O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill at Island Park in Sarasota

By | November 5, 2011

Welcome to our waterfront tiki bar complete with a huge palm-frond covered deck and waterfront tiki bar! O’Leary’s has been around for years and is situated right on Sarasota Bay overlooking the water on Island Park in Sarasota. The restaurant is quite casual with window service only. It has waterfront picnic tables and is dog-friendly.

O’Leary’s features a guitar player (at least every time we go there) singing beach tunes. The energy and setting is great, the beer and wine is priced ok, and the food is, well, what you’d expect for window service. O’Leary’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and dinners usually run between $6-12. A pitcher of domestic beer is around $9. They have a full bar too.

We love O’Leary’s for its casual, waterfront atmosphere and because it is, unfortunately, one of the few remaining waterfront restaurants still around. Don’t forget, many people bring their dogs because it is very dog-friendly, so come and walk Island Park and settle in for some tunes at O’Leary’s, enjoy some average food and a great Sarasota waterfront lifestyle-if only for an hour or so. Oh yeah, you can come by boat as well but docking is limited and is adjacent to Enticer Watersports where they rent jet-ski’s and power boats, etc. O’Leary’s is calling your name and is located at 5 Bayfront Dr. on Island Park near Marina Jack’s in Sarasota.

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Sarasota History Alive 5th Edition

By | November 3, 2011

In honor of the 4th Annual Sarasota Chalk Festival, we are doing an encore presentation of our video when the festival was gaining ground to become a very popular venue for our community. It has grown exponentially, and has overcome some hurdles to once again grace downtown’s Burns Court area on South Pineapple Avenue this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Courtesy of Sarasota History Alive!

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Truck Vs. House: The Saga Begins …

By | November 2, 2011

Q: What’s worse than David Arquette getting voted off Dancing With The Stars?

A: Watching David Arquette get voted off DWTS … and then getting a phone call from your tenant telling you that a drunk driver just ran a 2,000 pound truck into your house.

Being the consummate real estate professional that I am, the first thought that crossed my mind was “well, THAT’LL make a good blog post!” :) … so here we are.

No one expects something like this to happen, but when it does, it’s a good reminder that sometimes life can throw you curveballs. Over the next two months (yes, that’s how long this is expected to take) I’ll be writing a series of short articles about how to deal with a problem like this. It’s a complicated fix with a lot of moving parts – I’ll need a structural engineer, a good general contractor, building permits, and some patient tenants – but it should make for a pretty good story.

If you’ve got any advice for me, please leave it in the comments. There are a lot of different ways to go about this and I’d love to hear what you have to say!


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Sarasota History Alive 4th Edition

By | October 27, 2011

Rosemary Cemetery is burial place for many early Sarasota citizens, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs including Scotsman John Hamilton Gillespie. We like to show this video during this time of year to set the mood for All Hallows Eve.

The cemetery was set aside in plat “Town of Sarasota”, filed on July 27, 1886.

Courtesy of Sarasota History Alive!

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Another Reason Siesta Key Beach is #1: Giant Lego Men

By | October 26, 2011

Yet another reason to visit the #1 beach in the country: giant Legos.

Early yesterday morning, passersby noticed that something strange had washed ashore.  Ego Leonard (a name apropos for a giant plastic man?) washed in from regions unknown and gave quite a start to early morning beach-goers.

He’s not a part of the new Legoland amusement park in Orlando, he’s not officially sanctioned by the Lego Group (the official Lego manufacturers), and apparently, he’s not very good at speaking English – his shirt reads ‘No Real Than You Are’.  Yeah, we don’t know what that means, either.

Maybe we can finally replace our famous chaperones at Island Park?

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Tell Me Again Why I Bought My House?!?

By | October 24, 2011

Grr, I’m an angry Realtor!

So I’m sitting in my office writing a price opinion for a neighbor, and I realize that although his house is a little bit nicer than mine … I paid a whole lot more than he’s going to get.

That little voice inside my head (you know the one) screams at me again, as it’s done so many times before: “Tell Me Again Why I Bought My House!”

I scream, I cuss, I violently throw old files around my office – and finally I even call my mom, who always has all the answers.

“Suck it up, Sunshine.” [Yes, she still calls me Sunshine.] “Things are hard for lots of people right now, but there’s no reason to worry. You owe more than your house is worth. So do lots of people. But it’s going to be OK for you, and it’s going to be OK for most of them. Stick with it and things will get better – I promise.”

Thanks, Mom. Fat lot of good THAT did me.

But then I stop and think about it for a while, and I realize that maybe, just maybe, things aren’t that bad after all:

1. I could be renting! It’s true that the monthly payment would be a little less, but I’d just be throwing my money away … the real truth is that every time I make a mortgage payment I’m putting a little bit away against my principal, and the rest is tax deductible. Those are mostly invisible on a monthly basis, but they’re there nonetheless – and they’re significant.

See, I bought my house in 2004 for $250,000. I put 20% down so that I wouldn’t pay PMI (but even if I had it, it would still be tax deductible) and I got a decent rate at 6%. My taxes and insurance come to about $3800 a year … so my monthly PITI payment is right around $1,500. After principal contribution and tax deductions, I’m actually only paying about $1,000 a month to live here.

Meanwhile, renters are paying about $1,250 in my neighborhood … and they have to ask permission just to paint their walls!

2. Housing is (and always was) a long term investment … and I’ve only been here a few years! My parents paid about $220,000 20 years ago for the house they’re living in now. Even in this really tough market it’s worth more than double that. This market will improve as it always has before. We’ve got more people on Earth than ever, and they all need a place to live. Why sell now, just when things are starting to improve?

3. What’s that? Did we pump $1 TRILLION into the economy over the past few years? Inflation, anyone? But wait … fixed-rate mortgages are pretty good hedges against inflation, aren’t they? [The answer is yes!] Is rent? [Duh, of course not!] So really, in just a couple more years, I could actually be paying less on a monthly basis than the renters around me? [Ohhh, baby!]

4. Foreclosure and short sale should only be a last, final, ultimate, everything-else-failed-and-nothing-else-can-save-me option that isn’t really an option at all. Foreclosure should be avoided at all costs; it all but guarantees that I won’t be able to buy a house for almost a decade.

When prices DO go back up (as they’ve already started to do in some places) I won’t be able to take advantage and I’ll still be stuck … renting! (Eww!)

You know what, Mom? You really do know best!

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Important Aspects of Selecting a Great Neighborhood

By | October 21, 2011

Many of my clients frequently ask the question – “How do I know if a neighborhood is good or bad?”. My answer has always been very careful due to the fact that I have worked with buyers from all over the world and I have found that what appeals to one buyer may not appeal to everyone. However, when I really started giving it some thought, I realized that ultimately, what drew me to my own neighborhood wasn’t who my neighbors were going to be, but the school district that I was going to be placing my son into, as well as the proximity to everything (shopping, the Interstate, entertainment, parks, and of course, the #1 rated Siesta Key Beach).

Any economist will tell you that in order for a neighborhood to be “good” you must weigh some important factors such as proximity to shopping, high household income, unemployment rate, and school district. Those factors will many times pre-determine how a neighborhood will perform with regards to how well the neighborhood is maintained and how well the home values will appreciate. As a Realtor, we often see communities with strong HOA’s looking great with perfectly manicured lawns, however, that should not detract from neighborhoods like Southgate that have a voluntary HOA. Very rarely have I driven through Southgate and seen anything but wonderful homes with great lawns. Lets keep in mind that many of the 1,000 homes in Southgate are assigned to Southside Elementary, Brookside Middle and Sarasota High. Southgate also has 4 parks within a 2 mile radius, and we are just 5 minutes to Siesta Key and Longboat Key, and just minutes to the Legacy Bike Trail which is a 12 mile bike trail that extends from Sarasota all the way to Venice.

One of the many things that I love about Sarasota, is whether you decide on the Southgate area, Gulfgate area, or even Lakewood Ranch area, you will find all of the important factors, which is why I call Sarasota “my little piece of Paradise”.

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Sarasota History Alive 3rd Edition

By | October 20, 2011

St. Armands Key has its roots firmly planted in John Ringling’s vision of becoming a beautiful residential area, with a centralized shopping and park feature to attract the well-to-do. What’s more, he knew that imported European statuary would add greatly to making this a reality. He was right!


Courtesy of Sarasota History Alive!

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Sarasota Real Estate Sales for September 2011 Outpace Last Year

By | October 18, 2011

The Sarasota Association of Realtors reports 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 Realtors 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.”

Click Here to view the full press release with statistics.

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Sarasota History Alive 2nd Edition

By | October 13, 2011

The Landing of the Scots

In honor of the upcoming John Hamilton Gillespie celebration (see the announcement in the right column), we would like to acquaint or re-acquaint you with the Landing of the Scots. It was tough-going back in the day, so we are sure you will appreciate the trials and tribulations of the colonists who came to their new world on the west coast of Florida.

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