is an obvious signifier, there are many different ideas about what number connotes luxury. Hence, the term is thrown around without a clear meaning. One definition of luxury, from real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, is an apartment costing $10 million or more. Other definitions include multiple tiers of luxury including "affordable", "mid-level", and "ultra" luxury.
New York's standard of living demands "comfort, ease and wealth," in all of its real estate. This is merely a product of the the criteria demanded from the city's clientele.
A similar phenomenon is occurring in new development as well. While the traditional definition of a penthouse is a single unit on the top floor of an apartment building, many new developments boast multiple penthouses spread out over several floors. The rare component of the penthouse is still present (top floor) but the original definition is no longer applicable.
The expansion of the luxury market is a a symbol of the direction in which real estate is moving - both in quantity and value. With its growth, luxury real estate will push the boundaries of traditional luxury.