Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Naked Truth About This Peculiar Niche
Jackie Youngblood strips it down for her clients in a surprising market: nudist communities.
August 6, 2014
When Jackie Youngblood meets new clients, she makes sure to maintain eye contact — because if she looks down, she’ll get an eyeful. Chances are her clients aren’t wearing any clothes.
“A lot of times, my clients are nude when I pick them up for an appointment,” Youngblood says. “Or they’ll ask if they can take their clothes off and see what it would really be like to live in a home. I say, ‘Sure!’” (Of course, that's after Youngblood has gotten permission from the sellers.)
Some might think Youngblood’s business is kind of funny, but there’s no funny business happening here. Youngblood, an agent with Keller Williams Tampa Properties in Tampa, Fla., is working a peculiar niche: nudist real estate. Nearby Pasco County is known as the nudist capital of North America because of its 12 or so clothing-optional resorts, and Youngblood has become a go-to agent for nudists looking to buy and live in communities with like-minded people.
Nudist communities are typically gated, resort-like neighborhoods where the clothes come off only within the community’s parameters. Youngblood sells in high-end communities that often feature a clubhouse, tennis courts, volleyball courts, pools, and outdoor bars. One, called The Woods, is a high-end RV community.
“It’s just such a big business, the nudist lifestyle,” says Youngblood, who is a nudist herself along with her husband. “There are people from their late 20s and early 30s right on up to 85 and 90 years old.”
Exposing the Lifestyle to a Larger Audience
Just how big is the nudist niche? Well, in the first six months of this year, Youngblood sold 22 properties at prices ranging from $135,000 to $800,000. Though Youngblood does sell to “textiles” — an affectionate term for nonnudists — she estimates that nudist clients make up 85 percent to 90 percent of her business. Most are either purchasing a second home or retiring in the community, she says.
“Many are buying in cash,” Youngblood adds. “Most of them are businesspeople who have watched their money over the years — and when they want something, they get it.”
Nudist real estate has become so popular in the area that it’s even caught the attention of television network TLC. In October 2013, Youngblood signed on to have her work life filmed as she shows properties to clients — who are very much in the buff during the showings. The show, “Buying Naked,” which airs on TLC at 11 p.m. on Saturdays, chronicles Youngblood as she helps nudist couples hunting for the perfect home in clothing-optional communities. Watch a clip of the show below.
(WARNING: The below video depicts some nudity.)
But you won’t get a glimpse of Youngblood’s goodies.
“I promised my kids I wouldn’t get nude on TV,” says the grandmother of eight, laughing. “But also, if you’re a businesswoman like me, you dress like one. I feel better wearing clothes when I’m working; I feel more professional. When I take my clothes off, I’m ready to go by the pool and relax.”
From a Client to a Salesperson
Youngblood got into the business of nudist real estate after she and her husband retired to the Tampa area to live the clothing-optional lifestyle themselves in 2001. The appeal of the nudist lifestyle, she says, is the simplicity it brings to life.
“It’s the freedom. You know, we live such stressful lives,” she says. “When you can go home and take it all off or go into the community and not worry about what you’re wearing or not wearing — it’s just a stress-free lifestyle. And the people are fantastic.”
It wasn’t long before Youngblood realized how much demand there was for homes in nudist communities. She decided to get her real estate license and start catering to nudist clients in 2004. Being a nudist herself and knowing many people in nudist communities helped her find success in the niche.
“People trust me, and they know I know what I’m talking about,” she says. “My business is just referrals, referrals, referrals.”
When the housing bubble burst in 2008, her business was hardly affected, she adds. “I saw some downturn with nonnudists, but with the nudists, I didn’t really feel it. The demand has always been there.”
Working With Nudists
Dealing with nudist clients requires specific etiquette, chiefly: “Don’t look down,” Youngblood says. “Let them know you’re interested in what they have to say. This is a very private, respectful lifestyle that we have to be discreet about.”
One item to keep handy during appointments is towels.
“I would cringe if they sat on furniture without a towel,” Youngblood says. “So you always have to have towels in your car in case they forget theirs.” Many sellers of homes in nudist communities leave towels out for buyers to use during showings, she adds.
There are also particular home features that nudists look for. Though it may seem counterintuitive, privacy is one of their major concerns, Youngblood says. The point of nudism is not to be gawked at.
“They don’t want everyone walking by and looking at them, so they like lots of shrubbery and things that can offer a shield,” she says. “It’s also to be respectful of their neighbors.”
Nudists also like to entertain, so they prefer open floor plans, pools, and nice views,Youngblood says.
But there is a certain hazard that nudists need to look out for in the kitchen. “When you’re walking around in your home naked, you don’t want the sharp edges on kitchen countertops,” Youngblood says. “You want rounded edges.” (Just for good measure, she has a word of advice to nudists who like to cook at home: “Wear an apron!”)
And, of course, everyone wants a bidet. “If you’re going to be nude in public, you want to be clean,” she says with a laugh.
Fitting in With the Rest of the World
One of the harder parts of Youngblood’s job is introducing her nudist clients to nonnudist businesspeople who can help them with their transactions, such as lenders and home inspectors. She often hosts networking events that bring her clients together with others from the real estate world.
“I want my sellers and buyers to see who they’re working with, not just interact over e-mail,” Youngblood says. But it does require some coaching to get nonnudists to intermingle. “They’re not used to seeing it. It’s not a part of their everyday life.”
When it comes to clients, she also has a way of distinguishing between looky-loos and serious buyers. She’s often dealt with people who are simply curious about how nudists live. To weed them out, she’ll ask questions such as how long they’ve been nudists, why they want to live in a nudist community, and if they’re looking to finance or pay in cash. Those who aren’t serious about it are often stumped for an answer, she says.
Overall, Youngblood says she sees herself as an educator, helping people learn more about the nudist lifestyle. She says she was shocked to learn that many nonnudist locals were completely ignorant of the vibrant nudist world in Pasco County. Bringing more awareness and appreciation for the nudist lifestyle is primarily what attracted her to start a business in nudist real estate.
“We’re people just like everybody else — we just don’t wear clothes,” she says. “I would never push the lifestyle on anyone, but I just want people to know that we’re not a bunch of weird people behind those gates.”