Real Estate Gossip - October 2003

By staff October 1, 2003

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: HARBOR ACRES (West of Orange Avenue and bounded by Bahia Vista on the north and Hillview Avenue to the south.)

This 3,023-square-foot home at 1735 Flower Drive sold last January in only six days for the full asking price of $797,500 after a bidding war that resulted in three contracts. Drayton Saunders of Michael Saunders & Company is the lucky new owner. The original house dates back to 1956.


2001 (May): $590,000

1999 (May): $460,000

1996 (May): $245,000

1994 (April): $155,000.

Number of Harbor Acres property owners: 167

Price range of current listings: $425,000-$5.9 million

Number of sales, 7/2002-7/2003: 5; 7/2001-7/2002: 32

Sales prices from 7/2002-7/2003: Average, $1,586,500; range, $425,000-$3.9 million

Prices from 7/2001-7/2002: Average, $931,600; range, $205,000-$3.1 million

(MLS statistics courtesy of Erick Shumway of Re/Max Suncoast. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.)


Sarasota County's most expensive residential sale for July 2003 was a contemporary bayfront mansion at 5137 Jungle Plum on Siesta Key, which sold for $4 million. (The original asking price was $5.5 million.) The home is a white flat-roofed house of angles, planes and rounded walls with 40-foot-high bowed glass windows in the back. Never lived in, the five-bedroom house also came with marbled balconies, glass railings and a vanishing-edge pool. The listing agent was Suzan Cromwell from Michael Saunders & Company; the selling agent was Lenore Treiman, also of Michael Saunders & Company.


Ever dream of living in an art gallery? An ultra-modern contemporary home on St. Armands affords just such an opportunity. The home, listed by Donald Geikie for $1,249,000, is designed with polished maple wood floors, stainless steel and chrome detail, premium wall space along corridors and floor-to-ceiling glass sliders offering the maximum in light and visual dynamics to enhance any art collection. A waterfall tumbles into the elongated lap pool. A state-of-the-art elevator to the third-level roof garden takes visitors to a 360-degree view of water and city. Sophisticated and private, the residence was designed by owners of furniture and art stores on St. Armands Circle. The couple created the space to showcase their furnishings, sculpture and paintings. "Potential buyers are all youngish, very urban and mostly from New York," reports Geikie. "They love the open stairways and the manner in which the view unfolds as you climb higher. The gardens are gorgeous, the landscaping exquisite. For someone from the city, this is the ultimate beach house."

Cool Cats

Re/Max realtor Nick Herron received a phone call about his $3.3-million waterfront listing in Nokomis from an agent who wanted to know just how large a residence could be placed on the two adjacent bayfront lots. After hearing the particulars, the agent scheduled a showing for his celebrity client, warning that Herron should not overreact upon recognizing the potential buyer's famous face. "So here they come and the client has on a sweatshirt, a baseball cap and sunglasses. I am trying to stay cool and not stare and the man is so concealed that I have absolutely no idea who he is. Later, I learn that he bought elsewhere and that his name was Bobby Vinton. I wish I had known! I love that guy!"

Herron may have played it cool, but Vinton's wife, who was also looking at property, lost hers, says another local realtor. "This property was on the mainland overlooking Sarasota Bay in a lovely neighborhood south of Stickney Point Road," says Candy Swick of Candy Swick and Company. "I showed her the living areas and kitchen and then we headed down a hallway to see bedrooms. A large cat came strolling around the corner, curious, of course, and Mrs. V saw it and yelled, 'I am out of here!' and ran to the car. I mean, she was just gone." Seems a cat had attacked her as a youngster and she will have nothing to do with any feline. Swick offered to cage the cat, hold the animal, even take kitty outside to her car, but to no avail.

Close to Home

Since 9/11, some buyers want their vacation home within driving distance of their primary residence. "There are increasing numbers of people able to afford a vacation home but unwilling to get on a plane to get there," explains Andy Cail of Re/Max. "More and more, we are seeing buyers from the Orlando area, Tampa and even Sarasota purchasing their second homes on Longboat Key. The experience is much like living in Boston and driving to Cape Cod." Demand is so great that Positano, a new luxury low-rise condominium development to be built on the site of the Holiday Inn on Longboat Key, reserved 27 of its 29 units prior to the opening of reservations lines and without any advertisement. Each 3,000-plus-square-foot condo will be individually priced starting at $1.9 million, with one ultra penthouse offering 7,000 square feet of living space.

Home.and Garden

When a client called from Long Island asking about uniquely private properties, realtor Claudia Rich took her digital camera and spent the afternoon shooting in a Venice backyard paradise resembling a miniature Selby Gardens. She e-mailed the photographs of gorgeous specimen plants and exotic flowers to New York and waited for a response.

"My client took over an hour, poring over pictures of the cobblestone walkways, variegated orchids, giant lilies, imported ginger plants, exotic ferns, banana trees, birds of paradise and bottlebrush trees," says Rich. "By telephone, I described the views of Alligator Creek and the bird sanctuary from the third-level widow's walk. I also included photos of an original mural of palm and birds painted on a wall surrounding the swimming pool. Oh, yes, there were a few pictures of the house too." Sight unseen, Rich's client bought the South Venice property and sold her Long Island estate. When she flew down to see her new home, she was delighted.

"The former owner had created the gardens with painstaking care and worked on them every day for 10 years," says Rich. "She was a certified horticulturist and took many classes at Selby. The variety and quality of the plantings, the walkways, the irrigation system and lighting, the dock on Alligator Creek, everything was absolutely breathtaking."

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