Top 10 residential real estate sales of 2012



From Illinois lottery winners to a Bernie Madoff investor, buyers came from around the globe to buy Southwest Florida’s 10 priciest homes in 2012.

Bucking a five-year trend toward foreign buyers seen since the region’s residential collapse, most were Americans.

“It wasn’t like the boom days, but what started as lamb finished as a lion,” said Michael Moulton, agent with brokerage firm Michael Saunders & Co. on Longboat Key. “I feel good about the luxury market. There’s a lot of money that’s been sitting on the sideline.”

The highest priced sales this year occurred predominantly on sandy keys or overlooking Sarasota’s downtown. Not a single Manatee County home cracked the top ten, despite Lakewood Ranch’s emergence as a luxury hotspot in 2012.

At least one home sale would have made the list save for its timing: A 7,400-square-foot home at 1219 Westway Dr. in Lido Shores sold for $6.35 million last week, but the Dec. 28 deal was not yet officially recorded by the Sarasota County Clerk of the Court’s office.

The largest recorded residential real estate deal of 2012 was made by Merle and Patricia Butler.

The married couple, from the small town of Red Bud, Ill., won the largest lottery prize in U.S. history in April, when they cashed in one of three tickets for a $656 million Mega Million jackpot. Their share was $157.8 million.

In October, the newly minted multimillionaires bought an 8,433-square-foot house on Hillview Drive, in Sarasota’s Harbor Acres neighborhood, for $7.5 million.

The previous owner had paid $3 million for the land in December 2006, and built the house two years later.

The gated, two-story mansion features 100 feet of Sarasota Bay shoreline, mature oak trees, an infinity-edge pool, 7,000 square feet of outdoor entertaining space and a three-car garage.

The sale was the largest ever in Harbor Acres.

“What brought them to the areas was Sarasota itself; that was the attraction,” said Louis Wery, an agent with Coldwell Banker that represented the Butlers. “The finishes are outstanding, and the waterfront views are just extraordinary. I showed them 15 properties from Casey key to north Longboat, and we came back to this home.”

The year’s runner-up for expense also featured a waterfront view.

Borgelt Florida LLC, a New York City company managed by Linda Watson, bought a 6,618-square-foot home at 1255 Westway Dr., on Lido Key, for $7.1 million in April. The previous owners paid $8.9 million in November 2004, court records show.

The five-bedroom, six-bathroom estate — with a private beach — was built in 2001.

Locals also played a role in acquiring high-end real estate this past year.

Port Charlotte businesswoman Rajakumari Muppavarapu spent $5.77 million to buy a 6,572-square-foot estate on Casey Key, also in April. The home, built in 2008, features four bedrooms and sits on just over an acre.

Muppavarapu owns a commercial plaza in Charlotte County, a restaurant in Punta Gorda and several local gas stations, among her real estate investments. Her husband is a local doctor.

Originally from India, Muppavarapu has lived in Florida for 18 years. She chose the Casey Key home for its contemporary architecture, as well as the proximity to Sarasota’s arts and culture.

“My children go to school in Sarasota, but I have an office in Port Charlotte,” she said. “We just fell in love with the house and the area, but the main thing was for my children. I want them to experience the arts in Sarasota.”

Also in April, Cat Depot animal adoption center founders Kenneth and Linda Slavin bought a 7,726-square-foot house in Sarasota’s Cherokee Park subdivision for $5.35 million. The previous owner paid $3.2 million in May 1999.

With five bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms and a pool, the home sits on 1.3 acres with more than 220 feet of direct bay frontage.

The couple, who have lived in the area for more than three years, declined to comment.

Also in Sarasota, the Daniel J. Rutnik Trust in June bought an 8,111-square-foot unit in Sarasota’s Beau Ciel condominium tower for $5.6 million.

Rutnik is the president of Bender Lane Advisory LLC, a financial counseling company for corporate executives and other high net worth individuals.

He also was on a list of customers a court-appointed trustee found in the records of disgraced stockbroker Bernie Madoff’s wealth management firm, court records show.

Rutnik did not return several calls seeking comment.

On the region’s barrier islands, Charles H. Gifford III sold a 6,289-square-foot Bird Key house at 364 W. Royal Flamingo Dr. to Yi-Lan Yang for $4.7 million in August. It was the seventh-priciest sale of the year.

Yang could not be reached for comment.

Close behind, at No. 8, the Silverseas Land Trust acquired a 5,469-square-foot penthouse in the La Bellasara condo tower on Golden Gate Point for $4.63 million, in May. Former owner Gary D. Littlestar had paid $3.4 million in June 2008.

In June, Sharon Carole snagged 5,484-square-foot house on Casey Key in June for $4.924 million, ranking No. 6 in the region this year.

The PTO president at Sarasota’s Julie Rohr Academy and former Siesta Key resident also is a producer with Faced Productions, which produced its inaugural movie in 2011.

Her new four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath Casey Key home is blanketed with green ivy, overlooks a tropical patio and private pool and has a waterfront view.

Prominent developer and Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority member Henry Rodriguez had owned the home, which was built in 2005.

Carole did not return calls or emails for comment.

Also in Sarasota County, Mississippi consulting firm Results Inc. paid $4.45 million in February for a 6,628-square-foot house at 10 Sandy Hook Road on Siesta Key. The previous owners were Gene and Debra Garro.

Jag Soni, who is a certified family and civil case mediator in Florida, is listed as Results Inc.’s founder and managing member. Her company also has a Naples address.

The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home constructed in 1995, sits on a one-acre lot — room enough for its seven parking spaces.

Rounding out the list, Len and Laurie Mecca bought a 3,100-square-foot house at 4153 Higel Ave. — together with an adjacent vacant lot — on Siesta Key for $4.4 million in September.

The Avon, Conn., couple owns CLogic Defense, which specializing in military fabrication and has offices in Avon and New Jersey.

Len Mecca said he and his wife began shopping for a seasonal home on Marco Island a year ago, before moving their search north to Siesta. They plan to raze the existing home there and build a larger estate, and possibly move down from Connecticut in 2013.

“It’s rare to get two lots together on the water, so that was the attractiveness to us,” Mecca said. “It looked like it could handle what we wanted to build.”

Staff writer Michael Braga contributed to this report.

Last modified: December 31, 2012
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