Technically speaking, a building’s penthouse residence is the property on the highest floor, which naturally provides the best views in the building. However, developers and designers outfit these penthouses with fabulous finishes and extras to make them the most luxurious and coveted in the building.
Few consider penthouses residences the best of Scottsdale-Phoenix-Tempe, Arizona real estate—with jaw-dropping views commanding equally precipitous top dollars. But given the recent luxury development boom, which has created loads of upscale condos and townhomes throughout Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Tempe that you do not need a long elevator ride to reach, does the penthouse still stack up?
It all depends on who you ask. Some buyers find penthouses too “flashy” or “remote” (among other negatives) for their tastes—especially when the other option is a beautiful single family home with (also) jaw dropping desert landscape and city views, wildlife, boulders, and amazing sunset/sunrise, where folks may prefer to have treetop views instead of being stuck in the clouds.
Juan Pesqueira, Realtor at Attorneys Realty, begs to differ—he says “the ‘penthouse premium’ is worth every penny” because buyers get an apartment that stands out from the crowd, which automatically adds to its value.
And, he says, penthouses have a romantic connotation that is never going away because they represent the dream of owning the best of the best. And Privacy, ample outdoor space, and higher ceilings are among the many selling points. On the appraisal side of value “Being on a higher floor, and sitting on top of a building, impacts resale value”. That is, if they truly are penthouses. These days, a penthouse is not always a penthouse. Some new developments launch their projects (Icon Silverleaf) with multiple penthouses, which Pesqueira considers a marketing ploy to make an apartment more desirable. So, let us get to it…
Why you would want a penthouse
It is a felling. Of course, there’s the prestige and sense of arrival that comes with being able to live in a penthouse, says Pesqueira. “There’s always something nice about hitting that PH button in the elevator. You aren’t a number anymore.”
The Perks. Unobstructed views, lots of light, higher ceilings, elevators that open directly into the penthouse, and private outdoor space (see below) are common—and often de rigueur—in penthouses. “Other apartments might deliver some of the above, but for the most part it’s the penthouse that provides these desirable attributes,” says Pesqueira.
Peace and privacy. Penthouses are quieter than other apartments for a couple of reasons—they’re further from the street noise below and never come with upstairs neighbors. Many condo developments in the Scottsdale/Phoenix/Tempe were conversions which started out as apartments, then sold off as condos, and let me tell you the walls are thin! No more toddlers running over your head and disturbing your sleep.
Outdoor space (the ultimate upside). For many Arizonans, having outdoor space is the end-all, be-all, and the main reason for even buying a penthouse.
A terrace or balcony is certainly a must for today’s buyers and their dogs, cats, or potbelly pigs and is a feature used all the time. “I love having coffee in the early morning to watch the sunrise over the Sonoran desert. I also can’t wait to have my wine overlooking the sunset over the valley of the sun from above.”
Panoramic views. Sure, you can have gorgeous views from other apartments, but they often cannot compete with the views from the top floor—and especially when said views come with the added value of your own private outdoor space. “The sunlight is more beautiful on these higher floors too,” says PH owner (who is on the highest floor at Scottsdale Waterfront).
Less market volatility. For all the above reasons, on average, penthouses tend to sell for about 5 to 10 percent more than non-penthouses (condos). And they also tend to be less affected by market volatility as a result, says Pesqueira.
Now let’s flip the script…
Why you might think twice about buying a penthouse
Exposure to the elements. It is safe to say you are more susceptible to the elements when living right beneath the roof. Storm damage to the roof are more likely in a penthouse than in other units. Here in Arizona we have monsoon season, fire season, and an occasional Haboob.
You are liable for any overflow of sinks, tubs, and washing machines, says Pesqueira. “As there are more floors below you to damage you might want to have higher limits on your policy.” (Note: There are no insurance surcharges for proximity to roof or elevation. Please verify with your insurance company)
The problem is some claims do not fall under insurance, like faulty construction or improper sealing of a roof, he adds. “You can try to recover from the contractor, but that is not always easy.”
Outdoor space (the flip side). A Penthouse outdoor space is relatively smaller when compared to a single family home. My advice to penthouse buyers is make sure to look at some single family homes as well. Compare the outdoor space.
Smaller interior footprint. Having setbacks that create terraces/balcony reduces your interior footprint, which is why you will notice a lot of penthouses were originally built with higher sf than the tax assessor shows says Pesqueira.
You may be able to build up or out on your own penthouse, but “the fact that you buy a penthouse doesn’t include with it the right to enlarge an apartment or to use up the building’s development rights, which are worth hundreds of dollars per square foot,” says Pesqueira.
It will also require an enormous amount of effort and be an incredibly expensive proposition to get it approved by the board and landmarks, explains Pesqueira.
That said, you can create an even larger unit by combining your top-floor penthouse with an apartment on the floor below, again assuming your board will give you the go ahead. That certainly happens.
Occasionally workers need access to the roof. Buildings are required to conduct facade or roof work every few years. There may also be water towers (on older buildings) and HVAC systems that will require servicing every so often. These essential services just might involve workers traipsing around on your terrace, balcony, or through your home. It has never been too much of a burden for penthouse owners. After all, those workers are making the entire building (and your penthouse) all the safer and sounder.
Building disputes & Practical issues. There are admittedly more stairs to walk down if the power goes out or you need to evacuate should catastrophe strike, but most new buildings have generators so at least one elevator should be working, says Pesqueira. And these newer developments have extraordinary safety measures built in, says Pesqueira.
The bottom line
When it comes to choosing real estate in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tempe – Arizona, it doesn’t get any better than the penthouse. Perfectly placed on the top floor, a penthouse residence is often regarded as the epitome of contemporary, luxury living and is often hard to beat, especially if you have those killer million-dollar Arizona desert and city skyline views to go with it. But don’t be fooled into buying a luxury condo classified as a penthouse for marketing purposes.
Close your eyes and… Imagine owning a property that has your very own spa or swimming pool or even a games room, with the highest quality fittings, finishes and fixtures throughout. Like Cheers, The concierge knows you by name and you even have your own private lift to your very own floor. A quick door lock and your jet setting across the world… Life can’t be bad!
However, before you say anything, a penthouse isn’t just for the rich and famous. With usually three or more bedrooms, a penthouse residence could also be the perfect new home for a growing family, or a couple looking for the high life and the best fixtures and fittings on the market.
GET IN TOUCH with Juan…
So, if you’ve got a spare million dollars or more lying around, fancy owning a penthouse residence or want to learn how you can make your dream a reality? Get in touch with me. I will be able to unveil our incredible list of penthouses for sale in Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Tempe right now and reveal the secrets of how you can reach the pinnacle of penthouse living sooner than you might think.