Last year, a bubbly Realtor named Jackie Youngblood earned one of Keller Williams Tampa Properties' highest grossing commissions: more than $150,000.
She earned the lion's share of those sales from an unorthodox clientele: nudists looking for homes around Pasco County's clothing-optional resorts.
Nudist enclaves and cruises are a $400 million-a-year industry, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation, and Pasco is one of the lifestyle's core communities. Home to sprawling nudist resorts like Caliente, Lake Como and Paradise Lakes, the county even voted in December to spend nearly $4,000 on tourism advertising in international nudist magazines.
Potential buyers often contact one of the half a dozen local real estate agents who specialize in nudist realty.
Resort homes range from $1 million mansions to one-bedroom casitas, Youngblood said, though some nudists, wanting more conventional digs for friends and family to visit, often buy outside the resort gates.
Youngblood, 61, a grandmother of eight who speaks with a Georgia drawl, has a secret weapon in this business: She and her husband, Bill, are nudists too. They live in a 2,300-square-foot villa in Caliente. She talked with the Times last month at her office in a north Tampa office park.
What are nudists looking for in a home?
They want privacy, whether on premise or off premise. Lots of windows and open floor plans because of entertaining — you know, the kitchen with the easy flow into the family room. Most of them want pools because it's for entertaining and because, up North, many people don't have the pools. In the back yards, some of them don't like any curtains and drapes or anything, they just want that nice window look with sliding glass doors everywhere. I was one like that. Even in our home outside, that was one big thing: I wanted it on a conservation area so I didn't have to put window treatments up. We built our own paradise in the back yard with shrubbery.
It seems counterintuitive that these people who are so open with themselves around other people want privacy at home.
On the outside (of the resorts), it's important because of their respect for the neighbors. They want to be able to run around naked, so if the next-door neighbor has children, or even if they don't, they don't want to insult someone. They're in a "regular" community, and they wouldn't want to do that. Even in the resorts, you have people who, they feel okay walking around the resort nude and being at the pool nude or in the clubhouse nude — and they have their towels to sit on, or whatever — but when it comes to being in their home, it's not what you necessarily want everyone to be seeing. Then you have those who couldn't care less. (laughs)
A lot of these deals seem to demand a certain amount of ... discretion.
Confidentiality and respect is of utmost importance to me. Sometimes it can be difficult in the nudist world doing that. Say for instance you're a nudist, you've purchased from me and you sent me a client. And then on Friday afternoon, everybody's up around the piano bar, and you say to me, "Hey, did Joe and Suzy buy that house?" I just say that's something you need to discuss with Joe and Suzy. I make it a habit not to discuss anybody's business with anybody. And that's one reason I get as many referrals as I do. I let people know that up front, too. I say, if you go to the hot tub, I can't keep you from saying anything. However, keep in mind that house that's for sale could have somebody else that's interested. And if you go tell all your business while you're sitting there in the hot tub, you're giving away your advantage to buy that house. That's actually happened before.
How does the nudist lifestyle change the selling process?
If I call my nudist people up and we meet on the premises, they might be nude. I always say, you come how you're comfortable, but I will be wearing clothes, because I never show property nude. When I'm working, I'm professional.
Any hazards of the job?
There have been issues before with mortgage companies and banks not loaning money for the resorts. They say it's a "unique property,'' blah blah blah. I think there should be some sort of discrimination there somewhere. ... At a nudist resort in Hudson, a nudist owned a house outside, a very nice home on about 2 acres of land. When people called me about it, I would say that's a nudist resort across the street. When a guy did buy it, at closing, I had him sign an addendum stating he knew when he bought it that that was a nudist resort, simply because, in two years, if he goes to sell and he can't, he could come back and say, "I wasn't told.'' You just don't take a chance like that. People don't understand it. They think, "Oh, that's just a bunch of weirdos over there having a big party. They all sit around and smoke pot and have a big orgy.''
What do these buyers find so intriguing about nudism?
We live very stressful lives. We're working, we're mothers, we're fathers. There's always something that we're going and going and doing. So when we don't have the kids, it's our time to get away and let our hair down and not worry about being judged on what you're wearing. You go to the club and wear anything you want, or not. It's just relaxing. You know you're going to be accepted no matter what size you are, no matter how you look. People accept you for who you are. A breathing, walking human being. Or not walking. We have some people who are in wheelchairs.
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or [email protected]