Naples Daily News – January 2021
In his more than 30 years of selling homes in Southwest Florida, in fact, Grimes said he’s never seen such a big year-over-year leap in luxury homes sales.
After crunching numbers to figure out how many ultra-luxury homes sold in Southwest Florida last year, real estate market expert Denny Grimes had a hard time believing what he saw on paper.
He did a double take, then reviewed and recalculated the sales again — and again. After double- and triple-checking his calculations, he came up with the same results and to the same conclusion — in 2020 the super high-end home market generated interest and activity of the likes he’s never seen.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, Grimes said he would have never imagined the results for 2020. He feared the deadly virus might slow all home sales, but instead it drew more buyers, he said, including the wealthy, looking to claim a piece of paradise in Southwest Florida sooner, rather than later, before prices go up or the inventory dries up.
Some of America’s billionaires have seen their wealth grow through the pandemic. In fact, most of them are “high-profile executives or founders and investors at publicly traded companies” that have seen their stock price climb, according to an analysis by 24/7 Wall St.
In Collier County, Grimes’ data shows 134 homes sold for $5 million or more in 2020, compared to 85 in 2019 — representing a nearly 58% increase over the year.
Collier had another 1,261 homes go for $1 million to $5 million last year. That compared to 761 the previous year — a nearly 66% increase.
In Lee County, real estate prices are lower in general. Yet, Grimes found the county still saw a more than 60% increase in the number of homes selling for $1 million to $5 million, when comparing 2020 to 2019. The number rose to 555 — from 346.
“It’s probably the biggest story of the real estate year,” Grimes said. “We’ve never seen a jump like this, and the only real variable is COVID.”
“Basically, people are getting out of Dodge, and driving our market,” Grimes said.
Florida, he said, is also attracting more buyers because its economy and businesses have reopened, unlike in some parts of the country, where there are more government restrictions limiting their activities and lifestyle, causing them to go stir-crazy.
“The states are doing it to themselves, they are driving people out. And that is what is driving our market too,” Grimes said.
While Grimes and his team at Keller Williams Realty had a record fourth quarter in 2020. he said he’s not sure what to expect this year.
“Not every shoe has dropped for COVID,” he said. “We don’t know what this year is going to bring.”
So he’s not making any predictions — at least not this early in the game. As for the current housing market in general, he’s come up with an acronym for it.
“I call this the GOAT market,” he said. “This is the greatest of all time.”
Like Grimes, Michael Polly, president and managing broker for Royal Shell Real Estate in Fort Myers, attributes the strength of million-plus home sales — and residential sales in general — last year to urban flight.
“Southwest Florida is not like the east coast stacked with towers of people,” he said in an email. “You can live on the west coast of Florida and have space, beautiful waterways, and days of sunshine, all while working remotely. We’re seeing that mindset more and more among buyers who are still actively working.”
That’s not the only reason home sales in the luxury market have surged, he said. Other factors driving the trend? The scarcity of premium locations and the historically low interest rates, benefiting those who aren’t paying cash, Polly said.
“Many buyers are less driven by the perfect location and more looking for something different than they were while living up north. They are OK being a short drive from downtown or the beach or their favorite golf course. These buyers want a more modern architectural style with better use of space,” he said.
New home sales in Lee and Collier counties represent 20% to 30% of all sales, so they remain an important part of Southwest Florida’s real estate market.
“The growth in new home permits means buyers have choices and jobs are being retained and even created as Southwest Florida continues to grow its footprint,” Polly said.
Looking ahead, he hopes “we can be done with this virus” — and move on to the “new normal.” He predicts the local housing market will remain strong, even after the virus scare subsides.
“I believe we will see low lending rates for the next two to three years and with our warmth, water, and way of life in Southwest Florida, I think demand for our area will continue indefinitely,” Polly said.
While Florida Luxury homes, mansions and estates have been in higher demand, there weren’t any record sales last year, at least based on price.
Not surprisingly, Port Royal — one of the priciest neighborhoods in America — led the way for the most expensive homes sold in 2020. The priciest one went for nearly $20 million,
Bonita Beach showed particular strength in neighboring Lee County — with two of its newer beachfront homes each fetching more than $7 million last year.
Top 10 Single Family Luxury Home Sales
To put some perspective on what the ultra-rich are buying in Southwest Florida, here’s a look at the Top 10 single-family luxury home sales in Collier and Lee counties in 2020, based on listing information provided by Grimes and Polly.
1) 1777 Galleon Drive, Port Royal
Price: $19. 8 million
Living area: 10,400 feet
Year of construction: 2017
2) 1978 Gulf Shore Blvd. South, Old Naples
Price: $19. 5 million
Living area: 6405 feet
Year of construction: 1960
3) West Admiralty Parade, Port Royal
Price: $18. 5 million
Living area: 7640 feet
Year of construction: 2020
4) 1700 Galleon Drive, Port Royal
Price: $17. 5 million
Living area: 9253 feet
Year of construction: 2007
5) 3300 Green Dolphin Lane, Port Royal
Price: $17 million
Living area: 8674 feet
Year of construction: 2020
6) 575 Admiralty Parade, Port Royal
Price: $16. 5 million
Living area: 9581 feet
Year of construction: 1985
7) 3850 Gordon Drive, Port Royal
Price: $15. 5 million
Living area: 6300 feet
Year of construction: 2004
8) 1300 Galleon Drive, Port Royal
Price: $15 million
Living area: 6076
Year of construction: 2016
9) 7629 Bay Colony Drive, Naples
Price: $ 14. 7 million
Living area: 7342 feet
Year of construction: 1999
10) Admiralty Parade, Port Royal
Price: $14 million
Living area: 15569 feet
Year of construction: 2002