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What defines a luxury home in Southern California?

Luxury home property in Southern California

What’s in a luxury home? How is it different from other residential real estate properties? What comes to your mind when you hear the word “luxury?” When it comes to real estate, it depends on the state and city you’re in. ​​

One thing is certain though – the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined what home buyers are looking for in a luxury property. When staying at home to work, study, and play became a must for health and safety, buyers realized the importance of features that would allow them to have more space and enjoy their surroundings.

Let’s look at the luxury real estate market in Southern California. Commonly known as SoCal, the Southern California region contains the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura.

Some of the country’s largest metro areas are located here. Moreover, it is the center of the film, television, and music industry. Its beaches are iconic, as are its deserts, and it’s no surprise that it boasts some of the most highly valued real estate in the country.

In Southern California, a luxury home could be anything from an oceanfront penthouse in Malibu to a mansion in Beverly Hills to a stunning mid-century modern home in Palm Springs. The region has more ways of defining luxury than almost any other place in the country.

Characteristics of luxury homes in Southern California

Luxurious home interior of a property in Southern California

Luxury real estate isn’t just a high-performing asset that gains value and offers good returns. A luxury home – as its name suggests – allows its owner to enjoy the utmost in comfort and convenience. These homes are made from premium materials and finishes like hardwood and marble and offer spacious living spaces and modern features.

Luxury property developers constantly update designs and amenities of luxury houses to incorporate the essentials that luxury home buyers have been looking for since the onset of the pandemic: outdoor living, privacy, and versatile interiors. The luxury buyer wants a convenient turnkey home where they can live, work, and play in the safety of their property.

Advanced smart home technology

Luxury isn’t only about convenience and comfort – it’s also smart. Luxury houses feature smart home technology, including solar generators and remote-controlled shutters, HVAC systems, and switchboards.

When in optimal operation, a fully automated home is where you can remotely control the lights, sprinklers, thermostat, washer, dryer, garage doors, and any other home technology that can be connected to a central control system like your mobile device. Installing a smart security system ensures that your property and the people in it are secure and protected. Luxury homes have plenty of things that can attract unwanted attention, so a smart home monitoring system gives added peace of mind. Smart home technology and home automation can also help you to become more energy efficient.

Space, privacy, and security

Just because a house is large doesn’t automatically make it a luxury home. An average-sized house sitting on a sprawling lot can qualify as luxury real estate. That’s because there’s more land for privacy and more opportunities for customization.

Luxury home buyers are looking at locations like Malibu and Palm Springs, which are located away from highly urbanized cities and have homes with larger lots for more privacy. The additional space also allows for that sought-after open-plan indoor-outdoor home layout.

Luxury houses ensure privacy through split-bedroom configurations. There are also enough rooms in a luxury house for different purposes: a home office for work, a study room for the children, an entertainment room, home theater, gym or fitness area, spa-style bathrooms, and so on.

A good number of luxury properties are also located in gated communities with round-the-clock security personnel and high-security installations. Luxury home buyers are also willing to spend more to add double gates, barbed wires, infrared lighting, and extra CCTV cameras that are connected to their smartphones.

Unique features

On the surface, what makes a house a luxury home is that it is aesthetically designed with high-quality finishes. A luxury home is an architectural marvel, one that stands out from other ordinary properties. They are often recognized as landmark properties in their neighborhood.

Large floor-to-ceiling windows are among the popular features you’ll usually find in a luxury home. The size of these windows allows natural light to come in and gives you the chance to take in stunning views of the coast or the desert.

Many luxury homes also come with detached accessory dwelling units to increase the number of private spaces. There is also an extra prep kitchen or a messy kitchen where the actual cooking gets done. This is separate from the main kitchen where socializing happens. A modern luxury kitchen is equipped with professional-grade appliances and furnishings with bold textures, rich hues, and exotic materials.

Other luxury home features common in Southern California homes are bars, tennis courts, bowling alleys, and wine cellars.

Architectural styles

These are some of the most common architectural styles you’ll find among luxury homes in Southern California.

  • Desert modernism. The defining architectural style of the Palm Springs area, it is inspired by the simple lines of the region’s desert setting. Typical features include:
    • Large windows
    • An overall low profile
    • Cantilevered roofs
    • Natural building materials
    • Clerestory windows
    • Decorative screens
  • European style. Highly intricate and detailed, this sophisticated and stylish design encompasses a range of characteristics and themes, from ranch-style houses to sprawling estates. The main elements include:

    • Complex roof designs
    • Open floor plans
    • Detailed exteriors made from stone, brick, or stucco materials
    • High ceilings
    • Clay tile rooms
    • Sleek archways
    • Wrought iron balconies
    • French doors
    • Surface materials with premium and rich textures
  • Traditional style. A luxury home in this particular style is all about warmth and comfort. It is inspired by 18th and 19th-century European decor, with embellishments like piping, tufting, and gentle curves that give the house its elegant appearance. Main characteristics include:
    • Symmetry
    • Soft and subtle color palette
    • Fundamental styles and uniformity
    • Highly detailed millwork displayed through built-in cabinetry, crown molding, and valances
    • Complex patterns like paisleys and floral prints
  • Northwest style. This variant of the international style is minimalist and has a modern appearance. Main characteristics include:
    • Unpainted wood
    • Asymmetrical floor plans
    • Flat roof with shingles and overhanging eaves
    • Minimalist decorations
    • Significant use of glass that usually extends to the floor

Desirable neighborhoods

The placement of a luxury home is also important. In SoCal, some of the most remarkable luxury homes are those found in communities that are near visually stunning natural scenery like hillsides, golf courses, or the coastline.

Being located in an area with plenty of amenities is another great attribute of a luxury home. Southern California is rife with communities that have just about everything within easy reach, from shopping and dining districts to good schools and scenic trails.

Open floor plans

Open floor plans focus on large and open layouts with very few partition walls. For instance, the kitchen can open up directly to the living room. Luxury homes, particularly in areas like Palm Springs, feature open floor plans that seamlessly integrate indoor and outdoor living spaces. It is characterized by cornerless glass door systems that extend the living spaces into expansive outdoor spaces.

An open layout design in sprawling home interiors allows more flexibility and connection among its residents. For instance, with a living space that is seamlessly connected with the kids’ study area, parents can catch up on their favorite TV shows while keeping an eye on the children.

Where you can find luxury homes in Southern California

Luxury neighborhood in Southern California

Location is everything when it comes to luxury homes. With its beaches, desert, and diverse attractions and activities, the outdoor lifestyle is why people pay to live in Southern California.

Take your pick from several of these SoCal cities where you’ll find beautiful luxury homes:

La Quinta

La Quinta is a well-known resort and golfing community in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. The luxury homes you will find here are diverse, ranging from classic mid-century homes to sprawling estates ideal for vacation getaways.

Home prices in La Quinta can go as high as eight figures but you’ll still find three-bedroom homes with a garage priced at less than a million. If luxury homes are what you’re looking for, then there’s The Madison Club and The Hideaway – two of the most exclusive golf communities here.

The Madison Club boasts an award-winning golf course designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio. But more than that, this community spells exclusive in big, bold letters as the homes here number less than 25. No wonder it’s the community of choice of celebrities like Khloe Kardashian and Cindy Crawford.

The Hideaway Golf Club has breathtaking views, two top-of-their-class golf courses, and doesn’t disappoint with its range of amenities. Residents and home buyers looking to move here take delight in this community’s adventurous and luxurious vibe.

Palm Desert

Located right at the heart of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is home to country clubs, golf courses, and a good number of amazing shopping and dining hubs, the largest of which is El Paseo – Palm Desert’s answer to Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive. Impressive attractions you can find in the city include the College of the Desert, McCallum Theatre, Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, and the Palm Desert Civic Park.

The pinnacle of luxury in Palm Desert is Bighorn Golf Club, another exclusive community that features two championship golf courses so named for their locations in the area – the Mountains Course designed by Arthur Hills and the Canyons Course by Tom Fazio. It also has a new clubhouse that not only serves as a facility for dining and socializing but as another unique venue for real estate. Moreover, residents here actually have the option to ride out in style either via a limousine or a private jet!

Rancho Mirage

For laidback elegance, look no further than this city in the Greater Palm Springs area.

Rancho Mirage is a haven of luxury, being one of the first cities in the Coachella Valley to capitalize on the demand for luxury residential properties. Exclusive gated communities and country clubs here have outstanding facilities like beautiful golf courses and top-notch tennis courts. One of the top Rolls Royce automobile dealerships is located here. The city is also home to world-class resorts, including the five-star Ritz-Carlton. Also known as the “Playground of the Presidents,” Rancho Mirage has been the resident city of several past US presidents, including Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and Barack Obama.

Indian Wells

Known as “Tennis Paradise,” Indian Wells is home to the award-winning BNP Paribas Open, the world’s largest combined men’s and women’s professional tennis tournament.

Indian Wells has some of the best selections of luxury homes in the Valley, with several custom homes both on and off the golf course. One of the premier communities for luxury homes here is The Vintage Club. Apart from showcasing two stunning golf courses and nine state-of-the-art tennis courts, it also has a fine selection of luxury homes to choose from.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is known for its Desert modernism style, which blends the indoors and outdoors and is a sought-after style in luxury homes in the area. Desert modernism exudes a contemporary vibe with touches of Old Hollywood glamor. Leading architects and designers were commissioned to develop the luxury homes in Palm Springs, taking inspiration from the Bauhaus and international styles modified to fit the Southern California climate and the surrounding desert.

Notable Desert modernist architects behind the mid-century Palm Springs style include:

  • Richard Neutra
  • Donald Wexler
  • Albert Frey
  • William Krisel
  • Steward Williams
  • Hugh M. Kaptur

When in Palm Springs, you shouldn’t miss out on these historically and architecturally significant luxury homes.

  • Bob Hope’s residence at 2466 Southridge Drive
  • The Kaufmann desert house at 470 West Vista Chino
  • Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate at 1148 Alejo Road
  • The Royal Hawaiian Estates on Palm Canyon Drive and Murray Canyon Drive
  • The Spanish Revival houses on Avenida Palmas and Puerto Del Sol

Why you’ll want to invest in a luxury home in Southern California

Is buying luxury homes in Southern California worth it? For almost half a century, Southern California and the rest of the state have been among the most volatile and profitable real estate markets in the country. The state has seen 69 four-quarter periods with double-digit price increases since 1975 – the highest in the country. Since 1975, the California price index has been increasing at an annual rate of 6.7%, making it the second-best market performer in the country.

You stand to make a windfall if you’re investing for the long term in the SoCal real estate market. Luxury homes in Southern California will always retain their high value and will continue to go up. For example, in Palm Springs, a single-family home that’s currently priced at more than $1.4 million saw a 35% increase from the previous year.

In the Coachella Valley, the average cost of a 4,500-square-foot house in one of its top 15 country clubs rose 18.2% over the past year, with an average of 33 units sold per month – 37% higher than before the pandemic.

In 2021, 40% of the properties sold in the Coachella Valley were second homes, not primary residences. This can be attributed to evolving needs as the pandemic drove industries to shift to remote work. People owning vacation homes converted these into second homes, and those without began their journey toward owning one themselves.

Luxury living in Southern California is within your reach with Rich Nolan

Purchasing a luxury home is a huge investment, and you won’t want to make any costly mistakes during the process. With me, Rich Nolan, you are guaranteed exceptional service throughout every step of your luxury home-buying journey. I am a licensed broker with over 16 years of experience in luxury real estate and modern and architectural properties in Southern California, particularly in Palm Springs and surrounding areas.

Let’s work together to find your new dream home and next great investment in Southern California. Get started today by calling me at 760.219.1357 or sending me an email for more information.

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