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

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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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Sales surge in December 2010 and Prices Remain Stable

By | January 13, 2011

The Sarasota real estate market saw a big surge in December sales, from 534 in November to 681 last month for a 27.8 percent increase. In addition, the median sales price for both single family homes and condos was up in December 2010, indicating a recovering local real estate market. The property sales breakdown in December 2010 was 500 single family home sales and 181 condos.

The statistics for December 2010 were even better than December 2009. The 681 total sales reported last month topped the 648 sales in December 2009. The median sale price for single family homes stood at $165,000, a small drop from last year’s figure of $170,000, but higher than the November 2010 figure of $160,100. For condos, the median price rose slightly to $160,000 from the previous month’s $159,000, down from last December’s median of $199,000. But condo prices have sunk below the $150,000 level several times in 2010, so the current figure indicates a sign of improvement.

Pending sales remained strong in December 2010 at 789, compared to 764 in November 2010, and higher than the 739 reported last December, when the market was still strengthened by the homebuyer tax credit initiative. This statistic is a strong indicator for the next two or three months of sales, as pending sales reflect current buyer activity. “2010 ended with a resurgent local real estate market, and the higher number of pending sales tells me we could see continued strength in early 2011,” said SAR President Michael Bruno. “For the second half of 2010, there was a fairly steady trend in sales and prices, another sign of stability and recovery. Word of mouth indicates we are seeing more showings and more closings this season than we have in quite a while. And this year, we don’t have the homebuyer tax credit to point to as a reason for the surge. Sarasota is just a great place to purchase a property.”

Inventory dipped in December 2010 to 6,047 from 6,207  – the lowest since August 2010 when 6,039 properties were on the market. The higher sales volume and lower inventory levels meant a major drop in the months of inventory to 7.8 months for single family homes (from 10.9 months in November 2010), and 11.7 months for condos (from 13.3 months in November 2010). The market is considered to be in equilibrium between a buyers and sellers market once the figure reaches the 6 month level.

There was also more good news on the distressed property sales front, as short sales and foreclosure sales once again fell to 44 percent of overall sales, from 46 percent last month. For the entire year 2010, distressed sales made up 36 percent of overall sales.  “The fact that we’re trending downward for distressed property sales is encouraging,” noted Bruno. “We are all hoping 2011 is a turning point and the worst is behind us. The improving national economic picture and recent drop in the national unemployment rate are signs that the economy is heading in the right direction.”

Overall, 2010 sales were up 12.4 percent compared to 2009 – 7,603 to 6,739 total sales. The median sale price for both single family homes and condos for 2010 stood at $163,000. For 2009, the median sale price for single family was also $163,000, and for condos was $190,000.
Sales in the Sarasota market have now risen for two consecutive years since a low point of 5,820 sales in 2008. The level of sales is now at its highest point since 2005.

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Condos Vs. Single Family Homes

By | June 25, 2010

One of the most common things people tell us when they’re considering a home in our area is that they haven’t decided whether they’d prefer a house or a condo.  This question, though basic on the surface, is a complex and significant choice that will help determine many big factors in the real estate process – and in the buyer’s lifestyle for years to come.

It’s important to determine the answer to this question very early on as it will dramatically change the price point, location, style, and condition of your upcoming purchase.

Why Purchase A  Condo?

Condos are very popular with buyers who want to relax and enjoy their lifestyle without worrying about excessive maintenance.  They’re ideal for people who only plan to live in the unit part-time because basic upkeep, like lawn and exterior maintenance, is included in the condo fees and isn’t a concern for an owner when he/she isn’t in the area.  Condos are also popular among people who want to live a resort lifestyle year-round, people who don’t have the ability or desire to perform maintenance, and people who want to live close to community hubs (downtown areas, beaches, etc.)

Because condos often share walls and amenities, they tend to harbor a social atmosphere among owners.  Buyers can expect to see their neighbors year after year by the pool, in the community room, or in the fitness center.  This closeness of living necessitates stricter rules and regulations than one could expect to see in single-family homes, particularly in relation to pets – buyers with birds, big dogs, or exotic animals will have a much more limited scope of units to choose from.  Unit exteriors also tend to be more cookie-cutter in appearance and it’s uncommon for an owner to be able to change anything outside the unit’s walls.

There are several types of condos to choose from.  True condos are apartment-style stacked dwellings with shared stairs and elevators.  Townhouses are generally multi-story and come in rows of 4-to-6 attached homes; unlike apartment style condos, these homes generally have garages and sometimes even small yards.  Villas generally come in groups of two with a single shared wall and roof and exterior maintenance is split between the neighbors; though still restrictive in nature, this type is the closest unit type to a single-family home.

View All Sarasota Condos For Sale.

Why Purchase A Single Family Home?

Houses, or single family homes, remain the most popular type of dwelling in most locales.  Houses afford owners more choices when it comes to use and appearance; although some communities are deed-restricted, owners typically have the freedom to use their homes as they wish.

Houses tend to be larger than condos and will almost always have yards.  They are also much more private than condos and there is separation between the neighbors.  Houses tend to be much more popular among people with young families, full-time residents, and people who put a high value on their property freedom.

Houses will usually cost more than condos – the construction cost is higher per unit, and there’s more demand – but they will also typically resell for more.  Homeowner’s association fees, if any, are typically significantly lower than condo fees but there are fewer included amenities.  Houses are also usually much easier to rent.

View All Sarasota Houses For Sale.


Single Family Homes

  • Tend to be closer to community hubs
  • Tend to be in residential areas
  • Most maintenance included
  • Most maintenance excluded
  • Restrictive rules, particularly in regard to pets
  • Fewer rules and regulations, pets usually OK
  • Higher fees, more included (often will pay for cable, exterior maintenance, water, and common areas; associations vary.)
  • Lower fees, less included
  • More social
  • More private

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Short Sale vs. Foreclosure – Seller Information

By | April 27, 2010

There are a lot of really, really good reasons not to let the bank simply foreclose on your property; to name a few, short sales have significantly less impact on your credit score, you can often avoid a deficiency judgement with a short sale, and short sales don’t jeapordize any security clearance you may have. Here’s a more comprehensive analysis.

Foreclosure Short Sale
> Primary homeowners who get foreclosed on are ineligible for Fannie Mae loans for a period of 5 years.

(Fannie Mae is one of the largest financers in the country.)

> Homeowners in a successful short sale are eligible again after only 2 years.
> Investors who get foreclosed on are ineligible for Fannie Mae loans for a period of 7 years. > Investors in a successful short sale are eligible again after only 2 years.
> On any future 1003 application, a prospective borrower will have to answer YES to question C in section VIII that asks, “Have you ever had property foreclosed upon or given title or deed-in-lieu thereof in the last 7 years?”

This will affect future rates.

> There is no similar declaration or question regarding a short sale.
> Your credit score may be lowered anywhere from 250 to over 300 points. Typically foreclosure will affect your score for over 3 years. > Only late payments will show and after sale mortgage will be reported as paid or negotiated. This will lower the score as little as 50 points if all other payments are being made. A short sale’s effect can be as brief as 12 to 18 months.
> Foreclosure will remain as a public record on a person’s credit history for 10 years or more. > Short sales are not reported on a credit history. There is no specific reporting item for ‘short sale’ and the loan is typically reported as “Paid in Full, Settled.”
> Foreclosure is the most challenging issue against a security clearance outside the conviction of a serious misdemeanor or a felony. Police officers, military personnel, CIA, security, and almost everyone else who has a foreclosure on their record will in almost all cases have their clearance revoked and their position terminated. > A short sale on its own will not challenge most security clearances.
> Employers have the right and are actively checking the credit regularly of all employees who are in sensitive positions. A foreclosure is in many cases grounds for immediate reassignment or termination. > A short sale is not reported on a credit report and is therefore not a challenge to employment.
> Many employers are requiring credit checks on all job applicants. A foreclosure is one of the most detrimental credit items an applicant can have and can present a major challenge to employment. > A short sale is not reported on a credit report and is therefore not a challenge to employment.
> In 100% of Florida foreclosures the bank has the right to pursue a deficiency judgement. > In many short sales it is possible to convince the lender to give up the right to pursue a deficiency judgement against the homeowner.
> In a foreclosure the home will have to go through an REO process if it does not sell at auction. In most cases this will result in a lower sales price and longer time to sell in a declining market. This will result in a higher possible deficiency judgement. > In a properly managed short sale where the lender has the right to pursue a short sale, the home is sold at a price that should be close to market value and in almost all cases will be better than a REO sale, resulting in a lower deficiency.

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