Can a single brokerage firm dominate the luxury residential real-estate market from Tampa to Marco Island?
If anyone can accomplish this task, it’s Judy Green, the president and CEO of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Naples.
Premier recently announced that it plans to open an office in South Tampa in March, fresh off a banner year in 2012, when the firm achieved $2.3 billion in residential sales on the Gulf Coast, a 35% increase from 2011.
Green is a veteran of the residential real-estate market. The former CEO of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate of Florida from 1997 to 2004 orchestrated 28 acquisitions during her tenure there, including Arvida Residential Real Estate.
Green says she’s been keeping a close watch on the Tampa market and likes what she sees.
“I’ve been watching it since 2008,” she says. “We’ve seen it come back to life.”
For example, she’s encouraged by the fact that January home sales in Tampa rose 18% and prices were up 11% over the same month in 2012. “South Tampa is where the action is,” she says.
Green says she’s not deterred by the presence of some well-established local players in South Tampa, such as Smith & Associates and The Toni Everett Co. “I know a lot of people there,” she says. By the end of the year, Green says she hopes to have 35 agents in Tampa.
To be sure, Tampa is a different market from Sarasota or Naples, where homebuyers are mostly affluent retirees. Tampa’s luxury homebuyers are business executives, doctors, lawyers and sports professionals.
But Premier’s franchise agreement with Sotheby’s extends from Tampa to Marco Island. “It’s the next phase of our long-term plan,” says Green, who lives on Marco Island.
Premier is a division of The Lutgert Companies, a privately held development company the Lutgert family operates out of Naples. Premier has 450 agents in 19 offices in luxury enclaves such as Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Sanibel, Longboat Key and, now, South Tampa.
Green says she’s scouting other parts of the Tampa Bay region. “St. Petersburg would be a target,” she says.
Still, Green is quick to note that much of the work Premier agents do is via the Internet. “I don’t want a lot of offices,” she says. “I’ve been the biggest, and it’s not what’s important. I’ve managed 200 offices.”
In fact, Premier already has an office in the Tampa Bay area in Belleair Bluffs near Largo and Clearwater. The news of a new office in Tampa has already boosted Belleair’s profile by attracting five new agents, Green says.
Currently, Green says the Sarasota market is leading the region in the luxury residential real-estate market. But, she’s quick to point out that every market is improving.
“There are jewels in every price range,” she says.