Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is raising the sport’s profile not only in Miami but the U.S.—and his purchase of a $10.75 million estate is now drawing curious eyes from around the world to a gated community he now calls home in Fort Lauderdale.
When the 36-year-old forward signed with Inter Miami CF earlier this summer—fresh off his victory during the World Cup in Qatar last year—Messi Mania hit Miami, with stalwart fans and the newly initiated lining up for tickets and merch. Although the real estate market may not go quite as crazy, it’s not immune to the hype, industry experts said.
“A buyer with a massive international following is a magnet for attention, and ever since the news broke that Messi was house hunting in Fort Lauderdale, and then closed on a home in Bay Colony, all eyes have been on the area,” said Chad Carroll with the Carroll Group at Compass. “A new high-profile neighbor like Messi will up the ante for the neighborhood, which is already one of the most exclusive in the city.”
Bay Colony is an island community of about 100 waterfront mansions that attracts boating enthusiasts and those who want maximum security, as it is guard-gated 24 hours a day, Carroll added. The average price for a home in the area is $4.6 million, according to Zillow.
The attention brought to the area by Messi, who purchased the nearly 10,500-square-foot mansion with his wife, model Antonela Roccuzzo, can definitely “create a stronger demand in the community and create a new price benchmark for future sales,” according to Samuel and Donna Simpkin of Compass’s Team Simpkin, who represented Messi and Roccuzzo and are the exclusive real estate agents for the Inter Miami CF.
But others note that while a buyer with a bold-faced name may bring attention to the area, it’s not likely to move the needle in terms of prices, according to Ron Shuffield, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty.
“Buyers aren’t necessarily going to spend a million dollars more because they’re living next door to a celebrity,” he said. “It’s a collective, positive stamp for a neighborhood, and it certainly adds to the reason why people might want to move to said location or why it might be more of a draw … people may be more interested in living in that enclave because the celebrity singled it out for its status and offerings.”
In addition, Shuffield noted the popularity of the Fort Lauderdale area—beyond just Bay Colony.
“While Miami will always be the global brand of South Florida, our sister cities—from the southernmost tip of Key West to the northern reaches of Palm Beach County—have continued to grow in their appeal among consumers,” he said. “Fort Lauderdale is a prime example of this. City leadership has been proactive in moving Ft. Lauderdale from what was foreseen for so many years as a spring break haven to a thriving economic center and a top destination for permanent residents.”
Messi’s entrance on the scene is pushing even more new infrastructure—stadium plans.
“Messi moving to South Florida has been big news, and it has absolutely impacted everything,” Cyril Bijaoui of the Corcoran Group said in a statement, noting that even the progress of Inter Miami’s stadium development has finally broken ground. “This will absolutely have a positive effect on future sales within the community and nearby.”
The home was sold in an off-market deal by Jennifer Abbott with ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.
The property last sold in 2022 for $9 million, according to records with PropertyShark. The sellers—who made about a 20% return—were not available for comment. She declined to comment.
The eight-bedroom, nine-and-a-half bathroom home was built in 1988 and designed by Toronto-based designer Lori Morris, according to a 2022 listing. There’s 170 feet of water frontage, as well as two docks, a fitness and spa room, an office and a 1,600-square-foot primary bedroom suite, the listing said. Rais did not immediately return a request for comment.
“Homes in Bay Colony don’t trade often so inventory is limited and I think Messi’s purchase will cause prices to skyrocket,” Carroll said. “It is one of the few neighborhoods with 24-hour armed security, and is less than a mile from one of the most prestigious private schools in South Florida.”