Sonoma in Sarasota

By Robert Plunket May 20, 2009

These brand-new townhouses are attractive—and attractively priced.


By Robert Plunket


Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discussing these townhouses on ABC7.

I’ve been looking at a lot of townhouses lately and I’m surprised how much I like them. A townhouse – in Sarasota, anyway – is an attached, two-story home that functions as a condo. They are often a little less expensive than the equivalent square footage in a single level condo and they present you with a major lifestyle situation you don’t find that often in our neck of the woods – stairs.


Are stairs a plus or a minus? I’ve decided they’re a plus. At my age a little enforced exercise can only help, and there’s the nostalgia factor. Most of us from “up North” grew up in homes that had a traditional upstairs/downstairs setup. So there is something old-fashioned and comforting about a townhouse. Plus, you get an automatic separation of living areas, so they feel much larger. A second floor has a whole different atmosphere than a first floor. The light is different, the views are different.



Today’s new townhouses are infinitely superior to those of 20 or 30 years ago. Back then the rooms were boxy and the ceilings low. Check out instead a new development like Sonoma by Ryland Homes, just off University, east of Tuttle. Here the townhouses are like little versions of luxury housing, with nine- and 10-foot ceilings, fantastic kitchens, glamorous master baths, two-car garages, tray ceilings, great big windows, and lots of upscale detailing. And they start at $199,990!



For this you get an interior unit of 1,745 square feet with three bedrooms, tow and-a-half baths, a small office area/loft. Yes, it’s gated, and set in a community with half-million dollar homes down the street. The builder is offering various incentives: They’ll pay your closing costs up to $10,000 (if you pay cash you can take it off the cost of the home) plus give you $10,000 in upgrades and options.



The end units at Sonoma (they start at $239,990) come in at just over 2,000 square feet and include a den. They have an extra wall of windows, of course, but the funny thing is – I liked the interior units better. Go figure.


And even though I’m a fan of old houses and apartments, I have to admit there are many advantages to buying new construction. They are much more energy efficient, better built, have all kinds of warranties, and much easier to maintain. For instance, the monthly maintenance charges at Sonoma are about $250. Compare this to charges at older, less upscale places, which can easily be several hundred dollars a month more. (I guess they have to pay to replace the 30-year old roofs.) The older places may be cheaper to begin with, but you may be better off putting that extra $200 a month into the mortgage payment on a brand new place.


For more info on Sonoma call Debbie Simard at 941-358-1592 or go to
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