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Real Estate Information concerning the Greater Sarasota Region

By Ken Ipox | Agent in Sarasota, FL
  • BBC Travel Article about Siesta Key-Sarasota Florida

    Posted Under: General Area in Longboat Key, Shopping & Local Amenities in Longboat Key, Home Selling in Longboat Key  |  January 30, 2012 3:45 AM  |  495 views  |  No comments

    BBC TRAVEL-The perfect trip: Florida 26 January 2012 | By John A Vlahides, Lonely Planet Magazine

    Siesta Key: Best for beaches
    Finding a Florida beach isn’t as easy as you may think. Much of the state’s coastline has now been privatised, swallowed up behind the bougainvillea-covered walls of gated communities. And although it’s legal to wander anywhere below the high-tide line, finding a beach access point in the Sunshine State can sometimes prove to be difficult. Yet somehow, in the face of so much development, the little village of Siesta Key, on an island within the city of Sarasota, has managed to retain its old-Florida spirit. It has a low-rise centre scaled to suit pedestrians, with a kickback crowd of locals that prefer wearing flip-flops to high heels. And this community’s biggest point of pride? Its spectacular public beach.

    What’s so extraordinary about Siesta Key Beach is the powdery-soft, alabastercoloured sand, which fairly glitters in the light. Unlike most other Florida beaches, whose sand is composed of shards of shell and bits of broken coral – brutal on the soles of your feet – here it’s composed of 99 per cent pure white quartz, which is a joy to walk upon. Even in the summer, when the searing sun heats the water in the Gulf of Mexico to 32˚C, the sand never seems to feel too hot. Pelicans bob on the rolling waves, which are normally measured in inches, not feet. No thundering surf, just the gentle ‘hurrahhurrah’ from the mellow emerald waters. Sandpipers dart about the flat terrain, pecking at the margin between land and sea while hunting their dinner.

    Siesta Key residents colonise the beach at all hours of the day, some practising yoga and tai chi, others swilling cocktails from plastic cups. Rarely does a weekend go by without some form of organised activity taking place – whether it be sandcastle competitions or professional volleyball games.

    Local girl Stephanie Strahlman spent her childhood here, and though she left to study in New York and England, she keeps coming back to Siesta Key. ‘There’s something really calming about this beach,’ she says. ‘Some say it’s a spiritual place of healing. I don’t know about that, but when I walk on the beach, I do know I leave feeling at peace.’

    Further information
    Visit sarasotafl.org.uk .

    Where to eat
    Locals hit Siesta Key Oyster Bar for fresh fish tacos, cold beer and live classic rock. Right on the village’s main strip, the outdoor deck and bar get packed every night with revellers. Call ahead to put your name on the list or you might have to wait for a couple of hours (mains from £7).

    Where to stay
    The Inn on Siesta Key has the perfect beach aesthetic, its apartments decorated in bright colours, each with a comfy living area and fully stocked kitchen. If it’s booked up, the charming innkeeper can recommend other nearby rentals, all within walking distance of the village and beach (from £90).

    Related Link for Full Article- http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20120124-the-perfect-trip-florida/3   
  • Sarasota Property sales up 8.2 percent for full year 2011

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Sarasota, Home Buying in Sarasota, Home Selling in Sarasota  |  January 17, 2012 6:18 AM  |  436 views  |  No comments
    For the full year 2011, property sales of members of the Sarasota Association of Realtors® jumped by 8.2 percent to 8,224, achieving the highest level since 2005. The surge in sales was accompanied by stabilization in the median sale prices, which now stand at $155,925 for single family homes and $156,800 for condos over the full year, and have not fluctuated much for the past 12 months.

    Once again, the market has demonstrated that Sarasota is a destination of choice for many homebuyers. For the overall year of 2011, the resurgence in sales was dramatic, and represents a 44 percent increase over the low point of the downturn in 2008, when only 5,820 properties changed hands.

    "This is really incredible news, and demonstrates how far this market has improved in only three short years.  Now, we also offer very affordable pricing. Combined with the high quality of homes and condos on the market, I think we clearly have the best values in Florida, without question." said Benson.

    Property transactions in the Sarasota real estate market jumped 7.3 percent in December 2011, compared to the November totals. Combined sales stood at 648, up from last month's figure of 602 and the October 2011 sales of 577. This sales resurgence has paralleled the drop in the available inventory, and put the remaining months of inventory in the range of a seller's market.

    The inventory of available properties for sale in Sarasota was at 4,567 in December, down slightly from the 4,672 in November. The inventory fell to a 10-year low of 4,408 in August 2011. As the inventory has slid, the months of inventory has dropped and now stands at 6.3 months for single family homes and 9.2 months for condos. A figure of 6 months is considered equilibrium between a buyer's and a seller's market.

    The December 2011 median sale price for condos recovered strongly to $150,000 from November's figure of $127,000. This was the highest level since August 2011. Condo prices have been fluctuating for several months, with the year-to-date median sale price at $156,800.

    For single family homes, the median sale price dropped slightly in December to $160,000 from $162,000 in November 2011. For the overall year, the figures have remained remarkably steady, indicating a stabilizing market.

    "There is a real sense of optimism and excitement returning to the market," Benson noted. "We're entering the height of the season, and the open houses have been bustling with energy and interest. Recent news of new home sales doubling in one community and setting records for annual sales in another are clear signs of the strength of the current market."

    Pending sales were at 694 in December 2011, down slightly from the November 2011 number of 782. Last month, 504 single family homes and 190 condos went under contract.

    Distressed property sales continued to represent a higher percentage than normal in the local market for the fourth quarter of 2011. In total, 41.7 percent of sales in the fourth quarter were distressed property sales (foreclosures and short sales). This was somewhat higher than the third quarter, when the overall percentage was 38.8 percent, but well below the market high of over 50 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

    Median sale prices continued to show three distinct markets, with normal market transaction sales prices more than double those for bank-owned transactions. But the price gap has narrowed somewhat, particularly during the past two quarters. For the second quarter of 2011, foreclosed condos sold for a median price of $62,250, while market condo transactions saw a $270,000 median. For the quarter just ended, those prices were at $73,500 and $193,500, respectively.

    "Realtors® and consumers have adjusted to the market realities, and it appears that pricing in all categories has become more reflective of the current conditions," said Benson. "We continue to watch and hope for a break in the distressed property cycle, and we anticipate the improving economy and lower unemployment rate will eventually bring these figures down to lower levels. The positive side is that our market offers incredible buying opportunities that won't last long."

  • 12 places to go in Florida in 2012 St Armands is #1!

    Posted Under: General Area in Sarasota, Quality of Life in Sarasota, In My Neighborhood in Sarasota  |  January 7, 2012 6:13 PM  |  466 views  |  No comments

    12 places to go in Florida in 2012

    by FloridaGoGo

    Making your vacation list for this new year? Here are some ideas…

    Tasty New Year's Bloody Mary at Crab & Fin on St. Armands Circle

    Tasty New Year's Bloody Mary at Crab & Fin on St. Armands Circle

    1. DISCOVER ST. ARMAND’S CIRCLE in Sarasota (left): Where you’ll dine al fresco at great spots like Crab & Fin (where this Bloody Mary helped us soak in the New Year), watch nattily clad middle-aged Midwesterners strolling by and shop at Chico’s and Fresh Produce and other places where middle-aged Midwesterners like to shop.

    2. CRUISE WITH DISNEY on a new ship:

    The Disney Fantasy — the fourth cruise liner in the Disney Cruise Line fleet — sets sail in March. It’s designed to reflect the glamour of the golden age of cruising during the 1930s.

    3. DINE AT DISNEY like a grownup:
    If you want to enjoy the top restaurants at Disney World, get yourself a Tables in Wonderland card (buying info on Disney web sites). This card ($75 for Florida pass holders for one year) saves you 20 percent on food and liquor at the best restaurants at Disney World.

    At a recent dinner for eight at Todd English’s Bluezoo at the Dolphin resort, our discount more than paid for the price of the card.

    Renaissance Vinoy resort in St. Petersburg

    Renaissance Vinoy resort in St. Petersburg

    4. VISIT THE RENAISSANCE VINOY RESORT in St. Petersburg (right): The lobby of this 1925 grand dame has just been redone, and the new, expanded bar makes great use of the resort’s finest feature: The wide patio overlooking Tampa Bay.


    Last year, two iconic Art Deco South Beach Miami hotels — the Tudor Hotel and Palmer House — were transformed into Dream South Beach, a boutique oceanfront hotel with late-1970s-inspired decor and just 108 rooms and suites. In the heart of South Beach, at 11th Street and Collins Avenue, it’s right next door to Casa Casuarina, the famed Versace Mansion.

    6. FIND FLAGLER in St. Augustine:

    The rotunda of Henry Flagler’s first Florida masterpiece, the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, is one of the most gorgeous public places in Florida. Now Flagler College, the hotel was built in 1888 and features stunning murals and glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Twice-daily tours are $7 for adults.


    Near Sarasota, Lido Key has an expansive beachfront as nice as Siesta Key to the south — but it’s much quieter. And parking is free.


    Universal Orlando’s “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man” at Islands of Adventure — a 3D simulator ride — will be getting a high-definition update this year. Also coming this year: A 3D ride based on the film Despicable Me will open in 2012 at Universal Studios.

    Disney World’s expanded Fantasyland, including a double dose of the Dumbo ride, will open in stages starting in February.

    10. SEE TURTLES:

    Sea World plans two new attractions this spring. TurtleTrek will feature two aquariums and a domed 3D theater, showing sea turtles swimming above the guests. And Discovery Cove, a SeaWorld park, will open Freshwater Oasis, a rainforest-themed water attraction, this spring. Coming in 2013: Antarctica, a themed area that puts guests in the world of the penguins.


    Busch Gardens plans to open a permanent ice show — Iceploration — on Feb. 2.


    This idyllic town, created in the early 1880s, is a Baby Boomer paradise. It’s got chic shops and great dining — with Rollins College to give it a boost of youth. One local called Winter Park “a little cultural oasis in the middle of Mickey Mouse.” You’ll find the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. Particularly amazing: The chapel interior the artist designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

    — Jan Tuckwood

  • Home Sales in Sarasota Up 12.7% over last year!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Sarasota, Home Buying in Sarasota, Home Selling in Sarasota  |  December 15, 2011 10:46 AM  |  592 views  |  No comments

    November 2011 sales up 12.7 percent over last year

    November 2011 property transactions in the Sarasota real estate market totaled 602, up 12.7 percent over last November. The total also exceeded the October 2011 sales figure of 577. The market has remained strong and stable as the winter season gets into full swing, reflecting continued confidence in Sarasota as a destination location.

    In fact, the Today Show's real estate report from Barbara Corcoran in late November noted that Sarasota was one of the top recovering markets in the nation. Corcoran said Sarasota is a "beautiful beachfront community" that offers residents and visitors "a sophisticated, urban cultural experience" that is propelling sales and prices in 2011.

    Overall, sales in 2011 continued on pace to exceed last year by a wide margin, and should put the Sarasota market at the highest level since 2005. In fact, at the end of November, overall sales were within 186 sales of exceeding all of last year. This sales resurgence has paralleled the drop in the available inventory, and put the remaining months of inventory in the range of a seller's market.

    The inventory of available properties for sale in Sarasota was at 4,672 in November, up slightly from October's level of 4,525. The inventory sunk to a 10-year low of 4,408 in August 2011.

    The November 2011 median sale price for single family homes rose to $162,000 from the October 2011 median of $149,838, a rise of 8 percent. This month's figure was also higher than last November, when the median was $160,100. The condo figure has been fluctuating for several months, and again dropped in November to $127,000 - lower than last month's figure of $143,000 and last November's figure of $159,000. The year-to-date median sale price was $155,000 for single family homes and $157,250 for condos. These figures have remained remarkably steady for the past year, indicating a stabilizing market.

    "The Sarasota real estate market has retained traction, and we hope the brightening national economic picture will help maintain and even push this market higher," said SAR President Michael Bruno. "There is an encouraging sense of stability and strength in our market."

    Pending sales were up in November 2011 to 782 compared to last month's figure of 772 and last November's total of 764. Last month, 552 single family homes and 230 condos went under contract.

    The distressed property market was relatively unchanged, but did drop slightly from 43 percent of the total market to 41.3 percent. At the height of the foreclosure crisis, that figure topped 51 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

    "We were certainly happy to see that Sarasota was in the national spotlight on the Today Show, and in a positive way," said Bruno. "Very few communities in the nation can compete with Sarasota in terms of affordable home values, climate, culture, amenities and the wealth of properties offered here."

  • 10 top metros for out-of-area house hunters-Sarasota #1!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Sarasota, Home Buying in Sarasota, Home Selling in Sarasota  |  November 19, 2011 4:31 AM  |  542 views  |  No comments

    From Innman News--Metropolitan areas that have experienced heavy price declines are among the most popular among visitors to real estate search site Trulia, according to a new report launched by the company today. Trulia intends the report to be a forward-looking indicator of future housing demand.

    Trulia's Metro Movers Report is based on the ratio of inbound property searches from nonresidents of a metro compared to outbound searches from locals. The report examined searches on Trulia.com between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2011, in nearly 100 U.S. metro areas with at least 250,000 occupied housing units.

    The report found that more than half of properties viewed on Trulia, 59 percent, were outside of a searcher's current metro area, most often in a neighboring metro area. Slightly less than a quarter of searches, 23 percent, were for properties more than 500 miles away.

    More than half (56 percent) of property searches outside a house hunter's current metro area were in areas that have experienced larger price declines during the downturn, and 63 percent were for properties in lower-density metros, the report said.

    "Despite having more employment opportunities, the higher cost of housing in big cities has made homes in nearby suburbs and neighboring smaller metros much more attractive to today's homebuyers and renters," Trulia said.

    All of the 10 most popular metros have experienced double-digit price declines from peak to trough, with seven out of 10 experiencing declines approaching 50 percent or more, according to figures from the Federal Housing Finance Agency cited by Trulia.

    Half of the 10 metros are in Florida, two are in Southern California, and one is in Nevada -- specifically the Las Vegas metro area.

    Eight out of 10 metros had median list prices of less than $150,000 as of Nov. 15, with the exceptions of both California markets.

    "Since the housing bubble burst, home prices in cities throughout Florida, Nevada and inland California have fallen by half or more. A glut of vacant homes -- a result of overbuilding during the boom years and high foreclosure rates during the bust -- has made homeownership very affordable in these areas, which has become more of a draw than a deterrent to prospective movers.

    "We believe this future demand will lift some of the hardest-hit housing markets back toward growth," said Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist, in a statement.

    The North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla., metro area had the highest Metro Movers Index ratio among all metros, with six times more inbound searches than outbound searches.

    The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., area had about four times more inbound searches than outbound searches, while the other eight metros on the list had about two times more.

    Methodology: Trulia defines a metropolitan area's Metro Movers Index as the number of inbound property views by outsiders for each outbound property view by locals, based on almost 100 million monthly property views on Trulia.com, while adjusting for total views and site coverage.

    Median list price is based on all active, nonforeclosure listings on Trulia as of Nov. 15, 2011. The price drop from peak to trough is sourced from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It is the percentage change between the peak level during the boom and the lowest level since the boom, both of which vary by metro. --Source: Trulia.

    North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.

    Metro Movers Index (July-September 2011) 6.03
    Median list price (as of Nov. 15, 2011) $146,900
    % chg. from peak to trough (FHFA) -49%


    For the complete story see this link  http://www.inman.com/news/2011/11/15/10-top-metros-out-area-house-hunter

  • Sarasota sales for September 2011 outpace last year

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Sarasota, Home Buying in Sarasota, Home Selling in Sarasota  |  October 26, 2011 11:37 AM  |  561 views  |  No comments

    Sarasota sales for September 2011 outpace last year--  September 2011 property sales in the Sarasota real estate market were ahead of last September, with 570 this year compared to only 547 at the same time last year. This represents a small drop in transactions compared to August 2011, when 601 sales were recorded. But historically, the early fall is one of the slower sales seasons.

    A recent article in Realtor® Magazine Daily News noted that of the top 15 U.S. cities showing signs of year-over-year increases in list prices, ten are in Florida, and the Sarasota-Bradenton area came in 6th, with list prices up 15.9 percent. Listing price increases generally reflect optimism among sellers that a market is ready to head upwards.

    The inventory of available properties for sale in Sarasota has been dropping for the past nine months, and was up only slightly in September to 4,430 after hitting a 10-year low of 4,408 the previous month.

    The latest monthly figures in September showed a median price of $165,000 for single family homes, the same as August, and $140,000 for condos. The condo figure has been fluctuating for several months, hitting $185,000 in June, then dropping to $145,000 in July before climbing back up to $165,000 in August. These variations can be explained by the fact that certain months have seen the buying public focusing on smaller, bargain priced units, while other months have seen a higher concentration of luxury condo sales.

    "In 2011, we've seen an acceleration of the market recovery, but we still have a distressed market that is weighing down on the median sales prices," said SAR President Michael Bruno. "Overall, we had distressed sales at 43 percent of the total, which was a little higher than in August, but is still far below the 51 percent total in November 2010, almost a year ago. So we're hopeful that the worst is over for foreclosures and short sales."

    The months of inventory rose slightly to 6.7 months for single family homes, from last month's figure of 6.3 months. For condos, the months of inventory also rose to 11.1 months from 10.2 months in August. In September 2010, the figures were 9.9 months and 15.1 months, respectively. Both figures again remained far below the highs of 25.3 months for single family (in early 2009) and 41.7 months for condos (in late 2008). This statistic represents the time it would take to sell the existing inventory at the current month's rate of sales. The 6 month level is traditionally a point which represents equilibrium in the market between buyers and sellers.

    In September 2011, pending sales were down slightly from last September - 723 to 744 - and also down from August, when there were 813 pending sales. Last month there were 547 single family homes and 176 condos that went under contract.

    "The September market is normally a slower time of the year, so there were no real surprises this year," said Bruno. "The word of mouth among agents and brokers has been very positive, and I'm expecting a good season surge as we welcome back our winter residents and visitors. When it cools off up north, the market usually heats up in Sarasota."

  • It's Time to Buy That House

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Sarasota, Financing in Sarasota, In My Neighborhood in Sarasota  |  October 16, 2011 5:04 AM  |  567 views  |  No comments

    From the Wall Street Journal 10-15-11---  U.S. house prices have plunged by nearly a third since 2006, and homeownership rates are falling at the fastest pace since the Great Depression.

    The good news? Two key measures now suggest it's an excellent time to buy a house, either to live in for the long term or for investment income (but not for a quick flip). First, the nation's ratio of house prices to yearly rents is nearly restored to its prebubble average. Second, when mortgage rates are taken into consideration, houses are the most affordable they have been in decades.

    Two of the silliest mantras during the real-estate bubble were that a house is the best investment you will ever make and that a renter "throws money down the drain." Whether buying is a better deal than renting isn't a stagnant fact but a changing condition that depends on the relationship between prices and rents, the cost of financing and other factors.

    But the math is turning in buyers' favor. Stock-oriented folks can think of a house's price/rent ratio as akin to a stock's price/earnings ratio, in that it compares the cost of an asset with the money the asset is capable of generating. For investors, a lower ratio suggests more income for the price. For prospective homeowners, a lower ratio makes owning more attractive than renting, all else equal.

    Nationwide, the ratio of home prices to yearly rents is 11.3, down from 18.5 at the peak of the bubble, according to Moody's Analytics. The average from 1989 to 2003 was about 10, so valuations aren't quite back to normal.

    But for most home buyers, mortgage rates are a key determinant of their total costs. Rates are so low now that houses in many markets look like bargains, even if price/rent ratios aren't hitting new lows. The 30-year mortgage rate rose to 4.12% this week from a record low of 3.94% last week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. (The rates assume 0.8% in prepaid interest, or "points.") The latest rate is still less than half the average since 1971.

    As a result, house payments are more affordable than they have been in decades. The National Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index hit 183.7 in August, near its record high in data going back to 1970. The index's historic average is roughly 120. A reading of 100 would mean that a median-income family with a 20% down payment can afford a mortgage on a median-price home. So today's buyers can afford handsome houses—but prudent ones might opt for moderate houses with skimpy payments.

    For example, the median home in the greater Phoenix market, including houses, condos and co-ops, costs $121,700, according to Zillow.com. With a 20% down payment and a 4.12% mortgage rate, a buyer's monthly payment would be about $470. Rent for a comparable house would be more than $1,100 a month, according to data provided by Zillow.com.

    Of course, all of this assumes mortgages are available—no given now that lending standards have tightened. But long-term data on down payments and credit scores suggest conditions are more normal than many buyers think, according to Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. "If you have good credit, a job and a down payment, you can get a mortgage," Mr. Humphries says. "There's more paperwork and scrutiny than five years ago, but things are pretty much like they were in the '80s and '90s."

    Not all housing markets are bargains. Mr. Humphries says Zillow has developed a new price/rent ratio that uses estimates for each individual property rather than city medians, to better reflect the choices facing typical buyers. A fresh look at the numbers suggests Detroit and Miami are plenty cheap for buyers, with price/rent ratios of 5.6 and 7.7, respectively. New York and San Francisco are more expensive, with ratios of 17.6 and 17.2, respectively. The median ratio for 169 markets is 10.7.

    For investors seeking income, one back-of-the-envelope way of seeing how these numbers stack up against yields for other assets is to divide 1 by the price/rent ratio, resulting in a rent "yield." The median market's rent yield is 9.3% and Detroit's is 17.9%.

    Investors would then subtract for taxes, insurance, upkeep and other expenses—costs that vary widely. But suppose total costs were 4% of the purchase price. That would still leave a 5.3% rent yield in the typical market. With the 10-year Treasury yield at 2.2% and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index carrying a dividend yield of 2.1%, rents for residential housing in many markets look attractive.

    A few caveats are in order. First, not all transactions are average ones. Even in low-priced markets, buyers should shop carefully. Second, prices could fall further. Celia Chen, a senior director at Moody's Analytics, expects prices to drop 3% before bottoming early next year and rising slowly thereafter. "If the economy slips back into recession, however, we could easily see a 10% drop," Ms. Chen says.

    And property "flipping" can be dangerous even when prices are rising. That is because, absent a real-estate boom, house price gains simply aren't that exciting. Research by Yale economist Robert Shiller suggests houses more or less track the rate of inflation over long time periods.

    Houses aren't the magic wealth creators they were made out to be during the bubble. But when prices are low, loans are cheap and plump investment yields are scarce, buyers should jump.

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