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Christie’s Real Estate Chief Pinpoints the Safest Markets in the World

Mr. Conn, 51, joined Christie’s International Real Estate in 2014 from Brookfield Asset Management ... DC: We got married in the Berkshires—in New Marlborough, Massachusetts, so the first thing we thought about buying was a house in Alford, also ...

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Dan Conn is chief executive officer of Christie’s International Real EstateFor more than 20 years, the wholly owned subsidiary of Christie’s auction house has collaborated with leading real estate brokerages around the globe, but in January Christie’s International Real Estate opened its first-ever gallery space in its New York headquarters dedicated solely to the sale of luxury residential real estate(Erin Boisson Aries is leading Christie’s International Real Estate’s first team of real estate agents.) MrConn, 51, joined Christie’s International Real Estate in 2014 from Brookfield Asset Management, where he managed the company’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino investment. We caught up with him to discuss his absolute favorite property on the market, a trend he describes as “lifestyle arbitrage,” and much more. More: Los Angeles Broker James Harris on ‘Bullet-Proof’ Neighborhoods, Zoning Changes and More Mansion Global: Describe your dream property. Dan Conn: I’ll give you a specific answer: My dream home is called Darlington, which is in Mahwah, New JerseyIt was completed in the early 1900s by a family called the CrockersWhen it was purchased by the current owner it was 33,000 square feetNow it’s about 50,000. You have to see it to really be able to appreciate itIn the library, for example, there are frescoes on the ceiling that were done by a Tiffany’s artistThere are giant Tiffany chandeliers hanging from the ceilingsWhen the owner bought it, he had as many as 200 artisans in the home at any one point in time There’s a three-story pipe organ in the great roomIf you look at the way the wood has been carved, it’s incredibly ornateTo me, it’s artBut the house is also incredibly warm and intimateIt sits on 12 acres, and the beauty of the place is just astonishing. It was once 74 bedrooms, and it’s down to 21 bedrooms, 29 bathroomsEvery one is a work of art and craftsmanshipEach one is stylistically different In the lower level, the owner built out a spa, massage room, salon, cigar room, wine room, games room, an exercise room and a full kitchen that can serve 200 to 300 people. More: Historic New Jersey Mansion Hits the Market for $48 Million MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away? DC: We got married in the Berkshires—in New Marlborough, Massachusetts, so the first thing we thought about buying was a house in Alford, also out in the BerkshiresIt was designed by a furniture maker and it was amazingI told them we wanted to buy it, but the developer had to finish the “basement” floor, which was actually the main floor and was unfinishedHe refused to do the work until we closed on the houseI couldn’t get comfortable with a house being two-thirds done There was another deal in the Hamptons that I blew up, tooThat was a stunning place. MG: What does luxury mean to you? DC: If you just use it as an adjective, it’s massively overused and it doesn’t mean anythingBut if you think of it as a noun, and you put it in a sentence, “I have the luxury of blank,” then you think about what people really want, what they care about, and how that’s different than anything else that’s out there. One of the things that we recently sold in Asia were Monet’s spectaclesThey were not in and of themselves that distinctiveBut you’d have the luxury of saying that you get to look at the world through Monet’s eyes When it comes to real estate, there are homes that are absolutely fine homes that many people would be thrilled to call homeBut there are some homes where you look at them and think, “The people who get to live there are lucky to get to live there.” And that’s luxury. More: ‘Functionality, Aesthetics, Individuality’ Are Keys to Luxury, Says Famed Dutch Architect MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties? DC: A couple of years ago, I coined the phrase “lifestyle arbitrage.” The idea behind it is that as the more visible centers of luxury get overbought, people who want that lifestyle look at the places adjacentBrooklyn is the most obvious example of lifestyle arbitrageIf you can have effectively the same lifestyle and access to the same amenities and do it at a lower price, then it’s worth itThe Bronx is the most recent example of this that you hear talked about in New York. In London you have the same thing; it started in areas like Clapham, Peckham and Fulham In places like that, the math is straightforwardIn New York, for example, if you can find a place that’s about $700 per square foot, the chances are very good that it’ll be $1,000 to $1,500 per square foot in the next few yearsSo the return profile on that is really attractive. MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now? DC: In the ultra high-end spec home category, like in Los Angeles, developers have made the decision to amenitize houses with art collections and car collections, but those are quite personalI’m surprised at how quickly and suddenly the worlds of art and real estate have convergedThat’s really interestingYou really need to be able to talk across categories. More: Atlanta’s Luxury Buyers Want Simpler Elegance, Broker Says MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why? DC: The best luxury home is the luxury home you can afford to buy, at a general level But if you want to be more definitive, they’re in global economic hubs like New York, London, Hong Kong, L.A., SydneyThen there are secondary markets like the Hamptons, the South of France, and some that are not as much on the grid, like Tuscan villas. Sting has this property in Tuscany that has great wine, olive trees that make olive oil and there’s bee keepingAlthough not on the market, you can stay thereThere are areas like that that are incredible but aren’t perceived as being as high-end. MG: What’s your favorite part of your home? DC: Every night I read with my twin 6-year-old girls, usually in our office, so that’s my favorite. MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why? DC: Rustic pre-warI would also call it slightly distressed because I have two 6-year-old girls. Bi-Coastal Design Duo on Why London, New York and Los Angeles are Safe Bets — Mansion Global (@MansionGlobal) January 31, 2018 MG: What’s the best amenity to have in a home right now? DC: On the ultra-high end, one of the big things is privacy and securityOther things people amentize homes with are art and car collections, so the garages that hold those things are beautifully designed spaces now. Large entertainment spaces and ballrooms are popular, too. MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice? DC: It depends if you’re buying as an investor or for personal useIf you’re buying as an investor, it’s about lifestyle arbitrageYou’re trying to get in where the base is, so you can generate a nice rate of return. If you’re buying it to use it, buy what you love and don’t sweat the small things The deal that fell through for me in the Hamptons was a brand new home, and the sealant on the wood floors had started to peel, and that worried meBut in hindsight I probably should have just compartmentalized that. More: Canada’s High Prices Are Organic, Spurred on by Local Buyers, Says Royal LePage Chief MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market? DC: It’s hard to pick one answerAs an overarching theme, in markets that are perceived as being stable—politically, financially, with a good banking system, with a reasonable record on human rights—people will be willing to deploy capital there because it’s a good place to deploy capital. What interferes with that are taxes that are designed to act as an impediment as opposed to a stimulant, and there are plenty of notable examples of that—Vancouver, Toronto, London, Hong Kong and Singapore For what it’s worth, it’s actually the wrong answerGovernments should be focused on supply—and not demand—and on giving people incentives to build housing that people can actually afford. Interest rates will be a huge variable, tooYou have a ton of fiscal stimulus that could result in meaningful rising of interest rates, and that could have an impact across the spectrumIt may not be as impactful at the ultra high end because those buyers don’t rely on financing, but it still has a huge impactIf you think of the bell curve, the bulk of what people define as “luxury” is a home for which people will use financing. More: Architect Annabelle Selldorf Says a Home’s Outside Matters as Much as Its Inside The third piece of it is geopoliticalThere’s a great cartoon in The New Yorker that shows a couple walking into an empty room with a real estate agent and the caption says: “It’s not pre-war…yet.” Nobody knows what’s going to happenIt may be business as usual and nothing will happen, but something may happen And the other thing is natural disasters, like Montecito’s mudslidesNature doesn’t respect luxury boundaries, it couldn’t care less. On one hand, you can’t avoid the issue being political, but on the other hand, it isn’t political at allYou don’t have to have a point of view on whether there is or isn’t climate change or whether the world is or isn’t warming, it’s easily observable by looking at anythingThere are massive events now that are wiping out major communitiesYou have a practical issue at hand—how do you deal with it? MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties? DC: If you’re return-focused, you think along the lines I was describing when it comes to “lifestyle arbitrage.” If you’re focused just on diversifying a portfolio, you can be broader in your approachYou just want to deploy capital where there are stable governments and banking systems, great education, healthcare, solid human rightsThat’s broader. More: Click to Read More Luxury Real Estate Professionals Share Their Insights MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why? DC: Prime resale because I’m attracted to old bones. MG: What area currently has the best resale value? DC: Depends on who you areIf you’re a buyer, the best resale value is in a market with high inventoryIf you’re a seller, your best resale value is in a market that is hotOverall, on the West Coast, even with the taxes in Vancouver, it’s fineIn Seattle and Portland, between technology money and the influx of Asian capital, you’re seeing a strong marketSan Francisco and L.Ahave similar dynamicsIn L.A., it’s a slightly different market, since there’s a lot of Gulf money coming inAll of those, if you’re a seller, are great markets from a resale perspective. If you’re a buyer, you would probably say the Miami area because there’s a decent amount of development and inventoryNew York is a pretty good market, too, for buyersAnd London because it’s had challenges from two election cycles, Brexit, stamp duty, mansion taxes; it’s been a succession of issues over the last few years, so prices are actually really attractiveBut London will always be attractive for global buyersYeah, there are some issues with Brexit, but it’s a hub city, and capital will always flow through there—just like New York or Hong Kong. Follow Mansion Global: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | MessengerWrite to us: Stay up to date with Mansion Global newsletters Sign Up Related TagsHong KongLondonU.KReal Estate NewsEmeaLos AngelesMiamiUsNorth AmericaNew York CityOregonSan FranciscoUnited KingdomVancouverCanadaWashingtonIndustry InsightsInvestingPrice TrendsThe InsidersContact our Sales Team Sign up for the Mansion Global newsletter_const currenciesList = [{"symbol":"$","name":"US Dollar","iso":"USD"},{"symbol":"£","name":"Pound Sterling","iso":"GBP"},{"symbol":"€","name":"Euro","iso":"EUR"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Australian Dollar","iso":"AUD"},{"symbol":"¥","name":"Yen","iso":"JPY"},{"symbol":"Fr","name":"Swiss Franc","iso":"CHF"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Argentine Peso","iso":"ARS"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Baht","iso":"THB"},{"symbol":"R$","name":"Brazilian Real","iso":"BRL"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Canadian Dollar","iso":"CAD"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Chilean Peso","iso":"CLP"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Colombian Peso","iso":"COP"},{"symbol":"Kc","name":"Czech Koruna","iso":"CZK"},{"symbol":"kr","name":"Danish Krone","iso":"DKK"},{"symbol":"Ft","name":"Forint","iso":"HUF"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Grivnya","iso":"UAH"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Hong Kong Dollar","iso":"HKD"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Indian Rupee","iso":"INR"},{"symbol":"kn","name":"Kuna","iso":"HRK"},{"symbol":"K","name":"Kyat","iso":"MMK"},{"symbol":"??","name":"Lev","iso":"BGN"},{"symbol":"Lt","name":"Lithuanian Litas","iso":"LTL"},{"symbol":"RM","name":"Malaysian Ringgit","iso":"MYR"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Mexican Peso","iso":"MXN"},{"symbol":"?","name":"New Israeli Sheqel","iso":"ILS"},{"symbol":"$","name":"New Taiwan Dollar","iso":"TWD"},{"symbol":"$","name":"New Zealand Dollar","iso":"NZD"},{"symbol":"kr","name":"Norwegian Krone","iso":"NOK"},{"symbol":"S/.","name":"Nuevo sol","iso":"PEN"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Pakistan Rupee","iso":"PKR"},{"symbol":"P","name":"Pataca","iso":"MOP"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Philippine Peso","iso":"PHP"},{"symbol":"R","name":"Rand","iso":"ZAR"},{"symbol":"¥","name":"Renminbi Yuan","iso":"CNY"},{"symbol":"Lei","name":"Romanian Leu","iso":"RON"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Russian Ruble","iso":"RUB"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Singapore Dollar","iso":"SGD"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Sri Lanka Rupee","iso":"LKR"},{"symbol":"kr","name":"Swedish Krona","iso":"SEK"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Tenge","iso":"KZT"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Turkish Lira","iso":"TRY"},{"symbol":"$","name":"Uruguayan Peso","iso":"UYU"},{"symbol":"?","name":"Won","iso":"KRW"},{"symbol":"zl","name":"Zloty","iso":"PLN"},{"symbol":"$","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.BBD","iso":"BBD"},{"symbol":"$","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.BSD","iso":"BSD"},{"symbol":"£","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.GIP","iso":"GIP"},{"symbol":"kr","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.ISK","iso":"ISK"},{"symbol":"KSh","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.KES","iso":"KES"},{"symbol":"?.?","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.KWD","iso":"KWD"},{"symbol":"$","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.KYD","iso":"KYD"},{"symbol":"?","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.MUR","iso":"MUR"},{"symbol":"B/.","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.PAB","iso":"PAB"},{"symbol":"Bs F","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.VEF","iso":"VEF"},{"symbol":"$","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.XCD","iso":"XCD"},{"symbol":"Fr","name":"translation missing: en.currencies.XPF","iso":"XPF"}]; 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