Real Estate Junkie

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Pricy Little Pinecraft

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The neighborhood is modest, but the prices are not.   By Robert Plunket   I think it’s time somebody did a study of the Amish/Mennonite economic system. Why? Their property values are holding up much better than ours, and they have much less on the market. How do they do it?   Sarasota has a […]

February 8, 2008


The neighborhood is modest, but the prices are not.
 
By Robert Plunket
 
I think it’s time somebody did a study of the Amish/Mennonite economic system. Why? Their property values are holding up much better than ours, and they have much less on the market. How do they do it?
 
Sarasota has a large Amish and Mennonite community, called Pinecraft, located just west of Beneva and Bahia Vista. It resembles an old fashioned Midwest cottage community, with tiny, handmade-looking houses lining narrow streets. Some people find it plain. I find it charming. In financial terms it’s probably the worst buy in Sarasota.
 

How bad? Take a look at this house, at 3445 Birky St.

 

 
You can find this house all over Sarasota. Two bedrooms, one bath, 951 square feet. Carport, no garage. These days most of them are going for $150,000 or less. Our Pinecraft example is $285,000.
 
And there’s one down the street that resembles an outbuilding on a farm more than a house priced at $215,000. It’s a perfect example of location, location, location. But instead of the amenities being physical items like golf courses, or natural beauty like a water view, the amenity is being in the bosom of the family, so to speak.
 
Thank God President Bush hasn’t put two and two together. He’d come up with something called “faith-based housing” to solve our economic woes. The trick would be to buy as close to the holy of holies as possible, and this will jack up the prices.
 
The Amish/ Mennonite community not only shuns evil-doers, it also shuns realtors. Or maybe it’s the same thing. (Just kidding!) They sell their homes by word of mouth, or if that doesn’t pan out, a sign in the yard. The classic method is to sell it to the highest bidder, via written bids. (I have a feeling this is probably the way property was sold in Germany 200 years ago.)
 
By the way, if you haven’t been to Pinecraft lately, by all means visit. As they used to say about the Riviera and Newport, the season is brilliant this year. Every afternoon busloads of visitors from the North disembark. The streets are packed with people strolling and riding trykes, and that big clump of bikes you see at the corner of Bahia Vista and Tuttle belongs to the teenagers and young families who have taken the bus out to the beach for the day. The ice cream parlor is packed 24/7. Or rather, 8/6.
 
Yoder’s Restaurant is so popular you may be forced to venture elsewhere. My new favorite is Mom’s, at 1247 Beneva Road, in the strip mall with the Granary. The other day I had the hamburger Stroganoff. Now that’s home cooking.