When it comes to buying and selling luxury properties, Silvio Pagliani is the go-to man. As the co-founder of high-end Italian property site Immobiliare and president of Luxury Estate, he knows a thing or two about the real estate market. In an exclusive interview with JustLuxe, Pagliani reveals why the demand for luxury homes is growing, the most expensive property he has sold, and his favorite interior designer.
Carol Driver: What service does Luxury Estate offer?
Silvio Pagliani: It's a portal through which buyers can access more than 30,000 of the most exceptional houses in some 30 countries. It gathers together the world's most prestigious real estate agencies on to a single site to provide the easiest and most efficient way to find a luxury home.
CD: How did you become involved?
SP: I am the co-founder of Immobiliare, which is the leading Italian real estate website with more than 850,000 live listings and 10 million visits per month. Over the last two to three years of working on Immobiliare, we've been receiving more and more requests from potential buyers located around the world for international luxury properties. We noticed a gap in the market and have created a site that offers a database of international luxury properties, allowing high-net-worth buyers to connect with the right agents and brokers more easily.
CD: Why has the luxury estate market continued to grow?
SP: Property continues to be a particularly attractive proposition. In regions where the economy is stronger, such as the Middle East, Russia, Switzerland and Luxembourg, there have been a consistent number of buyers looking for the best properties around the world.
CD: What makes a property "luxury"?
SP: Luxury means different things to different people. An individual may equate luxury to having a large amount of space or having a beautiful view. For others, location is key and they will look for an apartment in the most prestigious areas of a vibrant city. Linking all luxury properties — whether they are historic villas or modernist apartments, is that they all have something uncompromisingly beautiful about them. Luxury property has the ability to fit perfectly with the owner's lifestyle; luxury comes from being able to find and buy exactly what you want.
CD: Who's your favorite interior designer?
SP: I particularly like the work of Jean Nouvel. Nouvel achieves a perfect simplicity in his designs which I find to be a great inspiration. I believe interior design should be simple, elegant and not tied to trends that makes a design look dated rather quickly.
Most recently, I have found Palais Maeterlinck, decorated by Ralph Lauren Home, to be very inspiring. The project is a former luxury hotel in the French Riviera that is being transformed into 19 high-end apartments. The fashion designer's furniture and finishes fuses together a modern, country and traditional style.
CD: Which countries are thriving in terms of luxury properties?
SP: The largest demand comes from individuals from the UK, USA, and France.
CD: Tell us about some of the more unusual properties you've sold...
SP: We have showcased Trullo houses in Puglia which are entirely built — including the conical roof — from dry stone construction. Originally these would have been built as field shelters during a period of high taxation on property since the dry wall construction would allow them to be dismantled when inspectors were in the area. Today they are very popular as holiday homes. We have had a number of castles, some of which are over 1,000 years old and in the USA, we once handled a property that had a private theater, secret tunnels and an exact replica of the RMS Titanic's staircase.
CD: What and where is the biggest property you've sold?
SP: We are currently listing one of the largest ranches in the world, located in in Nevada just north of Las Vegas. At 750,000 acres, it's larger than many countries — it's bigger than Luxemburg for instance. Previously owned by an oil industrialist, it has 250 miles of scenic trails over an eclectic mix of terrain, which attracts wildlife such as elk, mule deer, rainbow trout and an incredibly diverse range of birds. Aside from the hunting, fishing, riding and winter sports, it's also a successful working ranch, farming sheep and cattle.
CD: What's the most expensive property you've sold?
SP: In terms of the price tags for properties, we showcase residences that go up to around 80M (around $106M). The most expensive property we are currently listing is a 17,500-square-foot residence in the heart of Mayfair, London, with an asking price of 77,210,000 ($102,758,789). It has seven bedrooms and every conceivable feature, including a car-lift to the underground car park, cinema, games room, bar, gym, swimming pool, solarium, steam and sauna room, roof terrace and courtyard garden.
Perhaps equally stunning is a gorgeous turn-of-the-century villa in Monte Carlo for 75,000,000 ($99,817,500), with incredible views over the city and the sea. Unusually for Monaco, not only is this property detached, it also has a good sized garden and it's this impossible-to-find feature which really makes it unique.
CD: What does the market hold for luxury properties in 2013?
SP: The luxury sector, whether it be fashion, jewelery or real estate, has been remarkably resilient during the last five years. In the last 12 months, we have seen the interest in purchasing luxury properties grow steadily by two percent, with peaks of 10 percent increases in some regions. The level of interest continues to remain high and we don't anticipate this trend to change course.