Last Saturday afternoon, real estate agent Bonnie Heatzig took her visiting clients from Washington, DC on a tour of luxury homes in Boca Raton.
But instead of hopping in their car at the start of the tour, they hopped on their family’s boat for a sunny two-hour jaunt around Boca’s waterways and exclusive waterfront villas.
Her customers all smiled as they chatted about which homes offered the best views and had the most potential to live in.
Heatzig sells the South Florida lifestyle – water, sun, fun – and what better way to do that than from a boat?
The Executive Director of Luxury Sales at Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton, Heatzig, came up with the idea of doing boat tours during the pandemic – the market was picking up speed but some home showings were canceled and there were safety concerns. So she turned to nature and the water, hoping to give her clients a better idea of what the property looked like and a deeper perspective of what life in South Florida could be like.
“You get a whole new perspective from the water and you can see firsthand the home’s proximity to the intracoastal, the bay and the view,” Heatzig said.
With a housing market showing almost no signs of slowing down, Heatzig says she takes boat tours to waterfront homes almost weekly.
Touring waterfront homes by boat isn’t new, but it’s a way for Heatzig to really sell the romance of a waterfront home — stepping onto your future dock can be sexier than stepping into your future driveway. And in a market swamped by foreign buyers who might be put in a buying mood by the sight of palm trees and yachts, these tours are a crucial way for buyers not only to understand, but to own, the properties they are viewing Understand Also, get an overview of the lifestyle they will adopt.
“It’s quite an experience to be on the water like that,” said Heatzig. “That puts everything into perspective.”
JR Schuble and his two sons Justin and Jordan were on tour with Heatzig on Saturday as the brothers are looking for a waterfront property in the early stages, preferably in the Boca Raton area.
“It’s very South Florida,” the brothers said of life on the water. The family also has a home in Washington DC, although they are no strangers to the area. They have been visiting South Florida for years since their grandmother had a home in the area. Her parents also own property in Boca and they stayed with them during the pandemic.
“Our friends come to visit and they don’t want to leave,” Justin added of the lure of South Florida.
Heatzig’s tours usually include either a general tour of the waterways so they can get a feel for how to navigate a boat in specific areas or what type of backyard views to expect. At other times, depending on what the client is looking for, they will cruise the waters and dock the boats at various properties they wish to see and tour the interiors.
She begins her tours by educating buyers on the various aspects of life on the water, the neighborhoods, the price points, the general size of the home, whether there are permanent bridges or drawbridges, etc.
And Boca Raton’s luxury real estate market has performed well. According to Douglas Elliman, the average selling price of a luxury home in Boca Raton was $2,952,500 in the third quarter of 2021.
While a land search for a home typically includes the best school zones and safety, potential waterfront buyers are concerned about the condition of the seawall, waterfront and whether there are permanent bridges, noted Josh Dotoli, founder and director of the Dotoli group in Fort Lauderdale.
A tour of the waterways allows potential buyers to get an idea of the home’s backyard views, how much natural light the home can get, and how and where to moor their boats. When boaters see how much front there is and how much dock space they have, they can imagine how big a boat can dock there and if there is enough room to navigate the water.
“They demonstrate the lifestyle. You’re buying the backyard, the pool, and the view,” added Dotoli.
It also helps enable buyers to make quick decisions in a scenario where properties come off the market in a matter of days, said Kevin Spina of Keyes Company Spina Group.
Since inventory is limited, it is a good tool to help buyers quickly understand what the property looks like due to the urgent need to contract a property.
Seeing the waterfront home can make all the difference in what a customer buys, Spina added.
As for Heatzig’s clients, the brothers haven’t agreed on a plot of land yet. However, by the end of the tour, Heatzig was popping champagne.
“Once you’re on the water, it’s hard to come back,” Jordan said. “You pay for permanent leave.”