$134 Billion

(Mansion Global) Wellness Real Estate Has Blossomed into a $134 Billion Industry Worldwide — And It’s Growing Fast

From personalized wellness programs to fitness-focused apps, luxury homes are focusing on making residents feel better


It’s the non-stop pace of our digital lives. An increasingly isolated and aging population. Rising chronic illness. Climate change. Given the pressures of the modern world, a gym membership and taking the occasional “mental health day” often just aren’t enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

One way to achieve optimum wellness, experts and developers say, is by choosing a home that is designed for it.

The wellness real estate boom worldwide, which took off in commercial buildings with the introduction of the WELL Building Standard in 2014 as workers sought healthier office environments, is now poised to explode into the residential market, according to a 2018 report by the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute.

Homes designed for wellness usually start with energy-efficient and sustainable construction. Indoor components like natural lighting, air quality, acoustics, proximity to green spaces and exercise facilities, as well as non-toxic paints and finishes take it to the next level.

Researchers at the Miami, Florida-based Global Wellness Institute say the international wellness real estate market is now a $134 billion industry. The number of wellness-oriented properties (including residential, mixed-use and commercial) has grown 6.4% annually since 2015 and is expected to continue growing at that pace through 2022, to reach $180 billion—half the size of the global “green” building industry, according to the report, which was released in January.

The U.S. leads the market share at $52.5 billion, followed by China, Australia and the U.K. According to the report, there are more than 740 existing or planned residential projects in 34 countries that include large-scale master planned communities and urban/suburban mixed-use developments.

Particularly in the U.S., while health care spending soars, “we’re becoming more unhealthy as we live longer,” said Ophelia Yeung, a senior research fellow at the Global Wellness Institute who co-authored the report, called “Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities.” Naturally, Ms. Yeung said, this conflux has led to people asking themselves “why they invested their life savings in a home that is not keeping them well.”

In the heavily polluted metropolises of Asia and India, homebuyers are increasingly looking for a refuge from gritty city streets, so high-end air and water purification systems, indoor landscaping and natural furnishings are priorities.

“In these urban areas, the indoor environment is going to be so important for them — it’s a sanctuary where they’re going to escape to,” Ms. Yeung said. “It’s not just about pampering.”

The luxury real estate industry’s answer to that need is a slate of wellness-oriented properties ranging from shiny beachfront condos to self-contained urban high-rises to private villas nestled within lush private resorts.

The common denominator, developers, sales managers and researchers told Mansion Global, is that residents’ overall health and well-being is central to the design and function of the home.

That translates to a variety of amenities and services—from the standard on-site restaurant serving gourmet organic meals—to the cutting edge, like a personalized wellness plan for each member of the household, offering professional assistance on nutrition, weight loss goals, meditation practices and more.

“There is a recognition that building for human health is going to be the core (value),” in the real estate market going forward, Ms. Yeung said. “When you look at it from that perspective, it’s a whole lot bigger than the luxury apartment with the spa, the gym, the swimming pool.”

Indeed, at some newer high-end developments, staff begin assessing a homeowner’s health and wellness needs the moment a contract is signed.

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