Real Estate

'Everybody Wants the Shiny Penny': An Update on the State of the Local Luxury Market

Sarasota and Manatee's top-selling real estate agent Roger Pettingell shares his insights.

By Ilene Denton January 24, 2020

Roger Pettingell sold this Gulf-front residence at 891 Longboat Club Road in 2019 for $7.5 million.

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate’s Roger Pettingell closed more than $117 in residential sales in 2019—a notable increase over his past record of $106 million in 2018. This makes him the No. 1 agent in Sarasota and Manatee counties for the 10th year. We talked with Pettingell about the state of the local luxury market.

Why is this a boom time for luxury homes in our region?

“The obvious reason is that we’re getting these high-end buyers from hi-tech states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois; they really want to become Florida residents.

“The other reason is that we always have been attractive to those markets, but the luxury market didn’t find us because we didn’t have the product for them. Now you’re seeing it. In downtown condos, for example, you’re seeing the Ritz [Residences], which only has 13 units left and won’t be done for a year; we sold an 18th-floor penthouse there for $8 million. They’re knocking it out of the park. The Echelon is doing really well, Auteur is going into contract phase.

“And we’re now starting to see the resales of these luxury homes we never knew existed, ones that were torn down and rebuilt within the last five years—a $3 million home on Bird Key, for example, that was torn down and replaced with a $8 million home. What that brings in now are the developer-builders who see the value in the market. We just sold the highest Bird Key canal home ever for $3.55 million; it was a tear-down they’d lived in for a year.”  

What were the hottest geographic areas for luxury sales in 2019?

Still largely the islands: Casey Key, Siesta Key, Longboat Key. It’s interesting because word on the street is people are all leaving the keys and going downtown. That’s not really happening. The buyers who bought [on the keys] 20 and 30 years ago are the perfect profile for a downtown condominium, [but] it didn’t remove the allure of big homes on the islands. It’s still a dream for people, just different people.”

Who’s buying?

The exact same demographic: 50 to 60-year-olds. What’s different is how they’re living here. in the past people would retire and move to Florida. In my first big cycle, it was the real six-month snowbirds; they became active in the community and it was very neighborhoody. Now buyers are picking the six-month frame—they still want to be Florida residents—but they’re in and out more. Travel is easier and people are going for high-experience lifestyles. I am concerned about what it means for the community, though.

Are these second homes?

Yes, mostly second homes, and for some third homes.


“Everybody wants the shiny penny. Anything new is hot. They just don’t want the Mediterranean fixer-upper; they want something that conforms to all the flood elevations, the [hurricane] windows, the style of today, not the day before.

“Somebody who went for 100 percent Tuscan is going to have to make some changes. In one of our listings, we painted away the Tuscan color, changed the flooring and the countertops. And they’re going to have to accept less [at resale]. In these luxury locations, the land keeps appreciating and the home keeps depreciating unless it’s brought up to current times.

“And what’s different in buyers’ mindset is that time is more important than money. In order not to have to wait to build something, they’re willing to buy; they’re willing to trade that in to save time.”

How is 2020 shaping up?

“We have so much tailwind behind us it feels like it’s going to be great. If I was a seller, I would want to take advantage of 2020; we’re still in a great place and it’s still snowing up in Ohio. Real estate [however] is generally a 10-year cycle, and we’re going into the 11th year of a 10-year cycle. I’m already looking ahead to 2021.”

Pettingell sold this bayfront home at 1509 S. Lodge Drive in Sarasota in 2019 for $4.4 million.

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