Waldorf Astoria Towers, a new development being built for the global UHNW buyer
Wealth-X and REALM’s spotlight on the world’s leading markets for the wealthy: residential real estate 2021 delivers an insider’s look into where these individuals own and are acquiring primary and secondary properties. According to the report during 2020 priorities changed for the very-high net-worth (VHNW $5 million to $30 million) and ultra-high net worth (UHNW $30 million-plus) individuals.
“At REALM we’ve found that the most fascinating aspect of 2020 was that the entire world experienced a disruption beyond anything we could have anticipated. There has been a global psychological shift that has resulted,” notes REALM’s founder and CEO Julie Faupel. “We would have expected the nexus for the wealthy to have been a bit more widely distributed and reflective of a departure from some of the more high-density environments. That said, it is more likely that UHNW homeowners are not exiting their primary urban markets but diversifying and expanding their real estate footprints into other markets that suit various aspects of their lives. “
It’s interesting to note the top 20 cities with a “high-net-worth footprint” as defined in the report include New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, and Paris as the top five. This is based on the number of UHNW net worth individuals with either a primary or secondary residence.
Despite all the headlines that wealthy New Yorkers were deserting the city for the Hamptons, Wealth-X’s research points to New York as still being the top choice for ultra-high-net-worth individuals with a footprint of 25,000.
Next is Los Angeles with a footprint of 16,300 UHNW individuals. Fun fact here—over two-thirds of those people own second homes there. That is compared to just over half UHNW with second homes in New York.
London is a leading city for global second-home owners
As for second-home destinations, London is the global city of choice for the ultra-wealthy. It’s a diverse global group that hails from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the United States.
According to Wealth-X Miami ranks fifth for UHNW second homes. Miami has long attracted an international crowd from South America. That has expanded to include the wealthy from Russia and China. The celebrity-rich ski resort of Aspen ranks in the top 20 global destinations for second homes with UHNW. It’s practically Gulfstream gridlock during the Christmas holidays at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. That’s where all the private flights land in Aspen.
Faupel of REALM sums up the findings: “What is evident in the data is that the relevance of urban markets will continue despite what may have been publicized throughout the last year. Markets that have been historically high density; Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, will always have an appeal and a utility for the wealthy.”
Look to the trends of 2020 to continue according to Faupel. “The prevalence of some of the smaller and historically second-home markets on this list illustrates the trend that many of the VHNW and UHNW are opting to have co-primary residences and divide their time more evenly between urban and non-urban markets.”
I have covered the business of real estate (both residential and commercial) for over twenty-five years. I spent 12 years in the Forbes Los Angeles bureau reporting and