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Island’s ultra-luxury listings garner worldwide attention

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS (Week of January 11, 2024)

The top end of the barrier island real estate market is set for a spectacular season, according to ONE Sotheby’s International Realty broker associate Cindy O’Dare.

“There is a momentum building we have not seen before,” O’Dare told Vero Beach 32963 last week. “Based on the number of showings we have had already, much earlier than usual, and the number of inquiries and scheduled showings, we think it is going to be an amazing season.”

“I think the island will have more $10-million-and-up sales between now and June than we ever have in any six-month period,” added Richard Boga, co-founder of the O’Dare Boga Dobson Group at ONE Sotheby’s.

“By historical averages, the ultra-luxury properties we have on the market now amount to a four- or five-year supply, but I think we will prove the average wrong. Everything won’t sell this season, obviously, but we are expecting a lot of transactions.”

The momentum is driven by multiple factors – a strong stock market, which gives high-end buyers confidence, lower prices in Vero than in Palm Beach and Miami for comparable homes, and the exceptional range of ultra-luxury properties that have come on the market in 32963.

O’Dare and Boga have seven ultra-luxury listings, priced from $14 million to $60 million, including one oceanfront lot, one expansive riverfront estate and five oceanfront homes.

Other agents at ONE Sotheby’s – along with agents at Dale Sorensen Real Estate, Douglas Elliman, John’s Island, Windsor, and Conklin Realty – have another 16 ultra-luxury properties for sale between the Estate Section in the south and Windsor in the north. They include a couple of riverfront homes and three dry-lot houses near the water. The rest are oceanfront.

This array of ultra-luxury homes – 23 in total, with a combined listing value of more than $450 million – is concentrated in John’s Island, the Estate Section, Riomar/Riomar Bay, and Veromar, with one-offs in a handful of other subdivisions.

Besides the listed properties, O’Dare and Boga have a number of ultra-luxury “pocket listings,” which are not being publicly marketed but can be seen by qualified buyers.

“There are more $10-million-and-up homes available than just the ones that are listed,” Boga said.

“For years, we had the problem of having only two or three of these homes on the market, which wasn’t enough to bring many buyers to town,” said O’Dare. “Now, we have an incredible selection to offer, including many of the finest waterfront properties on the east coast of Florida.”

The selection includes homes in traditional subdivisions in and near Central Beach for buyers who want a walkable, village lifestyle; houses in exclusive gated communities for those who love country club life; and homes/compounds on large estate lots up to 6 acres for those who prize privacy and personal space.

There’s a wide range of home sizes – from about 6,500 to 23,000 square feet – and architectural styles, from pure modernism to Georgian, Mediterranean and transitional.

Ultra-luxury prices start at $10.9 million and go up to $60 million.

Cumulatively, this glamorous portfolio of island properties is like a flare sent up into the worldwide real estate sky that is catching the attention of wealthy buyers across Florida, the United States, Europe and Asia who are in the market for a Florida home.

“We have had multiple showings on all our properties already and are fielding offers on several of them,” said O’Dare.

ONE Sotheby’s, a powerhouse brokerage that has 29 offices on the east coast of Florida, from Miami to Jacksonville, has been successful in getting articles about O’Dare and Boga’s listings published in top business and luxury publications, including Forbes, Robb Report, Business Insider, Mansion Global and the Wall Street Journal.

The impact of those articles was illustrated by a recent story in the Private Properties section of the Wall Street Journal that describes the Bauhaus-inspired modernist home at 3700 Ocean Dr., which O’Dare and Boga co-listed with their partner Kristen Dobson on Dec. 14 with an asking price of $42 million.

O’Dare said she and her partner received dozens of phone calls from around the country when the article, “A Vero Beach Home Aims for a Record,” appeared in mid-December.

Some were from friends calling to say, “Hey, I saw that article about you in the Wall Street Journal!” but others were from wealthy buyers or buyers’ agents wanting to know more.

“We were showing 3700 Ocean the day before Christmas Eve to a couple who read that article,” said Boga. “They were in Palm Beach looking for a nice oceanfront, where what they wanted was probably $100 million or more. When they saw the article about our listing, they called and said, ‘We are coming up.’

“They drove up from Palm Beach, saw the house, stayed in Vero overnight, and they are coming back for a second showing.”

One of the best known houses on the barrier island, 3700 Ocean Dr. and the waterfront section of Veromar where it is located – between the Village Spires condo towers and the Conn Beach boardwalk – help illustrate the quality and variety of ultra-luxury properties in 32963. 

Built in 2014 by a local businesswoman, designed by an elite group of New York architects, the 8-bedroom, 8.5-bath, 18,000-square-foot gem embodies the finest qualities of modern architecture on a gated, 1.4-acre lot with 200 linear feet of ocean frontage.

“There is no other house like it on the east coast of Florida,” said O’Dare. “The quality of construction and design make it a trophy property nationally.”

If a buyer isn’t excited by great modern architecture or doesn’t want to spend $42 million, O’Dare and Boga can offer them a brand-new, more traditional design one door down at 3756 Ocean Dr. for half the price.

Just completed by Vic Lombardi, one of the island’s top oceanfront homebuilders, and listed by the partners a couple of months ago, the 7-bedroom, 9-bath, 7,567-square-foot, two-story home sits on two-thirds of an acre and is offered for $21 million.

If that beautiful house doesn’t speed up the buyer’s heartbeat, O’Dare and Boga have a $14-million, 0.69-acre oceanfront lot between the two houses where a buyer can build the exact home they have in mind.

Alternately, the lot could go as part of a package along with one of the two flanking homes.

If none of O’Dare and Boga’s listings is quite right for the buyer, there is a fourth option on the same block at 3756 Ocean Dr.

Built in 2011, that 6-bedroom, 8-bath, 6,672-square-foot Mediterranean-style pool home is listed with Douglas Elliman broker associate Joseph Schlitt, who would be happy to show off the house’s superb setting and luxury features.

There is a powerful synergy fueling the ultra-luxury sales momentum on the island. When O’Dare and Boga or other high-end agents advertise and market a property, it draws buyers.

Even if those buyers don’t write on the advertised house, they swell the pool of people looking in 32963, which may result in the sale of another property. Likewise, every time an island agent snags an ultra-luxury listing, it gives other agents another option for their buyers.

Not content to sit and wait for buyers to call or show up at their office, O’Dare and Boga take annual road trips to round up additional buyers who might not have heard about Vero yet.

“We have a beautiful brochure in production that shows off our personal ultra-luxury listings,” said O’Dare. “When it is finished later this month, Richard and I will go on a road trip to Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, which we do every year. We will stop in to see high-end brokers at Sotheby’s offices and other brokerages and chat them up and drop off a copy of our marketing piece.

“If you call or email an agent to tell them about a property, they will have forgotten about you in three minutes, but if you bring them a gift and have a 20-minute conversation and some laughs, they will remember you and your listings.

“I think South Florida agents who have buyers looking for prime oceanfront property will be blown away with what we have to offer in Vero Beach,” O’Dare continued.

“And we make it very easy for them if they have clients who are interested. We tell them, ‘Just send your client up and we will take care of everything. We will roll out the red carpet and provide them with a VIP experience and educate them about the Vero market and send you a check [if they buy a home].’”

“You can easily pay $60 or $80 million for the best oceanfront properties in South Florida and not everyone wants to spend that much,” Boga said. “If brokers down there have clients like that, we make sure they know they can come to Vero and have some great options at $15 to $20 million.”