Second Home Market Showcase: Naples

By Linsey Stonchus

Second home markets were among the most successful real estate markets in 2020, offering rare luxuries such as privacy, space, and gorgeous natural surroundings. Accordingly, LPI has gathered insight from 6 major second home markets for a limited blog series, “Second Home Market Showcase.” A comprehensive summary of these findings can also be found in Luxury Portfolio magazine.

Laurie Zoerb, Realtor at John R. Wood, provided us a look at Naples’ incredible influx of buyers, hot amenities, and the biggest draw for buyers.

Masterfully built Aqualane Shores home with sleek coastal contemporary design. 
1. What reasons are buyers drawn to your market?

We’ve always had people drawn to the resort community because of the beach and the weather, all those fantastic things. Right now, we’re finding more people can work from home and kids are going to school online, so it’s nice to be able to come down here and use our nice weather. The beaches are full, people are biking, walking, running – it’s really a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also been seeing people coming from different states for tax purposes. We’re seeing a lot of people coming from California. New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois. They’re saving money, not only by the property taxes, there’s also no income tax.

2. What are the most popular home features and amenities in your area right now?

Buyers are looking for a larger home because they’re staying home more. They want two living areas, a larger office space. We’re also witnessing people selling condos and moving to single family homes. Again, it gives you more square feet and privacy.

Everybody wants a pool down here. If you don’t have a pool already, the pool contractors are so backed up. I just sold my neighbor’s house – he’s a year out before he can even get a pool and a contractor. Also, too, buyers want a boat dock; we are the boating capital – we all live on canals.

And of course, an open floor plan, open homes with a lot of glass. We want to look at a lot of sun and beautiful palm trees.

3. How is the local market performing compared to this time last year?  

Our slow time is in the summer and there was no slow time running. If you’re looking at Mercal Island alone, we’re up 9% from last year. Naples is in a 13% increase from November of last year for. It’s amazing. And typically, our days on market is 170 days. If you have a good listing, you’re selling it now, so that’s really changed. Now there’s new construction because we don’t have enough property for the demand.

4. Which locations are most buyers coming from?

I had never sold to anybody from California before. Recently, I have sold to five people from California. One of my customers mentioned the drought – we don’t have that problem here in Florida, of course, we’re surrounded by water, so it’s a totally different lifestyle that you’re seeing a lot of other things.

The East Coast, we’re seeing a lot of people from New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts. A lot of those people seem to be coming out of the big cities and wanting more of a small town feel, a smaller population.

The one that surprised me a lot was people coming over from Miami. It’s to get out of the big cities. We had a lot of them vacationing here this year, so, of course, with all these people vacationing, they’re experiencing it, and you can do an easy commute living here and driving 1.5 hours to work.

And of course, we have our Midwest people, you know, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, a lot of that. They’re leaving because of the weather. They just need to get outside, they’ve been cooped up for so long.

5. Is there a rise in the purchase of primary homes, instead of secondary or vacation homes, within the region?

The homes closest to the beach have a tendency to be more of a resort community. Right now, we’re seeing more people in those areas making it their full time homes. A lot of people are coming down with their kids – everybody likes to think of Florida as being a retirement community, especially in the Naples. I have never seen so many college kids or high school kids. They’re all biking, riding there with their parents. It’s really a whole different vibe.

Outdoor retreat with gas fireplace and s summer kitchen ideally situated 3.5 blocks to the beach.
6. How do you think the local market will look post-Covid?

That’s interesting that you should ask that. I predict that we are going to be busier. More people are coming down and loving it, and they’re talking to other people and it’s a snowball effect.

7. Are there any other notable market trends that you have observed?

It’s a good investment, so those in their 40s and 50s are buying large homes and renting them out with the idea that they’re going to retire in a few years – they want to get into the area now before prices continue to go up.

8. Are there any unique observations you’ve observed that may be difficult to quantify?

It’s unprecedented times right now, and you would think that more people would be very conservative with their spending, perhaps not purchasing larger homes or moving across the country. I’m really surprised that people are making these big financial decisions and lifestyle changes during something we’ve never lived through. When I reflect on that, I think it has a lot to do with people’s confidence. They have a lot of confidence we’re going to get through this COVID period. They have confidence in our economy and they’re willing to go out and spend that money to make this area their long-term home. So that’s that part surprised me, but it’s good. I like the confidence that we are experiencing.

For more on the second home market, view the latest issue of Luxury Portfolio magazine and check back every Thursday through mid-April for extended interviews from experts in Turks & Caicos; Whistler, Canada; Annecy, France; and The Hamptons, New York. View last week’s look at Lake Tahoe.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for better readability.

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