Real Estate Go$$ip

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Neighborhood Watch Up, up and away in downtown Sarasota Sarasota’s downtown is transforming before our eyes into a vibrant mecca of galleries, theaters, restaurants and retail stores. Add in one luxury hotel, new office towers and professional buildings, and the landscape changes even more. Selby Gardens and the beautiful bayfront are still here, of course, […]


Neighborhood Watch

Up, up and away in downtown Sarasota

Sarasota’s downtown is transforming before our eyes into a vibrant mecca of galleries, theaters, restaurants and retail stores. Add in one luxury hotel, new office towers and professional buildings, and the landscape changes even more. Selby Gardens and the beautiful bayfront are still here, of course, but now they are backyard and backdrop for a burgeoning number of sleek, luxurious condominiums designed for residents who want to live in the heart of the bustling city.

NUMBER OF DOWNTOWN CONDOMINIUM COMMUNITIES: 51

NUMBER OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS UNDER WAY: 35

SQUARE FOOTAGE RANGE: 570 to 8,111 square feet

NUMER OF SALES 12/2003-12/2004: 3,643

AVERAGE SALES PRICE 12/2003-12/2004: $357,288

HIGHEST SALES PRICE 12/2003-12/2004: $5.8 million

Sample Sale

A two-bedroom, two-bath Sarabande condominium at 340 S. Palm Ave. sold recently for $1 million, up from the original asking price of $995,000. The sixth-floor corner unit was built in 1998. Linda Driggs and Debbie Coleman of Michael Saunders & Company were the sales agents. Previous sales: (2002) $825,000; (1999) $540,000.

Sample Listing

A contemporary furnished seventh-floor condominium at Beau Ciel, 990 Boulevard of the Arts, is offered for $1.995 million by Cheryl Loeffler of Prudential Palms Realty. The 3,100-square-foot condo has three bedrooms and three baths and a community boat dock.

MLS statistics courtesy of Cheryl Loeffler and Richard Nicolosi of Prudential Palms Realty. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Top of the Market

The highest sale price for a residential listing in Sarasota County in December-$4.9 million-goes to a bayfront estate property and a home still under construction at the time of closing. Designed by Las Casitas and built by Homes by DeRamo, the 7,000-square-foot residence (with garage space for 8 cars) is on a 1.44-acre lot with 165 feet of bayfront at 1726 Questar Lane. Tracy DeRamo of Michael Saunders & Company’s Siesta Key office was the selling agent.

Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie and Tracy DeRamo of Michael Saunders & Company.

Crystal Ball Gazing

Just how crazy is the current real estate market? During the last six months, Michael Bowers of Prudential Palms Realty’s South Trail office has sold every one of his Palmer Ranch listings in 24 hours or less-and all for full price. Bowers says some properties have been snapped up within one hour of hitting MLS, and the lack of product has realtors and their clients waiting in line.

Recently, Bowers had an experience that still has him shaking his head. "A Palmer Ranch homeowner called me and expressed interest in selling her home," explains Bowers. "I ran a thorough CMA [comparative market analysis] and came up with a price that I felt was strong, yet fair for the buyer. My seller took a look at the number and frowned. She then told me her psychic had predicted a much higher sales price. Somehow, I kept from laughing as she told me her psychic’s price was $100,000 higher than mine." Bowers’ attempts at reason and rational argument failed, and the seller insisted he go with the higher figure. Four hours after the property was listed, Bowers received two separate offers for full price. "I now joke that I will never run a CMA again," he laughs. "I’m just going to call a psychic."

Speculate on Estancia Del Mar

A Longboat Key spec home that will take two years to build and probably cost more than $8 million is the dream child of Bluewater Construction, a Corvus International Company.

The five-bedroom Addison Mizner-inspired estate home, called Estancia Del Mar, will feature an infinity-edge resort-style swimming pool, yacht dock, sweeping patios and loggias, outdoor fireplace and summer kitchen. A two-story fireplace, professional gourmet kitchen, paneled library, home theater, wine room, pub room and elevator are planned.

Bluewater Construction director of design Bruce T. Linthicum calls Sarasota’s spec home market "fabulous. There’s a buyer out there who doesn’t wish to be immersed in the building process, who seeks to avoid the six months of concept discussions and reviews followed by six months of permitting and then the actual time to build the residence which can last for years. In lieu of such a long and tedious process, this buyer wants to open the door, walk in, fall in love and write the check. We’re building Estancia Del Mar for this buyer."

And any worry over finding a buyer is eradicated by Sarasota’s market strength. As homes continue to appreciate 18 to 20 percent each year, Estancia Del Mar actually makes more for its investors if allowed to sit out there for a time. "A buddy of mine built a spec home in Palm Beach," says Linthicum, "and decided he would price it at $34 million. Before completion, he got an offer for $29 million and I said, ‘Take it.’ But he said no and kept working. Not long after, before he could even get the place furnished, he got another offer and this time he said yes. The sale price was $38 million."

Castles in the Sand

Siesta Key’s Shell Road is the site for a new luxury residence designed by architect Cliff Scholz and built by Sandcastles of Sarasota. This 9,000-square-foot-plus estate will occupy nearly one acre of waterfront property overlooking Big Pass. Fourteen distinct living areas, including a 1,200-square-foot master suite, are planned.

Dubbed Solamenta Una Vez, which translates as "only once," the plush beachfront home will boast an interior coordinated by Romanza of Naples utilizing imported materials, superior craftsmanship and top-of-the-line finishes.

In 2003 Sandcastles sold a residence it created on New Pass for a record-setting $13.2 million. Sandcastles also partnered with international designer Adrienne Vittadini and husband Gigi to create a 6,500-square-foot residence on New Pass, currently listed with Michael Saunders & Company for around $9 million. Sandcastles also will build two homes in The Concession, a private community centered on a golf course designed by Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus. The new Shell Road home is expected to be completed by May 2006 and priced near $11 million.

Movin’ Out

Mike and Joan Parkinson are property and investment specialists with Michael Saunders & Company. But on their way to Sarasota they took a lot of turns in the road. "When we sold our home in Connecticut back in 1996, we both agreed we wanted to keep working but we didn’t know where," explains Mike. "So we decided to take a drive and look around.°± That "drive" took 18 months in a 34-foot motor home as the Parkinsons made their way to San Diego and Santa Barbara, Denver, Tucson, Vero Beach and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

"We put our furniture in storage, loaded the entire contents of our wine cellar into the motor home and packed a couple of suitcases. We were completely free, and it was wonderful," Mike says. And when they arrived in Sarasota, the Parkinsons agreed they had found their new home. At once, they started selling real estate and got involved with the symphony and the jazz club, too. "It was a wonderful way to discover where we wanted to live," says Mike. "I heartily recommend the experience."

Contemporary masterpiece

Klaus Lang of Michael Saunders & Company is looking for a buyer who wants to live inside a piece of art. His Ballantine Manor listing is a contemporary masterpiece that’s won architect Guy Peterson design awards and will still turn heads 30 years from now with its sophisticated minimalism and clean lines. Views of Sarasota Bay and Longboat Key are reflected in soaring glass walls. On the mainland just minutes from the Ringling Museum, the residence is offered for $6.25 million.

Old World Venice

A Venice residence built in the manner of an Old World villa features loggias and balconies overlooking Roberts Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. The elegant 3,400-square-foot European-styled home is located in The Anchorage, Venice’s finest gated waterfront community. Realtor Helen Moore describes it as warm, inviting and extremely livable, with gorgeous finishes and superior design. "This is not a mansion," says Moore, "but a gracious home on a private setting within a true neighborhood." The residence is offered for $2.75 million.

Premier Estate Advisors

Prudential Palms Realty has announced that Richard Nicolosi has joined Cheryl Loeffler and the team of Premier Estate Advisors, a marketing initiative combining expert real estate, marketing and financial experience. Nicolosi brings 30 years of global marketing and business expertise with Proctor & Gamble, Scott Paper and Samsonite. The team helps clients with significant net worth select properties that meet their needs in terms of financial gain as well as quality of life. Premier Estate Advisors has affiliated with a leading international financial institution and local law firm to help guide customers on how to maximize their real estate returns on investment.