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The berth room: why Florida’s appetite for homes with their own private dock is spreading further afield

3 January 2024 • Written by Ruth Bloomfield

Florida’s appetite for homes with their own private dock is spreading further afield, says Ruth Bloomfield...

Standing out from the crowd by offering something special is crucial in the luxury end of the housing market. And there is nothing that hints at an exclusive, yet outdoorsy, lifestyle quite so strongly as having your own private marina. Triggered in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, when boat sales spiked and more people found themselves in need of a slip, on-site marinas have become the go-to add-on for luxury apartment buildings in Florida.

Chad Fonder, luxury property specialist with estate agent Coldwell Banker, first noticed developers starting to incorporate marinas in Sarasota developments four or five years ago, following a trend born in Miami.

Baccarat Residences Miami will be located where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay

“There is a lot of competition among developers, and we have a very active boating community here and a real shortage of boat storage along the Gulf Coast,” Fonder says.

That boating community swelled during the pandemic when hordes of affluent relocators arrived in the Sunshine State ready to embrace a new lifestyle. And an on-site marina doesn’t only please sailors. “Folks like the view and they are beautiful, walkable areas for them to enjoy,” Fonder adds.

Property owners are usually offered the chance to buy a slip on a first-come, first-served basis. There are rarely enough to meet demand and prices around Sarasota range from about $40,000 to $200,000-plus.

The penthouse at SIX88 has 1,900ft2 of indoor and outdoor living space
Credit: Coldwell Banker

“There is definitely a shortage of slips,” Fonder says. “There are a lot of protections involved, from the state and from the city, to protect [the area] from coastal erosion, and that does reduce the number of slips we are allowed to build.”

Situated 211 miles from Sarasota, two new complexes are taking shape in Fort Lauderdale, a city often described as the yachting capital of the world. Pier Sixty-Six and Bahia Mar will both contain a mix of hotel rooms plus apartments and amenities. Their state-of-the-art marinas, with 164 and 245 slips respectively, will be available to residents.

Read More/How Fort Lauderdale is entering a new era in its yachting history
The marina at Privé Island Estates will be located where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay
Credit: Knight Frank / Douglas Elliman

Although homes with their own private docks have long been popular in Fort Lauderdale, these are the first to come with the whole song and dance, including places to shop, eat and drink, in addition to the more usual repair and refuelling services, says Julie Jones, vice president of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman real estate.

“Fort Lauderdale has 50,000 registered yachts and 200 miles of waterways,” she says. “Fort Lauderdale has the year-round climate, it is only 50 nautical miles from the Bahamas, and there is not enough dockage for all the boats we have, so the demand is huge. If you purchase a private residence with a slip then you are not constantly looking for somewhere to put your boat.”

Credit: Adobe Stock

Buyers, Jones adds, are willing to pay a premium in order to secure safe, convenient slippage, with plenty of support services on hand. They realise that buying a home with mooring means saving money on paying out for a space at a public marina year in, year out.

She also believes these homes will make good investments, because slips are a finite resource. “They are not building any more coastline,” she points out. “And if you keep a big yacht at one of the docks, it really adds up.”

While the heartland of the private marina trend right now is Florida, it is starting to spread. In 2023, hospitality giant Four Seasons began taking reservations for vacation homes it is building in Costa Palmas, overlooking Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The 1,480-acre compound will feature Four Seasons’ first private marina, equipped with a fleet guests can hire, including a 20-metre yacht.

The other option is to bring your own boat along during your stay for the ultimate vacation.

Read More/Housespotting during FLIBS: The coolest homes to look out for at the show

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