Southwest Florida saw record jump in luxury home sales in 2020. Here's a full list of top-sellers

Laura Layden
Naples Daily News

After crunching numbers to figure out how many ultra-luxury homes sold in Southwest Florida last year, real estate market expert Denny Grimes had a hard time believing what he saw on paper.

He did a double take, then reviewed and recalculated the sales again — and again.

After double- and triple-checking his calculations, he came up with the same results and to the same conclusion — in 2020 the super high-end home market generated interest and activity of the likes he's never seen. 

In his more than 30 years of selling homes in Southwest Florida, in fact, Grimes said he's never seen such a big year-over-year leap in single-family sales at the top end of the market, starting at $1 million. 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, Grimes said he would have never imagined the results for 2020. He feared the deadly virus might slow all home sales, but instead it drew more buyers,  he said, including the wealthy, looking to claim a piece of paradise in Southwest Florida sooner, rather than later, before prices go up or the inventory dries up.

Some of America's billionaires have seen their wealth grow through the pandemic. In fact, most of them are "high-profile executives or founders and investors at publicly traded companies" that have seen their stock price climb, according to an analysis by 24/7 Wall St.

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In Collier County, Grimes' data shows 134 homes sold for $5 million or more in 2020, compared to 85 in 2019 — representing a nearly 58% increase over the year.

Collier had another 1,261 homes go for $1 million to $5 million last year. That compared to 761 the previous year — a nearly 66% increase.

In Lee County, real estate prices are lower in general.

Yet, Grimes found the county still saw a more than 60% increase in the number of homes selling for $1 million to $5 million, when comparing 2020 to 2019. The number rose to 555 — from 346.

"It's probably the biggest story of the real estate year," Grimes said. "We've never seen a jump like this, and the only real variable is COVID." 

COVID-19 appears to have accelerated "urban flight," he said, making smaller cities and suburbs more attractive, not just to the wealthy, but others looking for more space to live, work and play — and to avoid the coronavirus and its fallout.

"Basically, people are getting out of Dodge, and driving our market," Grimes said.

Florida, he said, is also attracting more buyers because its economy and businesses have reopened, unlike in some parts of the country, where there are more government restrictions limiting their activities and lifestyle, causing them to go stir-crazy.

"The states are doing it to themselves, they are driving people out. And that is what is driving our market too," Grimes said.

While Grimes and his team at Keller Williams Realty had a record fourth quarter in 2020. he said he's not sure what to expect this year. 

"Not every shoe has dropped for COVID," he said. "We don't know what this year is going to bring." 

So he's not making any predictions — at least not this early in the game.

As for the current housing market in general, he's come up with an acronym for it. 

"I call this the GOAT market," he said. "This is the greatest of all time."

Like Grimes, Michael Polly, president and managing broker for Royal Shell Real Estate in Fort Myers, attributes the strength of million-plus home sales — and residential sales in general  — last year to urban flight.

"Southwest Florida is not like the east coast stacked with towers of people," he said in an email. "You can live on the west coast of Florida and have space, beautiful waterways, and days of sunshine, all while working remotely. We’re seeing that mindset more and more among buyers who are still actively working."

That's not the only reason home sales in the luxury market have surged, he said.

Other factors driving the trend? The scarcity of premium locations and the historically low interest rates, benefitting those who aren't paying cash, Polly said.

"Many buyers are less driven by the perfect location and more looking for something different than they were while living up north. They are OK being a short drive from downtown or the beach or their favorite golf course. These buyers want a more modern architectural style with better use of space," he said.

New home sales in Lee and Collier counties represent 20% to 30% of all sales, so they remain an important part of Southwest Florida's real estate market.

"The growth in new home permits means buyers have choices and jobs are being retained and even created as Southwest Florida continues to grow its footprint," Polly said.

Looking ahead, he hopes "we can be done with this virus" — and move on to the "new normal."

He predicts the local housing market will remain strong, even after the virus scare subsides.

"I believe we will see low lending rates for the next two to three years and with our warmth, water, and way of life in Southwest Florida, I think demand for our area will continue indefinitely," Polly said.

While mansions and estate homes have been in higher demand, there weren't any record sales last year, at least based on price. 

Not surprisingly, Port Royal — one of the priciest neighborhoods in America — led the way for the most expensive homes sold in 2020. The priciest one went for nearly $20 million,

Bonita Beach showed particular strength in neighboring Lee County — with two of its newer beachfront homes each fetching more than $7 million last year.

To put some perspective on what the ultra-rich are buying in Southwest Florida, here's a look at the Top 10 single-family home sales in Collier and Lee counties in 2020, based on listing information provided by Grimes and Polly.

Collier County

This home in Port Royal fetched the highest price at nearly $20 million in 2020.

1) 1777 Galleon Drive, Port Royal

Price: $19.8 million

Living area: 10,400 square feet. 

Year built: 2017

Description: This contemporary estate, with five bedrooms, plus den, and 10 bathrooms, offers sweeping water views. Set on nearly 1.5 acres. It has some of the finest materials, including bamboo-veined limestone, marine grade stainless steel and Egyptian Grey hammered natural stone. Other features include large lanais and a 77-foot glass-tiled pool. 

This estate at 1978 Gulf Shore Boulevard South landed at No. 2 on Collier County's list of Top 10 home sales for 2020.

2) 1978 Gulf Shore Blvd. South, Old Naples

Price: $19.5 million

Living area: 6,405 square feet

Year built: 1960

Description: Featuring six-plus bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, this renovated beach house has 111 feet of direct Gulf-front frontage. Surrounded by mature trees and lush tropical landscaping, the property is known for its "signature Palm Beach-style," with a serene master suite. Other features include four guest suites in the main house, with two more located in their own space north of the house.

This ultra-luxury home at 700 Admiralty Parade West ranked at No. 2 on Collier County's list of Top 10 home sales for 2020.

3) 700 Admiralty Parade West, Port Royal

Price: $18.5 million

Living area: 7,640 square feet

Year built: 2020

Description: Offering five bedrooms, plus den, and seven bathrooms, this estate was built by a "dream team" assembled by London Bay Homes. Offering expansive views across Admiralty Bay to Keewaydin Island, the home has an open great room floor plan, with a gourmet-inspired kitchen and adjacent bar with "ample wine storage." Other features include a private study, freestanding breakfast island,  bonus room with a balcony, VIP guest suite and zero-edge custom pool.

This home made it on Collier County's Top 10 list of the most expensive sales in 2020. It's at 1700 Galleon Drive, Port Royal.

4) 1700 Galleon Drive, Port Royal

Price: $17.5 million

Living area: 9,253 square feet

Year built: 2007


Situated on a large plot of land, this "exquisite estate" offers "commanding" panoramic views over the Galleon Cove. With about 207 feet of frontage on the water, the main residence has six bedrooms, including an impressive master suite and four guest bedrooms. Other features include a "self-sufficient" fifth guest suite, as well as six garage bays and a large motor court designed for car enthusiasts.

This estate came in fifth on the Top 10 list of most expensive home sales in 2020 for Collier County. It's at 3300 Green Dolphin Lane, Port Royal.

5) 3300 Green Dolphin Lane, Port Royal

Price: $17 million

Living area: 8,674 square feet

Year built: 2020

Description: With six-plus bedrooms and eight bathrooms, this "truly sublime coastal property," has a modern feel, with expansive indoor and outdoor spaces. Other features include handmade German cabinetry and an oversized lot with 236 feet of water frontage.

This home ranked No. 6 on Collier County's list of the highest priced sales for 2020. It's at 575 Admiralty Parade, Port Royal.

6) 575 Admiralty Parade, Port Royal

Price: $16.5 million

Living area: 9,581 square feet

Year built: 1985

Description: This legacy estate home with six or more bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, offers wide water views. Situated on 2 1/4 lots with 250 feet of water frontage, it's described as the "perfect entertaining home" with spacious, open living spaces. Other features include a built in bar, large breakfast room, formal dining room and eight large bedrooms with en suites.

This home in Port Royal was one of the most expensive to sell in Collier County in 2020. It's at 3850 Gordon Drive.

7) 3850 Gordon Drive, Port Royal

Price: $15.5 million

Living area: 6,300 square feet

Year built: 2004

Description: Located on the exclusive beach estate section on Gordon Drive this home has five bedrooms, plus den, and seven bathrooms. Its custom kitchen was designed with entertaining in mind, with one-of-a-kind cabinetry, along with a large island and top-named appliances. Other features include: a master suite with a morning bar, a private study with custom paneling, two elevators, built-in spa, gas fireplace and three-car garage bay.

This home at 1300 Galleon Drive landed at No. 8 on Collier County's list of Top 10 home sales for 2020.

8) 1300 Galleon Drive, Port Royal

Price: $15 million

Living area: 6,076

Year built: 2016

Description: This five bedroom, plus den, home with seven bathrooms was designed to create a sense of peace and privacy, while still offering the opportunity to entertain on a grand scale. A "well-conceived" first-floor master suite offers a place for "healing and resting." Other features include an expansive great room, wine room, modern kitchen and "extraordinary" outdoor dining and living areas.  

A home at 7629 Bay Colony Drive in the exclusive neighborhood of Bay Colony in Naples was one of he most expensive to sell in Collier County in 2020.

9) 7629 Bay Colony Drive, Naples

Price: $14.7 million

Living area: 7,342 square feet

Year built: 1999

Description: With five bedrooms and six bathrooms, this coastal contemporary Gulf-front estate offers 132 feet of beach frontage in the Strand at Bay Colony, an exclusive gated enclave. The home has spacious living and dining areas, with floor to ceiling windows, custom millwork and hickory floors. Other features include: a gym, media room and gourmet kitchen. There are four en-suite guest quarters, including a private cabana, and an expansive master suite with a fireplace, breakfast bar, marble bathroom and custom closet, along with an office. 

This compound at 1000 Admiralty Parade in Port Royal made it on Collier County's list of the Top 10 home sales for 2020

10) 1000 Admiralty Parade, Port Royal

Price: $14 million.

Living area: 15,569 square feet

Year built: 2002

Description: A one-of-a-kind magnificent estate with six bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, offering 340 feet of water frontage. The property includes a three-bedroom attached guest home. Other features include formal and casual dining areas, a wine cellar, in-home theater, library and club room.

Lee County

This home at 26564 Hickory Blvd. in Bonita Springs was the most expensive one to sell in 2020 in Lee County

1) 26564 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs

Price: $7.25 million

Living area: 5,560 square feet

Year built: 2020

Description: With five bedrooms, plus den, and eight bathrooms this home is described as a "coastal contemporary, modern masterpiece." The estate includes dual master suites, a chef's kitchen, upscale appliances, stone counters, custom wet bar, private elevator and smart-home technology. Other features include an elevated entertainment deck with an infinity pool and spa, an outdoor kitchen and fireplace  overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, and a four-car garage with space for "water toys." 

This new estate at 26724 Hickory Blvd. on Bonita Beach fetched one of the highest prices in Lee County in 2020.

2) 26724 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs

Price: $7 million.

Living area: 5,760 square feet

Year built: 2019

Description: Another coastal contemporary, modern home with five bedrooms, plus den, and eight bathrooms, like the most expensive one sold in Lee. Both were built by Potter Homes. They have the same features, including dual master suites, a chef's kitchen, wet bar, private elevator and smart-home technology to control sound, lighting and more from motorized shutters to the elevator.

This new luxury, waterfront home at 26716 Hickory Boulevard on Bonita Beach fetched the third highest home price in Lee County for 2020.

3) 26716 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs

Price: $6.9 million

Living area: 5,487 square feet

Year built: 2019

Description: This five bedroom, plus den, beachfront home, with eight bathrooms, has an open floor plan, with pocketing sliders that make entertaining easy. A beachfront deck includes an infinity — or disappearing — edge pool and spa, outdoor kitchen and a bathroom. Other features of the home include a chef’s kitchen, stone counter tops, hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and smart-home technology. It also has two VIP guest suites, a four-car garage and a private elevator.

This vintage cottage at 15843 Captiva Drive landed at No. 3 on Lee County's Top 10 list of home sales for 2020.

4) 15843 Captiva Drive, Captiva

Price: $6.899 million

Living area: 2,000 square feet

Year built: 1925

Description: A vintage "totally restored" cottage with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, this home is a rarity on island property like this, offering 102 feet of water frontage, according to the description provided. The house includes a great room and open kitchen. Design elements include wood beams and the original heart pine floors, as well ship lap siding and white wood cabinetry. Other features include marble-like counter tops, a large porch and a deep-water boat dock.

Newer homes on Bonita Beach fetched some of the highest prices seen in Lee County in 2020. This one at 26428 Hickory Blvd. is one of them.

5) 26428 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs

Price: $6.795 million

Living area: 4,710 square feet

Year built: 2020

Description: One of Bonita Beach's newest beachfront homes, this one offers wide open, unobstructed living spaces, with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. It includes a large kitchen island, custom bar, private elevator, big garage. There are four guest suites, with the opportunity to use another space as a fifth one, and the master suite is "postcard worthy," featuring large his-and-hers closets, a tub for soaking and a walk-in-shower. 

This home at 15819 Captive Drive, built in 1925, landed at No. 6 on Lee County's list ofthe most expensive home sales in 2020.

6) 15819 Captiva Drive, Captiva

Price: $6.35 million

Living area: 4,380 square feet

Year built: 1925

Description: A sprawling estate with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, this home sits on more than an acre of land. Offering a courtyard feel with "the essence of Castilian architecture," it has beamed ceilings and arched windows. Other features include a master suite and guest quarters with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room. The property also has a great dock and lift, including a thatched boathouse extending into the water. 

This waterfront home came in at No. 7 on Lee County's list of most expensive home sales for 2020. It's at 3441 West Gulf Drive in Sanibel.

7) 3441 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel

Price: $6.25 million

Living area: 5,900 square feet

Year built: 2007

Description: With four bedrooms, plus den, and five bathrooms, this home offers some of the "most captivating views" on the island. Remodeled in 2019 by an award-winning Miami designer, the home has a spacious kitchen for entertaining with custom cabinetry and top-name appliances. Design elements include marble, travertine, carpeting and wood flooring, with picturesque windows and doors. Other features include handcrafted Venetian glass chandeliers in the great room, an elevator, spa, two gas fireplaces and a three-car garage. 

This multi-story home is No. 8 on the list of top home sales in 2020 for Lee County. It's at 26385 Hickory Blvd. on Bonita Beach.

8) 26385 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs

Price: $5.5 million

Living area: 5,670 square feet

Year built: 2020

Description: This gated residence has four bedrooms and seven bathrooms, offering wide views of the Gulf of Mexico and the bay. The home offers high-end modern coastal décor, with an expansive open floor plan. There's a celebrity chef-designed kitchen, great room with a fireplace, wet bar with a wine display and indoor dining area that opens up to a covered lanai with a kitchen, fireplace and TV of its own, along with electric screens and shutters. Other features include an infinity pool and spa with a waterfall, a custom bar topped with sea glass, three VIP guest suites, a private elevator and four-car garage.

This home was the ninth most expensive one to sell in Lee County in 2020. It's at 3757 West Gulf Drive in Sanibel.

9) 3757 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel

Price: $5.5 million

Living area: 7,116 square feet

Year built: 2000

Description: The "magnificent" gulf-front estate, located in a prime area of the island, has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It includes an "overly impressive" great room described as the "heart of the home." Other features include a formal dining room with custom details that are "brilliant," cozy fireplaces and a double-sided elevator. There's also a total home automation and security system, an exercise room, a resort-style pool, and a media room, along with top-of-the-line appliances. 

This estate landed at No. 10 on Lee County's Top 10 list of high-end home sales in 2020. It's at 17432 Via Lugano Court in Miromar Lakes.

10) 17432 Via Lugano Court, Miromar Lakes

Price: $5.5 million

Living area: 6,205 square feet

Year built: 2020

Description: This grand waterfront estate has four bedrooms, plus den, and seven bathrooms. It's in the exclusive neighborhood of Lugano. The home includes two powder bathrooms, as well as a bathroom for the pool. There's a great room, study and two garages, with room for two cars in each one. Other features include an outdoor kitchen and a large covered balcony on the second story with multiple ways to enter or exit it. The home sits on a half-acre site, offering an expansive lake view.