Real Estate Gossip

By staff February 1, 2008


Horsing Around

The Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch

You don’t have to play polo to live at the Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch—one of only two such communities in all of Florida—but many of its 43 landowners do, and they hail from all corners of the globe. The community offers 10-plus-acre parcels; regulations prohibit subdivision and owners must be members of the Sarasota Polo Club. Polo season runs from December to April, and the players, friends, families and fans who follow the sport help boost the economy of Lakewood Ranch and surrounding areas. Some players rent for the entire season, but many own their homes, preferring to live close to their horses and the playing field. Regardless of real estate market fluctuations, Polo Club prices have remained steady at $150,000 per acre for land alone.

Number of Polo Club properties: 40

Number of sales 11/2006-11/2007: 5 (1 home, 4 parcels)

Range of sale prices: $865,000 (land only) to $6.9 million (land with home)

Average sale price of the parcels: $1,291,500

Range of square footage: 11,763 (single-family home) to 413,601 square feet for the parcels only

Sample Listing

A double parcel at 8225 Whiskey Pond Lane is listed for sale at $1,825,000 by Marcia Frost of Lakewood Ranch Realty. This property consists of two lots, both over five acres, and a large barn with 43 stalls. There is strong rent potential for polo season.

Recent Sale

A lavish home on nearly 14 acres of woodlands adjacent to the polo fields recently sold for $6.9 million. The home, at 8060 Cow Camp Lane, has nine bedrooms, eight full baths and four half baths, a grand parlor, formal dining room and gourmet kitchen, with interior living space measuring more than 11,000 square feet. The new buyers can watch polo matches from their second-floor terrace overlooking swimming pool and grounds. A courtyard entry with fountain, four-car garage and detached guest house brings total living space to 20,491 square feet. Stacy Haas of Skye Sotheby International Realty was the listing agent; Jamie Scully of Coldwell Banker was the selling agent. Previous sale: $800,000 (parcel only) in September 2002.

MLS statistics courtesy of Marcia Frost of Lakewood Ranch Realty. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Top of the Market

A Harbor Acres home with direct bayfront access and stunning Sarasota skyline views captures top spot in the market for residential sales. The 10,000-plus-square-foot residence has five bedrooms, four full baths and a powder room, den, family room, Florida room, media room and multiple covered patios, loggias and terraces overlooking an open-air pool surrounded by tropical landscaping. Warm colors, rich window treatments, crown molding, cathedral ceilings and Saturnia marble floors provide Old World elegance, while the gourmet kitchen and four-car garage make contemporary living easy. The home was listed by Linda Driggs for $5,695,000 and sold by Janis Collier for $5.33 million. Both are with Michael Saunders & Company.

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

The Great Outdoors

Buyers seeking harmony with nature may want to take a drive through University Park, or as delighted residents call it, “The Park.” Offering everything from villas to expansive multistory pool homes, this neighborhood gets everyone off the sofa and out the door.

“I recently sold a second home in Grosvenor Gardens to a couple from the United Kingdom,” says Linda Page of Prudential Palms Realty, herself a former University Park resident. “They love the walking paths and routinely spend their holidays here in the sunshine.” So when a larger home with more space for gardening directly across from their own came on the market, they bought it and moved across the street.

Another of Page’s clients refers to his home in The Park as an “Oh, my!” house. “This home is a courtyard plan with beautiful front doors that open to a fabulous outdoor space filled with gorgeous flowers and a lovely fountain,” she says. “When [the client’s] guests walk in for the first time and realize they are still outside surrounded by all that beauty, their reaction is always ‘oh, my!’”

She is currently listing a pretty five-bedroom pool home built in 2004 at $1,289,000.

Sizzling Sales

Terri Healey keeps hearing about a cold market and the unseasonably hot summer. But that did not stop her from closing on nearly $13 million in sales during Sarasota’s traditionally slowest sales period from late June to early September. Healey, a sales associate in the Palmer Ranch office of Michael Saunders & Company, closed on properties in Nokomis, Manasota Key, Bird Key and The Founders Club, with prices ranging from $249,000 to nearly $5 million. Healey bases her success on pricing and presentation, saying, “It’s about getting back to basics and putting the ‘real’ back in real estate.”

Easy Escape

Some Sarasotans yearning for a weekend getaway are finding their dream vacation homes just across the Ringling Bridge, says Phyllis DiBlasi of Michael Saunders & Company. From Friday to Sunday, they enjoy a completely different lifestyle, strolling the beach in early morning and at sunset, and walking to dinner on vibrant St. Armands Circle.

Financial advantages are obvious, says DiBlasi. Owners of local vacation homes enjoy their places significantly more often than owners of second homes in distant locations. They can offer guest quarters to family and friends. Should they choose to rent, maintenance and improvements are much easier when the property is nearby. And when it comes time to sell, they have invested in Sarasota waterfront.

Currently on the market is a totally redone two-bedroom, two-bath condominium on the ninth floor of St. Armands Towers North, overlooking Lido Beach with full Gulf frontage and spectacular views from a 40-foot balcony. Amenities include on-site management, covered parking, a large clubhouse with kitchen and big-screen television, swimming pool, exercise room and sauna. The partially furnished condo is listed at $825,000.

Par Excellence

The Oaks in Osprey is celebrating after unveiling its $11 million redesign with a newly refurbished clubhouse, tennis courts and rebuilt Eagle golf course designed by internationally renowned Arthur Hills. “Marketing statistics show that homes on a golf course surrounding one of Hill’s designs appreciate at a rate that is 42 percent greater than comparable homes,” explains Steve Abbe, realtor and former golf professional at The Oaks and Tournament Players Club.

The rebuilt Eagle course has stirred interest in buyers looking to purchase property in Sarasota, says Abbe. “People are not moving to Sarasota to buy a house,” he says. “They are moving here to buy a lifestyle. My expertise is fitting the individual buyer to a country club lifestyle, finding that particular place where they will instantly feel at home and at ease. Because I know Sarasota’s golf courses, I can match buyers with the right home course. I know where they will play their best game and where they need to be.”

Toy Story

Calling all buyers with baggage. And you can bring your jet skis, boats,

Harley hogs, ATVs, Winnebagos and Corvette collection along. The ideal house for boys with toys and their long-suffering wives, this handsome 4,600-square-foot residence is set on five landscaped acres just east of I-75 off Fruitville Road. A built-in entertainment center and a copper-top bar with refrigerated beverage center make hosting easy. Outside, there are an expansive screened lanai with grotto-style pool and spa and even a special tiled pet shower for the family dog.

The real kicker: an oversized two-car garage attached to the home that leads to an oversized three-car garage and finally a beautiful 60-foot garage capable of housing every recreational toy imaginable. “Each garage is separate, and the big garage is so spacious that one prospective buyer was actually thinking of turning it into a basketball stadium,” says listing agent Dorothy McKendry of Michael Saunders & Company. “There would be plenty of room for bleachers and everything.” The home is listed for $1,995,000 and comes completely furnished, including all electronic equipment and big-screen TV.

Have Your People Call My People

In a challenging market, sometimes the whole family gets into the action. Carol Clark of SKY Sotheby’s International Realty recently discovered that truth close to home. “I showed property to a client, and during introductions we discovered that each of us has a child in the same grade at the same school,” explains Clark. “A few days later, my child asked me at breakfast if I had received an offer! Then the client called and told me her child was also very interested in the details. It seems that our kids were talking to each other at lunch about the property and whether an offer would be made and then coming home and asking if we had made a deal. It made me realize that my husband [partner Paul Clark] and I must be talking real estate all the time.”

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