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May Events in and around Sarasota

By | April 29, 2011

Sarasota Skyline from City Island

Many of our seasonal residents have returned north so it’s a great time to get out and enjoy all that Sarasota has to offer. Here’s just a few of the activities happening in the Sarasota area during the month of May:

Date Event or Activity Location Click Link for More Information
May 1st 33rd Annual Siesta Fiesta Siesta Key Siesta Fiesta
May 1-31st Ringling School of Art & Design Adult Classes Sarasota Ringling School of Art
May 1st Spring Garden Tour Sarasota UF Extension Service
May 1st The Garden Music Series – Sarasota Brass Quintet Sarasota Selby Gardens
May 1st Annual Jazz on the Water Cruise on LeBarge Sarasota Jazz Club of Sarasota
May 4th Courthouse Square Concerts Bradenton Manatee County Courthouse
May 5th 2nd Annual Fiesta on Main Street Sarasota Fiesta on Main
May 5th Bluegrass Jam at Bee Ridge Park Sarasota Sarasota County Parks
May 6-21st New College Art Exhibition Sarasota New College
May 7th Downtown Bradenton Farmers Market Bradenton Farmers Market
May 7th Cruzin’ on Dearborn Englewood Englewood Village
May 7th Classic Corvettes on the Circle St. Armands St. Armands Circle
May 8th Annual Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest Siesta Key Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce
May 9th “Driving Miss Daisy” Monday Night Movies at Ringling Sarasota Ringling Museum
May 13-14th Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration Anna Maria Island SRQ Magazine
May 13th Paradise Found Tropical Dance Party Osprey Bentley’s Resort Hotel
May 14h 15th Annual Big Truck Day Sarasota Phillippi Estate Park
May 15th Drum Circle Siesta Key Drum Circle
May 18th Dialogues with Florida’s Past Sarasota New College Campus
May 19th Art After 5: Jazz on the Bay Sarasota Ringling Museum
May 19th Rennie Harris Puremovement Sarasota Asolo Theatre
May 20th Reels at Rossi Park “Rising Stars” Bradenton Realize Bradenton
May 20th May Art Walk at Towles Court Sarasota Towles Court
May 21st Party on the Plaza Bradenton Realize Bradenton
May 21st Pups at the Point: Pets Playtime at the Museum Osprey Spanish Point Museum
May 21-22nd 8th Annual Downtown Sarasota Craft Fair Sarasota Art Festival
May 25th Southeastern Guide Dogs Campus Tour Sarasota Southeastern Guide Dogs
May 25th Hurricane Preparedness Program Sarasota Twin Lakes Park
May 28th Native Plant Walk at Deer Prairie Creek Preserve Venice Native Plant Society
May 31st Afternoon at the Movies Venice Jacaranda Library

Call us when you are ready to make your move! To search for homes in the area go to Search for Sarasota Homes. We’re here to help you every step of the way…call us today!

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Rising Rents Make Rentals Less Appealing

By | April 23, 2011

Apartment bargains once dominated the housing market, but those bargains have slowly faded away. As vacancies decrease and rents rise, renters are finding fewer deals.

Analysts expect vacancies to decrease even more and rents to continue to rise through 2013, as the economy continues to improve.

Rental activity recorded its best start for the year since 1999, according to Reis Inc. Vacancy rates have fallen to mid-2008 levels and rents have increased for the past five quarters, now averaging $991 per month nationwide.

Renters are finding the fewest deals along the coasts, such as New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose, Calif. These cities are experiencing low vacancy rates. Also, a boost in these cities’ economies is sending rents higher. New York City alone has seen double rent increases compared to the national average and has the lowest vacancy rate in the nation.

The best rental deals can be found in Las Vegas, Tucson, Ariz., Phoenix, and several cities in Florida–all cities where unemployment and foreclosures remain high. According to Reis, Las Vegas was the only city to see rents fall last year.

However, analysts say that bargains across the country are getting fewer, and renters should expect to see an increase in rents over the next three years.

View the Top 6 Cities Where Buying Is Better Than Renting.

Source: “Rental Market Swings Back in Favor of Landlords,” MSNBC.com (April 12, 2011)

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RE/MAX Alliance Group Still the Market Leader in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties!

By | April 19, 2011

DID YOU KNOW……… A few weeks ago the Herald Tribune published a blog that said Coldwell Banker was the local real estate market leader siting sales transaction figures that were incorrect and incomplete as they were skewed toward only one Coldwell Banker franchise.  Luckily, somehow the Trib was made aware of their mistake and last week published an apology to RE/MAX Alliance Group, and a new article that announced that WE are the true market leaders in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties!
Click on this link to read the article:  http://insiderealestate.heraldtribune.com/2011/04/07/appologies-to-remax-alliance-and-coldwell-banker-remax-alliance-is-still-the-market-leader/

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Flipping Foreclosures Becomes New Game

By | April 19, 2011

More investors are finding a sweet spot in flipping foreclosures, but it’s not the same type of house flipping seen during the real estate boom.

During the housing boom, investors would take advantage of skyrocketing real estate prices and loose lending regulations by buying a property, remodeling, and then selling it for profit.

Today’s flippers are buying at ultra-low prices mostly in cash deals and are doing mostly only minor repairs, such as repainting, replacing appliances, and sprucing up the landscaping. Their profits aren’t as large when they sell, but they may sell more properties in a year, says Penny Boling, the broker-in-charge of Century 21 Boling and Associates in Myrtle Beach.

The ‘Street Sweepers’
Keith Gamble has made foreclosure flipping a full-time job. He purchases properties at a monthly foreclosure sale and usually has about four properties at any given time.

“Some people’s bad fortune is other people’s opportunity,” Gamble says. “I know that sounds callous — I know people doing what I’m doing at the courthouse each month are there to take advantage of that opportunity, but I also feel we provide a backstop to the market.”

The flippers are often taking the neighborhood’s blight and helping to fix up the homes that had been badly trashed from the previous owner. Boling says the investors’ abilities to also pay cash will help the market get through the abundant foreclosures that are plaguing sales.

“They’re kind of like the street sweepers,” Boling says of the property flippers. “They’re part of the cleanup committee of this marketplace.”

Source: “Foreclosures Offer New Twist on Old Game: Flipping Houses,” RISMedia (April 4, 2011)

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Fannie Offers Closing Cost Help for REOs

By | April 15, 2011

Fannie Mae is trying to lure more buyers to its foreclosure properties by offering to cover 3.5 percent in closing costs for home owners who close by June 30 on its HomePath properties.

Fannie’s HomePath program provides low down payment financing on REO property sales and has no requirements for mortgage insurance or appraisals.

During the fourth quarter of last year, Fannie offered closing cost assistance and was able to recoup 55 percent of unpaid principal balance on defaulted mortgages through the sales.

Source: “To Move REO, Fannie Offers Deals to Consumers,” National Mortgage News (April 12, 2011)

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Burns Court Dining

By | April 14, 2011

The Burns Court Historic District has been designated a U.S. historic district since 1984. The district runs from 400 through 446 Burns Court and 418, 426, and 446 South Pineapple Avenue and contains 24 historic buildings. The area is a mix of residential, art and antique galleries, shops, restaurants and the Burns Court Cinema.

Retropolitan in Burns Court

I had the pleasure of dining at the Retropolitan last week and would highly recommend it. The owners refer to it as a gastro pub which is a British term for a public house that specializes in serving high-quality food which it was. It’s not your run-of-the-mill menu and everything we tried was good including crab cakes, tilapia, grilled meatloaf and fried chicken salad. As sides, the watermelon, feta and mint salad and fried green tomatoes were tasty. There are only 12 tables and no reservations for parties less than 6 so arrive early or expect to wait a bit.

If you’re in the mood for good food in a quaint atmosphere check them out at http://www.retropolitangrill.com/.

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Gecko’s Trivia Wednesday

By | March 28, 2011

Why haven’t you been to the new Gecko’s on Hillview?   Gecko’s fills a void that Southside Village was lacking: really good food at a really good price.  It feels like Southside Village and not like you’re at a bar in a strip mall (like, um, at the original Gecko’s at the Landings).  It’s really nice in there: loft celings, beautiful rough-edged granite bar and table tops, and plenty of room to pack in the crowds, which they’ve managed to do quite effectively since opening earlier this summer.

My favorite night to go is Wednesday nights for team trivia.  My mom and I are regulars, and when it’s just the two of us we are known as the “Two Non-Blondes.”  I refuse to explain why this is ironic.  We’ve won quite a few times, actually, so our outings usually pay for themselves (there are cash prizes for 1st-3rd places).  If you’re playing, don’t even think about pulling your smart phone out during the game or you will see me tattling on you to the bartender…yes, I’m that girl.  And you don’t want to upset Josh, because he is one of the best bartenders in this town.

Their entrees are big enough to split, especially the New Orleans pasta with blackened chicken, which is what we usually order…sets us back $10.59, which doesn’t even use up a whole 3rd place trivia gift card.  Where else in Sarasota can you get fresh fish, vegetables, and a tasty side for $10.99?  The seared tuna is excellent, and I’m embarrassed to say I had to try it off of someone else’s plate because I wasn’t brave enough to try rare fish in a pub.  The chicken burrito  is also excellent and can feed two.  They also have weekly specials that are always REALLY good, for those of us who are in there so often that we get sick of the menu.  In terms of bar food, the hummus plate is very good and so big it’s a scene $7.99, and their quesadillas ($8.99 for chicken) and homemade potato chips smothered with blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette ($8.99) are also big enough to share with a few people.  The chips and salsa and/or queso are just blah.

Their happy hour specials are the best in Sarasota: discounted domestic drafts and two for one wells and house wines until 7 p.m.  I recently purchased a Happy Hour Joker Card through a nifty little promotion they had through the Sarasota Board of Realtors, which means my happy hour lasts until 8!  They have my favorite beer (Abita Purple Haze) on draft, and their house wines are very, very decent.  If you go there, tell them the “Two Non-Blondes” sent you.

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The Warm Winter Florida Weather is Here!

By | February 24, 2011

Finally we are seeing the weather that makes Sarasota one of the most desirable places in the winter months to visit or live!!  This past week we have enjoyed temperatures in the mid 70’s with lots of sunshine and beautiful sea breezes.  Both the locals and the visitors have been hitting our beaches to soak up the Florida sunshine. In the afternoons and evenings outdoor restaurants are filled with folks who come to unwind and enjoy the pleasant weather.  When much of the country is still cold and gray, it is nice to have a place to put your toes in the sand and sit back and relax!  As we like to say, “We are living the dream in Sarasota!”  Come spend a Summer this Winter in Sarasota.

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It’s Strawberry Season At Detweiler’s Farmer’s Market!

By | February 21, 2011

Detweiler's Farmer's MarketOne of the coolest things about living in Florida is our year-long growing season.  We’ve got the juiciest tomatoes in the summertime, the biggest strawberries in the wintertime, the best you-name-it in the meantime – and no matter what your flavor, we’ve got the best place to get it: Detweiler’s Farmer’s Market.

To us locals, Detweiler’s isn’t a big secret (no matter how much we’d like it to be).  Simply put, it’s just the best place in Sarasota to get your produce.  I go out of my way at least once a week to see what Henry, Sr.’s got for dinner, and I don’t even GLANCE at the produce department at the supermarkets anymore.

And that’s not even the best part …

Back by the deli counter, just around the corner from the specialty cheese display, there’s a genuine, bonafide Big Olaf ice cream stand.  You haven’t had ice cream until you’ve tried Sarasota’s local creamery – hands down the best ice cream in the world – and right now they’re selling fresh strawberry milkshakes made with real Florida strawberries.

Here’s what Henry, Sr. says about his shop:

I love to see the smile  on your face, when you tell me, thats the way I remember it tasting …when  mom or dad picked it FRESH from their Garden.

You know what I love, Henry?  Strawberries.

Detweiler’s Farmer’s Market

Detweiler’s Farmers Market

6000 Palmer Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34232

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Bonefish Grill

By | February 15, 2011

 

I lived in Chicago for half a decade, and I would have been mortified to bring a weekend guest to the Cheesecake Factory downtown.  Shortly after I moved here, a new friend suggested we go to Bonefish.  I said “sure!”all while turning up my inner nose at the idea.  Who would go to a chain restaurant with all these great seafood restaurants around?  Years later, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a regular.  The service is always great, the food is always excellent, and as odd as it may be, it’s actually quite the locals scene.  It’s so packed during Season that you have to hover and stalk seats at the bar and common tables, but it’s a fun energy.  We usually sit in the bar, but if you want a table expect to wait an hour and a half during season.  Don’t worry though, they pass tasty snacks around on trays while you wait!  The bartenders make it a point to know your name too, which is a nice touch.  I get the same thing almost every time: Jumbo Sea Scallops and Shrimp (except I ask for all Scallops, and they don’t charge me extra!), around $16.  They are never overcooked and are always properly cleaned so you don’t bite into that tough little morsel from hell that they’re supposed to cut off.   You can pick from among four sauces (Pan Asian, Lemon Butter, Chimichurri, or Warm Mango Salsa), but if you’re nice you can ask them to serve your fish grilled and sample several of the sauces!  I like the Lemon Butter and Chimichurri.  I was brave enough to try the Imperial Longfin the other day and it was TO DIE FOR.  Fresh, tender, flaky, and rich enough that I suspected Paula Deen might just come walzing out of the kitchen yelling “Hey y’all, surprise, it was me that cooked this!” (Sidebar: Just how cool would that have been?)  They also have a seasonal side, which right now seems to be some kind of spaghetti squash which is just ok, but for $1 you can substitute one of their other sides, which I will now be doing on a regular basis.  The Haricot Verts and Potatoes Au Gratin are the best, though the Garlic potatoes are excellent as well.  On Wednesdays bang bang shrimp are $5, so if you want a seat at the bar come early.  When there is a bargain Sarasota, the locals will pack it in!  Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to go when they have the chocolate crème brulee, get it, but plan on your bill being permanently more expensive because you will always feel incomplete without it.  I’m not one to turn down bread, but if you plan on getting dessert or an appetizer (AHI TUNA, don’t ask, just get it), do yourself a favor and skip it unless your ultimate plan for the evening is laying on your couch in misery.

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