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In 2016, residential real estate sales in Sarasota and Manatee counties were just shy of the record-breaking 2015. And there was plenty of other good news, says Xena Vallone, broker-owner of Xena Vallone Realty and president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee. Distressed sales abated, the median prices of foreclosures and short sales increased, and so did the median prices of single-family homes and condos. The median sales price for homes was $250,050 in Sarasota, up 11.4 percent; $275,146 in Manatee, up 5.8 percent. That’s likely a result of low inventory levels, “as supply and demand rule,” says Vallone.

West Manatee County prepares for big change.

Up to 12,000 residential units are slated to rise out of the ground in the next several years at three major new west Manatee County developments. Martha Marlar of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, who has specialized in waterfront and fine homes in the Manatee River region for 24 years, fills us in on Manatee County real estate news.

What’s the biggest trend in west Manatee County residential real estate sales?

“Remodels, tear downs, new construction and vacant land sales along both sides of the Manatee River and Sarasota Bay, including coastal west and northwest Bradenton, Palmetto and Cortez. Vacant land sales in northwest Bradenton are strong; in the last two years, the average price improved to $332,000 from $149,000—up 122 percent. The highest sale was $1,350,000 for 3.27 acres and 48 feet of river frontage on the Manatee River near the mouth of Tampa Bay.”

The hottest neighborhoods in terms of activity/popularity?

“Along Riverview Boulevard, there were 17 single-family homes sold in 2016 versus eight in 2015—up 112 percent. The average sales price was up 59 percent--$859,000 from $540,000 the year before.

“In Legends Bay, in southwest Manatee County, 20 single-family homes sold in 2016 versus 11 in 2015—up 82 percent. The average sales price was up 11 percent—$533,000 from $480,000 the year before.

“And in coastal Palmetto. Snead Island and Riviera Dunes, there were 11 single-family home sales in 2016 versus 9 in 2015—up 22 percent. The average sales price was up 6.9 percent—$1,228,000 from $1,148,000 the year before.”

What new products in the pipeline should we be watching?

“Lake Flores, on 1,300 acres owned and to be developed by the Whiting Preston family. The Manatee County Commission has approved the plans for a mixed-use development in a walkable master-planned community with the popular New Urbanism concept where residents live, work and play. To be developed are multiple green spaces, a 19-acre lake, 6,500 homes, retail space and 500 hotel rooms. Lake Flores does not border Sarasota Bay.

“Peninsula Bay, also owned and to be developed by the Whiting Preston family. The Manatee County Commission has approved the plans for this master-planned waterfront community on 360 acres along Cortez Road with Old Florida-inspired architecture compatible with the historical coastal fishing village of Cortez. Up to 1,950 homes with marina, boat ramp, kayak launch, 67-acre lake, waterfront dining and shopping are planned.

“And Long Bar Pointe, owned and to be developed by Carlos Beruff and Larry Leiberman. The Manatee County Commission has approved a compromised mixed-use designation plan for 500 acres to build up to 4,168 residential units with an additional 360 units on remaining land, a 300-room hotel and 84,000-square-foot convention center, plus 300,000 square feet of general commercial space. Plans to build a marina on Sarasota Bay and disturbance to mangroves were not approved.”

Back at the Ranch

Millennials are heading to Lakewood Ranch.

Last summer, Lakewood Ranch commissioned a study of its current and future buyers. Turns out that, starting in 2016, the Ranch began experiencing an uptick in millennial buyers, younger than the baby boomer core that bolstered the master-planned community after the last decade’s economic turndown.
“They may be working here and are looking for a first home, or they’re interested in relocating and are pursuing job opportunities here,” says Laura Cole, vice president of marketing. “We’re starting to see the multigenerational aspect of living here,” says Cole, citing a new Ranch corporate employee as a good example. “Her parents live here, she went to Lakewood Ranch High School, moved to the east coast, came back and is now buying here.”

In response, the community launched a new website that emphasizes the wide range of residential products at lower price points—townhomes in the low $200,000s by Pulte and Mattamy Homes, for example. There’s also a growing number of apartments; with the opening of Echo Lake by Homes by Towne in December, Lakewood Ranch now has six apartment communities totaling 1,693 units. “We expect [those renters] will buy in our community as well,” says Cole.

Beyond price, millennial buyers want different amenities from their boomer cohorts, the study found. “Where in the past, a golf course or resort pool was important, there’s a desire [by millennials] for a Main Street environment,” Cole says. That’s why, for the mammoth new Waterside community south of University Parkway, which broke ground last spring and which will eventually have more than 5,000 homes, the Waterside Place town center is so important.

The heart of it is the food component, Cole says; “How do we get an interesting, authentic food hub there?” She anticipates that the relocation of The Players Centre for Performing Arts from downtown Sarasota will make Waterside Place a destination, as will an eight-acre park with a bandshell. “It will give us an opportunity to have more open-air activities,” she says. Construction of Waterside Place will begin in January 2018.

Lakewood Ranch was recognized as one of the top five, best-selling master-planned communities in the country by two independent national real estate consulting firms at the end of 2016, with 775 new-home sales—an increase of 45 percent from 2015.

Top 10 Sales of 2016

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No. 1

$7 million 3475 Gulf of Mexico Drive This single-family Longboat Key beachfront estate, designed in a contemporary coastal style by architect Mark Sultana, sold in early February. It has 7,569 square feet of living space under air, with five bedrooms and five baths, plus a six-car garage.

$6 million 2030 Casey Key Road This 5,519-square-foot bayfront home on almost three-quarters of an acre sold in July. Built in 1989, it was renovated, also in a coastal contemporary style, in 2009.

$6 million 3331 Gulf of Mexico Drive Another major Longboat Key single-family residential sale of 2016, this 5,264-square foot home sold in February after just three days on the market. It sits on .43-acre of beachfront.

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No. 4

$5,250,000 1201 Hillview Drive The Burnett House, built in Harbor Acres in 1950 and designed by world-renowned architect Paul Rudolph, sold in March. The classic midcentury modern home has floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking Sarasota Bay and the city skyline. It was remodeled and expanded in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, and now has just over 3,700 square feet of air-conditioned space. 

$5,250,000 204 Bird Key Drive This formal 8,031-square-foot waterfront residence—11,424 square feet when accounting for the outdoor spaces, including a 900-square-foot rooftop terrace, the only permitted one on Bird Key, that offers panoramic views up and down the coast—sold in late September. 

$4.9 million 35 Watergate Drive, #1605 The highest-priced condominium sale in Sarasota County in 2016: This 3,659-square-foot luxury condominium in the Ritz-Carlton Tower Residences sold in late June. It has four bedrooms and four full baths. (The January 2017 sale of two combined Aqua units at $7.79 million has shattered that record.)

$4,774,300 2251 Gulf of Mexico Drive, #503 The highest-priced of three top 2016 sales in the brand-new, 16-unit luxury condominium development of Aria on Longboat Key, this unit sold in June. It’s the Carmen Penthouse, with private elevator access and a 3,000-plus-square-foot private rooftop terrace.

$4,593,900 2251 Gulf of Mexico Drive, #501 Also in Aria, the Adagio Penthouse also has a private rooftop terrace with summer kitchen. It sold in June.

$4,577,300 2251 Gulf of Mexico Drive, #504 This is the Tosca Penthouse in Aria, with three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths in 3,800 square feet of living space, plus a private outdoor terrace. It sold in September.

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No. 10

$4.5 million 336 South Shore Drive This 6,374-square-foot bayfront home near the Ringling Museum sold in late May. The five-bedroom, four-bath home has numerous Old World details, including natural stone flooring and elaborate ironwork. 

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