Updates from May, 2012

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  • Lakewood Ranch, Gulf Gate and Siesta Key stand out in real estate rebound

    2:29 pm on May 31, 2012 | Comments:0
      Filed under: Housing Market, Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, Siesta Key

    By now you’ve heard: Sarasota real estate is on the rebound. Sales keep climbing and prices are edging up, while properties’ time on the market continues to drop.

    According to the Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR), sales reached a seven-year high in March 2012, with more than 800 properties changing hands. Pending sales, which represent properties that went under contract, achieved their highest level in a year — an indication that the market surge will continue. SAR president Laura Benson called the numbers “amazing.”

    But which areas, and what kinds of properties, are hottest? According to local real estate experts, three locales are current stand-outs: Lakewood Ranch, Siesta Key and Gulf Gate. Other areas are selling well — “Really, there’s no place that isn’t hot,” said Benson — but these are three favorites in their respective markets.

    Ranch houses

    On a recent Sunday, Cindy and Jason Zabawa spent the afternoon at Central Park in Lakewood Ranch, imagining the 3,200-square-foot home that will soon be theirs. They already had a good idea: It would look much like the “Dolcetto” model in which they sat with their sales agent, Rob Hall of Cardel Homes. (More …)

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  • Best Places to Retire 2012 - 10 Great Sunny Places to Retire

    11:37 am on January 26, 2012 | Comments:0
    Tags: AARP, , Dr. Beach, , ,   Filed under: Buyer Info, Consumer news and advice, Retirement, Sarasota, Second Home Buyers, Seller Info, Siesta Key, The Gulf Islands, Tourism, Vacation

    If bright skies and warm temperatures are on your must-have list, these cities fit the bill

     from: AARP | January 2012
    Sarasota, Florida

    If you’ve ever dreamed of retiring on the best beach in the U.S., now might be your chance: Siesta Beach, of the dozens of waterfront strands in and around Sarasota, earned the top beach in the U.S. honors from Dr. Beach for the white sands, crystal water and wide area for sunbathing, playing or people watching.

    Sarasota, which sits south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is beach-centric but there’s more to this city of 52,025 people than simply embedding toes in sand.

    See also: Ten best states for retirement.

    Start with the arts scene, which includes a renowned Rubens collection at the Ringling Museum of Art, which is adjacent to John Ringling’s Ca D’Zan Mansion, an impressive, if somewhat gaudy, homage to Venetian Gothic architecture. Sarasota also has its own opera house, ballet company, symphony orchestra and multiple theaters, all in a modern downtown surrounded by water.

    The city’s historic neighborhoods include Towles Court art district, which harbors colorful wooden homes, galleries, shops and restaurants. Main Street is ideal for walking — and popping in and out of quaint boutiques and restaurants, along with lively bars. Towles Court hosts regular art walks, featuring works of local artists.
    For non-beach natural diversions, forge into Myakka River State Park, which offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, cabin rentals and airboat tours. Wildlife here includes red-tailed hawks, otters, foxes and alligators. And for man-made diversions? Golf and tennis are big in Sarasota, with dozens of public and private courses and hundreds of tennis courts. For baseball fans, Ed Smith Stadium is the spring training headquarters of the Baltimore Orioles and home to a minor league franchise.

    Sarasota was hit hard during the housing crash and is still recovering. Foreclosures are a big issue here, but that also means you might pick up a house at a steep discount. Unemployment is above the national average and most jobs are in retail, tourism and hospitality, and thus don’t pay well. But prices of most goods and services are in line with incomes, thus the cost of living index is average.

    Crime is above average here but most residents say they are happy living here, and most are fairly healthy: The obesity rate is below the national average (although the diabetes rate is slightly above average). While there’s no science to prove it, good health and happiness may be linked to hanging around some of the world’s best beaches every day.

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  • Dr. Beach's Top 10 Beaches, 2011: Siesta Beach

    10:59 am on May 27, 2011 | Comments:0
    Tags: , best, , , Top   Filed under: Buyer Info, Consumer news and advice, Sarasota, Siesta Key

    Coastal scientist Stephen P. Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research and known as “Dr. Beach,” announced his 21st annual Top 10 Beaches list on May 27. He has compiled the list annually since 1991 using 50 criteria. Here are his top 10 picks for 2011.
    Siesta Beach in Sarasota boasts that it has the finest and whitest sand in the world, and I cannot argue with this claim; the powdery sand is nearly pure quartz crystal,” Leatherman said. The water is blue, clean and clear, making it particularly inviting to bathers and swimmers.
    The beach is hundreds of yards wide, attracting volleyball players, beachcombers and sun worshippers. Waves are normally measured in inches, and the beach gradually slopes into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, making it a safe area for children.
    This beach park is complete with showers and bathrooms, snack bars, grills, picnic tables, shade trees and a large parking area, which fills up on summer weekends. Siesta Beach is a smokeless beach, earning extra points for cleanliness and environmental management.
    “My favorite time to visit is after Labor Day when things have calmed down, and the water is still warm enough for swimming until November,” Leatherman said. “Snowbirds from northern climes call this area home during the winter because of the great weather.  The beaches are for exploring, but not swimming at this time of year, albeit I have been in the water as early as March.”
    Fans of Dr. Beach will note that Siesta Beach was on last year’s Top 10 list in spite of the BP oil spill. “Siesta Beach in Sarasota was on the list in 2010 because I strongly believed that the Loop Current would keep any oil away from the southwest Florida beaches, which it did — my prediction was correct,” Leatherman said.
    Slide show text by Robin Dalmas, Bing Travel; photo editing by Connie Ricca.
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