Real Estate Gossip - November 2003

By staff November 1, 2003

This 5,353-square-foot Mediterranean-style home at 619 Mourning Dove features five bedrooms and five baths and sold last spring for $3.5 million. The waterfront location offers full bay views along with the city skyline. Pool, boat dock, balconies and bonus room are accessible via elevator. The new residence was built in 1999.


2000 - April - $2,900,000

2002 - June - $2,750,000

Number of Bird Key property owners: 500

Price range of current listings: $515,000-$4.5 million

Number of sales 9/2002 to 9/2003: 47

Sales prices from 9/2002 to 9/2003: $385,000 to $4.85 million

Average price from 9/2002 to 9/2003: $1,565,225

Average square footage of homes sold between 9/2002 and 9/2003: 3,200 square feet

Average number of days on market for sales between 9/2002 and 9/2003: 162

MLS statistics courtesy of John Allaman of Michael Saunders & Company. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Top of the Market

Sarasota County's most expensive residential sale for August 2003 was a 1950s concrete block residence sitting on a 150-foot expanse on New Pass. The four-bedroom, four-bath residence, located at 1333 Westway Drive, sold for $3.2 million with an asking price of $3.375 million. Buyers John and Diana Cloud will raze the existing home to make way for a new residence being designed by a North Carolina architect. Interestingly, selling agent Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company sold this same property to a different client in October 2002 for $2,850,000. He expressed a wish to sell just six months later and Ogilvie placed the house back on the market in May. The Clouds closed the deal in August.

Doggone It!

Twice in one summer Candy Swick's dignity has gone to the dogs. But the devoted realtor does not care if tongues-or tails-wag. The first instance occurred when Swick escorted sweet, elderly clients into a home and was knocked to the ground by two twin blurs of fur barreling around the corner and barking wildly. "I immediately hit the dirt and grabbed the fluffballs because my buyers are terrified of dogs. The dogs are extremely friendly and mean no harm but my people just froze. I maintained a most ridiculous posture for a very long time until the barking subsided and I convinced my buyers to walk out the door and go back to the car. My clothes and my hair looked like I had been playing tackle football."

At another showing in Harbor Acres, Swick knew in advance that her first priority was to clear the dogs. She arrived early to schlep the dog gate and box of biscuits around back so that she could safely corral her client's three beloved Shelties before the buyer arrived. The dogs, however, were anticipating her entry and when the key turned in the lock, they shot straight out the door and disappeared. "One ran up the street, one ran down the street and the third ran straight through the neighbor's yard and was just gone," says Swick. "I panicked because these dogs are their owner's very life." She gave chase, losing a shoe in the process, and finally cornered one of the troublesome trio. His barks beckoned and the other two came racing home within minutes. She straightened herself up, located the shoe and locked up the dogs. The showing must go on.

Killer Contracts

The nation knows that Sarasota is a highly desirable address, but this is ridiculous. Kim Gilliland was vacationing in South Bend, Ind., when his cell phone buzzed and a serious buyer inquired about a specific property he had seen on the Web site. An appointment was made for a showing on the Sunday after Gilliland returned home. That Friday, a contract for the same property came in for full price and the sellers accepted. Gilliland looked up his prospective buyer's phone number to tell him the bad news, but before making the call, discovered a neighboring residence that had just popped up for sale. "Size, price and location are almost identical, so I decide to call my guy and tell him we are substituting," says Gilliland. "But once again, before I call him, that property gets a contract." Gilliland crosses his fingers as counter offers fly back and forth but ultimately buyer and seller agree and the property is gone. The scenario continues to repeat, with houses selling before Gilliland can locate his client to okay the new showing. Finally, in a fit of frustration with nothing to show his client but a disappointing string of coulda-beens, Gilliland decides to just call the man and simply explain that there has been a spate of rapid sales and he has no properties to show.

"I'm driving with one hand and flipping through my day timer with the other to find my guy's phone number when the cell phone rings," says Gilliland. "It's him, the same guy who called me in South Bend, and he is canceling on me. No need to show him anything, he has made other plans. Talk about relief! I fell all over myself thanking him for being courteous enough to call and cancel. He's probably still wondering why I let him off the hook so easily!"

Psychic Condos

For decades, savvy realtors have sworn that they could tell the state of the market by the number of condos offered for sale on Siesta Key. An abundance of listings means the market is soft; slim pickings, the market is hot. During the boom years of the 1970s, there was a record low of 27 units listed. During the bad economy and market glut of the 1980s, a high of 367 condos was reported. When tech stocks were peaking and everyone was investing like crazy in the late 1990s, only 53 condominiums were listed, while eight months ago as stocks plummeted, one could choose from 258 Siesta Key condo listings. Right now, it appears that the economy is stabilizing. Real estate investments are on the rise and the number of listings has dropped below 200.


Many were shocked when Sheryl and Mike Edwards tore down the house they paid $525,000 for in Laurel Oak Estates and Country Club to build something bigger and better. Raze craze had formerly been confined to pricey waterfront lots lining the Gulf or bay. The Edwards' tear down was a milestone for the pretty county club community, developed a mere 12 years ago. But realtor Linda Dooley of Lifestyles Realty, Inc. believes this neighborhood is primed for more of the same. "Laurel Oak is a wonderful address, with all of the amenities and the large lots you cannot find in other developments," she explains.

Art: Use if needed.

Seeking solace sans inconvenience? Yearning for that Swiss Family Robinson freedom without giving up world-class shopping, a regular golf game and cocktails at the club? Slightly west of Bradenton toward the beaches sits the tidy solution: Tidy Island. This gated community offers more than 250 acres of secluded living in pristine natural surroundings overlooking Anna Maria, Longboat Key and some of the most spectacular views of Sarasota Bay. Residents enjoy tennis courts, spas, fitness center, swimming pools and miles of nature trails. The mainland is less than a mile over the land-level bridge and the eclectic neighborhood boasts a rich mix of business people, photographers, fishermen, families, hobbyists, wade fishermen and nature lovers from all over the world who come to enjoy the warm, shallow waters and 160-acre bird sanctuary. Realtor Sharon Freeman of Michael Saunders & Company calls Tidy Island a remote oasis within a protected pocket of civilization and touts the location as ideal for persons looking for total maintenance and security. One current listing offers 4,944 square feet of living space with Mexican tile, wide bay vistas and a glass-walled family room featuring views from Anna Maria's sunsets to the Sarasota skyline. Priced at $1,395,000.

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