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NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH Gracious Granada With its historic designation and narrow, Spanish-named streets, Granada is one of Sarasota’s oldest and most charming neighborhoods. Bounded by Bay Road, Almeria, Flores and Siesta Drive, the pretty little enclave has eager buyers elbowing each other out of the way. Manicured lawns and romantic walled courtyards surround cottages and bungalows […]


NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

Gracious Granada

With its historic designation and narrow, Spanish-named streets, Granada is one of Sarasota’s oldest and most charming neighborhoods. Bounded by Bay Road, Almeria, Flores and Siesta Drive, the pretty little enclave has eager buyers elbowing each other out of the way. Manicured lawns and romantic walled courtyards surround cottages and bungalows built in the 1930s and ’40s. Shady avenues have fountains and even a European-style roundabout in lieu of a standard intersection. Tuscany Development is building 17 two-story single-family homes and 24 row-house condominiums on 4.7 acres in a tony new section named Granada Park.

Number of Granada properties: 127

Number of sales 8/2004-8/2005: 26

Range of sale prices8/2004-8/2005: $168,000-$850,000

Average sale price 8/2004-8/2005: $453,350

Range of square footage: 1,400-3,330 square feet

SAMPLE SALE

This two-bedroom, two-bath home at 3543 Camino Real sold last January for $408,000, marking the fifth time it has changed hands in six years. Wooden floors, a remodeled kitchen, separate guesthouse and beautifully landscaped and very private back yard make the home highly desirable. Ryan Billib of Billib & Billib was the selling agent. Previous sales: $340,000 in October 2004; $310,000 in September 2003; $203,000 in June 2001; $155,000 in August 1999.

SAMPLE SALE

A classic old-Florida home at 1647 Bonita Lane is offered for $1.09 million by Paulene Soublis of Michael Saunders & Company. The renovated and enlarged 2,795-square-foot, cottage-style residence is set among majestic oaks on this rarely traveled road close to beaches, schools and shopping. There are four bedrooms and six baths, centered around a large pool and spa.

MLS statistics courtesy of DeeDee Curran of Michael Saunders & Company. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

TOP OF THE MARKET

A 6,000-plus-square-foot waterfront home at 1616 Stanford Lane in Aqualane Estates recently captured the top spot in luxury real estate sales. The brand-new five-bedroom residence, with detached guest quarters, listed for $4.695 million and sold for $4.45 million. It’s set on deep water on a newly dredged protected canal and features spectacular sunset views over the bay from the paver-bricked pool and loggia with summer kitchen. Candy Swick of Candy Swick and Company was the listing and selling agent.

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

GET IT TOGETHER A piece of Sarasota history is on the market, and the sellers are hoping for a buyer who wants to keep it all in the family. Two homes and a guesthouse on Norsota Way have belonged to the same family since the 1920s. The unique acre-plus property on north Siesta Key offers two deep-water docks and 234 feet along Sarasota Bay, overlooking the glittering city skyline and the new Ringling Causeway. There’s a 2,800-square-foot main house, a 1,200-square-foot second house, and a 1,000-square-foot third house, which the owners recently spent $200,000 to renovate and decorate, according to listing agent Joyce Naegele of Michael Saunders & Company. Two dwellings are on the bay side of Norsota, and the third is across the street, making the parcel perfect for a family compound.

Naturally, developers are foaming at the mouth to get their hands on such a delectable slice of waterfront. But the ideal buyer would purchase the property as a whole and create an island estate. "We’ve had keen interest from a family living in the Northeast that simply fell in love with the place since it’s so homey and warm," says Naegele. But they’d better hurry. At a recent open house, Naegele ushered upwards of 80 people through the compound. List price for the package is $8.5 million.

CLASSIC BEAUTY One of 10 original neoclassical homes designed by architect Robert Stuffings in The Oaks is for sale at $2.65 million. Listing agent Scott George of Michael Saunders & Company escorted Stuffings through the home recently to see the changes time has wrought.

"The current owners put a fortune into this residence," explains George. "The kitchen features a 40-foot granite slab, which may be the largest piece of granite in the southeast United States. Every inch of the interior has been meticulously renovated using select materials and painstaking craftsmanship. One can see that this has been a labor of love. Robert was thrilled to see the evidence of such uncompromising attention to detail."

This particular house, considered Stuffing’s masterpiece, has been featured on various magazine covers. Students of architecture tout its elegantly balanced symmetry. After the home was constructed and sold in 1990, Stuffings actually bought it back and lived there for several years. A two-bedroom guest pavilion was added in 1993. "The woodwork, the dentil molding, the columns, everything Robert designed is timeless and classically beautiful," says George.

GOING UP & UP & UP The ever-accelerating real estate market has forced Andrew Bers of Prudential Palms Realty to push the asking prices for two of his Longboat Key listings higher. "We ran the comps [comparable market analyses] on both properties and decided on prices that we felt were competitive yet fair," explains Bers. "But we soon discovered tremendous interest, numerous inquiries and buyers standing in line willing to pay more. So the numbers had to change."

One listing is a light and airy two-bedroom elevated Key West-styled home on a deep-water canal in Sleepy Lagoon Park. The former list price of $945,000 has been raised to $1.5 million. The other home is a luxurious new 3,500-square-foot canal-front residence with waterfall pool and spa, 50-foot boat dock and deeded beach access. The original price of $1.775 million was recently increased to $1.875 million.

NUMBERING THE OAKS Speaking of The Oaks, agent Betty Mullinnix of Michael Saunders & Company came up with some interesting statistics while logging in computer data. "Our total number of closings in The Oaks last year came to 42," says Mullinnix. "Prior to June 30, we’ve already successfully completed 39 closings in 2005. Also, in the past our average inventory of properties for sale in The Oaks numbered around 57 or 58 listings. Currently, we have only 17 homes listed for sale. Buyers just keep coming, and we’re scrambling to keep up with demand." Mullinnix has a rare Oaks listing with a price tag of under $1 million. Located on the 13th fairway of The Heron Course, this four-bedroom estate offers marble floors, three fireplaces, a handsome study and a very private lot backing up to trees and the golf course. List price is $980,000.

CALL THE DOCTOR Buyers are buzzing in from all over the country to view the gorgeous gated contemporary home set on more than an acre on Heron Lagoon at the Sanderling Club on Siesta Key. A Christie’s Great Estates listing, the ultra-modern six-bedroom residence is currently owned by a Sarasota physician and his wife, who decorated the interior with bold color and loaded the walls with Peter Max originals.

Coincidentally, potential buyers who flew in from Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Atlanta are also physicians. "This is a very unusual design," says listing agent Marianne LeBar of Michael Saunders & Company, "with a clean, almost sterile exterior and very straightforward angles and lines. Spatial relationships are very defined, extremely precise. Perhaps that appeals to those who work with mathematical and scientific formulas." The property is priced at $4 million.

HERE, KITTY Gene Bretoi and his wife, Betty Mullinnix, are both realtors and often help each other during the course of business. So when Mullinnix walked into the gorgeous 5,000-square-foot house to prepare it for a showing and heard loud wails emanating from an interior wall, she called her hero. "I was already wearing work clothes and had my hammer in my hand because I was rehabbing one of my own properties," explains Bretoi. "So I packed up my tool bag and headed over. By the time I got there, the wails were getting louder and Betty was freaking out."

The twosome located the source of the cries between the living and laundry rooms. The living room wall, unfortunately, boasted a large painted mural, making it inaccessible, and the laundry room had an enormous cabinet in the way. Bretoi determined that the only way in was through that cabinet, and he started tearing sections away while Mullinnix stalled the prospective buyers as long as possible. Luckily, the creature kept crying, and finally Bretoi found the source, a tiny meowing kitten that had somehow gotten trapped in the wall.

Just as he rescued the yowling victim, the potential buyers walked into the laundry room. "They stood there staring for a moment, and then they walked right back out of the house and got in their car and drove away," says Bretoi with a laugh. "I guess they wanted no part of a house that featured live animals coming out of the walls. And then I was stuck putting everything back together."

At least it was a happy ending for the kitten. A kindly neighbor took charge of the lost little feline and found her a good home.

ANOTHER CAT TALE Linda Formella, of Michael Saunders & Company’s east Manatee office, believes every day is an adventure in the real estate business. And Formella isn’t afraid to walk on the wild side. Take, for instance, the listing with one very unusual occupant.

"My sellers told me one of the rooms had been tailored to accommodate their pet bobcat," she explains. "Yes, these people were actually licensed to own an American bobcat and had altered an interior room to house the animal. The door was always kept locked and the door had a large sign warning people. Still, buyers wanted to peek in, so the sellers made a small window in the door so we could get a look." Formella’s prospective buyers could get a very good sense of the room’s size and shape and also see that the room had been stripped down to adequately house the animal, with concrete floors and no trim.

Ultimately, Formella did sell the house to buyers who could envision how the bobcat’s old bedroom could be redecorated for their purposes. "The closing went smoothly, and I assume the bobcat is happily ensconced in a new room, somewhere out there," says Formella. And where was her unusual listing? Panther Ridge, of course.