February 6, 2023

A view of the new island home built by Stearns Custom Builders. Photo by Derrick Stearns
Stearns Custom Builders owner Derrick Stearns is thrilled to have built a luxury island home in St. James City, which recently sold for $5.4 million — one of the highest grossing residential real estate sales on Pine Island, to date.
Stearns describes the transaction as mind boggling.
“We feel like we raise the bar of quality and we raise the bar on experience as far as what is being built here residentially on Pine Island,” Stearns said. “Our vision is that our homes have exceeded the history, as far as dollar amount, as far as the investment that the clients are making. We’ve always said that at some point in time, the sales are going to prove it.”
Real estate prices on the island, he said, are increasing dramatically as they are seeing the value of local homes via market comparables, which are used to support the appraisal of a piece of property. This helps Realtors sell homes and also helps builders, like Stearns, sell projects, since most homes purchased must be approved for a loan and those loans are granted based on appraisals, which must have comparables in the same range to be approved.
“This one blows the comps out of the water and it raises the bar for future real estate investments, sales and deals here on the island,” Stearns said.
Interior view of the island home built recently by Stearns Custom Builders. Photo by Derrick Stearns
Stearns Custom Builders is on the forefront, building higher end luxury custom homes for islanders, said Stearns. This is vital as outsiders may begin to see the island as a more viable investment. The market, he said, is finally catching up to the work his company has been doing to help the island competes with growing numbers in the world of real estate.
“I’m a born and raised Pine Island native. I love this island. I’ve been here my whole life and I love the old Florida charm of this island. This home is not our traditional style, and this is not Stearns Custom Builders trying to promote big development on Pine Island. We are just trying to highlight the quality and finished product of the homes that we build. This sale is proof of that. We are outperforming the market with the sales of our homes and this one is icing on the cake,” Stearns said.
Entering this kind of market, he says, is not just good for Stearns Custom Builders, but also for island Realtors, landscapers, and palm groves. The trickle-down effect on the economy from real estate sales like this one will ultimately benefit everyone.

Stearns emphasizes the importance of keeping regulations in place to maintain the charm of the island, although as a builder he finds himself wrestling statutes, such as the building height requirement, these regulations are what help keep the island from hazards, such as overpopulation.
“These restrictions need to be in place or we will become Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach and I don’t want to see that,” Stearns said.
Interior view of the island home built recently by Stearns Custom Builders. Photo by Derrick Stearns
Stearns Custom Builders is located at 5400 Pine Island Road, Suite B, Bokeelia. Call 239-283-5597 for information.
The Veterans of Foreign War, VFW Post 4353 and VFW Post 4353 Auxiliary, 8150 Stringfellow Road, St. James City, are …
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