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Developers lure top-tier international buyers with amenities that remind them of home

Big-name developers are increasingly targeting wealthy foreign buyers, with amenities tailored to specific cultures and pre-construction discussions with top-tier buyers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Last year, international buyers purchased a whopping $82.5 billion worth of real estate in the country, up from $53.4 billion in 2010, according to data from the National Association of Realtors seen by the Journal. International buyers, on average, spend about $400,000, twice as much as the average American buyer, the data showed. In Manhattan, roughly one-third of condominium and townhouse sales went to international buyers last year, real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller told the Journal. In new buildings, foreign buyers were responsible for almost half the total sales, Miller added.

Developers of high-end buildings such as the Baccarat Residences have wised up to this trend. Apartments at the Baccarat will sport kitchen cabinets that are several inches higher than those typically found in American kitchens, to cater to European preferences and allow for appliances such as woks.

“Americans are much more conservative, much like with fashion,” Tony Ingrao, the designer responsible for the Baccarat’s interiors, told the Journal. “There’s almost a global taste emerging.”

Developers are also approaching wealthy Russian buyers in the pre-construction phase to ensure that units will appeal to them and can be combined to create estate-style apartments, Edward Mermelstein, a prominent real estate lawyer who works with Eastern European investors, told the Journal. “Foreign capital is sort of greasing the wheels and making these projects go much faster than they’d normally go forward,” Mermelstein said.

And when foreigners look for apartments, they sometimes have considerations that may not be important to an American buyer. Russians put a premium on discretion and secrecy, as The Real Deal reported.

Shanghai native Emma Peng recently bought a one-bedroom condo at 400 Fifth Avenue, and one of her priorities was a south-facing unit, she told the Journal. Southern exposure, she said, is “very important to the Chinese,” as it maximizes daylight and is also culturally important.

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