Susan de França is the CEO of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing and has 30-plus years of experience in the real estate business.
Since joining Elliman in 2011, she’s been responsible for myriad new development projects, including the Edition West Hollywood, Jean Nouvel’s Monard Terrace in Miami, 565 Broome and 87 Park—both Renzo Piano projects in Manhattan—as well as 432 Park Avenue, also in Manhattan.
Ms. de França, 58, is currently overseeing the launch of Bjarke Ingels’s The Eleventh on the High Line, as well as the conversion of the pre-war Belnord on the Upper West Side.
Prior to Elliman, Ms. de França was head of marketing and sales at Related, where she worked on the Time Warner Center, among many other projects.
We caught up with Ms. de França to discuss the resilience of the super luxury market, the address that never goes out of style and more.
MG: Describe your dream property.
Susan de França: I’m a native New Yorker, but Aspen is my happy place—alongside a mountain, relishing the fresh air. For me, it’s about a home that’s comfortable, but generally I tend to like new, with modern conveniences. It would be a combination of everything I’ve learned working with architects and designers over the years.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
SD: That’s somewhat of an ongoing joke with my team. I always fall in love with the places and say I wish I could live there. 160 Leroy is a truly outstanding offering. That’s one among many, but that’s one that would stand out now.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
SD: Money can’t buy time. Luxury is about having time—traveling to wonderful cities, immersing yourself in galleries and experiences. Experiences have had a profound influence on my career and how I give advice to developers. It’s about looking at a beautiful hotel, seeing floral arrangements. Anything that appeals to the senses is luxury to me.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
SD: In New York City, the Lower East Side is definitely going through a renaissance.
In California, Downtown Los Angeles continues to offer a lot of opportunity for development, especially with regards to public transportation.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
SD: The super prime market is very strong and still seeing record-breaking sales. Seeing ultra-high net-worth individuals buying for themselves, for their families and to diversify their portfolios. Prime properties always hold their value, and are always coveted assets.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
SD: We are a global company, so, in the key cities where we’re located, a Park Avenue address never goes out of style. Extraordinary architecture, exquisite interior design and developers that go above and beyond and realize their clients want it all and will pay for it if they get it. That’s prevailing in the U.S. and globally. They all want conveniences and modern amenities.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
SD: In Manhattan, it’s my home office. I have a full fabric wall, and I use it as a large mood board—I pin images with fashion, real estate, etcetera.
In Water Mill [in the Hamptons], it’s my kitchen, where I get to cook and entertain, and spend time with friends and family.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
SD: I like to say I have a contemporary take on classic style.
Jarvis Wong designed my apartment. It’s like a balance of sensual but strong design elements. I tend to gravitate toward neutral palettes with luxurious fabrics. I have contemporary art popping up against neutrals.
MG: Most valuable thing in your home?
SD: I have several valuable things—mostly family keepsakes, mostly photos of my mom. Artwork too. Furniture can always be replaced, but things authentic to me and my life are most special.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
SD: I live in a building with extraordinary amenities. The ability to have outdoor spaces and quiet corners, a glass of rosé outdoors, is valuable.
Community spaces and quiet respite spots are great. Especially in New York City, which is so bustling and busy.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
SD: Don’t get caught in paralysis by analysis. If something instinctively feels right, it probably is.
And if you have staying power, stay in it. I’m a true believer that, long-term, real estate always appreciates in value. There will be peaks and valleys, of course.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
SD: Historically speaking, any prime location, anything near parks or waterfront with connectivity to transportation, will hold its worth—especially in urban places.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
SD: Spending a good portion of my career in new developments, I would do that. There’s something special about being the first person to live in a space, and to make it your own.
The Eleventh, in West Chelsea would be next. The architecture is graceful and the interior is incredibly serene.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
SD: I don’t think I can just limit it to just one. That said, anything surrounding Central Park will always be desirable.
Follow Mansion Global:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Messenger
Write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org