The uber-high Naples real estate market made global news this week with one out-of-this-world listing: a waterfront residential compound for $295 million.
But while that announcement, of a property dubbed Gordon Pointe, made real estate junkies go gaga on Google, the Naples real estate market isn’t scorching hot just because of that one outlier of a listing.
How hot is Naples? There are now 187 homes or properties listed for over $10 million in Naples, according to MLS data. Out of those 187, 48 are over $20 million and 17 over $30 million.
By comparison, the Tampa market has a total of 10 homes currently listed for at least $10 million, with the highest a $21 million property on Davis Islands. There are 21 properties in the $10 million-plus market in Sarasota, according to MLS data, with the highest a $29.95 million listing in the Harbor Acres neighborhood.
Naples is even closing in on the $10 million and up King: Palm Beach County, which has 253 listings in that range. Yet several Naples brokers, agents and real estate firm spokespeople say that while the $295 million listing might be far-fetched and the actual sale price will likely be far less, the overall Collier County market metrics aren’t out of whack.
Budge Huskey, president and CEO of Naples-based Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, points out in the beginning of 2024 there were almost 50% more properties for sale than a year earlier in Naples. That suggests, he says in an email, “the release of a pent-up supply delayed due to (Hurricane) Ian and other considerations. Most certainly, the luxury sector is among the most pronounced.”
“I am incredibly optimistic about future values in Naples,” Huskey adds.
Both Huskey and Jenny Lenz, managing director of Dolly Lenz Real Estate, which has offices in Naples and New York City, say the beachfront Four Seasons project in Naples is another reason the $10 million and up market is here to stay in Naples. That project, a redevelopment of the famed Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, will bring another 185 luxury units, in the form of condos, to market. And many of those will be priced over $10 million.
The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts brand will manage the property, with marketing materials that include this: “Reserved for a rare few is the chance to acquire a reimagined piece of Naples history. The first of its kind, and the last of its kind, Naples Beach Club.”
Lenz, in an interview, says the Naples buyer pool is growing for $10 million and up also because even in that rarified price range “it’s still much cheaper here than in Palm Beach or Miami.”
“The 10M+ listings in Naples should only continue to increase as there is a robust pipeline of high-dollar projects in the works which will likely result in many current Naples owners listing their existing homes and buying new construction properties,” Lenz, who has sold and listed penthouses in Manhattan and mansions in the Hamptons, in addition to Naples properties, adds in an email. “A great example is the incomparable Four Seasons which has forever changed the luxury landscape in Naples.”
The Gordon Pointe listing that drew global headlines, meanwhile, encompasses three houses and a private yacht basin. The Wall Street Journal broke the story of the listing Feb. 7, writing that heirs of the late John and Rhodora Donahue listed the property. (The Donahues had 13 children and 84 grandchildren, the paper reports.) John Donahue founded Pittsburgh-based investment management firm Federated Investors in 1955, according to the Journal. Now Federated Hermes, the company, run by Donahue’s son J. Christopher Donahue, manages more than $665 billion in assets.
A group of agents from different firms share the listing: Dawn McKenna of Coldwell Banker Realty, Leighton Candler of the Corcoran Group and Rory McMullen of Savills in England. McKenna, who added a second office in Naples in 2017 to go with her first office in suburban Chicago, didn’t return a text for comment from the Business Observer to talk about the listing.
News of the listing spread quickly. After the Journal story, media outlets including the British Daily Mail, New York Post, CNBC and Architectural Digest soon published online stories on the listing. Several Reddit threads were launched chatting about the listing — with dozens of responses bashing the $295 million asking price. Same for the Journal’s Facebook page, where not only the price was criticized but so too was the location at that price. One comment summed up many others: “What idiot would buy something for so much with obvious sea level rise?”
The listing, which, at the $295 million price would be the most expensive residential sale ever in the U.S., was also the buzz among the real estate broker community in Southwest Florida. Other portions of the property, totaling 60 acres, have been sold in recent years, and the Donahue family interviewed multiple brokerages before choosing the agents, according to several real estate firms.
“It is a headline grabbing asking price that is meant to generate attention but not rooted in reality,” says Lenz, in the email, answering questions from the Business Observer. “Considering that it is more of a land play, the real number when factoring in construction costs, etc. is exponentially higher than the list price which really limits the buyer pool to a handful of people around the world. This would be the highest price ever paid and obviously a very loud and ostentatious purchase, so it would need to be marketed to someone very comfortable with that scrutiny.”
Lenz adds the listing is reminiscent of a New York City penthouse listed for $250 million that had to drop the asking price.
In another example of a sky-high listing price with a lower sale price, a 21-bedroom, 49-bathroom property in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles was listed in January 2022 for $295 million, according to the L.A. Daily News. It sold 55 days later at auction for $141 million — a -52.2% drop.
Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.