Confined primarily to the ranks of millionaires and billionaires, penthouses are top-floor residences occupying the entire top floor or floors of a high-rise building, often featuring high vaulted ceilings, full-height wraparound windows, private entrances and elevators, and commanding views of the cityscape. The prestige of owning a penthouse is matched by equally jaw-dropping price tags.
The Penthouse Market
How much a penthouse costs depends on which city it is located in, and the particular market conditions for penthouses in that city. Different areas of the city, as well as the size of the penthouse, also feature different ranges of prices. "PR Web," in its New York Manhattan Penthouse Report of 2012, shows that the median sales price for a one-bedroom penthouse in Manhattan was $1,364,000, while a six-bedroom penthouse was close to $24.5 million. Two of the priciest neighborhoods for penthouses in the report were Central Park South and Tribeca, with median prices of $30M and $11M, respectively.
CBRE London indicates that there can be as high as a 60-percent premium on penthouses over other units in the same building. New York appraiser Jonathan Miller points out the practice of penthouses in New York City being charged 1 percent more per higher floor. A penthouse could be identical to a space in a lower floor, but be assessed at a higher price simply due to its elevation. He believes that in some cases, a higher-priced penthouse is not the "better" choice, since it is more subject to things like roofing problems.
What's Included in the Tab
The price may be steep, but penthouses offer features that may not accompany a house purchase. In London, confides CBRE, "the best penthouses" come equipped with security systems worthy of James Bond, complete with bulletproof windows, retina recognition systems and bodyguards. With penthouses, you have the convenience of city accessibility, while also having the sense of privacy and space that city living might not otherwise provide. Throw in designer interiors, high-end appliances, fitness center privileges and views of the city, and you're living, literally, "on top of the world."
Penthouses Around the World
Stratospherically though the cost of some penthouses may climb, there are penthouses out there that are more down-to-earth. As of June 2013, Penthouselife.com lists 309 penthouses under $500,000, from Maryland to Mexico. Extravagance is part of the mystique of penthouses, though, so bigger and posher are the qualities that tend to lure people to this segment of the housing market. At a projected $387 million, the Sky Penthouse in the Tour Odeon in Monte Carlo is slated to be one of the most expensive penthouses in the world upon completion in 2014.
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