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Bullish on real estate

Steve Hanson

Steve Hanson is bullish on waterfront real estate.

And if you stand on the south end of Longboat Key looking across the water at the multi-million dollar homes on Westway Drive, you will see Hanson’s efforts. There he is busy building the first of 14 multi-million dollar waterfront homes that he plans to bring to market over the next two years.

The former British equities trader, who applies economic rationality to development with the passion of a 38-year-old, said that although he is out of the trend, it is the most opportune time to come to market.

“This is a calculated risk, but I run numbers inside and out,” said Hanson.

Hanson said the Westway Drive home will be 5,600 square feet and five bedrooms but will not be a Mediterranean mansion. He says the demand for that style among the top-tier homebuyers has waned. He refers to the homes he is building as British West Indies in style.

Hanson said today’s buyer wants a beautiful home that they can live in with a view like they are standing in a ship window. Hanson said he has seven parcels already owned and under development with two parcels on Westway Drive, as well as parcels on Longboat, Casey Key, Lido, Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island.

Hanson bought the Westway Drive property in 2010 and successfully subdivided it into two buildable parcels. The home under construction will have drywall and paint finished by the busy season, and he plans to sell the property in the mid-$6 million range.

Hanson said that price point of about $1,200 per square foot is commensurate with similar exclusive properties in the region.

Hanson’s connection to the region harkens to his childhood when his family would vacation to Anna Maria Island. He says the development opportunities are “tremendous” in Sarasota and that for a man who was born in the northern port town of Liverpool working however intensely in Sarasota “is almost like retirement, if you could call this work.” He cites the weather and beaches as evidence.

In total, Hanson is developing 14 spec homes under his company Modus, with the Westway Drive home the first to come to market.

“My strategy is to build the least expensive new construction in the most desirable locations, ” said Hanson.

When asked if he second-guessed being an anomaly in a market that has spent the last three years trying to sell off an over abundance of inventory, Hanson quips: “Only dead fish go with the flow.”

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