Beachfront Bargain

How to Find a Beachfront Home on the Cheap

Chasing the elusive $325,000 vacation condo on national TV.

By Ilene Denton May 31, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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The price—and design—were right at Bay Oaks.

Can you really snag a Siesta Key vacation condo for $325,000? That’s what a family of four from western Pennsylvania challenged realtor Beth Dilley of Ascendia Real Estate to find—on national television, no less, for the popular HGTV show Beachfront Bargain Hunt.

The show, which first aired this spring (it’s Season 10, Episode 8, for DVR devotees), has gorgeous video of downtown Sarasota’s Bayfront Park and Siesta Public Beach. Then Dilley gets down to business by touring her clients through three condos that meet their criteria: They wanted two bedrooms and two baths, and the condo needed to be rentable during season to offset expenses.

“At first they wanted to be on the Gulf of Mexico, as everybody does,” says Dilley.  That wasn’t possible, but she explained to them that “at that price you can be across the street.” And she had to rule out homeowner associations with three-month minimum rental rules—too difficult to rent out, she says. She took them to White Sands Village, La Siesta and Bay Oaks, farther south off Midnight Pass Road.

Spoiler alert No. 1: They chose the Bay Oaks condo because, at 1,100 square feet, it was the largest of the three, and they liked its high ceilings. And spoiler alert No. 2: As in all HGTV House Hunter shows, they’d actually bought the place a couple of months before. HGTV producers had sent feelers to several Siesta Key real estate agents asking whether they’d worked with clients in that price range in the previous three months. After extensive interviews with Dilley and her Pennsylvania clients, she was chosen for Beachfront Bargain Hunt.

Dilley and the family spent four 12-hour days taping the 30-minute show. “It was fun, but it was work,” she says. “You’re ad-libbing the whole time, and there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. Whenever someone walked in front of the camera, or a plane flew overhead, they’d yell, ‘Cut.’”

As for that purchase price, Dilley says it’s pretty spot-on. The average price of a two-bedroom, two-bath Siesta Key condo currently, she says, is $350,000 to $375,000 off the Gulf; on the Gulf, from $400,000 to over a million. “But remember,” she says, “many of them are 600 square feet.”

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