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March 3, 2007

Most Expensive Beachfront Homes

FORBES -- May 3, 2007 | Matt Woolsey

Break out the flip-flops and swim trunks, beach season is right around the corner. The only question is — in which of the country’s crop of uber-luxe beachfront homes to invest?

A $40 million, 22,000 square foot mansion on a secluded island in the Pacific Northwest or Shaquille O’Neal’s house on Miami’s Star Island?

Decisions, decisions.

“Every location has its own distinct personality,” says Steve diFrancesco, a broker at Hunter Reed and Company, a Philadelphia-based luxury real estate company with listings in Nantucket. “Nantucket is very affluent, but very low-key. High net worth people seek the places which match their personality.”

Or, put the east to your stern and head to Hawaii. There, in the shadow of Maua Kea buy a $31 million beachfront mansion on 11 acres of shoreline and spend your days playing golf and swimming in your private cove.

For the sunshine sans sunburn, a 16,490 square foot, Seattle-area Georgian mansion might be the answer. Perched atop a secluded bluff, the 1920’s home boasts a home theatre and a formal ballroom, should a full day of kayaking exceed your level of SPF.

Beachfront property might be among the most sought-after, but that doesn’t mean it sells the quickest.

“Agents who sell in coastal areas love the waterfront listings because they are the top of the market,” says Harry DiOrio, the Prudential Douglas Elliman broker for a $33 million Shelter Island manor. “But since it sells for a higher price, easily twice the price as one not on the beach, it isn’t necessarily easier to sell.”

Double might seem like an anectdotal overstatement, but there’s just something about the sound of the waves that loosens buyers’ purse strings. In Nantucket, a waterfront lot smaller than an acre just sold for $5 million, a record price per acre, according to DiFrancesco. The interior lot sold for less than half that.

“(On Nantucket) waterfront property draws the highest level of interest from high net worth buyers,” DiFrancesco says. “As a long term investment asset, waterfront properties will always command the highest values.”