Top of the Market
A Gulf-to-Bay home on Casey Key at 4001 Casey Key Road captured top spot for recent real estate sales, $3,733,750, after being listed for $4.3 million. The California contemporary features cypress and cedar interior and exterior. A dock and good boating water on the bay, along with a wide, sandy Gulf-front beach make this site truly spectacular. Nancy H. Moore of Michael Saunders & Company was the selling agent.
Luxurious Lido Shores
With its interesting mix of styles from Sarasota School of Architecture modern to Med Rev, Lido Shores is arguably the area's hottest spot for waterfront sales. Situated alongside Sarasota Bay and the Gulf, the neighborhood is just blocks away from St. Armands and the bridge to Longboat Key. The stratospheric multimillion-dollar sales here make regular headlines. Case in point: Adrienne and Gigi Vittadini just developed a Westway Drive manse with Sandcastles of Sarasota that went on the market for $9 million.
NUMBER OF LIDO SHORES PROPERTIES: 165
NUMBER OF SALES 11/2003-11/2004: 10
SALES PRICES FROM 11/2003-11/2004: $680,000 to $13,218,933
SQUARE FOOTAGE OF THOSE HOMES: 1,790 to 7,415 square feet
Described as the west coast of Florida's premier gated beachfront estate, this home at 1067 Westway Drive sits on over two acres with over 22,000 square feet of luxurious living space. It's listed for $15.2 million by Kim and Michael Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.
This five-bedroom home at 1345 Westway Drive recently sold for $5.3 million, furnished, after an original list price of $5.95 million. A vanishing-edge swimming pool with spa, deep-water dock and deeded beach access add to its appeal. Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company was the selling agent. Previous sales: June 1998, $895,000; May 1996, $620,000.
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.
From Golf to Bay
Realtors Jerry and Sandy Strom say they're seeing a trend among baby boomers who want to put away their golf clubs and head for open waters. The Stroms recently held an open house at a $3.2 million property at 4002 Roberts Point Road that sports a 70-foot dock with room for two boats. The most interested parties all had one thing in common: They were considering making a move from the golf courses of Longboat Key to become boaters. "Some people feel this may be their last opportunity to buy waterfront because prices continue to escalate," explains Beth Sanders of Strom & Strom. "Others just want a change of lifestyle." Perfect for owners who love to entertain, the 5,000-square-foot Siesta Key residence has room for the entire extended family.
Casey Key soars
Tom Stone and Michael Saunders & Company have broken their own records with a banner year of sales on Casey Key. As of Dec. 1, the real estate company has sold $84 million in Casey Key properties with another $16 million under contract. The previous sales record was $57 million. Stone has personally sold $43 million of that total figure. "The market has changed," explains Stone, "with bayfront properties becoming very scarce, an ever-increasing demand and prices jumping 30 to 40 percent just in the last six months. There is much demand for waterfront homes priced at $1 or $2 million but no inventory. Out of 19 listed Casey Key properties on the market right now, there's only one waterfront home under $2.5 million."
Re/Max Properties realtor Nancy Falkenstein, like her counterparts throughout the area, is faced with an unusually low inventory of homes for sale. "The serious storms we experienced have made a significant dent in our market," she says, "as people from other parts of Florida continue to come to Sarasota to rent or buy while their own homes are being repaired or rebuilt."
The Ritz-Carlton effect is another factor, as Sarasota is building an international reputation as a destination resort town. "Buyers are now coming here from around the world," says Falkenstein. "They vacation at the Ritz, fall in love with Sarasota's beaches and galleries and restaurant scene and then they return to buy, willing to pay big money to get what they want."
And then there's the new phenomenon of people staying put. Falkenstein and her co-realtor husband, Michael, spent years building up a solid clientele of Sarasota homeowners who liked to move every four to six years. Now, however, she says, nobody is going anywhere. "We actually had a number of buyers who used to move just for the fun of it," says Falkenstein. "Now, they're all sitting tight. Sure, they'll make a pile of money when they sell because prices have soared, but the question is where are they going to go? Any house they try to buy is going to reflect that same increase in price. So the days of swapping houses around seem to be over, and that's reflected in a lower inventory." At press time, Falkenstein did have a half-acre Longboat Key lot listed for sale at $395,000. It's located in Conrad Beach, which was named Best Coastal Community by Coastal Living.
Jack of all trades
Realtors must nimbly handle everything from security issues and pet patrol to decorating advice and counseling sessions for nervous buyers. Michelle Crabtree recently jumped back into the business at Coldwell Banker's Lakewood Ranch office. It wasn't long before she was called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty. One of her first showings took place at a house that was supposed to be maintained by a housesitter while the buyers were out-of-town. She arrived for the showing, thankfully quite early, and discovered that the power had been out for a significant length of time and the freezer contents had thawed and melted all over the kitchen floor. "I was down on my hands and knees cleaning up the most awful mess you have ever seen," Crabtree laughs, "and suddenly it all came back to me. This is the nature of the job."
Only weeks later, Crabtree nearly had a closing fall apart because the buyer objected to the decorative metal cap beneath a ceiling fan. "I took out my trusty Swiss Army knife, popped the thing off and then drove to Home Depot for a new one," says Crabtree. "Back up on the ladder and in two minutes, the fan was fixed and everyone was happy. Again, this is just how it is in real estate."
Make that BlackBerrys. SKY Sotheby's International Realty has purchased the newly released BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES 4.0) to become one of the first real estate companies in the country to secure this expanded voice and data wireless capability. "Providing our associates with cutting-edge tools is an important part of our mission to provide platinum service for our clients," says SKY president Chad Roffers. Now SKY Realtors will have instant access to phone services, e-mail, text messaging, and browser and organizer applications in a single, integrated handheld device. Even more, they'll be able to access property search software anytime, anywhere.