The coronavirus pandemic shattered many norms in 2020, but it didn’t stop the the luxury real estate market from charging ahead, as the wealthy sought out new places to retreat from the Florida sun and demand remained high.
Compared to 2019, which was a banner year for ultra-expensive waterfront properties $10 million and up — with the No. 1 sale at $16.5 million — this year’s top residential sale was a bargain at $9.3 million.
But 2020′s top sales also featured a fascinating diversity of homes, including a “fortress” with an indoor gun range, shimmering contemporary structures on the water, an English countryside-style manor overlooking a golf course and a 37-acre property that includes horse stables and pastures.
This strange year also included a more unusual high-dollar sale: two adjacent lots of land at 72 Martinique Ave. on Davis Islands totaling 31,000 square feet, which was sold in November for $11 million — higher than this year’s highest price home on this list. It is not included in the list below because it was classified on Multiple Listing Service as a “vacant land” sale, though there is a house on the property that its new owners will demolish and replace with new construction, according to listing agent Toni Everett.
“The market is moving where everyone wants new or relatively new, and if isn’t new-ish looking, they want it torn down. This is happening all over the south end of Tampa,” said Everett, who added the trend started about two years ago. Her daughter, Henderson Everett, represented the buyer. “Land other than just basic lots in the south end of Tampa is not a norm. It’s hard to find so people are paying premium prices for it.”
In the the following list, the names in parentheses are of the listing agents. The information about each house is according to Multiple Listing Service, as well as several news releases from the time of big sales. The analysis included all home sales closed throughout 2020 in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Prices were rounded to the nearest $100,000 unless otherwise noted:
$9.3 million, Harbor Oaks, Clearwater
The basics: 21,758 square feet, split between a main house and a guest house. Main house: 10 bedrooms, eight full and five half bathrooms. Guest house: six bedrooms and five full and two half bathrooms. (Martha Thorn, Jennifer Zales)
This expansive 3.5-acre estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor closed on Dec. 23. Featuring unique amenities such as a waterfront promenade, grand ballroom and bell tower, it dates to 1915. Since then it’s been owned by the inventor of the black paint used on Model T Fords as well as a powerboat racing champion. The property’s new owner was represented by local real estate lawyer Bryan J. Stanley, who declined to reveal the buyer’s identity, but said he’s ”a gentleman who’s been a local since he was born” who intends to move in with his family and maintain the home’s historical elements as he makes renovations and repairs.
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$9.1 million, Davis Islands, Tampa
The basics: 9,151 square feet, seven bedrooms, seven full and two half bathrooms (Anne Mullis, Cindy Richards)
This house, once owned by Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, previously sold for nearly $6.3 million in 2017 — so this sale, at nearly $1,000 per square foot, was quite the increase. In addition to its large lanai and infinity pool and spa, other features include three walk-in closets, a movie theater room, 600-bottle wine room, outdoor kitchen, kegerator, and a spiral staircase that leads to the rooftop with 360-degree views. On the water, it also has a new dock with two motor lifts. The sale closed in July.
$9 million, Belleair Bluffs
The basics: 10,728 square feet, six bedrooms, seven and two half bathrooms (Kerryn Ellson)
This waterfront estate complete with an outdoor gazebo and putting green also has an indoor bar, home gym and a living room with a 24-foot wall of retractable glass doors. It’s also ready for some of the less pleasant aspects of Florida living, with hurricane grade windows, a “lightning protection system” and a gas powered generator.
$8.6 million, Tierra Verde
The basics: 12,522 square feet, eight bedrooms, 12 bathrooms (Keri Thigpen)
The sale of this sprawling mansion at the southern tip of Pinellas County closed on Oct. 30. With 276 feet of water frontage, it takes full advantage of the water with a direct Gulf view in the master suite, which also has two walk-in closets. Each of the seven additional bedrooms also gets its own walk-in closet and en suite bathroom. The house also has a second-floor gym, quartz and marble countertops and a five-car garage.
$7.9 million, Belleair Bluffs (No photo available)
The basics: 7,389 square feet, four bedrooms, seven and one half bathrooms (Martha Thorn)
This private estate tucked high on a bluff and down a cobblestone driveway was advertised as the perfect house for those seeking privacy plus great views. Its new owners can watch the sunset color the Intracoastal Waterway from the rear of the house. It also has a terraced pool which overlooks the water. Listing agent Martha Thorn said no photos of the property were available because it sold so quickly. According to the Multiple Listing Service, the home was listed for four days.
$7.5 million, Jungle Shores, St. Petersburg
The basics: 8,201 square feet, five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms (Steve Levie)
On just under two acres of gated grounds, this home also has a different room for seemingly any activity: a theater room, game room, card room and exercise room, for example. It also features a 24-foot ceilings in the great room, Intracoastal Waterway views and an interior surround sound system throughout the home.
$6.7 million, Ovation Condominium, St. Petersburg
The basics: 5,330 square feet, three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms (Liz Heinkel)
The first condo on the list, this property is the 26th floor penthouse of the Ovation building on Beach Drive NE. The building has only 45 residences, all with their own private foyers. With lots of windows and four balconies, the new owners of this exclusive condo can watch both the sunrise and sunset from the comfort of their home, with views of both Tampa Bay, the Gulf and the Don Cesar hotel. Inside, there are two dressing areas in the master suite, one of which has sparkly mirrored closets and its own balcony.
$6.625 million, Harbor Bluffs, Largo
The basics: 9,149 square feet, five bedrooms, five and two half bathrooms (Jennifer Zales)
Complete with a full indoor gun range, this home on a high bluff was described in its listing as a “fortress.” It has secure underground parking, a 250-plus-bottle wine cellar, a game room, a gym, an executive study and waterfront terraces. Outside, there’s a heated, saltwater infinity pool and spa as well as a lap pool, plus a fireplace, boat dock and other amenities.
$6.575 million, Belleair Shore
The basics: 6,035 square feet, five bedrooms, five and one half bathrooms (Michael Lynch)
This property was previously owned by retired pro basketball player Kevin Martin, who played for the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Realtor Michael Lynch. He said Martin demolished the old home that used to occupy the site and began constructing a new house to sell. Before it was even completed, it was purchased by a couple with roots in the area who own several car dealerships, Lynch said. When it’s completed, the home will feature Gulf views from nearly every location in the house. The first level will have an open concept living space with a wall of windows, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto the rear deck, from which its new owners can access their waterfront pool.
$6.4 million, Bayshore Estates, Tampa
The basics: 7,608 square feet, six bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms (Jennifer Zales)
This newly constructed house with a contemporary design is right on Old Tampa Bay. It has an office, media room, home gym, wine cellar and full wet bar area, plus imported Italian porcelain tile and a safe room.
$6.3 million, Snell Isle, St. Petersburg
The basics: 6,330 square feet, four bedrooms, four and two half bathrooms (Alona Dishy)
Also new construction, this waterfront home has a contemporary Dutch Indies design with views of Tampa Bay and the downtown St. Pete skyline, as well as a tanning terrace. The modern kitchen was designed and built in Amsterdam. Throughout the house is smart home technology, including a “smart master shower,” according to the listing, and there’s an electric vehicle charging station in the garage.
$5.8 million, Surfside, Redington Shores
The basics: 6,267 square feet, four bedrooms, four and two half bathrooms (Derrick Silvers, Bianca Silvers)
Perched on the white sands of Redington Shores with a Spanish Mission design, this home boasts impressive beach views. This property is also new construction. In addition to its four bedrooms, it includes a detached casita. Amenities include a heated pool and spa, cabana overlooking a courtyard, three waterfront balconies, two dishwashers and two ovens, plus a seven-car garage.
$5.7 million, Bison Creek Estates, Tarpon Springs
The basics: 7,804 square feet, four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms (Diane Swainston)
This gated property, known as “Serella Stables,” includes a barn with eight stables, a riding arena, two pastures and a fishing pond with a dock in addition to the home. It sits on a total of 37 acres, 29 of which are protected land. The wood-floored home has a great room, office, wine cellar, gym, dining area, library and kitchen all on the main living level with 18-foot ceilings. In the barn, in addition to the eight stalls, there are two showers, a feed room, a tack room and a bathroom.
$5.5 million, Sunset Park Isles, Tampa
The basics: 7,110 square feet, five bedrooms, four and two half bathrooms (Divya Chugani, Jac Smith)
This waterfront house with a “timeless Floridian aesthetic” was sold on Nov. 6. It has wraparound verandas and terraces with views of Tampa Bay and the Gandy Bridge, including an al fresco dining terrace that wraps around the entire back of the home. Inside, the foyer has a custom hand-painted fresco on the ceiling.
$5.4 million, Golf View Estates, Tampa
The basics: 11,469 square feet, five bedrooms, eight and a half bathrooms (Toni Everett, Susan Baldwin)
This walled and gated estate overlooks the fifth fairway of the Palma Ceia Golf Course, but feels like it’s part of the English countryside, according to the listing. Its grand hall entrance is three stories high has a circular soaring staircase and a vaulted ceiling. The home also has custom hand milled wood interiors, Indiana oolitic limestone, and a hand molded brick exterior.
$5.3 million, Snell Isle, St. Petersburg
The basics: 7,828 square feet, five bedrooms, five and three half bathrooms (Rhonda Sanderford)
Once inside this waterfront estate, guests are greeted by a showcase staircase and floor-to-ceiling two story windows. Its interior also includes a coffee bar, beamed ceilings and a home theater with stadium seating. Out back is a pool and spa, as well as a dock suitable for a yacht.
$5.2 million, Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa
The basics: 7,161 square feet, five bedrooms, six and two half bathrooms (Stephen Gay, Katherine Glaser)
This British West Indies style home features sunrise views of Hillsborough Bay, as well as views of the water or yard (with a courtyard pool) from nearly every room. It also has an office with custom built-ins that overlooks Bayshore, and the master suite has an octagonal bonus area complete with a bar fridge.
$5.1 million, The One St. Petersburg
The basics: 4,721 square feet, three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms (Gary Hess)
The second condo on the list is a penthouse unit of The One, and its sale price comes is around an eye-popping $1,300 per square foot. The condo features imported European cabinetry, quartz countertops, a private terrace with glass balcony rails and of course sweeping views of Tampa Bay from downtown St. Petersburg. The One is a luxury building which offers more than 250 condos and is the tallest building downtown, according to a news release announcing the sale over the summer. In addition to the units, the building has three owners’ lounges, a private bar, a lap pool, hot tub, cabanas and other amenities.
$4.9 million, Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore
The basics: 8,725 square feet, five bedrooms, five bathrooms (Julie Folden)
This beachfront residence has a “coastal flair” and a wide terrace cooled by the gulf breeze, according to the listing. The interior features planked wood, Travertine and limestone flooring, a two-level bar, plus a guest bedroom with a private terrace. Out back it also has a heated saltwater pool with waterfall features overlooking the gulf.
$4.8 million, Snell Isle, St. Petersburg
The basics: 7,878 square feet, five bedrooms, six and two half bathrooms (Bonnie Strickland, Jim DiMartino)
Overlooking Tampa Bay, the pier and the downtown St. Pete waterfront, this waterfront Mediterranean estate is well-situated. It has 1500-year-old reclaimed floors from Spain and the home’s ceilings feature exposed beams. The master suite has a large sitting room, wood-burning fireplace and walk-in closet. The backyard has a covered terrace for entertaining, with a built-in grill, pool and private dock.
$4.7 million, The One St. Petersburg
The basics: 4,721 square feet, three bedrooms, three and half bathrooms (Liz Heinkel)
Just one floor above the other penthouse unit at The One to make the list, this 42nd-floor unit was sold a few months later in October. It is the top floor, and was advertised as a “home in the sky.”
$4.69 million, Sunset Park Isles, Tampa
The basics: 6,155 square feet, five bedrooms, five and half bathrooms (Mary Pond)
This waterfront home has a lanai with views stretching to downtown St. Petersburg, plus white marble countertops, a wine cellar and two dishwashers. The floors are hardwood throughout except bathrooms and laundry rooms. The master suite has dual vanities also covered in white marble.
$4.6 million, Davis Islands, Tampa
The basics: 6,701 square feet, five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms (Mary Beth Byrd, Leslie Minder)
Upon entering this home on Hillsborough Bay, guests enter a foyer with cathedral ceilings and a wrought iron stairwell. It also has oversized living and dining rooms. Outside, the home has an outdoor kitchen and two covered patios, as well as a 40-foot heated pool and jacuzzi plus a dock with two lifts.
$4.5 million, Redington Beach
The basics: 5,110 square feet, four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms (Connie Redman)
Complete with views of the beach and the Gulf of Mexico, this home also has a two-story family room with a wine display wall, a media room and a large guest bedroom suite. The master suite encompasses the entire beachfront of the top floor and includes a sitting area overlooking the gulf, a coffee station and covered balcony. According to the listing, the home was also sold fully furnished with nearly $200,000 in electronics.
$4.495 million, Carol Shores, Tampa
The basics: 6,121 square feet, five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms (BG Holmberg)
This waterfront home has a media room, bonus room, wine cellar, and a pool and spa with a view of Old Tampa Bay. Its backyard also features a cabana and dock.