Weekly stories on the subject of real estate, design and the built environment


Review: Differentiating Exceptional Properties For Sale

On Thursday 10/22 we held our Members Roundtable on Differentiating Exceptional Properties For Sale. The discussion touched on styling, staging, photography, marketing approaches, amenities design trends in development, foreign buyer audiences, and more. The session was co-led by Paris Forino, Richard Jordan, and Nadia Meratla.

For information on future Brick & Wonder events, visit our Events Page.

Video & Audio Recordings

Brick & Wonder members can access full session notes, and video + audio recordings inside our private community platform.

Meet the Panelists

Paris Forino, Interior Designer

I took for granted what we did, but New York does [real estate development marketing] really well. It was interesting to see the response to this approach in Sweden. It’s years of thought and design and planning and making sure the product turns out beautifully.

Richard Jordan, Senior Vice President of Global Markets, Douglas Elliman Knight Frank Residential

I can’t be successful if the design side isn’t thinking thoughtfully about the trends of what the client base is looking for.

Managing Director, Design, SHVO

What we’re seeing as successful in our marketing efforts is that we’re layering in meaningful value to the [development] projects.

Key Insights

Everything changes around me faster than what I do. The last project cost me $80k more than I anticipated. I just put it on the market for 80k more, and people were lining up, we even had bidders. I had kept it alive while I was building it using social media.

Design/Build Firm, Charlotte, NC

The real success of [our first self-initiated development] project was that it planted a flag for the kind of work we wanted to be doing – it led to a waterfall of work for the next couple of years.


My approach to [building the house I sold] was to relish in the beautiful, not the obvious. To deliver a righteous project that had value.

Furniture Designer

The definition of exceptional or luxury is changing. Buyers are seeking security and comfort. Things like pantries and stories are outweighing the vein in the carrera marble. Homes that are sustainable and offgrid and wellness focused amenities are driving value.

Real Estate Developer

[As an interior design firm] we can provide the link between the offering and the client’s vision for their needs.

Interior Designer

The more high-end brokers insist their clients stage their properties – they send us in to clear out some clutter and put it in storage until the home sells, and the more fledgling or middling brokers, there is no conversation about it.

Moving & Art Handling Specialist

Design can make a real difference, especially compared to the construction costs – it’s cheap to hire a good designer compared to the rewards you can reap.


Buyers are a lot more savvy. Paying attention to construction execution as a meaningful, marketable layer I think is much more relevant.

Real Estate Developer

We are trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for heating and domestic hot water throughout the state in the next 15 years. We need to expand our reach. Consumer awareness is critical and we are falling flat there.

NYS Policy Leader

The engineers we’re working with [in the Hudson Valley] are very experienced in Net Zero design. But the builder won’t even talk with us about going all electric. The building industry needs to be educated to a great degree.


There is no R&D by builders – they will still use copper piping which is ridiculous. There needs to be a whole systems approach in design, based on the low-hanging fruit of building sites. If there is 3% gappage in the installation of traditional insulation, there is a 50% energy loss. It’s the project directors who have to push towards reading directions and taking a whole system approach, regadless of common practise.

Furniture Designer

Each home’s construction is focused on envelope optimization, super insulation, airtight barrier, no thermal bridging, 80-90% less energy use, and with the addition of solar be net zero.

Real Estate Developer

Compared to five years ago, a lot more of the buildings I’m working on are going to LEED.

Interior Designer

WELL index, LEED index, touchless, technology. The consumer drives that decision and also local policy makers. COVID has become an accelerant – it has moved us into the future.

Real Estate Broker

I want to add that there is a layer of glamour to thoughtful sustainability. I worked with Norman Foster’s team on a residential building in LA – their team crafted a whole narrative about using natural light rather than artificial light in elevators and lobbies and we talked about how a building breathes – this was very well crafted and effective.

Real Estate Developer

What I’m seeing is buyers who don’t have a philosophy of sustainability but you can speak with them in terms of economics – reduced running costs, maintenance costs, etc. and this makes sense to them.


The single most important thing a foreign buyer needs to know is how to structure ownership. Inheritance tax is also a significant issue. In the US, we are the land of loopholes. You take ownership in the form of an LLC or Trust.

Real Estate Broker

One of the most pro-development things cities can do is address poverty and homelessness, and provide permanent, sustainable housing. It’s seemingly two sides of the political spectrum – a social safety net and the profits of developers – but they are completely aligned on this issue. It’s a political olive branch that nobody has taken up, especially in New York.

Real Estate Developer

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