Real Estate Gossip - November 2006
Nature-loving Sleepy Lagoon
SarasotaBay, is home to people who value Florida’s natural beauty. Here, sabal palms, mangroves and other lush tropical vegetation frame spectacular water views. On the bay side, Florida ranches and Key West-style residences sit on peaceful canals perfectly suited to boating enthusiasts. Along the Gulf, Sleepy Lagoon offers palatial estates next to cozy cottages. Neighbors congregate on sandy beaches to search for seashells, spot turtles and delight at leaping dolphins.
Number of Sleepy Lagoon properties: 270
Number of sales 6/2005 to 8/2006: 16
Range of sales prices 6/2005 to 8/2006: $850,000 to $7.5 million
Average sales price: $2,043,594
Range of square footage: 1,545 to 6,390 square feet
A 3,400-square-foot, Spanish Mediterranean-style home under construction at 637 Norton St. is on the market for $2,195,000. A boater’s dream, it’s on deep sailboat water with a private dock and no bridges to the bay. The finished residence will have three bedrooms, three full baths and one half bath, a study, media room, pool and spa with waterfalls, four-car garage, gourmet kitchen, fireplace and elevator. Andrew M. Bers of Prudential Palms Realty is the listing agent.
A beautifully remodeled beach cottage at 6291 Gulf of Mexico Drive recently sold for $4.6 million after being listed for $4,975,000. Originally constructed in 1962, the pristine cottage is set on more than an acre with 100 feet of prime beachfront and a tennis court. The romantic, three-bedroom seaside haven is lovely as is; plans are also available for a 5,000-square-foot home and swimming pool to adjoin the cottage via an air-conditioned walkway. Andrew M. Bers of Prudential Palms Realty was the listing agent and Donald Vercauteren of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate was the selling agent. Previous sales: $1 million in November 2000; $1.24 million in July 1999.
MLS statistics courtesy of Andrew Bers of Prudential Palms Realty. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.
Top of the Market
Es CaBay, the palatial Sarasota bayfront home owned by socialites Susan and Roy Palmer, has sold. Built in 1938 and extensively restored and expanded in the mid-1990s, the landmark Ringling Museum-area property sold last summer for $12 million after being listed for $12.9 million. Touted as the West Coast’s most beautiful estate, EsCaBay boasts more than 650 feet of waterfront on more than three gated, waterfront acres. It contains 10 bedrooms, 10 full baths and four half-baths. Beautifully landscaped grounds surround a detached guesthouse, staff residence, five-car garage and an extraordinary private outdoor entertaining area. Linda Roe Dickinson of Michael Saunders & Company was the listing and selling agent.
Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.
Moulton on the Market Although the Sarasota real estate market has cooled, Michael Moulton is believes that his current $11 million Longboat Key listing will not last. “Buyers are still out there,” says Moulton, “and this bayfront beauty features 11,000 square feet of luxury on over an acre.”
The spectacular spec house, done in Addison Mizner style, offers the highest quality finishes and upgrades. Moulton says it’s the type of property that allows Sarasota to compete with Florida’s most prestigious resort areas. “And since it has become increasingly difficult to sell pre-construction,” adds Moulton, “this residence is perfect for prospective buyers wishing to walk inside and actually touch and feel the finished product.”
Moulton cites several reasons for today’s market changes. First, he’s seeing a more educated consumer. “Today’s buyers have spent time on the Internet searching cities and neighborhoods, and they want great value. They also have greater choice today, since properties are staying on the market longer. They can take their time and make better decisions,” he says. Investing in real estate has slowed somewhat, so projects are moving at a more measured pace. Also, says Moulton, today’s buyers are less willing to go under contract without having sold their existing homes.
“The ‘grab-it-now’ mindset is over,” he says. “A few years ago, buyers were snapping up properties as fast as they came on the market because demand was extremely high and supply extremely limited. Many buyers were handling two mortgages and applying for bridge loans to cover themselves. Some probably paid more than they should have. But things have changed.”
Typically, Moulton’s buyer is a wealthy entrepreneur. Free to live anywhere he or she desires, this buyer is most often comparing Sarasota to Naples, Palm Beach and Jupiter. “We don’t get the buyer who’s interested in Miami,” says Moulton, “and once in a while we lose buyers from the Midwest who are on the fence between Florida and Arizona. They make their decisions based on where their neighbors buy and tend to flock with their friends.”
Honored as two of Michael Saunders & Company’s top producers in 2005, Moulton and partner Annette Rogers have sold $300 million in real estate in the last five years, with an average transaction of $1.7 million and an average listing of $1,325,000 in 2005.
Island Personality Terry Hayes of Sky Sotheby’s International Realty has listed elegant island-style homes, steps from Anna Maria’s sandy beaches, with surprising prices in the $800,000s. These spacious three-bedroom, two-bath open designs feature soaring ceilings, wood floors, gourmet kitchens, top-of-the-line appliances and private terraces overlooking an inviting swimming pool. Each residence is pre-wired for Smart House, has a two-car garage and a security system.
Hayes says the homes are distinctive because they offer the laid-back lifestyle of Anna Maria, with its funky art galleries, eclectic restaurants and small-town character. “Buyers love the beach house feel and the price and don’t mind walking a block to the water,” she explains. “There are no buildings over three stories on the beach, and that’s a plus. Some say there’s almost a retro quality, a bit slower and not as hectic. Many buyers like seeing a slice of Florida as it once was.”
Highest End Buyers narrowing their sights on the highest end of Sarasota’s luxury home market will enjoy browsing the Modus Vivendi portfolio. Modus Vivendi, which translates as “manner of living,” is the real estate component of Sandcastles of Sarasota, a development company building luxury homes for a select clientele in waterfront and country club settings.
A boutique real estate brokerage, Modus Vivendi has carved out a niche listing its own product and specializing in multimillion-dollar residences. “We may only have four or five properties listed at a time,” explains Phil Chmieleski, Sandcastles CEO, “but they will be very special. We’re selling the top slice of the upper end.” Properties may include Sandcastles’ own spec homes, inventory lots, homes currently under construction and proposed custom residences. A sample of current Modus Vivendi listings includes a magnificent 8,400-square-foot residence in The Concession for $8.4 million, the chance to build a British Colonial-styled home on the white beaches of north Siesta Key for $7.5 million, and a bayfront Tuscan estate with boat dock situated within a private gated enclave on Longboat Key for $3,695,000.
Mere Fractions What if you could own a luxurious beachfront home for a fraction of its cost? Now imagine a home featuring lavish finishes and furnishings with concierge-level services thrown into the mix. Such is the concept recently introduced by Palatial Destinations with its Premiere Residence of Distinction, De Soto Grande on AnnaMariaIsland.
“The goal is to provide buyers with a vacation experience utterly devoid of headaches and hassles,” says Adam Eberle, managing partner of Palatial Destinations. “Homeowners simply open the front door and begin their dream vacation.”
The deal is made possible through fractional ownership. “Research shows that most second-home owners use their residences only 21 days per year,” explains Eberle, “hardly meriting the costs and responsibilities of ownership. A fractional owner has deeded interest in a multimillion-dollar estate for less than a typical down payment for such a property. Buyers enjoy their vacation home for multiple weeks every year, and when they’re ready to go home, they simply leave. We do the rest.”
Unlike time-share vacations, fractional ownership conveys separate deeds to each of the participating families. Property can be sold or willed to heirs through an estate. Homeowners enjoy certain weeks that are guaranteed every year, while open weeks are offered to owners on an equitable rotating basis. Entanglements are effectively eliminated and maintenance is equally divided.
Up In Smoke Cheri McKean of ExitRealtyGulfCoast was contacted on a hot summer afternoon by someone seeking a licensed realtor to list and sell a Port Charlotte property. McKean was instructed to communicate with the out-of-state seller and was promised a house key to be delivered by Fed Ex within a day or two. When McKean received the key, she immediately drove to the house to preview the property and prepare a listing sheet.
“The key did not fit any door and did not work on any lock,” explains McKean, “which I thought was odd. I tried peeking in the windows but everything was shuttered and dark so I could not see a thing. I finally gave up and drove back to the office, assuming she had mailed me the wrong key.”
The client instructed McKean to hire a locksmith, explaining that she couldn’t find the right key. “I followed through, and the locksmith was able to make a key that opened the front door,” she explains. “But once unlocked, I still was unable to walk in the front door, because barely six inches inside was a solid wall of cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling. I mean, the house was literally stuffed full of these boxes, with no aisles at all, no paths, no possible way to walk inside. Even the detached two-car garage was packed so tightly that I couldn’t enter.”
After another call to the client, movers were hired to empty the place. The move required five full-sized moving vans. “Due to the boxes, every wall was all marred up, the rugs were filthy and the house was filled with dust,” she says. “We had the residence cleaned, steamed, painted, mopped, you name it. And ultimately we found a buyer and it sold.”
After all was said and done, McKean received a telephone call from the moving company that caused her to sit down. “The caller told me that during the move, one of his drivers discovered what was inside the boxes. After seeing the contents, he refused to move them and called in the authorities. Every one of those boxes was filled with Cuban cigars. The house was apparently being used as storage for illegal contraband, and I will never know if the client in New York even knew what was going on. Perhaps it was for the best that I never met her or even saw her face.”