Archives September, 2010

The Neighborhood Report – Garden Lakes

Find an assortment of charming homes in Garden Lakes. Pictured: 5610 Garden Lakes Drive.

Referred to by some as Bradenton’s Best-Kept Secret, Garden Lakes is a lovely community with comprised of freestanding homes, paired villas and a smaller group of 33 air-space condominiums, the Courtyards—called “air space” as the owner owns from the drywall in. Of the 295 total residences, 262 land-owned units are located inside the gated section and divided into seven separate components. Three of the components are paired villas and four are freestanding homes known as the Villages. As each section was developed and built different times—and sometimes by different builders—they became separate entities or components, each with its own board of directors. In 1993, they declared themselves a 55+ community requiring each new homeowner would to have at least one person aged 55 or older living in the home.

The community association, known as the Garden Lakes Community Association, has its own board with directors and representatives from each of the components. The GLCA provides maintenance of the common areas, private roads and clubhouse, which offers a heated pool, fitness facility, two tennis courts and a shuffleboard court (more…)


Be Careful What You Wish For

We doubt if we’d be going too far out on a limb by suggesting that no forward-thinking municipality in the country is completely dead set against development that is both responsible and responsive to the best interests of its citizens.  It’s also doubtful that anyone would consciously vote to amend Florida’s constitution with the understanding that their vote—while potentially curbing some bad development—would have the unintended consequence of putting the brakes on virtually all development. But that’s effectively what Amendment 4—if passed by Florida voters—will do.

That’s why we unite with so many other concerned citizens in urging you to vote “No” to Amendment 4 on Tuesday, November 2.

Amendment 4 offers a chainsaw approach—where a scalpel is needed—to address complex issues of growth.  In both politicizing and over-simplifying the process of refreshing a community’s comprehensive land use plan, passage of Amendment 4 would charge the voter with critical choices based on tiny ballot descriptions; instead of the hundreds of pages of detailed documentation that presently informs such key decisions.  In other words, we are suddenly asking voters to undertake the “heavy lifting” that we typically assign to our elected officials.  Under Amendment 4, even the slightest modification to a community’s land-use plan would necessitate a costly and time consuming voter referendum.

So obvious is the potential for negative fallout from Amendment 4 that even long-time foes of reckless development, including Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton—whose record of opposing over-development and protecting the environment is lengthy and beyond reproach—said they can’t imagine cramming such potentially important issues into confusing 75-word descriptions, just to get them officially on to ballots.

According to the St. Petersburg Times—whose editorial page just came out strongly against Amendment 4—the so-called “Hometown Democracy” amendment must sound irresistible to voters fed-up with enduring urban sprawl and gridlock while irresponsible legislators gut growth management laws.  Plus, what red-blooded American would oppose a ballot proposition euphemistically entitled “Hometown Democracy?”

Voters may honestly believe that Amendment 4 will advance democracy by empowering them to put a lid on undesirable development.  Instead, Amendment 4 will worsen matters by allowing haphazard development, will shift more influence to moneyed special interests, spawn expensive lawsuits and undercut Florida’s recovery from the recession.  No state is perfect at managing growth, but this approach is not the answer.



Go, Go Green Gadgets – Top 10 Green Gadgets for Your Home

A number of new and exciting green gadgets are available for any home. Image courtesy of Getty.

With computers, smart phones and everyday technology becoming more and more omnipresent, companies and inventors are seeking new ways to increase the number of green gadgets that perform the same tasks yet with less harm to the environment or our wallets. From conventional to unique, these devices are as useful as they are creative, serving as helpful tools to have around the house or on the go.

While their uses are varied, the one thing they all have in common is their diminished environmental impact, and people are taking notice. A testament to this is the increasing amount of such items that can be found for sale. Though some are still in the conception stage, here are our top 10 green gadgets that come in handy for around the home:

1.  Charge It – Apparently, cell phones lose power if the longer they remain plugged in once their batteries are fully charged. The EcoCharger  EPC-1000-7 not only prevents the phone from being able to draw any additional charge, but also helps to save electricity by working efficiently when charging. This gadget allows you to fully charge your device then it automatically disconnects the charger from the AC outlet once it senses that the phone has been fully charged, thus avoiding a waste of electricity in turn giving the battery a longer lifespan. Learn more HERE.

2. Charge It (Again) – Are the days of recharging our batteries via a regular charger about to come to an end? Moixa Energy, Ltd. has developed the USBCell battery, which is a revolutionary technology that allows recharging batteries simply by plugging them into a computer’s USB port. According to the company, there are over 15 billion alkaline batteries made and thrown away each year, the outcome of that is wasted resources, carbon dioxide (C02) and toxic landfill. The USBCELL offers an eco-friendly alternative – since no charger adapter or cable is needed, their batteries can be reused hundreds of times. Find out more HERE. (more…)

“Showcase of Homes” – Features Villa Toscana

A recent edition of Showcase of Homes chose to feature Villa Toscana, a remarkable 4-bedroom, 7,146 sq. ft. property located on Casey Key and listed at $5,200,000 by Deborah Beacham of Michael Saunders & Company. Enter Villa Toscana through a secluded circular motor court and you encounter a burnt-Sienna facade, characterized by some as “caramelized adobe”.  As you pass through the stone door surround, wrought iron gates, and heavy mesquite doors, your eye is drawn through the central courtyard, past rows of stone columns, through tall mahogany doors to Little Sarasota Bay, which from this perspective looks like an infinity edge pool.

Villa Toscana is located at 1416 Casey Key Rd, Nokomis, FL 34275.

More information can be found at: http://www.michaelsaunders.comA3905279/

The Showcase of Homes //Deborah Beacham //Villa Toscana from Ryan Bodie Films on Vimeo.

*The Showcase of Homes is a weekly tv show shown on ABC 7-TV based in Sarasota.

Sarasota County Beaches are Safe, Clean and Oil-Free


Sarasota County Communications

Sarasota County has been diligent in its efforts to monitor for any impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The BP oil well has been capped for several months now; however, calls from citizens concerned about the safety of our beaches continue.

Sarasota County beaches are safe, clean and oil-free. Sarasota County remains proactive by local testing of water, sediment and shellfish, specifically looking for measurements of petroleum-related products. These efforts are ongoing and results will be reported when the testing has been completed.

Sarasota County government works closely with many partners to ensure the health and safety of our coastal beaches. Specific procedures are in place for citizens to report any potential oil products on our beaches or near shore waters. These procedures will not only help to verify the presence or absence of oil; if oil is found, they will assist with determining if the source is related to the BP oil spill. The county continues to encourage everyone to report potential oil product sightings on Sarasota County beaches so that these incidents can be carefully investigated.
According to Laird Wreford, coastal resources manager for Sarasota County, there have been numerous sampling events undertaken locally by the state of Florida, Mote Marine Laboratory and the county itself. This sampling has included both water and sediment, as well as wildlife tissue sampling (bay and offshore fish, oysters and other shellfish).

To date, none of the samples has resulted in any indications of impacts from the recent Gulf oil spill.  However, the county will continue to undertake routine monthly water quality sampling, and will elevate its efforts and sampling coverage at the first sign of any problems or abnormalities.  If any suspected material is seen in the coastal area, residents or visitors are asked to call the State Watch Office at 1-800-320-0519. This call will initiate an investigative response by the proper authorities. When reporting, residents or visitors are asked to provide the what, when and where particulars of the sighting. | 941.861.5000 | Comcast 19/Verizon 32

Media contact: Warren Richardson, 941-232-5388;

Project contacts: Ed McCrane, 941-232-8366;

Laird Wreford, 941-809-7491;


Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte Counties: August – Year Over Year Sales Comparison

The expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit is credited with slowing July and August sales in Sarasota County, where August closed and pending sales remained largely flat versus a year ago. The same was true for Charlotte County, where year over year closed sales were down by 7.3%. Pendings, however, were up in Charlotte County by 11.8%, suggesting that the market is starting to bounce back. Manatee County experienced a much better month, with year-over-year sales up by nearly 25%; and pendings up by nearly 12 percent.


Ask Michael – Our Most Valuable Assets

In this Ask Michael Video – Michael Saunders talks about our most valuable assets.


“Showcase of Homes” – 6606 Riverview Blvd.

A recent edition of Showcase of Homes chose to feature 6606 Riverview Blvd., a remarkable property located in Bradenton and listed at $4,500,000 by Kathy Valente of Michael Saunders & Company. A magnificent river estate blending craftsmanship with artistry and breathtaking water views.  This 4-bedroom, elevated home has a separate guest level with its own private balcony.  A gated entry opens upon a driveway with chiseled marble pavers leading to a notable Porte cohere. The main house contains a parking garage with room for 6 cars plus an additional detached carport.

Located at 6606 Riverview Blvd., Bradenton, FL 34209. More information can be found at:

The Showcase of Homes //Kathy Valente from Ryan Bodie Films on Vimeo.

*The Showcase of Homes is a weekly TV show shown on ABC 7-TV based in Sarasota.


The Neighborhood Report – Panther Ridge

Find a number of gorgeous homes available throughout Panther Ridge. Pictured: 22426 Panther Loop.

A deed-restricted, multi-acreage home site community, Panther Ridge offers properties varying in size from one-half acre and up to 10 acres. This wonderful neighborhood is located just east of I-75 and offers a laidback country feel within moments from the city. While this community offers deed restrictions, horses are allowed, as are other agricultural amenities. Trails for horseback riding or nature walking are woven throughout.

Market Activity – Panther Ridge

There are currently 32 properties for sale in Panther Ridge, with a median asking price of $422,450 and an average of four bedrooms, three bathrooms and approximately 3,171 square feet. The homes available in Panther Ridge range from an asking price of $247,900 to $2,477,000.

In the past 60 days there have been four properties in Panther Ridge that have sold. The median selling price was $337,500 for a home that had four bedrooms, three bathrooms and approximately 2,754 square feet of living area.

Cheryl Roberts from the Bradenton office recently sold a stunning 4,032-square-foot home in Panther Ridge for $611,925. This residence is situated on 5+ acres with a pool, four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, two built-in entertainment centers and a magnificent owner’s suite and luxury spa bathroom.

The Bottom Line – Panther Ridge

Buyers in enjoy this equestrian community located only minutes to I-75 and shopping. Here, home sites are large and boast an eclectic mix of styles to fit everyone’s taste and needs. Whether you enjoy horseback riding, walking the nature trails or just living among the Florida wildlife in an exquisite community, Panther Ridge has something for everyone.


Trash Talking the Market

Brett Arends has had it up to here with all the trash talk.  “Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership,” Arends, a real estate reporter for the Wall Street Journal, says in his latest column entitled “10 Reasons to Buy a Home.

The housing market has seen troubled times.  But when Time Magazine announced in a recent cover feature that owning a home “may no longer make economic sense,” Arends decided to draw the line against such rubbish.  In his article, he chastises Time for blatantly contradicting a cover story it ran at the height of the boom.  That story “Home Sweet Home” celebrated the real estate boom even as it cheerfully posed the question:  “Will your house make you rich?”

Is it any wonder then why buyers are totally at sea about whether to purchase a home in today’s market even though all indicators say there’s rarely been a better moment in time?

Arends then proceeds to set the record straight with ten well-grounded reasons why owning a home is a very good thing.  Here are his “Whys:”

  1. You’ll get a great deal. Many buyers sped-up their purchases to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit, creating a temporary shortage of home buyers once the deadline passed.  With new buyers steadily creeping back into the market, determined sellers are more than willing to come to terms.
  2. Mortgages are cheap. 30-year fixed-rate loans bear the lowest interest rates in recorded history.
  3. You’ll save on taxes. You can deduct your mortgage interest and real estate taxes from your itemized federal taxes.  You’ll also get a tax break on capital gains when you sell.  For many, these tax savings make owning a home much less expensive than renting.
  4. It’ll be yours. You can have all the space and privacy you typically lack as an apartment dweller; and it will be all yours to improve as you please.
  5. You’ll get a better place to live. Want a better home in a better neighborhood? You’ll probably have to buy it.  Rentals like these are hard to find.
  6. Home ownership is a hedge against inflation. Long-term home ownership tends to beat inflation by a couple percentage points each year.
  7. It’s risk capital. When the economy rebounds, real estate prices will climb again; which will make you awfully glad you bought when you did.
  8. It’s forced savings. Your monthly rent is deposited into someone else’s bank account.  Your mortgage payment helps build your own wealth through home equity accrued over the long term.
  9. There’s plenty to choose from. Inventories are declining.  But there is still a good selection of homes at great prices.
  10. Sooner or later supply and demand will balance out. With the population forecast to grow by 100 million over the next few decades, roughly 40 million newly-formed households will be looking for homes. In the shorter term, with “Baby Boomers” retiring en masse, Florida will see more than its fair share of newcomers.

For more than ten years, real estate expert Steve Harney has kept a running comparison of the return on investment that real estate enjoys versus other traditional forms of investing. That comparison, shown on the  graph below, speaks for itself.  Even with all its recent woes accounted for, on average $100 invested in the real estate market back on January 1, 2000 would be worth $143.40 as of June 30, 2010; compared with $90.10 for the Dow, $80.90 for the S&P and $53.60 for NASDAQ.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, don’t let negative or sensationalized headlines be your sole persuader.  Even journalists who write many of the stories behind the headlines are rebelling against the idea that real estate is on its way out as the foundation of many Americans’ wealth.  We’ve certainly had our ups and downs over the years, but that’s expected in every investment’s cycle.  As Arends suggests, we are getting much closer to a sustained up cycle.  Read as much as you can from the sources you trust.  That way you’re most likely to make the right decision for you, and with confidence.   Above all, don’t let trash talk rob you of one of the most opportune moments in real estate history.

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