Vulture Shopping

By Robert Plunket May 6, 2009

Vulture Shopping

Great buys in Sarasota short sales and foreclosures.


By Robert Plunket


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


These days it seems like you have to buy a foreclosure or a short sale. They are what is determining the market at the moment. But even though there are some incredible bargains out there at the moment, here are some things to keep in mind.



Figure out what your real cost is going to be. Here’s a house on Dudley in Kensington Park. If you think it looks a little shabby from the outside, wait until you get inside. The grime and dirt is depressing, the appliances have been ripped out, it still has wall units and jalousie windows. I have no idea what the roof is like but I wouldn’t be optimistic. But worst of all is the general atmosphere of despair and decay.


On the other hand, the bank is asking $39,900. And it appears to be a good, solid, concrete block house with a pleasing, even hip, midcentury design. And it’s on a nice block with some very well-kept homes. If you’re lucky and spend, say, $20,000 or $25,000 on repairs and renovations, you’ll have a nice little house in a decent, extremely convenient neighborhood for under $60,000. It’s certainly worth thinking about.



Here’s a house on Rose Street, near Southgate. Here the situation is the opposite – the outside is shabby and those windows have to go but the interior, while painted in awful colors, really isn’t that bad. And what makes this a real possibility is a very nice back yard – it needs a trim but the vegetation is mature and there is nice private feeling. And the location is less than 10 minutes from downtown. The bank wants $91,900 – realtors tell me a bank will often come down a little, usually 3 to 5 percent – so if you’re lucky with your repair bills you’ll end up with a nice solid house in the middle of town for just over $100,000.




The high-end market is a little harder to crack – there are no foreclosures at the Ritz, at least not yet – but a lot of those big Mc Mansions in the east part of town are now half of what they used to be. And here’s an interesting situation in Lakewood Ranch. A development called Watercrest, overlooking that big lake near Main Street, has some very luxurious condos at great short sale prices. Originally $500,000 to $800,000, they now start at $250,000. I’m a big fan of this place – the units are spacious, well laid out, and have great luxury features. The location is the best in the Ranch – great views of the lake and you can walk to shopping and restaurants. The trick here is to get one of the end units. They have an extra wall of windows and a much better floor plan than the interior units. There are several available starting at $299,000.




If you’re looking to commit real estate larceny, check out Lake Vista, right across the street. Here the units are very similar to those in Watercrest but – to my eye, anyway – they don’t quite have the style and panache. What they do have is a much smaller price tag – if you can spend $185,000 or so you have your pick of a whole slew of short sale units.


By the way, try to find a realtor who specializes in short sales and foreclosures and who knows all the pitfalls. One I can recommend is Craig Cerreta from Signature Sotheby’s (941-993-2502), who is giving me a continuing education in the process.
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