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Why Here? Why Now?

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Siesta Key. Photo by DaleAnn Clancy Photography.

Siesta Key

Southwest Florida gets real quiet, real quickly, once the last of our winter visitors depart. Among other things, the resulting calm offers a respite for real estate agents who can finally catch their breath before regrouping for next season’s onslaught of buyers. This year, however, the onslaught never took a holiday.

With prices on something of a plateau lately after rising steadily all year long, a new sense of urgency has settled in among buyers; prompting them to buy sooner rather than later. Moreover, just as winter up north begins to loom again, home prices are expected to resume their gradual rise. Obviously, buying now could help you avoid both issues.

Although the market’s overall sales volume is up 10% over last year, the best news is from our luxury market. There, sales of properties priced above $1 million are up 22% over last year. For properties priced above $3 million, buyers no longer content to wait have driven closed dollar volume up by 60%.

Why here? Why now? And where are these luxury buyers coming from? These are questions we often field from reporters trying to make sense of the region’s resurging luxury market.

Why here? Because our market has moved beyond simply offering sunshine, warm weather, and some of the best beaches in the world. We’ve also gone beyond boasting the greatest menu of cultural offerings in the State of Florida, though this fact remains one of the region’s best calling cards.

Thanks to a concerted effort on the part of local developers, community leaders and VisitSarasota, the region’s highly successful tourism bureau, Southwest Florida is now home to some of the most unique sporting venues in the world. One of these, Nathan Benderson Park, will host the 2017 World Rowing Championships, an elite international competition expected to draw 42,000 competitors and their fans to the Sarasota-Bradenton area.

Should you grow weary of watching the world’s best rowers put through their paces, you will literally be able to walk across the street and shop ‘til you drop at the new Mall at University Town Center—which celebrates its grand opening on October 16th. The new mall, one of only two under construction in the U.S., is expected to become the dominant high-end shopping destination in Southwest Florida; drawing shoppers from a radius of a hundred miles or more. Many of the best-known luxury retail stores and restaurants not found anywhere along the Gulf Coast will be featured.

Why now? Buyers are opting to buy now due to a combination of factors. In general, their investment portfolios have recovered faster than the economy; and they now have the resources to pay cash for properties that are still priced as much as 30 to 40% below previous highs. As a result, buyers in search of value have already drawn down the region’s inventory of properties to below-normal levels, which are expected to send prices up. Thus, the urgency to buy now before any further delay results in higher costs.

Where are they coming from? Not that long ago, most of our luxury buyers came from the region’s traditional feeder markets in the Northeast, Midwest, Canada and Western Europe. Now as our market basks in the international spotlight for its prices and lifestyle amenities, we are welcoming buyers from all over the U.S.; and indeed the world. This year, buyers from Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Naples and Texas—just to name a few—have closed on luxury properties. We’ve even had buyers from that other warm-weather utopia, California—who confess to wanting to reside in a place with no state income taxes.

Needless to say, buyers are finding many good reasons to buy before the end of the year. Whatever your reasons are, visit to see where you could be living before prices tick up; and the first flake of snow falls.

Why Here? Why Now? was last modified: March 30th, 2015 by Michael Saunders