Made to measure: Harbour views demand a premium.
In the 1980s, if you were looking for a trophy home, it had to include a tennis court. By the late 90s the tennis court didn't have quite the same appeal, with friends simply coming over, having a few hits of the ball and spending the rest of the afternoon eating and drinking from the wine cellar.
So what are well-heeled buyers looking for now, when it comes to buying a large home with a price tag in excess of $5 million?
According to real estate agent Philippe Batters, co-owner of William Batters in Melbourne's South Yarra, those with this amount of money are looking for more than just the ''wow'' factor.
Large outdoor areas are sought after, but consider the maintenance.
''Car parking that's secure and off the street is probably on the top of the list. They generally opt for basement car parking for their collection of cars, whether a Ferrari or a vintage classic,'' says Batters, who sees four to six car spaces as the norm.
''They're also looking for the type of garage they can show friends,'' he says.
As well as the generous car parking, there's the open plan kitchen and living areas, leading to a generous garden with a swimming pool. And along with these features is the media room.
Formal dining areas are less popular.
''Wine cellars have also become more important to buyers in this segment of the market. But don't equate these to the old-fashioned cellars, which are often dark and pungent,'' says Batters, who has seen a trend to large cellars that include an area set aside for cheese procurement, as well as meats.
''They're almost treated as another living area, complete with dining setting.''
Batters recently sold a large house in Melbourne's eastern suburbs for just over $6 million.
This 700 square metre home came with a tennis court, swimming pool and wine cellar. Renovated about 20 years ago, the house required reworking in the wet areas (kitchen and bathrooms). The wine cellar was from the 1880s and the home came with only two spaces for off-street car parking.
''Having only two car spaces restricted the number of interested parties from 10 to just three,'' he says. The other problem with this home was the size of the walk-in dressing areas.
''A CEO of a large company may have 20 business shirts, 10 suits and half a dozen casual jackets. He alone will need three metres of hanging space, and ditto for his partner, who may require a few extra metres,'' says Batters, who believes the house would have fetched an extra $2 million if these areas had been addressed.
Size, although impressive, can also deter people even in the upper price points. Batters feels a home of 350 square metres is large enough for the average family with children, as well as those who have left home.
''While it's important to have enough bedrooms, the size of the entertaining areas is more paramount for this clientele, regularly entertaining at home,'' he says.
While $5 million or $6 million for a home is a smaller market, according to Batters, there are a number of buyers in the up to $10 million mark, with considerably fewer above.
''Finding the right buyer over 10 is more difficult. They exist, but they're quite specific in what they are looking for and are often found overseas,'' says Batters.
Architect Reno Rizzo, a director of Inarc Architects, also sees the importance of features such as secure basement car parking and generous informal living areas, leading to garden settings.
Rather than simply designing large homes for clients, Rizzo and his team usually suggest higher quality finishes and more enjoyable spatial experiences.
''Homes at more than 500 square metres are difficult to both use and sell.
''The days of the formal entertaining area are over, so having these rooms adds little appeal to this market,'' says Rizzo.
Like Batters, Rizzo sees media rooms as ''up there'' on people's wish lists, particularly with homes costing several million dollars to build. However, rather than ''sinking'' these rooms in the basement, adjacent to the car parking, Rizzo encourages clients to place them at ground level.
Those spending in excess of $5 million on a house may not appear to be concerned with running costs.
However, according to Rizzo, ''people looking in this category are conscious of maintenance. They know that an ornate European style garden will require considerably more attention than a more naturalistic garden, with open areas and less water usage''.
Laing + Simmons regularly sell million dollar properties in Sydney's desirable harbourside locations.
''People looking upwards of $4 million to $5 million have a series of criteria when looking for a home, starting with a view, ideally the harbour, next the ocean or if neither of these, city views,'' says agent Sally Hampshire, a director of the Double Bay real estate agency.
''They're also after ease of living, with a level site that has easy access.''
And like Batters, Hampshire sees the importance of features such as wine cellars.
''The right type of cellar can sell the place,'' she says.
While Batters and Rizzo see extremely large homes deterring some multimillion-dollar buyers in Melbourne, Hampshire says she can always find a buyer, even for a large house of 1000 square metres.
''The point is that it must be beautiful, irrespective of the size. And Sydney people love natural light,'' she adds.
Being within walking distance to a village or shopping strip has also become an important criterion.
Unlike most of us who scour the papers and turn up to numerous auctions, those in the $5 million-plus market can wait till the right home comes onto the market.
''They know when something ticks all the boxes. And they're prepared to wait,'' Hampshire says.