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Joyce Etchison's Blog

By Joyce Etchison | Agent in Naples, FL

British TV crew comes to Naples to find “A Place In the Sun”

After spending 12 weeks shooting in various communities throughout Florida, Jonnie Irwin, producer of the British television show “A Place In the Sun,” decided it was time to see what Naples is like. After all, most Europeans consider Naples and Collier County to be the jewel in Florida’s crown. Irwin was not disappointed.

Irwin was here for a few days last week and has returned to the UK. The segment will be shown on UK’s Channel 4 at a later date.

“We wanted to show the best possible place in the Florida area and that was Naples,” said Irwin. “We found that Naples is really designed for the climate and the activity. Here, the luxury homes open to the outdoors, to the pool or boat dock. The canals themselves were dug to allow people to take advantage of the water. Naples just looks like it was designed to be enjoyed.

“‘A Place In the Sun’ is the British equivalent of ‘House Hunters’ on HGTV here in the states,” said Tade Bua-Bell. “Jonnie basically wanted to know what it is a buyer can expect for a given amount of money. We showed him a home in Aqualane Shores on the bay that recently sold for $4.5 million and after various renovations and upgrades could now bring $6 million.”

“At first, we were rather surprised to see that a home with just four bedrooms could be priced at $6 million,” said Irwin. “That’s $1.5 million a bedroom. But then I looked at the situation and saw the beautiful master suite and the beautiful living areas spilling out to the magnificent infinity pool and a huge boat dock on the bay. That’s when you realize it’s the location, it’s the bay-front position at the end of a cul-de-sac and it has so much going for it. It was only after getting inside the property that we really saw the value. Many times it’s the other way around. Some properties look substantial from the front and they’ve got a garden in the back. In Florida, you go through a normal door and suddenly the property opens up into a massive open plan building and a wonderful pool and the bay at the back.”

Many Europeans share Irwin’s take on the value of real estate in Florida in general and Naples in particular. In the fourth quarter of 2011, 31 percent of all international homebuyer traffic in the United States was attracted to Florida. Overall international buyer activity in the U.S. in 2011 was up 25 percent over 2010. International monetary markets are driving the increases in both traffic and buying, especially in Florida. The strength of foreign currencies aside, buyers are drawn to Naples because it caters to the luxury market and does not project the ambiance of a more typical Florida tourist destination. A well-established infrastructure, high-end retail and dining destinations and, of course, Collier County’s beaches all contribute to the area’s appeal to foreign buyers.

“Six, seven years ago, a lot of Brits could not even dream of owning real estate in a place like Naples,” said Irwin. “Now, with a decent budget, they can buy into an area like this. That’s the exciting thing and the reason we’re over here at the moment. The message to our viewers will be that Florida real estate in general is inexpensive. Naples, however, is the first place in Florida I saw where there are houses being built and very well into its recovery. It seems the corner has been turned here. Prices are on the upswing in Naples. It reminds me of worldwide high-end markets. Everywhere saw a dip, but when you look at high end real estate, it didn’t dip as much and it’s the first to come back due to lack of supply. The exchange rate is obviously a huge factor and can influence price negotiations. If the properties in Naples stay close to where they are, and the pound gets stronger against the dollar, say to 1.85, I think you’ll see UK buyers eating pie.”

“UK buyers essentially get 35 percent more for their money because of the relationship of the pound to the dollar,” said Tade Bua-Bell. “International interest is very strong here in Southwest Florida and especially in Naples. Brokerages equipped to provide the type of service to which high-end international buyers are accustomed will find numerous opportunities. International buyers appreciate that kind of consideration. They also appreciate the market knowledge and flexibility afforded by our various international affiliations and the global presence that we enjoy as a result of those affiliations. It’s all about simplifying the process. Brokers who make the search and buying process as user friendly and accommodating as possible will do well in today’s international market.”

information provided by Naples Daily News

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