This year's on-trend property features sought by high-end property buyers include ice baths, padel courts and sustainable gardens.
What luxury property buyers want
1. Padel courts
“For homes with a little more space, the current craze of padel is being implemented where our clients are looking to build padel courts within their gardens,” says Edwards Sainter, of Middleton Advisors.
Padel, a type of racket sport that originated in Mexico, has the same scoring structure as tennis, but the rules, strokes and technique are different. It’s arguably more sociable than tennis – which perhaps accounts for its popularity – and is played in doubles, on a court slightly smaller than a doubles tennis courts.
2. Sustainable gardening
When it comes to outside spaces, in general, there’s a focus on natural design with a move away from perfectly manicured lawns towards rewilded areas, meadows and sustainable gardening. “Growing herbs or coffee beans are becoming more popular as a key component to the home’s outside space,” says Oliver Sanhaji, of Middleton Advisors.
3. Eco-friendly air conditioning
Following several hot summers and the likelihood of more to come, more Brits are looking to air condition their homes – but they want to do it in a green way.
“Eco-friendly air-con is in high-demand, whether they are ductless, or internalised, without external units powered by cooling water through energy-efficient condensers,” says Sanhaji.
“We have seen air conditioning become a must-have for clients and especially those who are in London during the middle of the summer,” says Caspar Harvard Walls of Black Brick. “In 2022, temperatures went above 40C for the first time and the 10 hottest years ever have all been since 2003 so climate change has become a significant factor for those thinking of buying in London.”
4. Natural pools
The rising summer temperatures have also led to the popularity of swimming pools – but natural ones, without chlorine or chemicals.
“Traditional swimming pools have somewhat lost their appeal for some buyers due to their maintenance and running costs but also for sustainability reasons as pools require a lot of water and chemicals. Natural swimming pools have therefore become much more popular,” says Nigel Bishop, of Recoco Property Search.
"The demand for indoor pools has been on the decline for some time now. They are expensive to heat and not particularly enjoyable to use in the good weather, whilst outdoor pools require little or no heating in the summer and are much more enjoyable to use. Natural pools have become increasingly popular," says Marc Schneiderman ,of Arlington Residential.
5. Luxury beer dispensers
Who needs to go to the pub when you can pour the perfect pint at home? Buyers are now looking for “an improvement of the home bar/drinks cabinet”, says Sainter. “Including a beer dispenser, either one that can pour a pub-like pint or larger direct draw keg dispensers.”
6. Saunas and ice baths
As part of the wider trend for wellness at home, saunas and ice baths are becoming essentials for discerning home buyers.
“Saunas and more specifically ice baths are now becoming must-haves, from stand-alone portable baths to built-in luxury baths both inside and out,” says Sanhaji.
7. Wellness spaces
The trend of working out at home doesn’t seem to have disappeared with the return to the office and it’s often high on a potential homeowner’s agenda.
"Buyers want a quiet space to benefit the body and the mind. Usually, their preference is to have a garden studio away from the house. This can range from being a fully equipped gym, massage room/treatment room, or a simple calm meditation room," says Schneiderman.
“I have a current property for sale with its own forest-bathing yoga deck – this won’t be on the market for long,” admits Melanie Attwater, an independent agent based in Surrey.
8. Large outdoor terraces
Outdoor terraces have always been popular, but they’re now becoming a must-have for many people looking for a new home.
“Buyers continue to prioritise properties that have a private outside space such as a big terrace where they can entertain guests and family or practice yoga and pilates. This has become particularly important since more people started working from home and require a breakout area that allows them to leave the desk and take their mind off things,” says Bishop.
As well as a space to unwind in, many outdoor terraces are now being transformed into social spaces with integrated pizza ovens, BBQs and outdoor kitchens.
"[There’s a] big focus on outdoor living, now buyers want big terraces with built-in barbecues and pizza ovens are in strong demand. Now they want a ‘drinks destination' on their property with a perfect view, where they can go to for a ‘sundowner' and often plan to build a shepherd's hut on the spot too," says Maclaren.
And what buyers don't want...
Hi-tech sound and lighting systems
While this was something popular in high-end homes a few years back, it seems that they have fallen out of favour because they’re often just too complex to work in everyday life.
"Increasingly, buyers are turned off by complicated audio/visual/lighting systems, which always seem to go wrong,” says Schneiderman. “We had one viewing at a house where the owner was proudly trying to show off his cinema room to the buyer but couldn't turn the lights on because the system was too complicated. Many high-end properties I am seeing have done away with ultra hi-tech controllers."
Basements were previously seen as an efficient way of adding square footage in built-up areas, but their lack of natural light has made them a turn-off for potential buyers.
"There's a significant shift away from basement living due to people seeking open, well-lit spaces. In particular, homeowners are moving their gyms out of the basement and outdoors for better views and ventilation," says Sainter.