How the rise of sustainability and ‘naturehood’ impacts real estate
In today’s luxury real estate market, the industry is embracing sustainability, welcomed by designers, architects, landscapers and homebuyers alike. In luxury homes, one’s best self is captured and exemplified. The new core ideas of luxury real estate are eco-friendliness and sustainability. In today’s society, aspirational living is combined with environmental consciousness, giving rise to the concept of the “naturehood” and “agrihood.” Our growing awareness of our responsibility towards the planet is largely responsible for this change. As a result, consumer behavior has changed towards simplified and organic lifestyles and living.
What is a naturehood and agrihood?
Defined by any green space or nature nearby a neighborhood, a naturehood acknowledges the growing disconnect between society and nature, and the barriers that prevent people from connecting with it. There are a number of factors contributing to this, such as distance, inequitable distribution of green space, lack of knowledge, cost, lack of equipment, cultural perceptions of nature spaces, and racialization. It should be a right to spend time in nature, but instead it is a privilege. “For one not to disturb the land, its natural grade and vegetation; perhaps use footings to preserve mother earth for generations to come.” says Frank Aazami, Brand Ambassador, principal of the Private Client Group at Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, Scottsdale.
We’ve seen naturehood’s scattered throughout Arizona in recent years, Silverleaf in North Scottsdale is seen as a luxury naturehood with 4,600 acres dedicated to open space and an expansive trail system that meanders through the McDowell Mountains in the heart of the Sonoran Desert.
An agrihood, similar to a naturehood is a planned community that integrates agriculture into a residential neighborhood. We see this in Agritopia in Gilbert, where the neighborhood is surrounded by 11 acres of urban farm land designed to encourage agrarianism.
What is the goal of an agrihood? “Build neighborhoods where every neighbor participates in planting, harvesting and preserving; focus on sustainability.” says Aazami.
Can you give me an example or two of a naturehood or agrihood in your area?
“I can share renderings of what it should look like: Perhaps built to last 40-50 years rather than a typical 10 year mindset concert. Foldable, slidable and disappearing walls and doors, transforming the use of a single space into many more, depending on the time of the day, season and function(s).” says Aazami. How and when did nature become a luxury amenity? “When organic food became more expensive to obtain; I recall when out-of season crops would cost more to purchase. We have lost the sense of seasonability.” says Aazami.
Who is moving into these communities and why?
A naturehood is designed for anyone that wants to get outside and enjoy nature close by.
“It should be for all age groups, although retirees may like to become more involved in order to enhance productivity; spirituality and sense of leadership.” says Aazami. However, in recent years, we have seen a focus on luxury naturehoods targeting wealthy homebuyers fleeing major cities to move to more remote regions with the desire to be closer to nature. Why are wealthy buyers fleeing major cities for these developments? “The expression; ‘you can’t take it with you’ must have redefined wealth. Rich in taste became volatile.” says Aazami. For many luxury buyers, these homes may not be their primary residence. “For second home property owners, there should be a whole other achievable green energy mindset for it to work.” says Aazami.
What residential markets in your area are experiencing the most growth because of this trend?
We are seeing nature become more of a focus for nearly all new build communities in Arizona along with a heavy focus on sustainability. Karma in uptown Phoenix (scheduled for completion end of 2022) for example will be the first community in the country to use SPAN electric panels which can be controlled via smartphone.
Not only are we seeing these sustainable changes within the Phoenix MSA but in Northern Arizona as well. “Northern Arizona, where basic utility infrastructure; roads, rails, airports access, affordable land, and the need for workforce housing are in need.” says Aazami. What are the towns and cities like surrounding these types of developments? “Small Towns are in need of education, sustainable agriculture, jobs and channels of distribution of ideas, products and accessibility.” says Aazami.
What sustainable options and amenities are we seeing?
“The mindsets behind them, ‘if we design and build it, they will come’ sophisticated and mindful civil, agricultural engineers, architects and designers who value nature, style and longevity.” says Aazami. With so many master-planned communities catering to a variety of lifestyle preferences, environmental awareness is on the rise. Certified green homes, renewable energy sources, land conservation and community gardens are just a few of the things that make a community green and sustainable. Along with green roofs, high-efficiency insulation, windows and doors, “Carbon Free and reduced waste initiatives will fuel these communities.” says Aazami.
What are some of their most desired, out-of-ordinary sustainable features (beyond solar panels and temperature controls)?
Rainwater collectors, greywater systems, bamboo flooring and green insulation of cork, rather than stucco walls are just a few options to feature in a sustainable home which can reduce water and electric use.
“Cork, looks and feels like stucco; yet it’s mold and fire resistant, it does not crack and will retain its color for at least 10-12 years. I’m also realizing the transformation of using non paintable products to avoid contact aesthetic upgrades.” says Aazami.
Interior and exterior design is influenced by these sustainable additions, “The in/out door space is influenced by its access, natural grade, orientation (too much or little sun).” says Aazami. Creating shade around your home by the use of trees and shrubs is the perfect way to prevent excess heat from entering your home through windows and roofs, especially in exceptionally hot climates like Arizona.
What new amenities are luxury buyers asking agents for?
The luxury homebuyer is prioritizing wellness at home, requesting features and amenities such as tranquility gardens, jetted pools, saunas, and steam showers, as well as massage rooms, yoga and pilates studios, and various cycling activities all by an abundance of natural light.
“Washer and dryer inside, or close to the primary suite; a combination of privacy and views from the primary suite; seamless, zero grade indoor outdoor extensions; passthrough wet bar to service both the indoors and outdoors; a secure room for UPS/FedEx or Amazon drop off and pickups with shelves and hangers in case your dry cleaner needs to drop off as well. The popularity of water exercise has us searching for lap pools for clients. Here in Arizona, the demand for Golf Membership has spiked to where most clubs have announced at least a 5-10 year wait time.” says Aazami.
While we have seen naturehoods and agrihoods become more common in Arizona, developers, architects, engineers and landscapers are continuing to further embrace sustainability and the idea of nature focused communities. Interested in living in a luxury sustainable home? Private Client Group offers enhanced global real estate marketing services, tailored for best exposure and results. For decades, we’ve paved the way in excellence; maneuvered through an ever-changing real estate climate successfully by design and through creating meaningful partnerships. We welcome your interest.
Author: Frank Aazami, principal of The Private Client group, offers Global Real Estate Representation.