Adam McAbee has nearly 30 years of experience analyzing real estate projects and markets, both in the United States and around the world.

McAbee, a senior vice president at Zonda Advisory, will be presenting at Elevate, a first-of-its-kind conference celebrating the art of high-rise living Dec. 4 to 6 in Miami Beach, Florida.

McAbee shares his insights on luxury branded residences and what consumers want.

Why are branded residences important to today's luxury high-rise consumers?

Branded residences are vital because they elevate the level of service and amenities over what is typically offered in non-branded buildings, and buyers are willing to pay more for these features.

On a global scale, a substantial value is placed on branded residences as they offer the perception of a safer investment (the branded residential premium is typically much higher in emerging markets than in those with a greater supply of non-branded ultra-luxury products).

What are some of the significant characteristics of luxury branded residences?

The definition of branded residences continues to evolve. Initially, they were simply residential units that were associated with a hotel—so owners have access to all the services and amenities of the hotel, including housekeeping for a fee, dining and room service, as well as the ability to put their home in the hotel’s rental pool when not in use.

Over time, however, the associated brands have evolved. In automotive, brands such as Porsche, Aston Martin, and Bentley exist. In fashion, you have examples such as Armani and Missoni. In dining, many people have heard of Nobu. The evolution even includes fitness brands such as Equinox.

In addition, hotel brands like The Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons have properties with no actual hotel on site, instead offering highly trained staff, ultra-luxury finish levels, and top-quality amenities.

Do you see a difference in sales trends for branded residences versus the general market?

The difference is most often centered on price versus sales activity. When talking to prospective clients about their branded residence project, the No. 1 question is the potential premium they can achieve relative to other similar or alternative projects in their market. But the premium range can be broad—anywhere from 0% to over 100%—underscoring the need for solid market research.

On the sales side, these units tend to attract highly affluent, discretionary buyers who are less impacted by fluctuations in interest rates—the product is more of a “want” than a “need.” Properties that offer something truly special or unique will sometimes sell much faster than other buildings, even with higher pricing.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned about the luxury branded residences market?

I’m most surprised by two things: First, how brands of all types can continue to diversify into this space, and, second, just when I thought I’d seen the most astonishing branded residence building in the United States or around the world, a new one is introduced that adds a whole new level of “wow.”

Why is an event like Elevate important?

Elevate is the first national conference explicitly dedicated to the development, design, and sales/leasing of residential high-rise buildings. Most real estate conferences discuss multiple land use types, construction types, or uses, but I have not seen one focusing on this niche. It will be great to be in the same room with—and, more important, learn from—such an experienced crowd.