Engel & Völkers Intelligence

Waterfront Properties

From property to yachting, we specialize in waterfront lifestyles all over the world

Whether your dream day on the water involves a docked yacht or a residence overlooking a private beach, it’s important to work with the right trusted Advisor as you seek out a waterfront property.

Engel and Völkers Private Office Advisors specialize in waterfront lifestyles all over the world, from Santa Monica to Miami, Mallorca to Switzerland. Here are the latest trends and insights from some of our waterfront experts.

A growing interest in life on the water

Interest in waterfront property spiked in 2020, as many looked for hobbies and lifestyle changes that could sustain them during an uncertain time. “In the last two years, there’s been a 30% increase in yacht purchases, and the average age of owners has dropped 10 years. The pace has been frenetic, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing,” said Walter Johnson, the president of Engel and Völkers Yachting Americas based in California and Florida.

Our advisors across many waterfront markets agree, saying that they’ve seen price records get broken over and over in recent years. One reason for this, said Mallorca Private Office Advisor Karen Lauhus, is that the high demand is coupled with limited development opportunities. “The coastline on the island of Mallorca — and in any oceanfront market — is limited, and building regulations have become a lot stricter. Therefore, the prices have gone up considerably and waterfront properties have proven to be great investments.”

In Miami, Private Office Advisor Magnus Jennemyr shares that high-end buyers are beginning to expand their search beyond single-family homes, to include condos or penthouses. “People are also beginning to ask, ‘What is second-best? What can I have that’s nearest the water, even if it isn’t right on the waterfront?’” says Jennemyr.

Strategizing with waterfront buyers

As the waterfront market experiences staggering growth in demand and prices, our Advisors seek to find their clients homes that match their needs and budget. Part of this work is to help their clients understand this smaller, niche market and how it differs from areas or cities that are more familiar to them.

“I work with a lot of East Coast buyers and I tell them, the prices are high in both places — but your choices are different. You may not save money per square foot in moving to southern California from the heart of New York City, but you will have a very different choice of property types, including ones that may suit your needs better.”
Sandra Miller, Private Office Advisor, Santa Monica

Miller typically works with southern California buyers who are seeking homes in the $5-15 million range, and many are planning to buy and hold their property for a longer period of time. For these clients, the desire to live in and enjoy the home (and its waterfront) may be more important than its eventual resale value. Together, they set their sights on finding a home that feels like the best natural fit, in terms of architecture, space, community, waterfrontage and more.

When working with buyers who plan to sell in just a few years, however, Miller recommends they first narrow their search down to the most exclusive neighborhoods or cities. “There are areas that I would call ‘A or A+, where home values never really fluctuate or go down. I advise clients who plan to move in a few years to search there, so they can protect themselves against potential losses.”

The priorities of waterfront buyers

While some buyers may be willing to adjust their criteria for waterfront properties, others are adjusting their budget for the right property. “There are also buyers who are willing to throw money at the problem until they find the right home,” said Jennemyr.
Aside from being water-adjacent, top priorities for high-end waterfront buyers include:

  • Complete privacy
  • Unobscured views
  • Sun exposure
  • Docking for watercraft
  • Luxury amenities
  • Proximity to an airport

“When we are working with yachting clients, we often work with the yacht as a starting point. There aren’t a lot of 100-foot docks in Newport Beach, but there are more in Florida — so, their yacht can lead them to a life in Florida. In other cases, we’ve seen buyers who love a house so much that they find a yacht to fit the house and its dock!”
Leeann Iacino, Chief Operating Officer, Engel and Völkers Yachting Americas

Listing and marketing a waterfront property

When engaged to sell a publicly listed waterfront property, our Advisors put together a high-end marketing campaign that can include:

  • Aerial or drone photography
  • Video tours
  • Virtual floor plans
  • Social media
  • Emails and newsletters
  • Luxury magazine ads
  • Digital promotion

If the seller has requested an off-market sale, Advisors use the Engel & Völkers Private Office portal to network their listings worldwide. “We use the portal to advertise private listings discreetly, and we also receive referrals from other offices. It’s very confidential, personal work and it’s always appreciated on our clients’ side,” said Anja Beck of Zug, Switzerland.

“We set up a digital package, including a private website, for our properties. When buyers are interested and vetted, they’re given a password for it so they can share the property with friends or family — without the property being publicly accessible.”

Scott Piercy and Jim LeBlanc, Private Office Advisors, Victoria, British Columbia 

Connecting with the right buyer

Private Office Advisors tend to have enviable networks, each distinct based on their location or client base. Jennemyr has worked with tech and crypto clients, while Walt and Leeann attend yacht shows to stay up-to-date on yacht design and ownership trends. Additionally, Advisors worldwide are consistently in touch with one another, sharing properties and opportunities.

“We have a Rolodex of private office clients already, and that’s very compelling to a seller,” said Jennemyr. Beck agreed, saying that in her Swiss market, deals regularly come together from her database of interested local and international buyers. “We contact buyers very quickly, and we alert them in advance that they’ll need to show proof of funds so that decisions can be made quickly on both sides.”

“The strength of the Engel & Völkers network and brand is undeniable. We are able to work and specialize in areas that many other brokerages simply cannot — whether in waterfront properties, yachting, or by networking among our international clients.”

Karen Lauhus, Private Office Advisor, Mallorca