Homestead mansion with seven 'safe rooms' hits auction

A view of the Homestead mansion with seven safe rooms that is going up for auction this month.
A view of the Homestead mansion with seven safe rooms that is going up for auction this month. Auction Company of America

If you’ve ever wanted to live in a house with as many safe rooms as bedrooms, now’s your chance: an 8,152-square-foot mansion in Homestead that its owner bills as the “safest home” in South Florida will hit the auction block on April 12.

The house is listed at $2.5 million, meaning bids will probably start around $1 million.

The high price is unusual for rural southwest Miami-Dade County. A search of shows only two homes in the area with higher asking prices, both of which have been on the market for more than a year.

But the soon-to-be-auctioned house, which sits on 4.3 acres near the agricultural community of Redland, has an unusual quirk in addition to its seven bedrooms and bathrooms: seven hidden safe rooms accessible only to those who know the secret way in.

John Svadbik, a real estate broker who has owned the house since 2006, said he opted for an auction rather than a traditional listing because the safe rooms provided a “neat way to market it.”

“I don’t want to give everything away,” Svadbik said, “but for one of the rooms, there’s a little built-in shelf with DVD cases outside and if you pull on one of the DVDs it’s actually a lever that opens up this little hideaway.”

The other six rooms? Well, they’re staying a secret for now.

Tours of the house can be arranged through Jim Gall, president of the Auction Company of America, which is handling the sale. “An auction creates interest that a traditional sale doesn’t,” Gall said. “It brings buyers to the table who know that they can either pay in cash or that they have financing ready to go.”

Svadbik said the mansion — which he bought for $847,000, also at an auction organized by Gall — had become too expensive to maintain.

The safe rooms weren’t there when Svadbik first moved in.

“We though it would be nice to add a little mystery and magic to the house when we were remodeling,” said Svadbik, who ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature in the early 1990s. “After we built the first one, it was so much fun that we just decided to keep going.”

The rooms range in size from a closet to a small bedroom.

“We haven’t had to use them in an emergency yet, but it’s a secluded area and it’s nice to know you have a place to make a phone call and hide if something does happen,” Svadbik said. “And if my wife’s mad at me, they do make a good hideout until it blows over.”

The property, at 27550 SW 222nd Ave. in Homestead, also includes a half-length basketball court, a full-length tennis court and several koi ponds, as well as a 27-foot-tall scale model of the Washington Monument.