Suddenly, bidets are a hot extra for wealthy New Yorkers

bang, bang. It was bidets or bust.

Compass agent Vickey Barron recently showed a couple two apartments in a new luxury development in Manhattan; They planned to bang them together to create a giant home. However, the couple didn’t want to budge on a detail: In each of the six bathrooms, from the bathroom to the master, they insisted the developers install bidets before moving in.

“If we hadn’t factored that in, I’m not sure they would have progressed,” she said, “it was a non-starter.”

Barron’s clients were originally from Turkey, and she says foreign buyers like her are often baffled when they’re missing luxury apartments in New York.

“They say, ‘You gave me a walk-in closet-sized refrigerator, but there’s no bidet?’ She laughed. “But that’s so rare around here. It goes back to what everyone’s used to.”

Locals have, historically at least, been kidding the piece of china — but that’s changing. Developments appear at these post-poop bonuses: The highest category of apartments at Robert AM Sterns 520 Park Ave. has bidets in the main baths and there are toto bidet toilets in all the main baths at 555 West End Ave. Across the river, Brooklyn Home Co.’s projects, such as 488 Sterling Place and 137 4th Ave., have bidet-enabled bathrooms.

Exterior of 520 Park Ave.
Only the upper units at 520 Park Avenue get bidets.
©2019 Francis Dzikowski/OTTO

Sales are increasing, at least according to New York Kitchen & Bath’s Perry Hiiman. In 2020, they’re up 400% year over year and remain at record highs — no ifs or buts.

Manufacturers continue to try to convert us: market leader Toto, the Japanese company that invented the bidet-toilet combination in 1980, just re-launched its product line at CES in Las Vegas in January and is introducing the use of “e-water” — electrolyzed Water – advertised is apparently more hygienic and hygienic than the faucet on the Hudson River.

So what was the problem and what has changed? NYKB’s Perry Hiiman says the main part of the problem has always been cost. The installation of a stand-alone bidet in a pre-war co-op building, for example, often required running new pipes up to the building’s risers to handle the additional water usage. Most models also require power, so much so that a leased line is the only option.

Exterior of 555 West Ave.

Toto toilets are a selling point at 555 West End Ave.

Joel Pitra from DDreps

The complex installation requires more than just a plumber—contractors and electricians are also essential. “When they realize all the costs, they just say no,” he says of most clients. Space is also an issue: even in luxury apartments, not an inch is wasted, so make the shower larger than cramming in a bidet.

Another problem, bidets never improved resale value – they didn’t increase the bottom line, so to speak. “They’re not selling apartments,” shrugs Wendy J. Sarasohn of Brown Harris Stevens, who recalls that off-plan buyers could choose between a bidet and a larger closet at 220 Central Park South. “99 percent of buyers opted for the closet.”

Earlier in her career, she oversaw the sale of the same apartment at 45 E. 80th St., a luxury 1980s building that featured gimmicky bidets in bathrooms. “Every time it was used to store magazines. The first owner was an interior designer so it was Architectural Digest and so on and the last one was an actor so she had People.”

Toto Washlet spoke model.
Doodie-free shopping: New Yorkers like all-in-one toilet-bidet combos like Toto’s Washlet.
Arne Dedert/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Sarasohn remains unconvinced of her appointment. “I’ve never had anyone call me and say, ‘I need an apartment with a bidet’ — New Yorkers are always on the go, even at bath time,” she continues. Adding an extra step to the washes just seems like a pain in the ass.

Still, there’s clearly a newfound market in New York, and that’s partly thanks to technology. It’s now easy to have an all-in-one bidet and toilet—think those Toto sinks—thus avoiding the extra building costs that Hiiman mentioned.

Attachments that attach to existing cisterns made it cheaper, faster, and easier to try such a device; Different versions are offered by companies like GenieBidet, Omigo, and Tushy, the Warby Parker for washing your unmentions.

Black and white bathrooms with bidets.
A key market: Sales of bidets rose 400% year over year in 2020 and remain at record highs, according to New York Kitchen & Bath’s Perry Hiiman.
Getty Images

Bidets also sync with the sustainability push that’s increasingly dominating the culture, according to Bill Caleo of Brooklyn Home Co.

“We believe in reducing toilet paper waste, so traditionally we’ve put an outlet behind all toilets,” he said, “It’s not a convenience that buyers really like to talk about when touring a new home. But we believe in bidets.”

“Americans are big on clean breath — you can buy sprays, mouthwash and Listerine strips. Honestly, I like my other cheeks clean too. You wash the dishes before you put them away, so I want the dishwasher treatment.”

Of course, anyone who bought a property from Caleo was sitting pretty in the spring of 2020, when the toilet paper shortage became the first pop-culture punchline of the pandemic. It was that shortage that first propelled bidet sales at New York Kitchen & Bath, says owner Perry Hiiman; They’ve never been run down, and he now regularly installs them, mostly Toto and Duravit models. “It was crazy across the board,” says Hiiman, “Powered bidet seats are the hottest thing on the market right now.”

It’s not just New York’s wealthiest who have traded mopping for washing. Sotheby’s agent Carolina Buia Barefoot in Jupiter, Fla., says bidets are becoming the hottest toiletries there; She often works with Onshore Construction developer Dan Reedy, who has built homes for Kid Rock, Celine Dion, and others. He now installs hybrid bidet toilets in at least 50% of his new buildings.

“Younger buyers aren’t open to just one thing — they want a bidet, especially the station wagons,” said Buia Barefoot, noting that she’s renovating her own home and has added bidets to three of the six bathrooms.

Carolina grew up between Italy and Venezuela, so she naturally has a different take on bidets. But she points out that life in SoFla is naturally slower and house footprints are larger, avoiding most of New York’s installation hurdles.

“Americans care so much about clean breath — you can buy sprays, mouthwash and Listerine strips,” she laughed. “Honestly, I like my other cheeks clean too. You wash the dishes before you put them away, so I want the dishwasher treatment.” Suddenly, bidets are a hot extra for wealthy New Yorkers


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