Want to Live in a Penthouse? Here’s What You Need to Know

Want to Live in a Penthouse? Here’s What You Need to Know

May 27, 2020 May 27, 2020

Penthouses are the pinnacle of condo living. Living in a penthouse means waking up to sweeping views and expansive living spaces that feel like a home in the sky. Add on luxury amenities and, well, now you’re getting the picture. While it might sound cliche and too good to be true, this is the reality of owning a penthouse. But what really is penthouse apartment or condo? And are they worth it? Read on for answers to all of these questions about penthouses.

So what IS a Penthouse?

Penthouses are, historically, a separate build on the very top of an apartment block or hotel, fitted with the best interiors, and both indoor and outdoor space. The term came about in the 1920s when developers started transforming previously undesirable and often dirty “attic” space into incredible and spacious  properties on the top of their developments. Distinguished by their opulence, as well as their world-class views, they were immediately popular and became synonymous with status and wealth (read more about the history of penthouses here from Faena). 

So, penthouses are most synonymous with the top floors of a building, and often have their own private elevators. Another characteristic of penthouses is that they tend to have a much larger amount of space compared to other units and usually have the best view. You know the phrase, “hey, you want to come up and see my penthouse?”

Interested to see what Miami’s Penthouse units look like?

Click here to search for penthouses available now.


Is a Penthouse always on the Top Floor? 

So penthouses are always on the top floor, right?... Usually.  Penthouses are almost always on the top floors of a building. Developers have often used the term generously, marketing any unit on the top few floors as a penthouse, in part because the term has a certain ‘wow factor’ to it, for buyers, sellers and residents. Which means that penthouse apartments also carry the same value for renters. 

But, in essence, a penthouse can be an apartment on any of the top floors in any kind of building, so long as its features are substantially different and more exclusive than the other units in the condo building. Put simply, penthouses are the trophy property in any development and should be identified accordingly.

There are even some amazing penthouses in low-rise and mid-rise condo buildings, making these ideal for those who may be afraid of heights or have pets. Some buildings may also create penthouse units with two floors, creating almost townhouse penthouses. Many of these also come with huge balconies or rooftop terraces, their own lap pools, outdoor showers and summer kitchens. These are some of the luxuries that make penthouses so desirable and livable.

Balcony view at Quantum on the Bay


What Makes a Penthouse a
Penthouse?

Penthouses, in general, are the trophy properties of a building. But they do have a few things in common that differentiate them from other units. So if you want a penthouse, you can expect to that your luxe unit will have almost all of the following:

  • Unique, Extra Large Floor Plans
  • Higher Ceilings
  • Different, Higher End Finishes
  • Large Terraces or Outdoor Areas
  • Private Pools and Summer Kitchens

Are Penthouses Worth It? 

If you’re considering buying a penthouse, one of the most important things to ask yourself is whether or not it is a good investment. And, like lots of things in life, the answer is, it depends. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that buying a penthouse is, in fact, a great investment. Firstly, there is significantly less volatility in penthouse value due to the lack of supply in the market. For every development (no matter how many apartments it contains) there can only be a few true penthouses, meaning you will have minimal competition. And recent sales have shown that penthouse living in Miami is heating up, with tens of millions in sales of penthouses in the last few months.

Curious to see what Miami Beach Penthouse units are like?

Click here to search for penthouses located in beach areas available now.


How Much is a Penthouse vs Other Units?

Another reason penthouses are often worth paying the higher price is the concept of the “penthouse premium.” So, what’s a penthouse premium? In essence, because penthouses are so unique and carry that aforementioned “wow factor,” there will always be demand for them.. In our experience, we typically see penthouses sell for at least 10% or more than a comparable unit on a lower floor.


Pros and Cons of Buying a Penthouse


What are the Pros of buying a Penthouse? 

There are loads of obvious pros to owning a penthouse. Firstly, the view - it's probably to die for. Not to mention the feeling of arrival and pride that you get knowing you own such a momentous property - penthouses are a true status icon. 

Another huge perk is outdoor space, which is a rare luxury in major cities. The majority of penthouses are set back leaving a wrap-around or rooftop outdoor area for you to enjoy. This opens a whole new world of entertainment and living options,  from swimming in your private pool to eating al fresco to perfecting that green thumb with a lovely terrace garden. All of which just wouldn't be possible in a normal apartment. 

Compared to other apartments, penthouses also provide a greater level of privacy, usually having their own elevators and have fewer units per floor or an entire floor to yourself, you can experience a degree of peace while still living in a crowded city!

What are the Cons of buying a Penthouse? 

There are also a few things that should be considered before you decide to live in a penthouse. Firstly, the most obvious con is the penthouse premium… it will be more expensive to buy a penthouse compared to another property, but typically that extra cost comes with a lot of value. 

Another thing to bear in mind is that because penthouses are more expansive, typically have more window exposure, and can be the top floor, it’s important to carefully check for any signs of previous water intrusion. Similarly, check the additional outdoor spaces for any signs of maintenance issues from the elements. 

Also, because you are buying a larger unit, your HOA fees will naturally be higher. will come a bit more additional maintenance not provided by the HOA. 

Some people also feel that penthouses are ‘too flashy’ - there’s no denying their grandeur - if you feel that a penthouse is indeed too excessive, it may be worth looking for a property that is slightly more down to earth (pun intended).

Dining area of a penthouse unit at Quantum on the Bay


How to get Penthouse Living on a Lower Floor

For some people who are truly afraid of heights, you can still get the luxuries and benefits of a penthouse -- expansiveness, unique floor plans, outdoor areas, high ceilings -- in something the complete opposite of a penthouse in Lanai units or ground floor townhouse units. Developers have taken note that some buyers and residents prefer to have their feet on the ground and are creating oversized units that have the same privacy and expansive outdoor areas that feel like home. You can read more about Miami condos with incredible outdoor spaces here

Whatever your preference is, if exclusivity, unique floor plans, light-filled and wide open spaces are what you are looking for, then a penthouse may be for you. Have more questions or want to see more of what Miami penthouse and luxury lanai units are available? Drop us a line or give us a call.



Cover photo: 
Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach
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Sep Niakan
Broker / Team Lead
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sep@blackbookproperties.com
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