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Rich with possibility

TAMPA — Luxury Realtor and designer Darren White built the $2.5 million penthouse Aqua Vista with an eye for high society. Swaddled in granite and Portuguese cork, the 29th-floor penthouse boasted a poolside cabana the size of a Tokyo apartment. So last month, White gathered his blueprints and joined a clutch of real estate elites at a private "pitch session" on Harbour Island. The group's affinity to affluence, he hoped, would help seal its lucrative sale. "My target client is a sports guy. Luckily, I had a showing yesterday with a (Tampa Bay) Bucs player, so I guess I hit it," White said, handing out glossy handbills calling the penthouse "unhindered . . . by budgetary constraints." "Bring me the buyer."

He had come to the right place. On all sides of the mahogany closing table, agents who over the last year had sold homes valued at more than $4 million were surveying listings they could bring back to their "most discerning" clientele.

In an industry where commissions are paid out on both sides, buyers' and sellers' agents often discover ways of getting along. In this massive mansion show-and-tell, every pitch had the potential to become a multimillion-dollar deal.

EverBank hosted the bimonthly meeting, its second, hoping pitch sessions like these could bring in new jumbo mortgages. One loan document read, "While everyone has their own vision of the perfect home, some just dream on a larger scale."

Kym Burton, the selling agent of the priciest local home to sell this year, prominent gynecologist Ignacio Armas' $5.5 million Harbour Island mansion, arrived Tuesday with a new prize for sale, a Beach Park estate on the market for just under $2 million.

As a bank assistant flicked through photos projected on a screen, Burton showcased the home's opulence: an air-conditioned three-car garage, a 330-bottle wine room, and "his-and-hers water closets," shower heads and sinks. ''The key to every happy marriage," she said with a laugh.

Though nothing was bandied for less than half a million dollars, the pitches ran the gamut, from an agent touting StoneLake Ranch homes on Lake Thonotosassa to a homebuilder with high-priced lots in South Tampa enclaves Palma Ceia and Parkland Estates.

The most lavish listings came from luxury Realtor Michael Green, a grandfather with an Alabama drawl and a gold watch the size of a boulder. A former FBI special agent, he has become one of Tampa Bay's top luxury agents, selling homes last year worth more than $12.6 million.

Green eased through his listings, seemingly unhurried by the 10-minute pitch limit. A palatial $3.3 million estate in Odessa with six garages. A $2.8 million gulf-front mansion in Port Richey, which he had shown twice to Chinese executives. A $2.5 million plantation-style estate in Spring Hill, with a stable built with oversized stalls for birthing racehorses.

Whispered Robert Saltzman, EverBank's branch manager, "It's nice to see how the other tenth of a percent lives."

Green's creme de la creme, though, was a 7,000-square-foot Mediterranean estate on the coast of Safety Harbor, designed by a financial consultant to the wealthy "to remind him of his most favorite place," a Ritz-Carlton resort.

Built only five years ago, with five fireplaces and six bathrooms, the owner's wife nevertheless ached to return to the "heart of the world," in South Tampa. Green listed it last month for $3.75 million. "Feel free to bring that to some of your most discerning," he said.

Not content to be outmatched, Burton ribbed him from across the table.

"But does it have a his-and-hers water closet?" she asked with a laugh.

Green, an old hand, barely broke stride. "It has his-and-hers a lot of things."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

Rich with possibility 05/10/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 10:58pm]
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