by Kim Hackett
Photography by Alex Stafford
MILLION-DOLLAR SUNSETS are Cheryl Loeffler’s specialty at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. In nearly three decades as a real estate agent, she has sold more than $1 billion in waterfront condos and luxury homes on Longboat Key, Casey Key and Charlotte Harbor. In 2013, Loeffler closed $36 million in sales, making her the top producer among all agents in the 21 Premier Sotheby’s offices stretching from Naples to Tampa, St. Petersburg and Charlotte, N.C.
Currently Loeffler is marketing some of the area’s most high-profile luxury developments, such as the nine-story Aqua on Golden Gate Point overlooking Sarasota Bay, where one of the unsold condominiums is on the market for more than $5 million. She also serves on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Ringling College of Art and Design.
“I grew up on a ranch in Texas and rode in rodeos, so not much scares me. Then I worked in telecommunications. I worked for the guys who came up with the idea of putting fiber optic through pipelines. It was a great company and a great position. I always liked to work.”
“I moved to Bradenton because my two children were recruited by the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. It was a bold move [from Oklahoma] but this was a wonderful opportunity for my children to combine tennis and academics. After a while I started looking for a job that was interesting. I always enjoyed real estate and analyzing property.”
“My motto is ‘I can make it work.’ I have a client who recently flew in on a private jet with his wife. They wanted expansive square footage in a single-family home; then they wanted a condo. They had to have Gulf views and a place to park their boat. I had to tell them, ‘You cannot live on Longboat Key on the beach and park your boat. Which is most important to you?’ I have not given up on them. They are both fun and interesting. People have to get here to understand what’s possible and what’s not.”
“Although it is gratifying that we as a team are doing well, it’s not what we were at one time. We were closing $80 million to $90 million in sales a year before the recession.”
“During the bad times, I spend 100 percent of what I make on marketing. That’s what you do to stay in business. During the good times, it’s about 30 percent on marketing. When you are in real estate, you have to be prepared to find your own business.”
“Gone are the days when people will say ‘I’m going to Sarasota.’ They will come and look at the west coast of Florida. We have offices from Tampa to Naples, which is where most of these people will look. They just see it as one large metropolis. By the way, we are getting more people moving here from Naples than from here to Naples, because of the perceived value.”
“Condos are very popular right now, and at the luxury end they are being built with the square footage and exquisite finishes you see in single-family homes and villas. We’ve seen some rather large purchases of waterfront homes. If the client cannot make the floor plan work, they’ll demolish the house.”
“When closing a sale you can’t be pushy. But you have to be strong. I’m more of a project manager than a sales manager. You give me the search criteria and I go find it. Once we find it, I point out the value of the property and the tight inventory and I urge them to act.”
“I’m an avid reader. I’ve been in a book club for 25 years and we like to read historical fiction. I also love to cook. One of my daughters and I have taken cooking classes all over the world, which is a great way to get to know a country. You go into the market early and talk to the people who actually live there.”
“I don’t think that being a woman necessarily makes you better suited to real estate than a man. I team up a lot with Joel Schemmel, the other top producer at Premier Sothebys, and he brings a lot to the table.” ■