The New Retirees
In the 30 years that Gary Roberts, owner of Bamboo Building & Development, has been in the building industry, he's also seen retirees' homes transform from tiny and simple two-bedroom bungalows to ultra-luxurious megahomes. Two recent trends stand out: "With their new, active lifestyles, retirees are asking for separate yet adjacent spaces for visiting children and grandchildren," says Roberts. "They especially like to have their personal master suite either on the opposite end of the home from the guest suites and separated by a play room or on another level from all the activity."
Another trend in retirement living is the super-duper kitchen with all the toys. "It gets pretty elaborate," says Roberts. "A six-burner stove, warming drawer, two dishwashers, double ovens and microwave, plus a water spout over the cooking area (for adding water to pots) are now considered the basics."
Adult living facilities are adding cutting-edge features, as well, says Roberts. He is involved in the new Glenridge on Palmer Ranch facility and says two of the main features for the residents-to-be include tennis courts and "a Van Wezel-quality theater."
Claudia Meyer, real estate consultant, GRI, ABR with Laughlin's Luxury Lifestyles, says the supply and demand for scarce three-bedroom units in Sarasota, especially along the water, means she often places a bid on a three-bedroom property before buyers ever see it. "The problem," explains Meyer, "is that there's just no place left to build on the water. The buildings that were put up during the '60s and '70s were constructed when there wasn't much demand for three bedrooms, so they're primarily two-bedroom/two bath. What has been happening (to prices) on Longboat Key for many years has now spread to Siesta Key and the downtown area. Everyone wants a three-bedroom unit but they're usually not available."
Perhaps two units out of a 70-plus unit building are three-bedroom, and those are usually penthouses that are actually the combination of a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom, she says. Since retirees are now living much more active lifestyles that include overnight guests and home offices, and since seasonal residents are spending more months in Sarasota, they want their "winter digs" to seem more like a real home.
To satisfy her customers, Meyer checks the listings on a daily basis, e-mails them the second she sees one available, and puts a contract on it-often before the buyer has even seen it. "There's really nothing to lose," explains Meyer. "Buyers always have at least a three-day right-of-recision period and sometimes longer. I usually include a clause making the offer contingent upon the buyer's approval upon physical inspection of the property within three to five days. That gives them time to fly down and check it out, and they rarely don't want what they see."
Some builders are managing to create new three-bedroom units out of large two-bedrooms, says Meyer, but they're out of many buyers' reach: "Gulf-front units are running $800 to $1,000 per square foot and not everyone can swing that."
Matt Bornstein, director of sales and marketing for Rosedale Golf and Country Club's new community The Highlands, says Rosedale has six models for viewing, including the Prestige V, which recently won all six top Parade of Home awards, including Best Overall. The other "bests" include the categories of kitchen, master suite, floor plan, architectural detail and curb appeal. Bornstein says homesites in The Highlands overlook the seventh and eighth fairways and greens as well as lakes and nature preserves. Whether in a $200,000 home or an $800,000-plus home, Rosedale homeowners enjoy extraordinary amenities, like the 22,000-square-foot clubhouse, five Har-Tru tennis courts, a fully equipped fitness center, pro shops, Olympic-size pool and an18-hole championship golf course, designed by Ted McAnlis.
Thomas Bible of Florida Home Theater says cocooning is growing stronger. "As our focus turns to family and security, more Americans are investing in the home, and in home entertainment," says Bible. Do your homework to avoid overspending and costly mistakes, he advises. And make sure the products you select add to the appeal and aesthetic value of your home. "The [home theater] company you work with should not only be technically proficient, but should also have expertise in the areas of interior, architectural and acoustic design," says Bible, who adds that his company specializes in making this technology invisible. Ask about the company's client list, credentials and references, and you'll be better able to determine the level of service they're committed to.
Kevin Millard, owner of Hurricane Glass Shield, Inc., has long been providing residential, commercial and government buildings with 3M's Ultra Scotch Shield window film for protection against the shattered glass damage that can result from items hurled by high winds, attempted break-ins or accidents. Now, Hurricane Glass Shield is offering storm panels and shutters, says Millard, " including the very popular Lookout Clear View shutter panels. People love them because not only can you see through them, but they're also very lightweight, whereas metal shutters can be too heavy and actually kind of dangerous. In addition to complete storm and security protection, we're also offering retractable, decorative and sun awnings now as well."
Dave Gruber of Floors By Design says pool owners are extending the natural stone and porcelain tile used inside the house to pool decks and pool copings (curved edges). The sense of continuity gives a more unified look to the entertainment area, plus "the natural stone gives a timeless look and the porcelains are extremely durable and weather-resistant." A hot summer trend: "People are using a lot of glass mosaic tile for floors, walls and accents."