What makes Boston a global ‘power market’ for luxury real estate

by Meg White

It’s not easy to stay up-to-date on the latest in luxury real estate. The true trajectory and intensity of trends in this specialized market can be obscured by noise in the data when sample sizes or time frames are too small. That’s according to the annual report put out by Coldwell Banker’s Global Luxury program, titled “The Report: State of Luxury 2019.” The authors of the report caution agents to avoid month-to-month comparisons and keep a long-term perspective.

Boston is one of the many cities identified as a “power market” in the report this year, a distinction that didn’t surprise Kathryn Alphas-Richlen. “Boston’s greater metro area is powered by a talented workforce, exceptional educational institutions and companies like Amazon, Biogen and Vertex who are at the forefront of research and development. These factors, coupled with our strong professional services industries in law, finance and consulting, welcome a diverse, affluent and international community,” said Alphas-Richlen, a global luxury specialist and sales agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Weston. She noted the city attracts “buyers and sellers [who] seek access to cultural and urban lifestyles while placing a strong emphasis on their privacy.”

While the report singles out a number of trends driving the luxury market internationally, from urban migration to wellness to technology, Alphas-Richlen identified generational trends as one of the most important factors in her city. “We’re seeing retirees rightsize and move to cities where they find full-access and luxury amenities without the demands of maintaining estates,” she said. “On the other side, new families are moving to the suburbs to seek more space for their families to continue to grow and great public school systems.”

Of course, amenities are an important consideration for luxury buyers as well. While she noted that buyers are always looking for customizable options and sleek designs, she’s seeing an increased focus on spaces outside the home: “Outdoor living spaces have become popular with dining areas, customs pools and outdoor fireplaces.”

As the No. 1 individual agent in 2018 for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage New England, Alphas-Richlen also has advice for agents who are looking to follow her footsteps into the luxury market. “Network, find a mentor, be humble and continually keep up with trends in both the upscale and median home sale markets,” she said, adding that patience is also a virtue in this niche. “It takes years to build the expertise and a client base.”

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