Manasota Key is a sun-soaked finger of land edging right up against the Gulf of Mexico south of Sarasota. Lots span Gulf to bay, giving homeowners deliriously beautiful water views. Privacy seekers and buyers searching for the Florida of once-upon-a-time love the feel of living on an island, and easy bay access makes it a top choice among boating enthusiasts. On Manasota Key, one can get away from it all yet live within easy reach of everything Sarasota has to offer. That's why prices have risen sharply in recent years.
NUMBER OF MANASOTA KEY PROPERTIES: 470
AVERAGE APPRAISED VALUE: $3.25 million
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,475 to 7,000-plus square feet
NUMBER OF SALES 11/2003-11/2004: 8
SALES PRICES FROM 11/2003-11/2004: $1.5 million to $4.75 million
This five-bedroom architectural gem at 773 Manasota Key Road recently sold for $4.5 million, reduced from $5.9 million. Every interior and exterior detail enhances the natural beauty of the tropical landscape. Klaus Lang was the selling agent, Terri Healey was the listing agent; both are with Michael Saunders & Company. Previous sales: 1996: $525,000; 1995: $500,000; 1994: $275,000.
This five-bedroom, five-bath Gulf-front residence at 6840 Manasota Key Road is listed for $6.5 million by Terri Healey of Michael Saunders & Company. A14-seat theater is one of its many deluxe features.
MLS statistics courtesy of Deborah Beacham of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.
Top of the Market
A magnificent waterfront estate at 1255 Westway Drive in Lido Shores sold in November for the full asking price of $8.9 million, claiming top spot for recent sales. Linda Roe Dickinson of Michael Saunders & Company was the selling agent. "The home is a classic, superb in quality and timeless in its appeal," says Dickinson.
"If it was easy, everyone would do it." This is the name of the seminar Dave Minton, owner of Bosshardt Realty Services, Inc. leads twice a month at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.
Minton educates his audiences about the potential upsides and possible pitfalls of six types of real estate investment, from new construction to commercial properties. "For example, we explain that going into a new neighborhood and buying the first lot is not as advantageous as getting a neighborhood's last lot," says Minton. He also advises would-be buyers to steer clear of condominiums with too many investors. "Our experience," he says, "is that too many individuals involved could mean trouble."
And he stresses buyers absolutely need to use a knowledgeable, professional realtor who knows their market. "I, for instance, would not try to tell a client about properties on Siesta Key because that is not my area of expertise. Real issues for buyers are bigger than fabulous kitchens or floor plan. Buyers know what they like and need expert advice on how to make the most of their real estate dollars."
Interest and response have been outstanding, Minton says, with seminars planned through June 2005.
Husband and Wife Team Awarded
Kim and Michael Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company surpassed all tri-county records for real estate sales with their $69 million-plus total for 2003, and 2004 wasn't too shabby, either. The dynamic duo broke a Sarasota County record in May when a Westway Drive listing closed for $11 million, and they quickly turned around and broke their own record in December as listing agents of a $13.2 million sale on the same street. "We work hard, pay attention to the details, try to provide the most excellent customer service, and our clients reap the benefits," says Kim, who's been in the business for 20 years. "This definitely has been our breakout year."
Meadows Comes On Strong
The Meadows has steadily attracted buyers for nearly three decades, but a recent surge in sales has realtors jumping. "We put up a listing yesterday morning and it was sold before I left the office," says Paul Sullivan of ERA Mount Vernon Realty's Meadows office. "I came in today and the same thing happened. Every realtor I talk to has a client on the Meadows waiting list; and the moment a house comes up, they swoop."
Sullivan, himself a Meadows resident, touts mature landscaping, well-maintained homes, location that now seems very close to town and competitive pricing for such high demand. "The Meadows is a settled neighborhood with large shade trees and beautiful landscaping that a brand-new neighborhood lacks," he says. "Once we were considered far-flung, but today we're inside the interstate; and many people do not want to venture out east where all of the new building is happening. The Meadows offers a great deal more house for the money than new construction. Our pricing starts at $100,000 and goes up to $900,000, but you can have a beautiful, spacious home with a pool for somewhere in the mid-$300,000s."
Low inventory is also building demand. Meadows homeowners, it seems, tend to stay put. "In a neighborhood of some 3,400 residences, we only have six condominiums and seven single-family homes for sale right now," he says.
Downtown Sarasota is a prestigious address, and buyers are clamoring for residences in the heart of everything. Laura Tracy of Prudential Palms Realty recently sold six condominium units in the new 1350 project at the corner of Main Street and Palm Avenue, even though builders have yet to turn the first shovelful of dirt. "These residences are part of a 15-story building featuring everything from lofts to luxury penthouses," explains Tracy. "Pre-construction pricing began as low as $325,000 all the way up to $900,000; and the condominium will be gorgeous, in a classic Mediterranean design. Everyone who sees the façade and floor plan just falls in love."
Bonnie, Charley, Frances and Ivan belong to the past, say area realtors. But they did leave an impression. "The storms ruined business during all of those open house weekends," says Joan Boltax of Michael Saunders & Company. "Attitudes remain strong and optimistic, but this created a disturbance in the market and interrupted the natural flow of things."
And for some buyers, the hurricanes started a subtle shift in thinking. "Some prospective buyers who were thinking waterfront are now looking inland," says Jim Soda of Prudential Palms Realty's downtown office. "Not everyone, of course, but a significant number of clients are now of the opinion that a home 12 miles away from Sarasota's coastline may not be a bad idea."
As buyers head east toward the safe havens of golf course and country club communities, demand shoots up, supply dips and prices take a hike. Lakewood Ranch is currently sold out of buildable lots. Two very upscale golf course communities that broke ground in 2004 are reaping the benefits. Lots at The Concession are commanding prices between $400,000 and $800,000; and the Founders Club is not far behind, with lots starting at $250,000 and rising to $500,000. Soda is guessing that these prices have nowhere to go but up. "You hear realtors joke that we don't do comps in Sarasota because by the time we run the numbers, prices have gone up," says Soda. "Actually, that's often the case, and we're seeing it more and more in neighborhoods east of I-75."
Realtors are trained professionals, equipped to handle situations with wisdom and mature judgment. How then could realtor Linda Formella find herself screaming and leaping into the air wearing high heels during a recent showing in east Manatee County?
"I had a scheduled, confirmed appointment to show my client through this house and we had seen every room except for the master bedroom. We walk right in and suddenly this gentleman shoots straight up in the bed and begins screaming!" says Formella. "He startled my client and me so badly that we both shrieked and jumped three feet in the air. He continued sitting there, yelling, and we went into reverse, apologizing as we backed out. He had been dead asleep! I do not know whose heart was beating harder but I'm certain that I jumped up higher than my client."