ONE SINGULAR SENSATION
Prepped for a prime spot at the corner of Ringling Boulevard and South Palm Avenue, One Palm, a luxury mixed-use condominium project, recently announced plans to begin construction in October. The 10-story building, designed by Sarasota-based Hoyt Architects and sold through Michael Saunders & Company, will offer 99 units, allowing residents to choose from 17 different floor plans with views of Sarasota Bay or downtown. Among its many luxury elements will be expansive terraces, custom master closets, guest suites, granite kitchen countertops and hand-rubbed wood floors in living spaces (marble in the bathrooms).
In addition to private on-site elements like a concierge, fitness room, infinity-edge pool and indoor-outdoor bar, the building will feature 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, providing residents with built-in shopping amenities and Palm Avenue shoppers with yet another upscale destination.
TURN THAT DOWNTURN UPSIDE DOWN
When will the slide in home sales end? When will the downturn in home construction activity end? And when will supply and demand in the housing market come back into balance?
Now, thanks to the apparent stabilization nationally of new home sales and housing starts over the past few months, Sarasota’s Penny Hill Group and JP Morgan Chase economic advisors can answer those questions with confidence: New home sales actually got stronger through the fourth quarter of 2006, and new housing construction activity should stabilize around the middle of this year, they say. Right now, bloated inventories of unsold new homes are weighing on the market, slowing construction activity and restraining prices. However, housing starts are running unusually low relative to new home sales, and inventories are declining. The supply-demand ratio should be approaching balance by this fall.
The Penny Hill Group is poised to answer any other questions, too, and ready to offer flexible mortgage solutions using their thorough understanding of the market.
SPEAKING OF SELLING
Now that the real estate market is more competitive, homebuyers and sellers need a different approach to their prospective transactions, says real estate agent Marie Monsky of Re/Max Properties. “Sellers need a realistic strategy to capture the sale and attention of the few buyers that are out there,” she says. “Buyers have more choices than in the past but must still follow good practices.” Monsky offers specific tips for both.
To sellers, she recommends listing your home based on current market statistics in the immediate area, not a broad region—and make sure those statistics are no older than last quarter. Secondly, sellers should consider all credible offers. “Buyers are bottom-fishing,” she says. “But the first offer may be the best, particularly in a downward-trend market.” Even a lower offer on your current home can be a financial benefit if you’re looking to buy—your new purchase is also likely to include a price reduction. And, of course, recommends Monsky, don’t forget to spruce up your home for showings. “All listings now need maximum appeal to get attention.”
As for buyers, “Negotiate,” she urges. “Unlike the market just one year ago, offers at 10 percent to 15 percent below asking are not unusual.” And buyers should be prepared and flexible by getting pre-approved for a loan and cementing their own sales before looking to buy. Lastly, says Monsky, follow the fundamentals: Avoid risky and opportunistic loans and don’t cut corners on the inspections. “And negotiate further if necessary.”
FRESH AND FUNCTIONAL
You’ve had it. There’s not enough counter space in your kitchen, the pans don’t fit where they should and the pantry is down the hall. The room simply wasn’t designed for the way you cook, entertain and live in general. It’s more than time for a new kitchen. CCS Cabinetry president Jim Butler offers a few tips on what to do next.
Well before you consult with a professional designer, Butler recommends that you consider how you use your kitchen. Is yours an active family in which everyone gathers at mealtime? Do you entertain frequently or prepare elaborate meals? “Jot down all the ways you use your kitchen and indicate how frequently these activities take place,” says Butler.
Next, make a note of all the things in your current kitchen that make it awkward or difficult to use efficiently. As you consider all the things you’d like to change, list those envisioned projects in order of importance. If you’ve gathered suggestions from magazines and the Internet, put them together in a folder so all your ideas are in one place.
At that point, Butler says, you can start addressing the big questions. “Will the shape of the kitchen be altered significantly to incorporate another room in the home? Are you thinking of punching out a wall to add additional space?” Make a rough floor plan of how you envision the newly remodeled space.
Lastly, when you get around to selecting cabinets, counters, flooring and even the color scheme, take a moment to think about how long your “new” kitchen will maintain and adapt as the years go by. Will the space and amenities you want today still be as useful in five, 10 or 15 years?
“This is a great way to start the planning process for a beautiful new kitchen that will serve you well for many years,” says Butler. “With some of the basic layout, use and design questions figured out, you are better prepared to meet with a certified kitchen designer and that exchange will be rewarding right from the start.”