Buying really can be cheaper than renting.
By Robert Plunket
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It used to be difficult to find anything in Sarasota for under $200,000. Those days are long gone. Now there are hundreds of houses and condos on the market for less than $100,000. The trick is finding a nice one.
$100,000 is a sort of magic cutoff, where buying a place actually becomes cheaper than renting one. Your mortgage payment will be well under $500. Of course, you’ll need a down payment—as much as $20,000. If you don’t have $20,000, my advice is to borrow it from your grandparents. Offer them 6 percent. They’ll be delighted to get it. Heck, I’ll lend you the money.
Let us have no illusions about what you get for $100,000. I culled through the listings and 90 percent of them I didn’t want to live in. Many if not most are foreclosures or short sales, and are shabby, small, have mold, blighted neighbors, trashed appliances. But if you look long enough the good stuff shines through.
One good place to start is Kensington Park. It’s an old subdivision from the 1950s that’s got a great central location, just northeast of downtown. A lot of renters live there, but many of the homes are owner occupied and well kept. At the moment there’s a whole slew of properties listed for $100,000 or under.
Take a look at 4000 27th Parkway. It’s a two-bedroom, 1.5-bth bath mid-century ranch with 1,134 square feet. It’s got newer AC and new bamboo floors, a nicely updated kitchen, and a great retro feel. The asking price is $100,000, which would make your monthly payment $434. Call Cynthia Calisch at (941) 556-0500.
And here’s a potentially cute little house much closer to downtown—a short walk, in fact –located in the slowly-becoming-hip Alta Vista neighborhood—2466 Bay St. At 803 square feet, it’s pretty small (two bedrooms, one bath). But the yard is nice, the location can’t be beat and the price ($79,000) makes it a real deal. It needs a little cosmetic work, but nothing you can’t handle yourself. This would be a fun little house to fix up and maybe enlarge. Call Amber Malzan at (941) 556-0500.
By the way, as I mentioned most of these places need some work. Where do you draw the line? The ideal situation is to find a place where all you need is painting and new carpeting. Anybody can handle that. If there’s mold, or a roofing problem, or the kitchen has been trashed, move on to the next.
If you’re interested in a condo rather than a house, you can easily move into more upscale territory for $100,000. A good place to start looking is the Villa D’Este complex on Tuttle, right across from the ball park. It’s got a great pool and clubhouse, and while the units are not particularly spacious, they come across as new and well designed. A lot of young professionals live here, and I bet many of them are gnashing their teeth over the fact that they paid more than what their apartments are currently worth. At any given moment there must be 20 or so condos, both one and two bedrooms, priced at under $100,000. Any realtor can give you more information about Villa D’Este.
And even some of the classic old Sarasota locations have slipped below the $100,000 mark. Here’s a cute condo at Palm Aire, located at 7054 W. Country Club N. Drive, #106. It’s almost 1,000 square feet, and though it only has one bedroom, it has a bath and a half, plus a bonus room that could be a den or extra room. It’s priced at $88,888, which means your mortgage payment would be $386. (Keep in mind that condos have monthly maintenance fees; in this price range they are usually anywhere from $180 to $300—but that often includes things like water and cable TV.) Call Pamela Strom at (941) 929-9090.