Scarcity! That’s the buzzword luxury retailers across the country are trying to teach to consumers this year. Last year was a very different story, retailers had more merchandise than they knew what do with. This year that certainly won’t be the case. Retailers are learning that if you simply don’t offer more, customers are will to pay full price to get what’s out there. The New York Times even did a whole article on this idea.
Luxury retailers weren’t the only ones who forgot scarcity, luxury condo developers got stuck on this same train of thought. They forgot that part of what makes a luxury condo so expensive and attractive is the scarcity of them. They decided instead, to follow the philosophy of selling luxury to the masses. The only problem with this school of thought: a luxury good is no longer considered a luxury, when everyone can have one!
The condo market in downtown Boston is now flooded with “luxury” condos: 45 Province, W Residences, The Clarendon and the Bryant Back Bay just to name a few. As a result it’s looking more and more like, “The luxury condo has become the sad knockoff Chanel purse peddled along Canal Street.” *
To continue our fashion metaphor for a moment, this overstocking by developers means that just like the retailers, they too will be forced to have massive sales. Think of the recent auctions as the Black Friday Sales. (People know ahead of time that they are coming and they set the price for the remainder of the season.) The main difference between Black Friday Sales and recent auctions, this year the retailers aren’t restocking. The condo developers aren’t as lucky. Even if they sell half the units to get sales moving, they still have hundreds of condos left to sell.
So my take on all this, it’s going to be a long time before we sell out all these luxury buildings and this year it’s best to go shopping on Black Friday!
*Before I get all sorts of angry emails, I agree that some of the units in these buildings are truly stunning and incredible places. However, one must admit not all are on the same level. A condo with a stunning view of the brick wall less than 30 ft away should not be labeled a “luxury condo” just because it’s in the same building as the incredible penthouse.