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The Sarasota waterfront.

Prime waterfront property is scarce, prices are going up, and buyers are tearing down some of the older, smaller homes to give them the space that they need. What all of this equals is a hot waterfront market in Sarasota, maybe the hottest in Florida.

Just listen to what some of the top waterfront Realtors in Sarasota are saying.

Waterfront specialist Peter Laughlin, a Broker-Associate with Mount Vernon Realty Co., Inc., points out that because Sarasota offers such a unique way of living, with its culture, beautiful boating water and beaches, we're attracting a steady stream of newcomers to our shores. And once they get here, they're further won over by the waterfront values. "Our waterfront property is still reasonable compared to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Naples," he says. That means we can anticipate very good appreciation from the waterfront, especially in some of the more established communities with older homes.

A case in point is Country Club Shores on Longboat Key. After Laughlin found two investors to redo two bayfront properties in this waterfront community, other Country Club Shores homeowners decided to do major renovations. For example, a European businessman bought Bill Mote's property on Spinnaker Lane and built a 7,700-square-foot home that he plans to use as a winter retreat and a place to entertain European clients. Another European, renowned Dutch architect Henri Schouteen, retired to Country Club Shores and has designed five of the six homes being built there. The improvements to bayfront property in this area in the last eight months total $10 million, and the effect has been to increase the property values in Country Club Shores. Laughlin says not since the redevelopment of Bird Key has there been such a dramatic change to the Sarasota bayfront market. For more information on Laughlin and this exciting Longboat Key neighborhood, see page 53.

Ann Martin, a Realtor at Michael Saunders & Company, confirms that major renovations are going on all along the Sarasota waterfront. She sees it especially on Bird Key, in Harbor Acres and Cherokee Park. "People today want space around them, whether it's for their service staff or a nanny," she says. "Their preference is for a house they can just move into, a house that already has the space, but because there aren't many of those, it's driven up the prices of the existing homes and forced the others to tear houses down and build something larger."

Martin says the upper-end market on the waterfront is extremely active. She has sold a number of upper-end waterfront homes recently, including one listed and marketed by Annette Ayers of Palmeri Realty, which sold for $5,750,000. Ayers says the Casey Key sale is probably a record for the southwest coast of Florida.

"We've always thought that Casey Key was very special," she says, "and this sale shows how very valuable things are here."

The property was set on four acres on North Casey Key and next to a 170-acre wildlife preserve. The previous owners bought a vein of stone in a Mexican quarry and brought over eight Mexican stone craftsmen to build the house; both the inside and outside walls are stone. The balustrades and many of the other decorative features were handcarved.

The buyers were a European family. Ayers says this sale is just an example of how Sarasota is being discovered. "These people have visited Florida," she says. "They know Palm Beach and Naples and they wanted Casey Key." Indeed, says Martin, the real estate division of Sotheby's, which has traditionally concentrated its attention on Palm Beach, Miami and Naples, is now shifting some of this interest to Sarasota. "They're becoming very active in our market," she says. "They see the activity and the prestige of being here. I can tell you that the waterfront market is better than it's ever been. We are definitely hot."

Pamela McCullough, vice president of Tangerine Development Company, agrees. "We're at the end of available property and it ripples through. Sarasota is fortunate because we have inland bodies of water," she says. "Our stringent building codes keep the waterfront beautiful."

McCullough, who specializes in Longboat Key properties, says the resort feel of this island and the fact that it's a master-planned community make it popular with upper-end buyers. Right now, everything out there is selling well, she says.

Janice Montini of Realty Sales, Inc. points out that even in a dynamic market, sellers need up-to-the-minute input from their brokers about comparables and pricing trends. "This is a growth market right now," says Montini. "But the bottom line is, if properties are priced right, they will sell."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sarasota, Florida
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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