Last year saw substantial gains within the luxury home sales sector in Southwest Florida, but according to Sarasota Bay Real Estate it's still a slow recovery compared to the rest of the market in the area. There were a total of 400 luxury homes sold in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties last year, and there was a 75% increase in sales of property valued at $1 million or more in October 2012 compared with October 2011.
As 2012 drew to a close, there were successive sales of two mansions at Westway Drive in the Lido Shores area involving deals worth a total of nearly $10.4 million, while in May SBRE sold a Ritz-Carlton condo near the Golden Gate Point Peninsula area, a transaction that was worth nearly $1.2 million. Although the firm feels the outlook is encouraging, it still thinks there is a largely untapped growth potential within this sector.
At the end of the year there were 700 luxury homes listed for sale, representing a 20 month inventory. The overall market has an inventory of just four months. SBRE is in agreement with other realtors, in that enticing more foreign buyers, particularly European investors would add more excitement to the Southwest Florida luxury home market.
In 2012 there was a 15% increase in the number of foreign visitors in the area, and real estate agents feel additional gains could be achieved if more direct flights from points of origin overseas are accommodated at the Sarasota Bradenton international Airport. At the moment this airport only has a Canadian air linkage. Some of the larger realty firms are already spending substantial sums to try to stimulate interest in affluent overseas buyers, particularly those from Canada, Latin America and Europe.
Lake Club, an upscale gated community in the master-planned development of Lakewood Ranch is just one property that has already seen significant success in attracting overseas buyers. Approximately 11% of the residents in this neighborhood are from foreign countries including Canada, Poland, Spain, France and the UK. This particular development was named as being the best master-planned community in the US in 2011, but still has around seven years of construction before it is completely built out.