Engel & Völkers’ Beau Blankenship says he attributes selling a mid-construction home at a record-breaking price point in the Florida Panhandle to having a strong network, acquiring a good share of listings in his market and representing a unique property.

Time and again, NAR statistics have shown that the vast majority of real estate agents’ clients say they would rehire their agent for a future transaction. But the key to repeat business is staying in touch with and staying in front of those past clients.

That’s something that proved crucial for Beau Blankenship of the Blankenship Group at Engel & Völkers 30A Beaches in a record-breaking deal he’s closing this week that will blow previous sales records in the Florida Panhandle out of the water.

The property, which is still under construction, is selling for $24 million and is located in an exclusive neighborhood called Paradise by the Sea between Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach. Until now, the priciest sale in the Panhandle was a $16.9 million property sold in Alys Beach in March 2021.

The sellers are former clients of Blankenship’s, Alabama-based attorney Mike Slocumb and wife Heidi Slocumb — Blankenship actually helped them originally acquire the lot the property’s being built on — and told Blankenship, that if he could find them a buyer at a certain price point, they had a deal.

At the end of the day, Blankenship says he attributes selling a not-yet-completed home at a record-breaking price point in the Florida Panhandle to having a strong network, acquiring a good share of listings in his market, and representing a unique, personalized property.

Building a strong network

“I think, ultimately, it comes down to just being connected,” Blankenship told Inman.

When his past clients reached out to Blankenship about the opportunity to sell the home that was still several months away from completion, Blankenship turned to his network and started shopping it around off-market among qualified buyers.

“We did a whisper listing, where we just kind of let some people know about it,” Blankenship said. “So [we] just kind of shopped it around to some of the high-end clients and agents down here and were able to come together on it.”

The property went under contract with a buyer very quickly after Blankenship started shopping it around, but that buyer ultimately fell through. Then Blankenship located the couple who ended up becoming the property’s final buyers, who weren’t even actively looking for a new home when he approached them about the property. (The buyers wish to remain anonymous.)

“They live in the neighborhood just next door, which isn’t as quiet [and] you don’t have as much land,” Blankenship explained. “They were kind of entertaining [the idea], ‘Hey, maybe we’ll come over to this neighborhood,’ and so, they kind of fell in love with it when they saw it … it’s kind of an emotional purchase for them. They weren’t constantly or actively searching, it just kind of happened.”

Rendering of the home’s exterior | Credit: David Warren

Becoming a listing leader in the market

Over the years, Blankenship has built up his business such that other agents know to turn to his team when they can’t find the inventory their clients want. He said that kind of reputation was key to helping him attract attention for this new build.

“People come to me because we have a bunch of the listing inventory down here — the high-end stuff — so they can reach out to us [and ask] ‘Hey, anything come up in this price point? This price point?'” Blankenship explained. “I’m able to pivot people — buyers and agents — to this product because we have a bunch of inventory.”

Becoming a listing leader during a challenging time for buyers has helped Blankenship and his team gain a lot of clout and power when it comes to matching people with the right property for them.

“In this scarce inventory market, if you control the listings, people are going to come to you for off-market stuff,” Blankenship said. “Being able to kind of solidify yourself in that network — the high-net-worth people, and the high-end listings, and controlling most of the inventory, the new product, the new builds, kind of trying to be a leader in that space — people will come to you for product, and that makes it easy to pair certain buyers with deals.”

Rendering of the primary suite’s Gulf view | Credit: David Warren

Representing a personalized property

Selling a new home that’s not yet completed can be a “very delicate situation,” Blankenship noted. One factor that helped provide assurance to the buyers is that the homebuilder is well-established in the area, and Blankenship had a robust portfolio of quality homes the builder had completed in the past to reference as proof of their past work.

On top of that, the home was a passion project for the sellers, so the property’s features were very thoughtful and marketable, Blankenship said.

“They ultimately were building their dream home,” Blankenship said. “And I think they put some really good touches on it that made them able to achieve this price point because it wasn’t just a spec home — it was a personal home that they had special detail on.”

The nearly 10,000-square-foot waterfront property has nine bedrooms, eight full baths and two half-baths. Some of its more unique features include a movie theater, a Gulf of Mexico-facing pool, a wine room, a primary bedroom suite surrounded by glass with Gulf views, a home gym and a carriage house, as well as a three-car garage.

Plus, with the home not yet completed, the buyers now have the opportunity to choose some of the final finishes on the home, which can also be a selling point.

“It takes a specific buyer to want to finish a home their way,” Blankenship said. “But … it’s such a unique property in this neighborhood that it was kind of a must-have for somebody, and we kind of checked all those boxes and got them comfortable.”

Rendering of the lounge area of one of the home’s bedrooms | Credit: David Warren

A breakdown of the deal

The property: 115 Paradise By The Sea, Inlet Beach, Florida

The ask: Undisclosed

Days on market: 0 — off-market property

Number of offers: 2

What it sold for: $24 million

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Email Lillian Dickerson

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