When it comes to real estate, the standards that define "luxury" are constantly changing.

As price points drive upward across the entire industry, it has become more important than ever for those in the luxury real estate sphere to consider not just list prices, but so much more, when thinking about a luxury home.

And, as Stefani Konidis -- Vice President of Johnston and Daniel, a Division of Royal LePage Canada -- shared at The Buzz Conference this January, those value-adding factors are ever evolving.

What was considered a luxury amenity just a few years ago may no longer classify, and the trend cycle has only been accelerated (and exaggerated) by the ongoing pandemic.

READ: Toronto’s Luxury Real Estate Market Returns to Pre-Pandemic Peaks, and Beyond

"Homebuyers in the luxury segment, both in town and recreational, are not only looking for high-quality, top-shelf materials and larger footprints in their properties," Konidis says. "Because their homes have evolved into their lifestyle hub, we are seeing dedicated spaces for hobbies and interests like golf simulators and Peloton/meditation studios, in addition to spectacular pools (indoor and out), wine cellars, and extended garages or car lifts."

Konidis' synopsis of the industry's happenings at the recent conference also describes how the pandemic has drawn people out of their homes, into the fresh air, and how that shift has impacted buyers' and owners' desires: "Extravagant landscapes with outdoor kitchens, fire, or water features are also in demand as entertaining moves outdoors for more and more people," she explains.

And, of course, Konidis nods to an ever-present need for luxury buyers during these times -- ideal working conditions. As remote work days continue, luxury buyers are searching for homes with sound-proof spaces, media rooms and -- regardless of whether their abode is urban or rural -- reliable high-speed internet.

"From once upon a time, 'luxury' was about the loud purchase and price point," says Virginia Munden, CEO and Founder of The Buzz Conference. "[But] luxury real estate has now shifted to a personal and private feeling of purpose and potential."

Buckingham103 Buckingham Avenue: Listing via Johnston and Daniel

Munden reflects on Konidis' market update, noting how purposeful amenities, recreation, technology, and "hidden systems that enhance quality of life and lifestyle" (read: slick tech, sound proofing) have soared to the top of luxury buyers' must-have lists, landing where the (arguably smaller) shoes of dollar value once stood.

But all this is not to say that prices no longer matter in the luxury sphere. Instead, what cost means is changing, and buyers and sellers alike should embrace a higher price threshold -- which separates standard listings from luxury ones -- when looking for or listing a home.

"The real estate sector has seen an incredible growth over the past several years, but 2021 saw a record number of sales in the GTA, and substantial price growth across all housing types," Konidis explains. 'However, the luxury real estate market experienced the most unprecedented growth in the number of sales over $5M, which we saw evolve into the new benchmark for this segment."

Beyond their own due diligence, another way buyers can effectively navigate this market in flux is via a trusted luxury realtor -- one that is well-connected in the real estate world -- who can secure access to pocket listings and other less-publicized opportunities.

"Given the tight conditions of housing inventory and incredible demand, it has become more important than ever for colleagues in the real estate industry to grow their professional network, as many quiet and off-market deals are happening in the luxury home segment," Konidis says.

Mildenhallstairs17 Mildenhall Road: Listing via Johnston and Daniel

In closing, Konidis expresses that while there's no knowing for sure how the luxury realm of real estate will continue to evolve, change -- in some form -- is certain. Forces like international buyers, inventory availability, the timing and measure of interest-rate fluctuations, and government intervention will all play unique roles in how luxury realty evolves and adapts in the coming year(s).

"Stefani Konidis has always proven that knowledge is power, but constant studying and understanding are essential to a profession," says Munden. And as the industry embraces relentlessly unprecedented times, the practice of continued learning will surely benefit all real estate insiders alike.

Cover Image: 215 Forest Hill Road, Johnston and Daniel

This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.