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Behold the Most Expensive Residential Sale of Sarasota County

Listed for just under $34 million last year, this Harbor Acres waterfront home sold for $20 million—cash.

The priciest Sarasota County residential sale ever—the Taylor Swift, the Beyonce, the G.O.A.T. of local real estate—has officially been recorded.

A single-family home at 1233 Hillview Drive in Sarasota’s ritzy Harbor Acres neighborhood sold for $20 million in March. Million-dollar sales have only ever reached the teens prior to this one—the county’s previous top sale fetched $17.5 million in 2022.

Oh, and by the way, this was a cash deal.

And yes, a $20 million sale is eye-popping for this area. However, it’s actually a great deal considering how much the home was originally listed for. We wrote about it last year when it hit the market as the most expensive residential listing in Sarasota County, with an almost $34 million asking price. With that perspective, a nearly 41 percent price drop is a big win for a buyer. (It’s similar to when a Casey Key home ultimately sold for $12 million as opposed to its $20 million asking price.)

The home is located on almost an acre just south of downtown Sarasota, a neighborhood where home sales have already broken records. A double-lot home built in 2005, also on Hillview Drive, is the one that sold for $17.5 million in 2022, making it the highest recorded single-family home sale in our two-county area at the time. Another home in the same neighborhood, built in 2010, sold for $15.5 million that same year.

But this two-story, eight-bedroom, 12-bathroom waterfront home had the advantage of being new construction—it was built in 2022. The seller, SRQ Hillview Holdings, was deeded the property by Cross State Real Estate Services—both are Atlanta, Georgia-based LLCs—for $1 after purchasing it in 2019 from local philanthropist Margaret Wise for $9.85 million.

As for the buyer? Well, the sale is tied up in a trust, with a local lawyer listed as the trustee, according to county records.

But while we’re envisioning pharmaceutical lords, oil barons, mob bosses or sports stars moving in, realtors on both sides of the transaction have been sworn to silence. What we do know is that Bibi-Ann Allard of Michael Saunders & Co. brought forth the elusive buyer.

The seller connected to SRQ Hillview Holdings is Sean Belnick, who founded BizChair in 2001 as a teen. The company distributed office chairs online after Belnick had some success on eBay selling Pokemon cards. BizChair has since expanded and clocks sales superseding $300 million a year.

Amid all the silence from the realtors, we can give you some background on the home from a previous interview with listing agent Barbara May of Michael Saunders & Co., who spoke with us when it was listed last year.

Before the new home was built, philanthropist Margaret Wise lived in a 1990 Colonial-style home on the lot for 20 years. “It didn’t have the big, open layout and kitchen that people prefer nowadays,” May told us. The current home, now British West Indies in style, was custom-built by Perrone Construction for between $1,200 per square foot to $1,500 per square foot—but those numbers don’t include the cost of finishes and demolition. In total, the house is 11,275 square feet, bringing building costs to roughly $14 million.

People who toured the home noted that it feels “comfortable and sophisticated, but not stuffy,” May said. Even amid the top-of-the-line finishes and detailed work, she noted, “you could put your feet up and not feel bad about it.”

Still, the real jaw-dropper is the view. “The view of the bridge and the water is spectacular,” she said.

The home wasn’t built on spec; it was intended to be the homeowners’ second address. “But they found that with their schedules, they couldn’t get here enough, and it didn’t make sense [to keep it],” May said. “It was tough for them to put on the market. They once owned a home in Lido Shores, but the beauty of Harbor Acres is that it’s walkable to Southside Village and so close to downtown.”

The home has all the latest tech, with mosquito spray automation and Lutron and Crestron systems. It also comes with more than 140 feet of direct water frontage.

It’s got multiple bay-facing terraces and indoor-outdoor spaces including a clubroom with a bar, lounge and media area, a multi-tiered overflow pool and spa, an outdoor kitchen, and loads of gathering areas overlooking the bay.

The main level spans 8,200 square feet and includes a family room, mudroom, playroom, club room, gym, primary suite and scullery. A three-bedroom guest suite has a lounge area, a patio, and a private entry. The second floor spans nearly 3,100 square feet and there’s an elevator to get to it if you need it. On the Intracoastal, a dock leads to a 27,000-lb. boat lift and 4,500-lb. dual jet ski lift. You get to those after walking past the saltwater pool and spa, with fire bowls, a sun shelf and an outdoor kitchen, dining and lounge area.

One last word on that original almost-$34 million listing price. “I think we’ve been underpriced for years,” May told us. “When you look at Palm Beach or Port Royal in Naples, they’ve had [these price points] for a long time. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be there, too. This is a beautiful city, full of access to the arts. If this house was in Naples, it would be $50 million.”

Looks like we’re on our way.

Courtesy of Sarasota Magazine

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