Bargain Castles

By staff March 1, 2007

Local real estate agents recently proudly announced the roll-out of a bold new campaign—Time2buy! If that’s exactly what you might have expected them to say, guess what—they’re right, at least when it comes to luxury homes in the $1 million to $5 million price range. That’s where inventory has piled up in the last few years, and that’s where sellers are beginning to seriously reduce their asking price. Luxury homes that were soaring out of sight two years ago are suddenly much more affordable. We asked some of the town’s top agents about their “bargain castles”—wonderful homes that have had their price slashed or represent an unusually attractive buy; sort of the MLS version of a markdown rack. Along the waterfront, in country clubs and on sprawling acreage east of town, they came pouring in.

Here are 10 of the very best. Each one is a top-quality property in excellent condition, with a desirable location, luxurious features and an attractive price per square foot. Most have been significantly reduced since they first went on the market. They’re great values one and all, and proof there is a silver lining in our stormy real estate market.

If you’re a boater, consider one of Siesta Key’s best bayfront values, located at 1294 Whitehall Place. The house features four bedrooms, four full baths and powder room with stainless steel kitchen appliances and granite surfaces. Pecky cypress accent walls, vaulted ceilings and clean angles offer a Frank Lloyd Wright feeling. “This house is directly on Sarasota Bay,” explains Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company, “on a corner lot with deep sailboat water in the canal on one side and open bay waters on the other. It was purchased in 2006 for $1.935 million, and the owners invested $300,000 to completely remodel it. It now features a brand-new kitchen and master bath and is in perfect move-in condition.” Ogilvie says they first listed it at $2.795 million and now have reduced it to $2.295—a half-million-dollar price cut, so it has been reduced quite substantially. “Once the owners pay their expenses, they’ll actually be losing money,” she says.

Horse lovers, saddle up! Land spreading out over seven private acres gives this Lakewood Ranch property with equestrian amenities an estate feel. The custom two-story home, built in 2002, is located at 8272 Whiskey Pond Lane in the Sarasota Polo Club, and the handsome metal roof adds to the gracious Old Florida feeling. A spacious 20-horse stable and barn with potential for a guest apartment makes it an impressive compound.

“A residence like this one is hard to find,” says Tonna Gruber of Keller Williams Realty. “Polo clubs across the country are tightening up where people can actually live, and this home is adjacent to the green polo fields so you can saddle up and ride over. In addition, the neighboring home is worth $6 million and this home is listed for $1.25, down from $1.4 million. A home like this at such a low price is very tough to find.”

A beautiful waterfront Mediterranean estate with fabulous views of Lemon Bay is offering more than 6,680 square feet of luxurious living space, a pretty swimming pool and wonderful boating water for the true bargain price of $1,899,000. Nelda Thompson of Nelda Thompson & Associates says the home offers seclusion, excellent boating water and upscale amenities and finishes.

“The house sits on a gated lot measuring 100 feet wide by 500 feet deep and offers a very private, very deep and brand-new dock that was completed just before Christmas last year,” Thompson says. “The master suite is extraordinary, with a sitting room, lavish bath with Jacuzzi tub, multi-jet shower and master closets that are larger than most bedrooms. The open bay views from the living room are breathtaking, and the house also features a game room with pool table, home theater, elevator and three-car garage.”  

A fabulous Italian Mediterranean home in the exclusive gated Harbor section of Bay Isles on Longboat Key is for sale at $2.7 million, reduced by nearly one third from the original list price. “This home was priced at $3.5 million when we first took the listing,” explains Michael Moulton of Michael Saunders & Company, “and we have a very motivated seller. This is a 5,000-square-foot home that has been completely renovated in the past 18 months, including a beautiful new kitchen and bathrooms.”

Located at 541 Harbor Point Road, the home has four bedroom suites, a private office, three fireplaces, soaring ceilings and family room with wine cellar and full bar. Outdoor entertaining areas include pavered decks and terraces, a 38-foot pool, sauna and steam rooms, tranquil water views and a 50-foot dock for a large vessel. “The interior features fine detail and superb craftsmanship and finishes,” adds Moulton. “It’s the best value in the neighborhood.”

Lovers of modern architecture will appreciate a home designed by Sarasota’s Carl Abbott. This one is directly on the bay with lush, tropical grounds and magnificent sunset views.

The residence at 630 Bayshore Road in Osprey features gated entry, garden setting, expansive terraces and a dock with boat lift. The interior is highlighted by soaring ceilings, granite and marble countertops, a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and luxurious marble master bath. A library has shelves to the ceiling, sliding library ladder and wall of glass affording unobstructed views across Sarasota Bay. Guest bedrooms are accessed on a different level of the home, with private balconies and views of large mango and magnolia trees.

“This property is completely walled and gated for privacy,” explains Annette Ayers of Michael Saunders & Company. “A large screened porch along the back of the house is a wonderful entertaining space. For $3.4 million, you’ll be getting a piece of architectural history.

Looking for a smart urban address? Sarasota’s sparkling city skyline may now be within your reach. Stunning views of downtown and the marina dotted with boats on sparkling Sarasota Bay make this elegant Embassy House condominium at 770 S. Palm Ave. special. The fourth-floor location offers views over the trees from a wrap-around patio, while the interior features three bedrooms, an exercise room, two full baths plus powder room, spacious living and dining rooms with custom built-ins and covered underground parking. Amenities include billiards room, party room with full kitchen and heated swimming pool. Originally priced at $850,000, the residence is now offered for $699,000—outside of our $1 million to $5 million range, but such a good buy we had to include it. It’s listed with Susan McLeod of Michael Saunders & Company.

Norsota Way is one of Siesta Key’s—and Sarasota’s—most exclusive streets, and this home at 835 Norsota Way offers gorgeous city and skyline views across open bay along with a reduced price. Kim Ogilvie and Linda Roe Dickinson of Michael Saunders & Company are co-listers of the property, which features 6,400 square feet of living space.

“The entire first level of the home is non-conforming space, so there’s lots of storage space on top of the square footage,” explains Ogilvie. “The owners have completely remodeled it over the last three years, and because it looks back on the city and the bridges, it offers one of the best water views anywhere. This house started at $5.295 million and is now offered at $4.695 million. That says value.”

The house has hardwood floors, superior moldings, state of-the-art cook’s kitchen, exercise room and a separate children’s wing. The lavish master suite includes a sitting room and office, private terrace and enormous bath. And the outdoor living area includes a large pool, dock, generous lawn, multiple porches and terraces.

An elegant beachfront penthouse recently featured in Metropolitan Home and designed by New York City’s Nanette Brown started at $2.199 million but can now be yours for just $1.7 million. Located at 101 Ben Franklin Drive in St. Armands Towers, this beautiful yet beach-comfortable residence has three large bedrooms plus a den offering views looking north and south along Lido Key and east to Sarasota Bay. Custom details include limestone floors, vintage lighting, granite counters, Viking stainless steel refrigerator and wine cooler, Asko dishwasher and Dacor range. Kathleen and David Callender of Michael Saunders & Company have the property listed.

“This is a killer penthouse,” says Kathleen Callender, “and you can see it by taking a virtual tour. (Go to

A new Siesta Key listing at 1356 Point Crisp Road features a price that started at $6.9 million, dropped to $5.9 million and is now open to offers—a phrase any savvy buyer loves to hear. Klaus Lang of Michael Saunders & Company describes the 7,600-square-foot residence as having all the bells and whistles, plus a unique vantage point.

“One of the best features is that wherever you look, you see the water,” Lang explains. Situated in a private enclave with only a few homes, the home features “a wonderful boat dock”; 12-foot ceilings; five bedrooms including two master suites, one upstairs and one downstairs; a library-cum-home theater; pub room; outdoor fireplace; gourmet kitchen with every amenity, including two dishwashers; and an eight-car garage. “It’s a great price for a large, brand-new home that’s built to the highest luxury standards,” Lang says.

Ritz-Carlton Beach Club condominiums typically go up in price as they rise in floor level. But Tonna Gruber of Keller William offers a listing at 1300 Ben Franklin Drive with a price tag well below average. “This home is on the 11th floor with 11-foot ceilings, Gulf and city views and a price that would normally fit a residence on the ninth floor,” says Gruber. “At $2.745 million, the residence should be $600,000 more and happens to be the lowest-priced listing on the floor, by $500,000.”

Features include marble and bamboo floors, dual master suites, two full baths and a powder room, separate guest room or office and views from the same balcony that take in the sunrise over Siesta Key and the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Cathedral ceilings and foyer entry beckon you inside to an inviting open-plan interior. Separate dining room and wet bar enhance entertaining, while breakfast bar and eat-in kitchen provide a comfortable beach-house atmosphere. Built in 2006, the condo offers all of the Ritz-Carlton amenities, including resort-style swimming pool, saunas, barbecue and picnic area and fitness center. “The seller is very cooperative and willing to carry up to $750,000 of the costs,” adds Gruber. “Oh, and he’s also offering a $50,000 allowance for paint and fixture upgrades.”  

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