Inside Sarasota Wealth The MultiMillionaire Next Door

Inside Sarasota Wealth The MultiMillionaire Next Door

Sarasota is attracting well-heeled newcomers at one of the fastest rates in the nation. Business journalist Rich Rescigno reports on who they are--and why they're coming.

Wealth voyeurism is a wonderful thing, at least for the media industry.Consider the popularity of the annual Forbes lists of the world’s richest people (current champ: Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, with $73 billion), TV’s long-running Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the movie The Wolf of Wall Street and the torrent of newspaper, magazine and Internet articles on rich athletes, actors, comedians, singers, hedge-fund chiefs, CEOs, politicians, investment bankers, lottery winners and heirs, preferably misbehaving ones.Sarasota has its share of notable rich, including mega-author Stephen King, TV reality-mayhem king Jerry Springer, entertainer Rosie O’Donnell, political gurus Mary Matalin and James Carville, baseball star Joey Votto, and investor Jeffrey Vinik, noted for owning the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and for recently tearing down a $4 million, 6,100-square-foot home on St. Armands Key to make way for something, presumably, much less confining.The typical person of wealth in Sarasota, however, is much more likely to be a millionaire-next-door type who built and sold a small business, had a lucrative career as a corporate executive, or simply did well in some profession and then moved here. Few covet the limelight. Says Michael Saunders, head of the real estate company that bears her name: “In Sarasota, there are some extremely wealthy people—there’s actually more wealth here today than there was pre-2005—but most don’t want to flaunt their wealth. If they wish for happy anonymity, they can find it here. If they don’t, there’s not a more social town.”How many wealthy—or in Wall Street’s tortured parlance, high-net-worth—individuals live here? According to Phoenix Marketing International, a Rhinebeck, N.Y., firm that tracks affluence trends for its clients, the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton federal metropolitan statistical area has 17,005 millionaire households, which it defines as those with at least $1 million in investable assets, not counting real estate or employer-sponsored retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. And 2,450 of these have $5 million or more. Based on real estate prices, family income and other factors, it’s likely that Sarasota County has at least 35 percent to 40 percent of these households, or 5,950 to 6,800 in the $1 million group and 860 to 980 in the $5 million. And Phoenix’s definition is conservative; other wealth watchers do include sponsored retirement plans and properties (except primary residences) in measuring assets. Doing that would balloon the numbers significantly.In any case, there are a lot of well-off folks in Sarasota, and many are here because of a powerful national trend.
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Dated: March 13th 2014
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