Going Once

By Robert Plunket November 7, 2007

SKY Sotheby tests the real estate waters with a major auction.


By Robert Plunket


Well, the big real estate auction is nearly upon us and everybody is getting psyched. It’s like we’re waiting for the jury’s verdict. Have we hit the bottom? Or will it go lower in the months to come?


I hate to say it, but everybody thinks we’ll go lower. It’s almost an article of faith that during the next year prices will decline another 10 to 30 percent. Ouch. Then, in the fall of 2008, some miracle will happen and our long nightmare will be over.


I must say that SKY Sotheby’s has chosen the houses to be auctioned in a very canny fashion. It’s all about inventory, people say, and just think what a disaster it would be to auction off 30 or 40 $1.2 million Spanish Meds. There are hundreds of them for sale all over town. The houses going on the block on Nov. 16 are, in contrast, perfect auction fodder—high-end, special, unique.


Some are drop-dead gorgeous, some have premium locations. And there are a lot of them; I counted 94, but I’m sure that couldn’t be right. The combined value is said to be over $200 million. There are estates on Casey Key, beach houses on Holmes Beach, the largest penthouse on Siesta, even a Carl Abbott house. Here’s a little preview of some that I’m tracking.



5060 Gulf of Mexico Drive


This five-bedroom property at 5060 Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat was listed at $11.9 million. It defines the word “mansion” with its wings, billiard room, servants’ quarters, four-car garage, bayfront location. It’s totally over-the-top in a fun sort of way. Prediction: a hard sell. It’s a little too unique. The market for something so big and expensive and flamboyant must be very small and very picky at the moment.


1944 Morrill St.


My own personal favorite is at 1944 Morrill St.. A beautifully restored bungalow across the street from Towles Court, it has a wonderful Key West vibe, plus a rental apartment. It has been listed at $749,000. Prediction: should do well.


The courtyard at 1551 Oak St.


There are a bunch of these beautiful new townhouses for sale at the south end of Burns Court, and this one at 1551 Oak Street was listed at $1.3 million--pricey for the competition. It should sell, but at a substantial discount. Will its new price determine what the others are worth?


During the similar auction last May, the emphasis was on “buy this beautiful home.” Now it’s more like “grab this incredible bargain.” The vibe I’m getting is that sellers will be delighted with 70 percent of their asking price, but are secretly hoping for more. One worrisome sign: I checked out the open houses (most were open over the weekend, and will be open again this Sunday) and the realtors seemed pretty lonely. One told me he’s had seven people drop by – and he meant it as a boast.




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