Real Estate Gossip

By staff November 1, 2007

Neighborhood Watch

Going in Circles on St. Armands

Platted in the 1920s by circus impresario John Ringling, St. Armands Key is an upscale surrounds just minutes from downtown Sarasota and beautiful Lido Beach, combining Sarasota’s historic resort lifestyle with modern urban luxury. Famous St. Armands Circle is synonymous with fine dining and world-class shops and restaurants. On the home front, St. Armands boasts an eclectic architectural blend that includes historical homes, stunning examples of the Sarasota School of Architecture and contemporary waterfront beauties.

Number of St. Armands properties: 271

Number of sales 8/2006-8/2007: 10

Range of sale prices: $550,000 to $7.4 million

Average sale price: $1,975,000

Range of square footage: 1,399 to 10,670


A three-bedroom bayfront residence at 30 N. Washington Drive is offered for sale at $4.65 million. The 4,760-square-foot home was custom-built in 2003 on two and a half lots with 125 feet of waterfront frontage. A two-story wall of glass at the entrance, along with large picture windows and aquarium glass, were designed to bring the outside in. A fabulous open pool area overlooks the boat dock and lift situated on deep boating water with beautiful views. Carol Aviles of Michael Saunders & Company is the listing agent.


A magnificent gated estate mingling Old World charm with modern luxury recently closed for $7.4 million following an original list price of $9.8 million. The five-bedroom home at 171 S. Washington Drive has nearly 11,000 square feet of interior living space. It’s surrounded on two sides by water with more than 300 feet of waterfront on a protected bayou with bay views. Soaring ceilings and an elevator are among its many amenities, and a Ritz-Carlton Beach Club membership on nearby Lido Beach was included in the purchase price.

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


An updated Casey Key home with spectacular bayfront and Gulf views through walls of glass captures the top spot in residential sales in August, with a sale price of $3.8 million after an original list price of $4,285,000. Located at 1716 Casey Key Road on a full acre stretching from the Gulf to the Bay, the home is light and bright, with spacious rooms and some of the deepest boating water on the island. The 2,370-square-foot, three-bedroom residence was built in 1965 and recently refurbished. A bayside swimming pool is surrounded by palms and lush landscaping, while the private beach has a lengthy stretch of white sand for walking and shelling. Annette and Albert Ayers were the listing agents and Thomas Stone was the selling agent; all are with Michael Saunders & Company.

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

Going Global

Christy Neff of Michael Saunders & Company touts Sarasota’s charms wherever she travels. And when Neff talks, people listen. Suddenly, her client list has a decidedly international flavor.

“I was vacationing in Bali and enjoying a conversation with a woman from Canada, and the topic of property values in Florida came up,” Neff says. “She already knew of Sarasota’s excellent reputation and was very interested in more information. I sold her a house here last month.”

Something similar occurred while Neff was skiing in Switzerland. Lunch at the chalet led to introductions with the American family at the next table. “When I told them I lived in Sarasota, they became so excited and wanted to look at property,” Neff says. “We just closed on a vacation home for them.”

Even before Neff became a realtor, her loving descriptions of Sarasota caught people’s imaginations. “My husband’s business took us to Saudi Arabia from 1978 to 2003,” she says. “Naturally, I developed many business and personal relationships. Now many of those people are ready to retire or looking for a second home and are contacting me about Sarasota. When I tell them I am now a realtor, they are thrilled.” Neff has sold Sarasota properties to her former physician in Saudi, a woman she’d met at a neighborhood coffee shop, a former customer and one of her husband’s former co-workers. “One by one,” she says, “these people I met on the other side of the world are finding me to sell them a place in Sarasota.”

Within Your Grasp

The dream that was way out of reach just moved a bit closer. A beachfront mansion on a full acre of pristine Siesta Key shoreline has been reduced from $12.8 million to $10.95 million by an extremely motivated seller. Brand-new and never lived in, the residence at 4067 Shell Road was inspired by legendary Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner and offers nearly 10,000 square feet of extraordinarily elegant living space in authentic Italian design.

A handsome brick pavered motor court with stone fountain imbues the home with Old World charm and beckons visitors to enter through wooden double doors. Five bedroom suites, including maid/nanny quarters, are all superbly finished with marble countertops, tongue-in-groove cypress ceilings, limestone floors, chrome and brass fixtures and large windows filling the home with natural light. A butler’s pantry, wine room and beautiful bar make entertaining easy, while the summer kitchen and poolside stone fireplace enhance a lavish outdoor living space. The private white sand beach is surrounded by abundant tropical landscaping. The property is listed with Kim and Michael Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.

You Want What?

Buyers can be many things, including very precise about what they want in a home. Just in the past few months, realtor Candy Swick has been on the receiving end of some very detailed demands. “I am currently working with three—count them, three—clients who need homes with seven bedrooms!” exclaims Swick. “They do not want six bedrooms or eight, but specifically seven.” One family is expecting a sixth baby; another wants room for relatives and the third situation involves a blended family, recently merged and desiring ample space for everyone.

Swick is also working hard for a client who wants a waterfront home with a walking beach but does not want to live more than a few minutes from downtown. Oh, and then there’s her boating enthusiast. “This client has a beautiful boat, measuring in at 67 feet,” explains Swick, “so he wants a home with a spacious dock, naturally, and a water depth of six feet at mean low tide. Actually, he told me a more specific measurement but I rounded up to six feet, just to be on the safe side.”

Like Mother, Like Son

Mother-son business partnerings at Michael Saunders & Company are nothing out the ordinary, as illustrated by the highly successful pairing of company founder Michael Saunders with her son and company vice-president, Drayton Saunders. In fact, the company is extremely proud of its many successful teams of associates that pair seasoned real estate professionals with their equally talented offspring. The newest such partnership announced recently is the pairing of longtime Longboat Key broker-associate Gail Wittig with her son, Ian Addy, most recently working with Smith & Associates, Tampa Bay’s premier luxury real estate company. The team of Wittig & Addy will combine their talents, experience and native-born understanding of the region’s luxury real estate market with a carefully honed specialty of selling new homes and condominiums. Wittig regularly produces more than $50 million in annual sales as half of the well-known and highly respected team of Saint Cacchiotti and Gail Wittig. Addy earned his MBA from the University of Florida specializing in real state, finance and urban analysis and was a stand-out in new condominium construction and sales in Tampa and St. Petersburg. The team of Wittig & Addy is currently selling Bleu Claire, a new beachfront condominium on Longboat Key featuring just 11 estate-sized residences.

Something Different

Want a prestigious address with an established neighborhood feel? Located near the Manatee River, DeSoto National Park and Robinson Preserve in northwest Bradenton, Riverview Landings has spacious homes on tree-lined streets with mature landscaping. Currently offered for sale is a classic, 3,799- square-foot brick traditional with a new slate roof and distinctive curb appeal. It has high ceilings, solid wood floors and an open floor plan with a large family room, game room and breakfast nook. Pool and spa, outdoor kitchen, four-car garage and convenient circular driveway enhance this distinctive home. The property is offered at $940,000 and listed with Martha Marlar of Re/Max Gulfstream Realty.

Blast from the Past

The radio in Jonathan Fox’s office in the Longboat Key office of Michael Saunders & Company is always tuned to classic rock. Fox was one of California’s premier “underground” deejays during rock ‘n’ roll’s heyday in the 1960s, playing the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin and hanging out with artists like Van Morrison and the Jefferson Airplane. “They were just kids back then, and they used to come by the radio station and sit around with us for hours,” says Fox. “This was during the time of the Monterey Pop Festival and soon after that, Woodstock.”

Fox has a Top 40 list of tales, but his favorite centers on a chance encounter with a legend. “Cream was staging its farewell tour and I was asked to emcee the concert,” he says. “Eric Clapton was backstage and the roadies were setting up and it was an exciting place to be. So this young kid with an afro and psychedelic clothes sits down next to me and offers me a cigarette. We smoke and talk and the conversation is really good. Then I get the signal to introduce the warm-up band. I tell the crowd to give it up for some guy named Jimi Hendrix, and the kid gets up and walks out onstage with his guitar. He was good.”

Here Kitty, Kitty

When the Simeone family of Boston found the house of their dreams in Sarasota, everyone was excited. Moving day finally came and the van pulled out of their driveway, while the Simeones piled a few last-minute items into the car and called for the cat. “Suddenly, kitty was nowhere to be found,” reports their realtor, Brian McGreevy of Re/Max Gulfstream. After a futile search, they drove away with heavy hearts. Days later, the moving van arrived at their new home. “One of the movers opened the doors and the cat jumped out!” exclaims McGreevy. “The Simeones are guessing that he was curled up on the sofa when the men placed it in the van and he just stayed there. Lucky for the cat that it was a direct move.”


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