Considering a luxury home in the Napa Valley? You may find yourself owning an estate next door to David Beckham, Jeff Gordon, Carlos Santana or Joe Montana.

There is really no certain style, design, size or location that defines a luxury home.

I define a luxury home as a property with above-average amenities at a starting price of $2.5 million.

This could be a small home of 1,800 square feet on an average-size parcel of a quarter of an acre located close to the city core with a price of $2.5 million. Or, a sprawling 8,000-square-foot vineyard estate on 25 acres located on top of a knoll overlooking the valley for $25 million.

One thing they all have in common is the attraction of buyers looking for a certain lifestyle who appreciate living “set apart” from the average, the uncommon. Not all are in it for the “image,” but rather for the creation of the lifestyle one comes to appreciate.

The Napa Valley is an exquisite location to live and the lifestyle it embodies is highly desirable. As the valley’s strength in the wine industry continues to flourish on the international market, it is not only a destination for tourists, but for those looking to embrace a culture.

The strong job market, economic growth, and the interest on the international market have played a part in the robust activity of the current market.

Luxury home sales are a good indicator of the health of the economy in the U.S. as well as abroad. We see many U.S. and foreign investors buying second, third or fourth homes because ours is one of the most affordable of the worldwide luxury home markets.

Buying a luxury home is basically the same process, but more complex. I have three pieces of advice you should keep in mind:

1. Find a local agent who is focused on your desired area and is specialized in the luxury market.

Many of us are familiar with what is on the market as well as properties not openly advertised. Often we engage with sellers and buyers who wish to remain discreet.

2. Know what you want by doing your research.

Luxury estates in the Napa Valley are very different from, say, Las Vegas. For example, consider whether you wish to have a more resort lifestyle or live on an estate that includes an operating vineyard business or winery.

3. Be prepared to peel away the veil of privacy a bit.

You should have your financial strategy lined up several months before your purchase with seasoned funds sitting in a verifiable account.

Be prepared to show the availability of funds whether paying all cash or using for a down payment. Keep in mind the qualification process with a lender will be in-depth and often takes longer than average.

In addition to the basics, keeping these three things in mind will help ease you into the process. In my next article I will be discussing selling your luxury estate.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a local real estate broker specializing in commercial, luxury estates and wineries. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or burt@acresinfo.com. Sign up for his email newsletter at BurtPolson.com.

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