Most economists anticipate the housing market moving sideways, propped up by strong employment and low mortgage rates but dragged down by low inventory…
For Luxury Home Buyers, Guest Suites Hit A Sweet Spot!
When Super Bowl LIV (54) kicks off in Miami, Warren and Silvia Schencker will host VIII (8) out-of-town guests for the big game. Finding hotel rooms for them won’t be a problem: The Schenckers reserved three guest suites at Riva Residences, their Fort Lauderdale, Fla., condo building, for a mere $75 each per night.
Of all the amenities at Riva Residences, the guest suites are what sold the Schenckers on the building, where late last year they paid $1.1 million for a two-bedroom apartment with docking rights. Since closing, they have rented the suites twice, first in March for guests attending their daughter’s wedding and another for family time in late August, when Hurricane Dorian was bearing down on coastal Florida. Each time, the Schenckers could be close to their guests, while offering them the amenities of a luxury hotel.
Mrs. Schencker, a 55-year-old former newspaper advertising and marketing executive, says that the suites are beautiful and large. Guests have the use of the building’s facilities, including the gym, pool, and hot tub.
Riva Residences, a 15-story condo building completed in 2018, has 100 apartments priced from about $725,000 to $5 million. The development includes three suites—called cabanas—for the exclusive use of homeowners’ family and friends. After a flat $150 cleaning fee, homeowners pay $75 a day for up to four days, and $150 a day from five to 10 days.
To attract buyers, high-end developers are increasingly selling the luxury lifestyle to house guests. In many cases, entire floors are devoted to amenities—including guest suites—that are designed to accommodate owners when they host gatherings and entertain. The suites give the buyers the ability to buy an apartment with fewer bedrooms, knowing that they can reserve a suite when company comes. More important, developers say, is that separate guest suites let homeowners enjoy their private space while eliminating the headaches of cooking, cleaning and laundry that come with hosting.
“That’s definitely a trend that we’re trying to accommodate,” says Meg Brod, regional development officer for Rockefeller, the company behind Rose Hill, a 45-story condo tower in Manhattan slated for completion next year. Prices range from $1.2 million for a studio apartment to $17.5 million for the top-floor penthouse. One guest suite will be available for residents to reserve at $275 a night.
Rockefeller is targeting New York buyers “who are always lacking space,” Ms. Brod says. Over 50% of Rose Hill apartments will come with flex space that can be used as an office, a nursery, den or studio. This gives residents extra space without having to buy a unit with a spare guest room, saving them $1 million to $1.4 million, depending on the size of the unit, Ms. Brod says.
“Instead of having a guest bedroom when it’s not used 99% of the time, this guest suite will give access to a fully furnished room inside of your building.”
Rose Hill residents and their guests will have access to the building’s outdoor areas, library and an observation deck with two sides—one for social activities and the other a quiet space for lounging.
Guest Suites Designed to Woo Home Buyers
A look at some real-estate developments that include guest suites among the amenities:
Riva Residences in Fort Lauderdale is a 15-story condo building completed in 2018. It has 100 apartments priced from about $725,000 to $5 million. The development includes three suites—called cabanas—for the exclusive use of homeowners’ family and friends.
Warren and Silvia Schencker are hosting family members for the Super Bowl in February, with plans to accommodate them in the building’s guest cabanas. After a flat $150 cleaning fee, homeowners pay $75 a day for up to four days, and $150 a day for five to 10 days. The Schencker could have purchased a three-bedroom unit in the building, but went with a smaller one because of the availability of the cabanas.
Rose Hill, a 45-story condo tower in Manhattan slated for completion next year with prices ranging from $1.2 million for a studio apartment to $17.5 million for the top-floor penthouse. One guest suite will be available for residents to reserve at $275 a night.
Over 50% of Rose Hill apartments will come with flex space that can be used as an office, a nursery, den or studio. This gives residents extra space without having to buy a unit with a spare guest room
Sawyer Place, two residential towers overlooking the Hudson River in Yonkers, N.Y., with 438 units for rent. Tower 1 is available; Tower 2 will be available next year. A rental unit within Sawyer Place has similar finishes as what’s found in the guest suite, which is available for $150 a night. Apartment rental range: from $1,929 a month for a studio to $4,371 a month for a three-bedroom apartment.
AT NEMA Chicago, a 76-story tower in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood with 800 apartments for rent. Nightly rates for the five fully furnished studio, one- and two-bedroom guest suites are available for between $125-$225 per night.
At Elysee, a condo building under construction in Miami’s Edgewater district, the entire 30th floor is dedicated to communal entertaining spaces—which includes a living room, chef’s kitchen, lounge area and screening room, among other amenities. The floor also will include two private guest suites for residents’ overnight visitors, says Reid Boren of Two Roads Development. When the building is completed next summer, apartments will range from 2,500 square feet to 11,000 square feet—ample space for overnight guests. But in designing the building and talking to prospective buyers, Mr. Boren heard a number of scenarios in which people preferred separate guest suites.
One of the families has a cat and the homeowner’s mother, who had allergies and would visit frequently, needed a place to stay. Another has a college-age child who wants his own space when he comes home for breaks and holidays. A family that plans to buy an apartment as a vacation getaway will use the suite to accommodate one of their staffers.
“Look at this last year of hurricane scares,” Mr. Boren says. “People can come here and still have a place to stay, to get a massage or have a gym space.”
Prices at Elysee will range from $1.8 million to $9.4 million. Nightly rates for the guest suites haven’t been determined, Mr. Boren says.
At Cordillera Ranch in Boerne, Texas, homeowner Ben Beyer books the guest suite for himself and his girlfriend, Kristen Carter
In 2015, Mr. Beyer paid $489,000 for a 2,800-square-foot vacation home on 3½ acres, and spent an additional $150,000 on renovations to create what he calls a Hill Country modern ranch house, with more natural light and a cleaner aesthetic.
But Mr. Beyer, CFO of Trace Midstream, a Houston company in the natural-gas industry, said his busy work schedule and the three-hour drive to Boerne kept him from using the house as much as he would have liked. So in May, he found a renter who signed a 16-month lease for his house. Now Mr. Beyer pays about $300 a night to stay in the Lodges, a newly completed building with six guest suites located on the third fairway of a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
Beyond overnight guests, the developer of Cordillera Ranch, D.H. Investment Co., foresees members staying at the Lodges while their homes are under construction. As of last year, 800 homes had been built at the 8,700-acre community north of San Antonio, with plans for 2,500 in all. Homes currently on the market range from $700,000 to $5.25 million.
“They have enough lodging now that I can invite my family or other guests,” Mr. Beyer, 35, says. “You can still spend time with family and friends without the hassles of hosting.”
Homes with Guest Suites for Rent:
Sawyer Place, Yonkers, N.Y. – Developer: RXR Realty
Description: Two residential towers overlooking the Hudson River with 438 units for rent. Tower 1 is available; Tower 2 available in 2020
Sampling of amenities: Landscaped rooftop terrace with sun deck; outdoor movie projection screen; yoga studio and fitness center; business center; lounge with media center and billiards; dining area; on-site parking
Guest suites and rates: One guest suite at $150 per night
Apartment rental range: From $1,929 a month for a studio to $4,371 a month for a three-bedroom apartment
Riva Residences, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Developer: Premier Developers
Description: 15-story, luxury condominium building with 100 residences overlooking the ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, Middle River and the Fort Lauderdale skyline
Sampling of amenities: Residents’ lounge, private boat docks, dog walks, outdoor swimming pool, resort-style spa, sun deck lounge with hot tub and fitness center with yoga studio
Guest suites and rates: Three guest suites, called cabanas, with a one-time cleaning fee of $150 to $250 and rates that start at $75 per night for the first four nights.
Condo prices: Between $725,000 to $4.995 million for two- to four-bedroom condos
Elysee, Miami – Developer: Two Roads Development
Description: a 57-story building with 100 residences located in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood
Sampling of amenities: Three full floors of amenities, including sunrise and sunset pools, spa, a ‘Sky Level’ with chef’s kitchen and large dining space, lounge area, screening room and library
Guest suites and rates: two fully furnished guest suites, rates to be determined
Condo prices: $1.8 million to $9.4 million
Rose Hill, Manhattan – Developer: Rockefeller Group
Description: A 45-story, 123-unit tower in the NoMad neighborhood with studio to four-bedroom residences, many with flex space
Sampling of amenities: Private residents club on the 37th floor with an observatory, library, private dining room and various indoor and outdoor entertaining spaces; indoor pool, pet salon, fitness center
Guest suites and rates: One guest suite at $275 per night
Condo prices: $1.2 million for a studio to $17.5 million for a top-floor penthouse
NEMA Chicago – Developer: Crescent Heights
Description: A 76-story tower in the South Loop neighborhood on Grant Park with 800 apartments for rent
Sampling of amenities: fitness center that includes squash and basketball courts, a boxing ring and 75-foot indoor pool; spa suite, sports bar with game tables, chef’s kitchen, co-working space, kids club, dog play spaces, media lounge
Guest suites and rates: Nightly rates range between $125-$225 per night and five fully furnished studio, one- and two-bedroom guest suites are available.
Apartment rental range: $1,800 a month for a studio to $20,000 for a four-bedroom apartment
Cordillera Ranch, Boerne, Texas – Developer: DH Investment Co.
Description: An 8,700-acre master-planned community in the Texas Hill Country
Sampling of amenities: Golf, fitness center and spa, hiking trails, tennis courts and playing fields, rod and gun clubs, equestrian club
Guest suites and prices: The Lodges includes four suites and two separate bedrooms; a second building due for completion in 2020 will include four bedrooms. Rates range from $225 to $390
Home prices: $700,000 to $5.25 million
The Case for Sofa Beds…
Guest suites are convenient, but overall, most people seem to host guests in their home, according to a poll from Houzz, a home remodeling and design website with over 40 million users. Houzz conducted a poll for The Wall Street Journal asking how frequently users hosted overnight guests.
1. How often do you host overnight guests in your home, on average?*
A. 0-3 times every three months 81%
B. 4-7 times every three months 13%
C. More than 7 times every three months 7%
2. Compared with five years ago, do you accommodate overnight guests in your home more frequently, less frequently or about the same?
A. More frequently 38%
B. Less frequently 35%
C. About the same 27%
3. When out-of-town guests visit, where do they tend to stay?
A. At my home 82%
B. Hotel/motel or other paid lodging 14%
C. With other friends or family members 4%
*Numbers don’t add up to 100% because of rounding.