December 15th, 2015

How ultrawealthy yacht owners are hedging against another lockdown cutting off their boat access: Buying new houses

miami manison yacht chad carrollCourtesy Daniel Petroni for Chad Carroll with Compass

Summary List Placement

While many Americans were busy hunting down bikes during coronavirus lockdowns earlier this year, the ultrawealthy were shopping for yachts.

Now, they need a place to park them.

Marinas are both costly and subject to local shelter-in-place orders, meaning that in the case of another lockdown, a marina closure could cut off yacht owners' access to their vessels. What is a yacht owner to do? Maybe buy another house.

In fact, some yacht owners have been purchasing new homes with large waterfronts and boat slips just to have a place to park their yachts, two Miami-based real estate agents told Business Insider.

One Turks & Caicos-based house hunter asked his agent, One Sotheby's Aurora Esteves, to look for 100 feet of waterfront property so he can have unfettered access to his 80-foot yacht. The client says he and his wife don't plan to live in the house, but still want it to be one level and have a six-car garage. Their only real non-negotiables are ample waterfront and a boat slip.

Aurora Esteves with One Sotheby's.JPGCourtesy of One Sotheby's

"His wife told me that he wants to be able to go out to the boat sit there, look at the sunset and do nothing," Esteves said. That's something that he couldn't do when the coronavirus pandemic forced Miami into lockdown earlier this year, when marinas only allowed owners to visit their boats for emergencies, per Esteves.

Esteves' client is far from the only one house-hunting for the sole reason of acquiring a private boat slip. Compass broker Chad Carroll, who also appears in Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing Miami," has sold two multimillion-dollar waterfront homes in recent months to buyers who are primarily concerned with their yachts. While this wasn't the first time a client approached Caroll about house-hunting for a yacht, he said it was never this frequent before the pandemic.

"[One client] was from the northeast, and he just wanted to have a boat down here," Carroll told Business Insider. "When he was looking at the marina cost, he said, 'I'd rather park my money into a depreciating asset than throw it away.'"

1500 SE 10th in Fort LauderdaleCourtesy Daniel Petroni for Chad Carroll with Compass

According to Carroll, buyers looking for places to house boats shorter than 70 feet have the most options available to them, and prices vary from "a couple of million dollars to $10 million to $15 million to $20 million," based on neighborhood. By comparison, Caroll estimated that high-end marinas could run up to several thousand dollars a month.

The skyrocketing popularity of single-family homes with expansive waterfronts has come at the expense of Miami's luxury condo market. Carroll told Business Insider that condo demand has cratered since the pandemic began, sending prices lower and inventory higher. Amenities like shared pools and expansive wellness centers no longer hold the same appeal to high-net-worth weekenders, who are acutely aware that strict social distancing policies could be forced on them at any time.

"The necessities have changed because even if you have the money, you don't have freedom," Esteves told Business Insider.

Chad Carroll with CompassCourtesy of Compass

Esteves said her firm sold 86 single-family homes in 2019, and has already sold more than 90 in the first 10 months of 2020.

"There is a major influx of buyers in from the Northeast flocking here to South Florida wanting to get away from the crazy pandemic they're facing in cities up north," Caroll said, "and to the lifestyle of living down here and having space."

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SEE ALSO: Meet the man who hooks up ultrawealthy Americans with the 2nd passports they need to leave the country. An island in the Caribbean is his most in-demand location.

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