Las Vegas headliner and female impersonator Frank Marino designed and renovated his incredible 15,000-square-foot Summerlin Eagle Hills estate into his own personal sanctuary — a renovation that inadvertently prepared him for the 2020 “new normal.”
Star of “Divas Las Vegas” and guest star in “Legends in Concert” at the Tropicana, the Vegas icon’s home features opulent amenities such as a fully equipped hair salon. Designed as a convenience, the in-home salon now provides a level of assurance he never imagined needing before last year.
“It wasn’t intended for safety,” Marino said. “But it ended up becoming something extremely important for safety with COVID.”
Marino’s salon gets used several times a week for pedicures, facials and hair care provided by his stylists, who conform to mandated safety measures when coming into the home.
“I love the hair salon,” Marino said. “I can be COVID-safe, socially distanced and still get my hair done.”
Marino’s in-home salon reflects a larger trend occurring in the luxury real estate market because of the pandemic. Today, self-care amenities such as hair salons, massage or Zen rooms and luxurious spa features have increased in popularity.
“Some of the valley’s new builds are integrating the spa-like bathrooms out in the open with a soaking tub at the room divider,” Red Luxury co-founder Leah Marie Monroe said. “This new layout allows the whole suite to turn into a resort-like spa retreat with unobstructed views from every angle.”
Other popular trends brought on by the pandemic include space for home gyms and offices, larger lots and additional square footage.
“We’ve seen a heightened awareness of spending time at home driving a desire for a higher-quality living experience,” Blue Heron Design Director Logan Ziegler said. “Buyers are looking for more functionality and purpose to each home space.”
As a result of spending more time at home, buyers want safe, functional and comfortable spaces without compromising on the luxury lifestyle.
“Today, I see a trend of opulent comfort,” Luxury Estates International Luxury Lifestyle Realtor Lee M. Riseman said. “Many of the out-of-state buyers also want greenery, reverting to a semi-Mediterranean look infused with modern, Zen interior and indoor/outdoor living spaces.”
Before the pandemic, Realtor Darin Marques, founder of the Darin Marques Group at Huntington & Ellis, noted a trend among high-end buyers downsizing to smaller luxury homes, with less square footage and maintenance-free landscaped yards.
“With COVID, we’ve seen that shift,” Marques said. “Everyone is wanting larger homes with larger yards.”
Marques said the trend among luxe buyers is wanting a home starting at a minimum of 7,000 square feet, with extra bedrooms to convert to additional spaces and an oversized lot.
“I’ve seen it bump up quite a bit from around 4,500 to 6,500 square feet to 7,000 to 10,000 square feet,” Marques said. “And an increase in properties that have 1-acre lots or bigger.”
The increased square footage offers buyers the opportunity to create activity-driven living spaces such as a gym or workout space.
“Buyers want their own home gym,” Marques said. “I have a client in Southern Highlands that is converting their theater into an office, the fourth garage into a gym and the outdoor pavilion into an outside office.”
Marques said casitas are being transformed into functional spaces, reverting the guest room into a gym, office or space for the children.
Besides physical health, homeowners are recognizing the need for more private areas. Massage, reflection and meditation rooms are starting to be integrated into the home’s design.
“In-home Zen retreats have been a popular request,” Riseman said. “Finishes include natural earth-tone wood, natural lighting and white on whites. A relaxed, elegant and stress-free environment.”
Complementing the desire for more interior square footage, buyers want additional space and separation on the exterior. Yard maintenance — an undesired element before the pandemic — is no longer a concern.
“Backyards are really important,” Marques said. “They want a grass area for kids, room for their dogs and more space to expand.”
Red Luxury broker, owner and co-founder Michael Zelina noticed a shift in location preference as buyers demand more space. Before COVID, he saw luxe buyers look for easy highway access for work commutes. Today buyers are looking for outlying areas that offer more room.
“More homes further out are selling because companies have restructured, allowing remote work,” Zelina said. “Today, we are asked what delivery services are in the area versus what key destinations are nearby.”
The pandemic not only changed the way luxe buyers want to live but also the way they buy real estate. According to Monroe, the uncertainty brought on the urgency to purchase property.
“We have certainly seen several shifts and changes in our industry during these last 10 months,” Monroe said. “For one, real estate’s new normal during the pandemic had only one speed — fast.”
According to Marques, he too is witnessing the luxe real estate market moving at an unprecedented level.
“This is the craziest I’ve ever seen it,” Marques said. “We’re seeing multiple-offer situations on $3 million homes. We’ve never seen that before.”
Riseman believes the influx of “pandemic buyers” in the market is a result of low-interest rates.
“Our inventory is at a three-decade low, which equates to roughly a 20-day supply,” Riseman said. “It’s a strong seller’s market; the days on the market pre-COVID was averaging 108 days, and currently we experience 34 days.”
The inventory demand has some luxe buyers building a custom home.
“We’ve noticed a peak in interest for the newer homes or new builds over the older luxury custom homes in the valley,” Zelina said. “The Las Vegas market is desirable to these relocation clients because not only can they gain square footage and land but have the option to buy-in on modern builds that are sweeping throughout our valley.”