Quote of the day: Is luxury no longer standard?

“People are surprised to hear that our clients are cutting back… But in the past year, some have had financial losses in the six figures or have seen falling house values put their property under water…

“We aren’t asking our clients to cut back on the bones of the house, like high-quality framing… We’re suggesting they switch on items that don’t impact their daily life or can be easily replaced in the future.”

Curtis Perlman of Empeco Custom Builders in Vernon Hills, speaking to the Tribune about the desire to cut costs on finishes in new-construction homes. Perlman says the buyers of his single-family homes are now asking to “replace professional-grade appliances with lower-cost ones, cherry hardwood cabinetry with maple stained in cherry, high-end home theater components with less costly components.” Replacing Travertine tile with porcelain alone can cut the cost of an 8,000 square-foot suburban single-family by as much as $40,000, he adds.

We get a good laugh every time we hear the “their luxury package is our standard” pitch, as if every builder these days weren’t using some combination of hardwood floors, granite countertops, Italian cabinetry, marble bath tile, European fixtures and iPod docks. But is it too much of a stretch to think that developers will start promoting affordable alternatives to the old standby? I can think of two sales centers I’ve been through recently where model kitchens showcased black or white appliances instead of the stainless-steel variety, so maybe the shift is already underway.

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