Real Estate Gossip

By staff May 1, 2007



At the tippy-top of Anna Maria Island, overlooking the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the city of Anna Maria mingles beachfront luxury with the charm of an Old Florida beach town. The big lures are miles of sugar-white sand, two old fishing piers and boating access to the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The Island Players has been welcoming theater lovers for nearly 60 years, and eclectic waterfront restaurants abound. Anna Maria made national news when TripAdvisor, a popular travel Web company, named it the No. 1 U.S. vacation destination for 2007 in its annual travel trends survey.

Number of Anna Maria properties: 1,814

Number of sales 2/2006 to 2/2007: 38

Range of sales prices 2/2006 to 2/2007: $400,000 to $2.8 million

Average sales price: $1,054,589

Range of square footage: 866 to 4,993

Sample Listing

Pack your swimsuit and move into this turnkey-ready, Gulf-front residence at 104 Willow Ave. on Anna Maria Beach, offered for $1.99 million. The colorful three-bedroom house, built in the 1920s, has 2,038 square feet of living space surrounded by white sand and sparkling water. Cathedral ceilings, lovely window coverings, French doors and outdoor showers add charm. A separate one-bedroom, one-bath guest cottage is included. Andrew Bers of Prudential Palms Realty is the listing agent.

Recent Sale

This four-bedroom home at 238 Lakeview Drive in the Lake La Vista subdivision of Anna Maria sold for $1.1 million after an original list price of $1,195,000. Set amid tropical landscaping on a canal-front lot with access to Tampa Bay, the residence has a caged swimming pool, 6,000-pound boat lift and superb hurricane-protective construction. The large gourmet kitchen, soaring ceilings and bonus room create a sense of spaciousness, while an elevator offers ease of movement. Thomas M. Nelson of Island Real Estate listed and sold the property. Previous sales: $1 in April 2005, $1 in June 1991 [those were probably inter-family transfers], $140,000 in February 1989.

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 (and the record books)

Two outstanding properties in two of Sarasota’s most established mainland neighborhoods have set new records for residential sales.

A gracious five-bedroom estate at 1500 South Drive recently sold for $6.6 million after a list price of $6.95 million, establishing itself as Cherokee Park’s highest-ever sale. Poised on a peninsula with more than one acre of bayfront property, it offers wide sunset views over a protected boat basin and a coveted boathouse. Kim and Michael Ogilvie were the listing agents and Phyllis Garfinkel was the selling agent; all are with Michael Saunders & Company.

A 10,500-square-foot dream home at 1423 Hillview Drive also hit the headlines for Harbor Acres’ highest-ever sale: $7,287,000. The six-bedroom home took over five years to plan and build. A six-car garage, outdoor kitchen and living areas surrounding the pool, stone decks, boat dock, pool bath with changing areas and laundry facility and a fire pit with copper hood make entertaining easy. Marty Benson and Hoyt Beaty of Prudential Palms Realty were the listing agents; Linda Driggs of Michael Saunders & Company was the selling agent.

Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.

WOW FACTOR The Lake Club, Lakewood Ranch’s most exclusive development, recently unveiled its 10 showcase homes with prices ranging from $3.5 million to $8 million. Eventually the development will offer more than 1,000 single-family residences, townhomes and carriage homes carrying price tags that start at nearly $1 million. And there isn’t a boat, beach or bunker in sight.

“The Lake Club is easily the gutsiest move we’ve ever made, and that’s after a long list of such moves,” says Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder Manatee, Lakewood Ranch’s parent company. “Development 101 says if you are going to have a high-end product—and this is very rarified—you have to be on the beach or on a golf course. This is way out of the norm.”

Sondra Guffey, Lakewood Ranch marketing director, extols The Lake Club’s grand scale. “Even the vineyard that is currently going in has roses planted at the end of each row, just like the grand vineyards in France,” she says. “Those are the kinds of quality touches that impress buyers.”

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE Those who dream of island living have a golden opportunity. Tidy Island, an exclusive enclave of just 96 residences west of Bradenton, recently released 12 buildable lots for sale. Tidy Island was developed in the early 1980s and is touted as one of the west coast of Florida’s best-kept secrets. The homeowners association had voted originally to hold back the 12 lots, but recently decided to offer them for sale for $250,000 to $1.2 million.

“Only five are zoned exclusively for single-family homes,” says Naomi Wells of Michael Saunders & Company. “Each of the five offers waterfront or full water views, and the new homes built will require an architectural style in keeping with the Key West- and Nantucket-styled homes already there. I feel certain that these lots will not last long on the market. As a former resident of Tidy Island, I know this is a wonderful place to live.”

THE NEXT NEW THING Trends in home design come and go just like fashion, but since it’s much easier to discard last season’s shoes than remodel your kitchen, décor decisions should not be taken lightly. Gary Roberts of Bamboo Homes pays attention to what homeowners want. He shares the kitchen must-haves with the most staying power.

“Granite, granite and more granite is in demand,” Robert says. “Granite in the kitchen has now essentially become standard due to its practicality. The natural beauty pleases the eye while its surface offers incredible durability.”

Oversized cooktop surfaces are red-hot right now, offering four or even six burners, a griddle, grill and warming area. Homebuyers want commercial-grade appliances and gourmet accessories that would delight any chef. “I don’t believe the demand is based on people having larger numbers of children or wanting to return to family dinners with home-cooked meals,” laughs Roberts. “Buyers are more interested in how these appliances look.”

Style points are also driving the desire for separate freezers and refrigerators. “People like the look of two distinct units, one for refrigeration and the other for frozen items,” says Roberts. "Typically, the two appliances are matching and placed side-by-side in the kitchen.”

And coffee stations have caught everyone’s fancy, converting that everyday cup of Joe into a European experience. “We are putting in appliances that grind the beans right there, brew the coffee, steam the milk, make cappuccino, whatever people want,” says Roberts.

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