OYSTER BAY STEAMS UP
A flurry of new construction is happening in lush, hushed Oyster Bay, one of Sarasota's most prestigious West of Trail neighborhoods. Here, waterfront homes on manicured lawns sit prettily beneath towering trees and children ride bikes down leafy, winding South and North Lake Shore drives to play tennis or swim at The Field Club. Red Rock Park, with its enticing shade trees, playground and ball field, is a neighborhood gathering spot, and Swiss Day Nursery has been safely shepherding the toddlers of young families for decades. An exclusive enclave of homes called Oyster Bay Landing is being developed west of Camino Real, and more new homes will soon be built on the Kenilworth property recently occupied by Temple Sinai.
NUMBER OF OYSTER BAY PROPERTIES: 150
NUMBER OF SALES 5/2004-5/2005: 12
RANGE OF SALE PRICES 5/2004-5/2005: $440,000 to $2.5 million
AVERAGE SALES PRICE 5/2004-5/2005: $750,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,900 to 3,730 square feet
SAMPLE SALE A five-bedroom home at 1430 Kimlira Lane sold recently for $1.2 million; the list was $1.295 million. The residence, built in 1980, has a library, formal and casual dining rooms, cook's kitchen and large swimming pool. Ashley Keiver of RE/MAX Properties was the selling agent. Previous sales: $1.06 million in 2002; $680,000 in 1997; $485,000 in 1991.
SAMPLE LISTING A two-story Spanish Mediterranean bayou-front home at 1235 North Lake Shore Drive is offered for $2.495 million or $2.57 million completely furnished. The 3,095-square-foot residence offers water views on two sides along with a swimming pool and boat dock. Listing agent is Linda Dickinson of Michael Saunders & Company.
MLS statistics courtesy of Judy Nimz of Michael Saunders & Company. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service
TOP OF THE MARKET
The highest recent sale price for a residential listing was $4.75 million for a sophisticated Bird Key island-style oasis at 211 Robin Drive. The 4,750-square-foot home is on 1.5 lots with a property line spanning 140 feet along Sarasota Bay. It has an electric gate for secured entry, and lush landscaping flanks the flagstone driveway. Listing agents were Kim and Michael Ogilvie and the selling agent was Paul Clark; all are with Michael Saunders & Company.
Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company
VIRTUAL EDGE A new residential real estate company is the area's first to offer live Internet video to sell its listings. Abode Real Estate Company, founded in November 2004 by David Barr, provides the equipment and installation of a wireless Web cam on its clients' properties. Multiple cams can be used if the house is vacant.
"We can highlight a canal view from a luxury home, for example, or a waterfront vista from a high-rise condo. We then provide a link to view live video on the Abode Web site (www.abodesarasota.com) as well as on the MLS," explains Barr. The convergence of Internet and wireless technology has come so far, Barr envisions that in the near future prospective buyers will be able to "tour" homes by viewing video of Abode's listings on their cell phones-especially useful for out-of-area buyers.
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK Sharon Straw of SKY Sotheby's is undeterred by inclement weather. So when a summer thunderstorm turned violent, she refused to cancel her appointed showings. "I was working with a client and showing gorgeous homes worth millions when I stepped into a hole in someone's yard and sank down to my knees in the mud," Straw says. She managed to get free but her leather pump was not so lucky.
"I certainly could not walk around in only one high-heeled shoe," says Straw, "so I cleaned off my legs and feet, which were covered in black mud, and walked around barefoot for the rest of the day. I looked a bit odd walking into these incredible residences without shoes, but it worked."
SIESTA KEY GOES VICTORIAN Ladies and gentlemen of the Victorian period believed in the restorative powers of the seashore even as they modestly shielded their bodies with full-length bathing costumes. Soon a select handful of homeowners yearning to hearken back to that charming era (without the awkward bathing gear, of course) will cross the south Siesta Key Bridge and enter their own authentic Victorian community.
The 14 homes in the new waterfront enclave of Victoria Bay have been painstakingly researched and inspired by authentic Victorian mansions across America-among them the Italianate intricacy of the Jones Mansion of Galena, Ill., the Queen Anne architecture of the Pillow House in Helena, Ark., the Gothic beauty of Sharswood in Mount Airy, Va., and the classic curved railings and rounded rooms of the Beck House in Des Moines. Each new home will bear a plaque indicating the name, date and location of the original home that inspired its architectural style.
The grounds of Victoria Bay will be designed in the style of Victorian-era landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted. Each residence faces onto a central commons, planted as a serene Victorian garden and nestled in the center of the single cobblestone street that serves the community's seven-plus acres. An ornate gazebo will be built from the 130-year-old drawings of Victorian architect George Barber. Four lots have direct waterfront frontage, and all homes will have water views and access to Little Sarasota Bay.
Lots are priced from $900,000 to $2.9 million, says realtor Klaus Lang of Michael Saunders & Company, and building costs are expected to start at $400 per square foot.
MILLION DOLLAR BABIES Applause, applause for this area's top producing on-site sales associates of new-home builders during a banner year. The sales and marketing councils of the Home Builders Associations of Sarasota and Manatee counties recently presented awards based on sales volume for total sales in 2004. The top producer in the salesperson category was Barry Bright of Lee Wetherington Homes, with $49.6 million in sales. Janet Wilson of Homes by Towne won the sales team category with $86.3 million in sales, and Michelle Burke Phillips of Lee Wetherington Homes topped the sales manager category with a whopping $185 million in sales. Cheers to the winners, and here's to hot markets.
NATIONAL ATTENTION Hannerle Moore of Prudential Palms Realty's Fine Homes International Office placed second in the state for her outstanding production and achievement during first quarter 2005 and was named to the National Awards List by The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. The pool of competitors for this award numbers 58,000 sales professionals in 1,800 offices around the world.
DON'T SWEAT IT Realtors are adept at keeping their cool, but sometimes selling Sarasota can get even the most seasoned professional a bit hot under the collar.
Marianne LeBar recently drove clients and her assistant to a property for a scheduled showing. Upon arrival, LeBar and clients exited the vehicle while her assistant was finishing a phone call. Laughing and talking excitedly, the trio entered the house and began walking from room to room. When LeBar's assistant failed to join them after several moments, she wondered what was keeping him, but only when she heard sirens getting louder and louder did LeBar realize something was amiss.
"We all ran out to find an emergency vehicle at my car and the EMT poised to break out the windows of my Mercedes with an axe," she says. "I unlocked the doors with my romote and out tumbled my assistant, drenched with sweat and completely melting down. After he could talk coherently we figured out that I had locked the doors with my remote, and with no power, he was unable to unlock them. Feeling clausterphobic and extremely warm in the 90-degree heat, he dialed my cell phone only to hear it ringing inside the car he was trapped in. Panicked, he called 911 to let him out.
"My assistant was so angry that he insisted on a raise, but then he started laughing. My clients, who had been politely standing by and saying nothing, burst out laughing. I was scared initially but then it struck me funny, and honestly, we all sat in front of that big house and laughed until we cried."