Wealthiest home buyers look to the US, UK and Switzerland, new study shows

An increasing number of the world’s wealthiest people are buying non-traditional homes outside of where they usually live and the vast majority own two or more homes, new research shows.

Ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWs) are classed as those with assets above US$30 million and are discerning about what they buy, says the research report from Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty.

UHNW buyers look for residences that are environmentally sustainable, technologically sophisticated, or that fit better with their personal and family needs.

The average buyer in this sector is 63 years old, married and has a net worth of US$165 million. The top place to buy a second home is the United States followed by the UK and then Switzerland.

The Caribbean and the Mediterranean also remain favorites among UHNW buyers for private island homes, but Southeast Asia, Canada and Belize are gaining popularity.

Those who are buying multiple homes are now fuelling market growth in regions beyond global urban hubs such as London, New York City and Hong Kong.
‘The research from our latest report uncovers current trends in home purchasing behavior and chief lifestyle considerations, helping us gain insight into investment strategies of the UHNW population,’ said Philip White, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates.

A breakdown of the research shows that five years ago international homes accounted for 11% of non-primary UHNW residences, whereas they now account for 16%. Nearly 80% of UHNW individuals own at least two homes and over half own at least three homes.

While many of these residences are purchased as holiday homes, UHNW individuals are buying additional homes for a variety of reasons and are spending more time away from their primary residence.

As they spend more time in their additional residences, many UHNW individuals are buying homes based on lifestyle considerations that go beyond finding a holiday home. Home buyers are increasingly looking for properties that are environmentally sustainable, technologically sophisticated, or better fit their personal and family needs.

One chief lifestyle consideration is the desire to have an environmentally friendly residence. In recent years, the rising demand for eco-friendly luxury home building has fuelled a green transformation. The spread of energy efficient building techniques has led to a variety of new homes that maintain the standards an UHNW would expect but in a more environmentally sustainable way.

Interest in tech savvy homes among UHNW buyers has also risen, driven by the availability of new home technologies and expectations of younger UHNW individuals. These younger buyers want their homes to reflect the level of technological innovation and integration they experience elsewhere in their lives.

Signature statement homes have also become a popular trend. In a market where making a splash has become harder, buying an island is one way to stand out. Owning a private island not only affords the ultimate opportunity for privacy and personal luxury, but also provides a legacy that can be enjoyed for generations, and is truly a one of a kind asset.