On the Homefront
A mini-boom for West of the Trail.
A building boomlet is heating up the West of the Trail area, with seven newly constructed homes for sale, two additional new homes that sold this spring, and another 12 homes currently under construction. (Two are spec homes; the other 10 are custom homes for specific buyers.)
That’s the word from Liz Nason, a realtor with Rosebay International who specializes in West of the Trail properties, bounded by Mound Street to the north, Bay Road to the south, and U.S. 41 and Sarasota Bay to the east and west. That includes such history-rich neighborhoods as Bay Point Park and Bungalow Hill to the north, and Grenada and Sam Remo Estates to the south. In between are highly rated Southside Elementary, a thriving Southside Village restaurant scene and Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which is why so many doctors live in this part of town.
“Lots of homes were built between 2002 and 2006, but we never thought we’d see a boom like that again so quickly,” says Nason. “Because of the cheap lots, people are building. These new builders are producing a product we need right now—four-bedroom homes that are up-to-date.”
Who’s buying? “Families. Everybody,” says Nason. “We’re seeing tons of activity. It’s a very healthy market if you’re being realistic about prices.” Homes are currently selling for 10 percent less than the original list price, she says, while in 2011, homes sold for 18 percent less than original list price.
Luxury builders like John Cannon Homes, Todd Johnston Homes and Allegra Homes—usually found building in new-home communities like Lakewood Ranch—have built West of the Trail this year. The model home on the corner of Datura and South Osprey that Todd Johnston built in late 2011 was under contract for an undisclosed price in April.
It looks like the boomlet is holding because, Nason reports, a whopping 22 West of the Trail lots (some of them still occupied by “knockdown” homes) are being marketed as lots for sale. They range from $3.9 million for two “knockdown homes” on adjacent waterfront lots on Harbor Drive to $199,000 for a bank-owned lot that’s one house in from U.S. 41 on Bougainvillea.
Last winter, Nason sold an old bungalow at 1106 Pomelo to a physician and his wife for $260,000 (“a steal,” she says), and they’re now building a new bungalow. “It’s the first bungalow that anyone’s built in Bungalow Hill for years,” Nason says. “I told them, ‘I love you.’”
More good news, this time for resales, says Nason: Inventory is at a five-year low with just 66 existing homes for sale. That’s about half as many as in 2009.
Quirky, comfy outdoor furniture—Adirondack chairs, dining stools, bar stools, side tables and ottomans—fashioned from vintage water skis made waves at this winter’s Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse. It was the Florida debut of Douglas David Cottage’s water-ski furniture line, which creator Douglas David has been selling like hotcakes for five years in the lake resort towns of northern Michigan and Wisconsin.
An artist as well as a furniture designer, David spends the winter in Sarasota teaching painting classes at Art Center Sarasota (locally, interior designer Sally Trout sells his paintings), and the summer painting on the lakes in northern Michigan, from Traverse City all the way up to Charlevoix. “It’s a really beautiful area, and the old water skis kept coming up,” he says. “I saw ways, with the advent of the green movement, in which I could repurpose them.”
His pickers forage flea markets, antique shows and family cottages for the vintage skis, and he recently purchased a collection of about 70 from a retired Coast Guard officer in Traverse City. A cabinetmaker in central Indiana makes the bases and frames. “It takes eight skis to make a chair, and four to make a bar stool, and I’ve become more select as I discover which colors and patterns furniture buyers want—the more graphic the better,” David says. Red is the most popular color, followed by baby blue and yellow. “Those that bring the most smiles are the old Cypress Gardens skis,” he says. (A pair of them was part of a bar stool at the Designer Showhouse.)
Prices range from $1,250 for the Adirondack chair and water-ski bar to $900 for the bar stool and $450 for the side table. douglasdavidcottage.com
Top of The Market
It took just 14 days to sell an opulent four-bedroom penthouse apartment at La Bellasara, on Golden Gate Point. It went for $4.63 million, after an original list price of $5.4 million, making it the highest-priced residential sale in Sarasota County in March. The 5,585-square-foot condo has terraces that capture city and sunset views, plus an outdoor kitchen and private boat dock, theater room and climate-controlled wine cellar.
The listing agent was Barbara Ackerman of Coldwell Banker; the selling agent was Terri Derr of Michael Saunders & Company. Previous sale: $3.5 million in June 2008. Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.
Sellin’ on The Ritz
Like real estate agents across the region, Beth Afflebach and Joan Dickinson are reporting a strong 2011 and busy start to 2012 (22 sales in 2011, compared to 14 in 2010).
The only difference is that, as staffers of the Michael Saunders & Company office in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, since it opened seven years ago, Afflebach and Dickinson handle only resales at the three local Ritz properties: the condominiums above the hotel itself, the Ritz-Carlton Towers Residences adjacent to the hotel, and the Beach Residences on Lido Key.
CEOs staying at the luxury hotel for a business meeting will often pop into their pretty little office seeking information about buying Sarasota real estate as a winter getaway, Afflebach and Dickinson say. In fact, Afflebach says, “a good majority” of the Ritz condominiums have been purchased as second or third homes by owners who started out as hotel guests.
“They want a winter getaway, they’re enamored with the arts here, and many of them are also interested in golf, because of The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club,” says Afflebach. “Some want the energy of the hotel environment. Then we have the people who love the hotel services and the brand identity but want more privacy; they’re drawn to the tower. Then we have the beach property.” If someone’s interested in properties beyond the hotel, they are referred to other agents.
“The hotel stays busy year-round, and we’re very optimistic about the year ahead,” says Dickinson.
The Founders Club hits the midway point.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of founders club properties
are completed homes
Number of sales from March 2011 through March 2012 (resales and new homes)
$550,000 to $4 million
Range of sale prices
2,119 to 12,000
Range of square footage
The elegant east Sarasota country club community, The Founders Club, which began development in 2005, reached a milestone this year: Completed homes now comprise 130, or just about half, of its 262 home sites. Penny Evans, sales executive with Naples-based London Bay Homes, which purchased The Founders Club’s remaining 86 lots back in mid-2011, says the community’s Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course and beautiful Low Country clubhouse set on 700 oak-filled acres are the big attractions; at least 50 percent of home buyers are golfers. Two back-to-back years of their own Parade of Homes have drawn hundreds of potential buyers, and “maybe three-quarters had not visited the community before,” Evans says. London Bay Homes is currently building two residences, one of them a 6,500-square-foot second home for out-of-state buyers. Two more homes are in design, Evans says, and three model homes are available for purchase. Todd Johnston Homes is also building a residence. “We’re staying very busy,” says Evans.
This article appears in the June 2012 issue of Sarasota Magazine.