Sarasota and Her Islands Holiday Events

Longboat Key, Florida | November 13th, 2019- Verve and vitality loom in the air in Longboat Key, as we move forward Thanksgiving this last week of November. More local festivities lie ahead, promising to add color to our town’s property market moving onward to the winter holidays.


On November 30, just two days after Thanksgiving, Longboat’s holiday-and-winter season will be ushered in by a tree-lighting ceremony. This Saturday event is the first of its kind in our town and is set at the former site of the Amore Restaurant next to the Shoppes of Bay Isles along the Bay Isles Parkway.

The lights will be set up and lit on the lush and stately oaks in the parcel that the town has taken over and integrated with an adjoining property it also owns. Longboat Mayor George Spoll is expected to switch on the trees’ lights that would illuminate the area through the nights leading to Christmas. This event is open to Longboat residents and visitors for free.


Concert Series Returns

Starting in January next year, locals and town visitors will be treated to the return of Savor the Sounds. This combination of concert series and town picnic was last held in 2016 at the midtown Bayfront Park. It was stopped because of the park’s extensive, multimillion-dollar park upgrade.

This event’s January comeback will be hosted also at the former Amore parcel. Its schedule is set in the last Saturdays of January, February, March, and April, hopefully becoming an annual series.

Just south of Longboat Key, the St. Armands Circle also offers many upcoming holiday events. This commercial hub officially kicks off the season with its “Holiday Night of Lights” on December 6. Presented by the popular restaurant Crab & Fin, it begins with a pre-tree lighting, late afternoon performance by the Sarasota Academy of the Arts. Lined up too in this event are photo-ops with Santa, special store promotions, and gracious offerings of St. Armands’ shops and restaurants.


Snow man on Siesta Key beach in Sarasota, FL

Downtown Sarasota in the Mood

A day before the St. Armands event, the holiday atmosphere begins rising up in downtown Sarasota. On December 5 at 7:00 p.m., you can watch the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Five Points Park, North Pineapple Avenue. Besides the lights display, there will also be musical presentations, including carolers.

Subsequent Sarasota downtown events in December are as enticing. More than 125 top U.S. artists and craftsmen will display and sell their works at the Sarasota Art & Handmade Home Show (formerly the Sarasota Craft Show) on December 6–8.

Besides painting, art, and sculpture, craftworks in this show include furniture, art glass, decorative fiber, photography, and wearable art. Check out these items at the Robarts Arena, Sarasota County Fairgrounds off Fruitville Road. Admission is free in this annual event for this year.


These forthcoming events are but a few of the many local happenings that make Sarasota and Longboat Key such an exciting community to live in. Combine these with all the other attractions of our communities, and you can expect that our real estate market shall remain on the vibrant track it has taken recently. Call or e-mail Judy Kepecz-Hays and team if you want to get a piece of the action in the market. Follow us too on Facebook for more real estate updates that can help you buy or sell a residence on the right conditions or terms.


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Are You Ready for First-time Homebuyers?


Longboat Key, Florida | November 7th, 2019 Baby boomers and retirees traditionally lead buying activity in the Southwest Florida residential property market. Moving forward, however, don’t forget the millennial generation and what they like and need if you’re planning to sell your residence.


First-time homebuyers, recent industry data indicate, are becoming younger and being drawn from the millennial demographic. The average age of those buying their first residence has been estimated at 36 as of 2018, down from age 39 reckoned in 2010.

Some millennial buyers have lately been seen in the local real estate market. Their presence is, particularly noticeable at the communities of the Lakewood Ranch master development. Already married and starting a family, these younger set of buyers notably focus their searches more on price ranges rather than on neighborhoods.


More New Buyers in 2020

This piece of anecdotal evidence jibes with a recent industry survey indicating that millennials buying their first house would boost the U.S. real estate market starting next year. Across the country, it is estimated that there are from 8.31 million to 9.2 million of these first-time homebuyers entering the market starting 2020 up to 2022. These figures represent a significant jump from the 7.64 million new buyers which entered the market from 2016 to 2018.

Favorable economic conditions are behind this surge which surpasses any three-year span since the Great Recession. Specifically, the survey’s analysts attributed the rising number of millennial first-time homebuyers to wage growth, low unemployment, low interest rates, and slowing price appreciation of residences for sale. 

The analysts further noted two underlying reasons for millennials wanting to own a residence. One is their need for privacy and the other is the millennials’ desire to invest and grow their equity instead of paying monthly rentals. Some of those surveyed also cited marriage or having a family as their top reason for their plan to buy a house.


Builds That Fit Millennials

Residential property developers in Southwest Florida now appear geared up for the expected spike in millennial home buyers starting next year. Housing starts in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties revved up during the 2019 second quarter. Significantly, the gains in the annual starts pace were primarily among residential construction priced between $200,000 and $600,000, a sweet spot for millennial first-time homebuyers.

From April to June this year, homebuilders in the three counties broke ground on a total of 1,706 single family residences. This total represents a 28 percent increase from the first quarter. The increase was most pronounced in Sarasota which posted 659 housing starts, a 20 percent quarterly advance and a 9 percent gain on an annual basis.

The good news here, especially for aspiring sellers of pre-owned houses, is that the supply of the local residential property estate market remains constrained. The inventory of completed new residences remains low, with 1.2 months’ supply in Sarasota and 1.1 months in Manatee. Charlotte comes out lowest with just half-month supply. The combined inventory of resale houses in Sarasota and Manatee has also been on a downtrend, with a 5.3 percent decline recorded in September for the two counties.


Given all these indicators, it now looks a great time for selling a residence. Younger buyers are coming in, and the market as a whole would want to see more residential choices. Call our Judy Kepecz-Hays team or e-mail us, so we can help you set a marketing plan tailor-fit to the mix of buyers in our market territory.


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Sarasota–Manatee Real Estate Market Outperforms in September

Longboat Key, Florida | October 29th, 2019 – Recent industry data pack plenty of encouraging signs for prospective sellers of existing residences in Sarasota and Manatee counties. For instance, sales growth in the two-county region outperformed both the state and the national pace in September.

Combined sales of single-family residences in Sarasota and Manatee last month rose 21 percent to 1,227 pre-owned houses. The percentage gain represents the strongest jump in almost three years and compares with the 11.5 percent recorded in September on the state level. In contrast, total sales of existing homes in all of the U.S. declined 2.2 percent, reversing two consecutive months of advances.

Condo sales in Sarasota and Manatee, which have been sluggish for most of this year, gained strength too in September. A total of 496 condos were sold in the two counties during the month, nearly 9 percent above the sales a year earlier.

The local real estate market’s recent show of strength is likewise evident south in Charlotte County. Single-family houses sold in Charlotte totaled 369 residences in September, up year-over-year by 14.2 percent. In the same month, 84 condos were sold in the county; up 50 percent.

Sarasota–Manatee Real Estate Market Outperforms in September

Strength from Fed Rate Cuts

Analysts attribute the strength of residential property sales to the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate reductions. The Fed has reduced its interest rates twice already this year, and another cut is anticipated sometime November. Because of the cuts, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has declined by more than 125 basis points to an average of 3.69 percent since its peak in November last year.

The robust spike in September residential sales in the Sarasota–Manatee region was accompanied by a healthy rise in prices. In Sarasota, the median sale price for single-family residences rose by 6.4 percent to $298,000. The median sale price for the same housing types in Manatee County was estimated at $315,000, up 6.8 percent.

The median sale price for condos in Manatee County rose 6.7 percent to $199,000. The median price of Sarasota condos for sale, on the other hand, slid 1.8 percent to $232,000, mainly weighed down by the strong turnover of condos priced in the low $200s.

The gains in prices appear helping fire up selling interest, as more listings were noted in the Sarasota-Manatee region. September’s new listing for Sarasota single-family residences rose by 4.5 percent and by 8.7 percent in Manatee. Newly listed Sarasota condos for sale last month rose by 7.9 percent, while a hefty 36.2 percent increase was registered in Manatee.

Sellers Have an Upper Hand

Still, the local market would welcome more sellers, as the new listings last month were not enough to lift inventory. The combined inventory of Sarasota and Manatee, in fact, dropped year-over-year by 5.3 percent in September.

In Sarasota, the stock of single-family residences decreased by 8.1 percent, while a 9.2 percent drop was noted in Manatee County. This county’s condo inventory though rose by 6.5 percent, while a 1 percent decline was registered in Sarasota.

If you’re planning to sell a residence, move now and call us. Our region remains a sellers’ market. Sarasota and Manatee’s months’ supply of residences trend below the 5.5-month benchmark for a balanced market. The months’ supply of Sarasota condos for sale stood at 4.4 months in September, while a 3.8-month supply trends in Manatee. Sarasota single-family residences stock up a 3.4-month supply, slightly higher than the 3.3-month supply in Manatee County.


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How to Price Your Residence for Sale


Longboat Key, Florida | October 22nd, 2019 – Are you planning to sell your residence moving toward yearend? If so, then you’d better price it well and truly at par with market levels. The influx of resale single-family houses on the Sarasota real estate market in recent months has been picking up steam, and with this rise in fresh entries, you can expect buyers to be quite choosy and discerning.

During the first eight months of 2019, a total of 7,213 single-family residences in Sarasota have been sales-listed, up 1.5 percent from a year earlier. The spike in new listings was highest in July at a 10.9 percent clip. This surge was notably followed by a 4.7 percent gain in August, scoring a two-month consecutive gain in new listings.

Under this scenario, guesswork is definitely out of the window when you’re setting the price tag of your house. You have to ascertain how much it’s really worth, and these two basic pointers should help price it just right.

How to Price Your Residence for Sale

Look at Comparable Listings

Check residences similar to yours which were listed in your neighborhood during the previous three months. Notably, property appraisers use this period as their benchmark.

Use square footage in your comparison, with the size variance limited at either 10 percent larger or smaller. The comparables chosen should also be the same vintage as your home. For instance, if your residence was built in the 1990s, don’t compare it with those constructed in the 1960s.

Limit your comparable picks to those within a quarter to a half-mile radius of your residence. Skip those which are across physical barriers, such as railroads, freeways and major roads from your residence.

Compare Houses Sold in Your Neighborhood

Examine the comparable houses already sold in your neighborhood, checking their original list prices and their closed sale prices. Pay close attention to the ratios. Typically, you would have an advantage in pricing if the comparables were sold above their listing price, an indication of a seller’s market. Conversely, if the closed sale prices are substantially lower than the listed prices, a buyer’s market may be the trend in your area.

Also, examine the number of days that these closed sales listings stayed on the market. The “days on market,” as real estate agents call it, provide an indication of the length of time during which you can receive an offer.

Take the same step of listing–selling price comparisons on pending sales. You can usually do this through the assistance of an accommodating real estate agent.

Additionally, an agent can assist you in examining expired and withdrawn listings. Such market data can likewise capture relisted properties. With an agent’s help, you can have a reading on patterns as to the reasons why these properties stood dormant on the market.

Certainly, there are many more factors to consider when examining comparables. Besides square footages, you will also need to look into variances in lot sizes, configurations, upgrades or amenities. Let our Judy Kepecz-Hays team be your partner in your price-setting exercise. Our over 40 years of experience in real estate brings market insights which can help you price your residence right.


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Focus: Anna Maria Island

Longboat Key, Florida | October 15th, 2019 – Anna Maria Island counts as one of the areas dear to the heart of the Judy Kepecz Hays team and where we’re quite delighted to serve buyers and sellers of residential properties. Just this October, we’ve listed on the Sarasota real estate market a waterfront estate at the Bay Harbor subdivision in this charming island just south of Longboat Key where we have our offices.

An opportunity to facilitate a residential sale in Anna Maria has always been a fascinating experience in our over 40 years serving the Sarasota property market. This island, after all, is one of the crown jewels of Southwest Florida.

Focus: Anna Maria Island

A Mix of Three Cities

Anna Maria Island stretches about 7 miles north to south, and much of its charm is drawn from its location right at the mouth of Tampa Bay and just west of the city of Bradenton, seat of Manatee County. Three cities comprise the island: Anna Maria in the northern part, Holmes Beach in the middle, and Bradenton Beach in the south, closest to Longboat Key.

The island living that the three Anna Maria cities offer appeal to many residential property buyers. The residents relish the tranquility and privacy that their respective communities offer. While the island is a very popular tourist destination, Anna Maria has been spared of overdevelopment. The local city governments and socio-civic groups are working together to ensure that the island retains its old Florida charm and its pristine Gulf of Mexico environment preserved.

Its white sand beaches along with the turquoise Gulf waters are the primary assets of Anna Maria Island. Significantly, all of the beaches on the island are open to the public, starting from Bean Point in the north down 7 miles south to Longboat Key Pass.

The island’s colorful sunrise and stunning sunsets are not only the attractions that residents and visitors alike share. There are various outdoor activities to partake like boating, fishing, and parasailing.

Endearing Market Profile

The city of Anna Maria, where our new listing is located, is more of a residential community. Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, on the other hand, are more tourist-oriented and where rental property investors are likely to find plenty of market opportunities. The values of Anna Maria’s residential properties, in one recent industry analysis, were estimated to be 20 percent higher than those in the island’s other two cities.

The entire population of Anna Maria Island totals approximately 10,000. Many of the island’s residents were visiting tourists who settled permanently in Anna Maria, falling in love with its numerous points of interest besides the local beaches and waters. In general, the island’s shops and restaurants are homegrown. There is only one major roadway in Anna Maria, Gulf Drive, which traverses the island’s entire length. A free trolley bus service serves the residents and tourists, and bicycle rentals are available as well.

What we’re fond too about Anna Maria is its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, even as its residents are from various places. This amiable character could be attributed to the various community groups that you could easily join in, such as the nonprofit Center of Anna Maria Island, the local artist guild, and other socio-civic organizations. Monthly events are likewise regularly being organized including art fairs and festivals.

Get in touch with our Judy Kepecz-Hays team if you’re set on buying or selling a residence in Anna Maria Island. We can help you unlock more of its charms, especially the market opportunities it offers.


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Sellers Hold the Upper Hand in Upscale Condo Deals

Longboat Key, Florida | September 3rd, 2019 – Moving into the last week of August, the Judy Kepecz-Hays Team listed a $2.9 million condo at the Ritz-Carlton-managed Beach Residences in Lido Key. Sellers putting high-end condominium properties on the market indeed currently makes sense, even as the summer selling season is winding down.

Statistics from the Florida Realtors for July indicate that it is a seller’s market for condos both in the Sarasota and Manatee area. Month supply of inventory for condominiums stood at a 4.9-month supply in Sarasota and at a 3.7-month supply in Manatee County. These levels are notably still notches below the 5.5-month supply which benchmarks a balanced market favoring neither seller nor buyer in pricing.

Sellers Hold the Upper Hand in Upscale Condo Deals

Fewer Listings Compete

There were fewer sellers though, particularly in Sarasota, who were drawn by the market imbalance to their favor in July. New listings of condos in the county slipped overall by 18 percent to 225 properties compared with a year earlier. In particular, sellers of luxury condos were quite timid, unlike our new client at the Beach Residences. Just 19 residences priced at $1 million-plus were listed on the market during the month, nearly 30 percent less from the new listings in July last year.

Be that as it may, the condo sellers’ retreat in July is no cause for alarm. For one thing, record-high prices in sales of luxury residential properties have been posted in recent months.

Market momentum is also expected to be driven in the coming months by several real estate projects reshaping downtown Sarasota and sending more potential buyers to our market. One of these ventures, the mixed-use condominium The Mark, has sold out nearly all its condos and expects its first residents to move in this fall.

A New Downtown Magnet

The completion of The Mark brings more besides helping light up Sarasota on the radar screen of wealthy condo buyers. The condominium is likewise making its site straddling Lemon Avenue and Pineapple Avenue as a vibrant, new downtown destination.

The condominium’s emergence as a downtown jewel is but to be expected. The West Palm Beach-based Kolter, the Mark’s developer, after all allotted $70 million for The Mark, one of the top-budgeted real estate development projects in Sarasota.

Soon, we’d be seeing this condominium as a downtown landmark, as work is already in progress for a new mural on its 12-story structure—the condominium’s contribution to the city’s public art. Called “Flora Urbana,” this artwork is being rendered by noted Miami, Florida artist Danny Doya.

What’s even more, The Mark is bringing in a commercial component that promises to further enrich the downtown experience. This adjunct of the condominium is called the Promenade and is set on 35,000 square feet spread on The Mark’s ground level. This area also incorporates a pedestrian-friendly streetscape designed for a casual outdoor experience.

Significantly, Kolter has tapped CASTO, an Ohio-based real estate powerhouse, to oversee tenant leasing at The Mark’s Promenade. CASTO is no stranger to our city, having brought to the Shoppes at Sarasota Row the popular Whole Foods grocery store chain. CASTO was likewise instrumental in building up Winter Park Village in Central Florida as an upscale shopping, dining, and nightlife destination.

The Mark’s imprint in downtown Sarasota is but one indicator that there’s still more excitement coming to our property market. Call or e-mail our team to be updated on local real estate developments and opportunities, be it in selling or in buying residences.


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Here Are Four Routes for Joy Rides around Sarasota

Longboat Key, Florida | August 27th, 2019 – One of the perks of being in the real estate business to make a living is having frequent chances to drive around some of the most scenic parts of Florida which happened to be in our market territory. Over the years, our Judy Kepecz-Hays team has developed fondness for many of these road corridors, and here are just four of our favorites.

Riverview Boulevard, Bradenton

A trip along this charming boulevard best starts from the historic Palma Sola area of West Bradenton. This isn’t a long drive and thus not too tiresome to take, given that this corridor is just some five miles long.

However, Riverview Boulevard affords some marvelous views as it curves along the south banks of the Manatee River. Via this boulevard, you can also take interesting side trips to the DeSoto National Memorial Park and the vastly upgraded Robinson Preserve.

Driving through Riverview also traverses Fogarty Point and Warner’s Bayou. This quiet area is flanked by some of Bradenton’s old-time and well-established neighborhoods, like the Willemsen subdivision, featuring houses with eclectic architectural designs from various eras.

Here Are Four Routes for Joy Rides around Sarasota

Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

A tour of Bay Shore Road comes easy and quite pleasant too, as this corridor extends for less than two miles. To fully capture its charm, start from the south on Indian Beach Drive only about a quarter mile from the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41). The water view of Sarasota Bay as you enter Bay Shore from Indian Beach Drive is truly mesmerizing.

Driving onward north unveils the charm of old Sarasota in the vintage houses of the historic communities of Sapphire Shores/Indian Beach. You’d be thrilled driving under lush tree canopies past the Sarasota Jungle Gardens northward to the Ringling Museum of Art and the New College of Florida.

Casey Key Road, Nokomis

Casey Key Road bisects its eight-mile long, namesake barrier island where our Judy Kepecz-Hays team recently extended realty services for a market listing. A bridge in the north and another in the south connect Casey Key Road to Nokomis in the mainland. The span in the north at Blackburn Point is notable, as it is one of only two swinging bridges in operation in the U.S. since the 1920s.

Canopies of old-growth subtropical vegetation, pines, and oaks dominate most of Case Key Road’s length. Remnants of some Florida Cracker beach cottages and mansion estates are impressive sights on the gulfside of this road. Stops are limited along this road though, and the beach is only accessible near the southern end of Casey Key.

Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key

Our short list of scenic roads, of course, won’t be complete without citing the Gulf of Mexico Drive (GMD) which brings the Judy Kepecz-Hays team daily to our home base in Longboat Key. This road is actually part of the 17.5 mile State Road 789 also covering the Gulf Coast stretch of Bird Key, St. Armands Circle, and Lido Key.

Besides Longboat’s beach views and occasional glimpses of Sarasota Bay, the roadside sceneries along this route include the Ken Thompson Park, home of the Mote Aquarium on City Island. The best point toward north comes in the last five-mile stretch shared by Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach which has been officially designated as a scenic Florida highway. Significantly, too, the panorama northward along GMD gets an added enhancement as Longboat buries the town’s overhead utility cables.

These four roadways are but a few samplings of the local infrastructures which help sell real estate in and around Sarasota. Our team can share more information, especially to sellers of residences properties who want to have a total overview of the local market preparatory to pricing and promoting their properties among prospective buyers.


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Robust 2nd Quarter Pumps up Sarasota‒Manatee Market

Longboat Key, Florida | August 20th, 2019 – The Judy Kepecz-Hays team is all excited to serve sellers and buyers for the rest of the year. Recent realtor data indicate that the market is building strength toward yearend, as combined sales of single family residences in Sarasota and Manatee stayed buoyant during the 2019 second quarter.

The state’s trade group Florida Realtors reported that sales of pre-owned residential properties in the two-county region totaled 4,555 houses from May to June. This sum marks a 5.5 percent gain over the same period in 2018 and outpaces the increase of 4.6 percent across all of Florida.

Charlotte County notably matched the state’s tempo. Its resales of single-family houses totaled 1,440 in the 2019 second quarter, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier.

Industry analysts attributed the sales gain in the 2019 second quarter to low mortgage rates, which was estimated about 0.8 percent below a year earlier. They expect that this regime of low interest rates would continue providing strength to the market moving forward the rest of the year, setting the stage for an even better market performance in 2020.

Robust 2nd Quarter Pumps up Sarasota‒Manatee Market

Market Tracks Historical Norms

Realtors have also found it encouraging that the gains in prices are now tracking a more traditional pace in the 3‒5 percent range. In the Sarasota-Manatee area, the median prices of single family residences rose 3.4 percent to $305,000 during the 2019 second quarter. Charlotte County’s median price in the same period rose 2.2 percent to $230,000. Throughout Florida, the median price for single family houses rose 3.3 percent over the 2018 second quarter.

The recent growth in housing inventory amid rising prices is enabling the market to continue adjusting to a more balanced position, industry observers noted. The latest market data showed that the combined housing stock for the Sarasota-Manatee market has grown by 1.8 percent in June.

The market’s supply level is comforting particularly in Sarasota wherein inventory of single family houses rose 2.4 percent to a 4.2-month supply. In addition, the county’s condo market inventory rose 20.5 percent rise to a 5.3-month supply as of June.

Strength from New Builds

Strong contribution to the market stability in Sarasota-Manatee region is notably being provided by its two large master-planned communities—Lakewood Ranch and West Villages. This pair is offering plenty of new construction further enriching buyers’ choices and elevating the Sarasota-Manatee real estate market notches higher.

Notably, both developments were ranked among the fastest-selling developments nationwide. National ratings for midyear sales compiled by real estate consulting firm RCLCO showed Lakewood Ranch ranking second, with 824 residences sold as of June 30. The total is just a couple of properties shy of sales a year earlier, but sales acceleration could be expected toward yearend, as three new communities in Lakewood Ranch are set to open in the coming months.

Meanwhile, West Villages in south Sarasota County has risen from fifth to third place in the RCLCO’s 2019 midyear ranking. A total of 679 new residences were sold in the 9,650-acre master development as of June, up by 32 properties or 5 percent from last year.

Draw benefits from our continuous tracking of the local property market. Our constant monitoring of selling and buying residential properties is unveiling plenty of opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Call or e-mail us for more information on how you can benefit from our wide-ranging property data base.


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Our Market Grows as SRQ Passenger Traffic Hits Peaks

Longboat Key, Florida | August 13th, 2019 – The gain in passenger traffic at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) hit a recent monthly peak, and new record-high arrivals at the terminal loom in the near future. This development notably speaks well for the two counties’ tourist market and its forward linkage to real estate marketing, especially rental properties.

Further growth in passenger traffic could be expected in the Sarasota‒Bradenton airport, as Frontier Airlines announced in July that starting in November, it will add a new flight covering SRQ and Trenton, New Jersey. The airline, which began SRQ service in 2018, is likewise increasing its SRQ flights to Philadelphia International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from twice weekly to three times per week in the winter season.

Some Tips on Pricing Your Property for Sale

Frontier earlier announced in June it would start on October 10 flights from SRQ to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Frontier’s new service comes as the 30th destination for flights from SRQ. It is also the airport’s 24th new route and the 19th new destination from SRQ in the past year and a half.

During the same period, budget-fare carrier Allegiant Air also opened its SRQ flights, adding 12 new routes to the Sarasota‒Bradenton airport. All these additions translated to SRQ setting an all-time high in monthly passenger arrivals to 147,615 in June, a 48.7 percent jump from a year earlier. For the first half of the year, Sarasota‒Bradenton airline passenger traffic totaled 988,105 passengers, up 39.6 percent compared with the first six months of 2018.

June came as the 16th consecutive month that SRQ posted an increase in passenger arrivals, expanding its carriers to eight airlines. This sustained growth has elevated the Sarasota‒Bradenton terminal as the second fastest growing airport in the country today.

Potent Northeast Opens Wider

The Trenton route unlocks a vast potential from the Northeast, a huge market for the Sarasota‒Bradenton area. Trenton sits amid a very large population base, as it is about 50 miles south of the Newark/New York City metropolis. Additionally, Trenton is 28 miles north of Philadelphia and is some 30 miles up Interstate 195 to the Jersey coastal area. Eastern Pennsylvania is likewise along its western border.

The Northeast, even prior to Frontier’s Trenton service, has already emerged as the largest tourism market for Sarasota last year. In its 2018 economic impact of tourism report, the travel promoter Visit Sarasota County said that 363,950 Sarasota visitors came from the Northeast during the year. These Northeast visitors accounted for almost 30 percent of the county’s tourists last year. The other top contributors to the Sarasota travel market include: Florida (17.2 percent); the Southeast excluding Florida (12 percent), the Midwest (21.6 percent), and Canada (7.5 percent).

Bradenton, on the other hand, drew 150,150 tourists from the Northeast last year, up 2.3 percent from 2017. The Northeast was the third largest among Bradenton area’s feeder markets. Florida-based tourists led Bradenton visitors in 2018, with 197,050 visitors, while those from the Midwest came in second at 152,100 visitors. Travelers from New York accounted for 5.9 percent of Bradenton a tourist arrivals in 2018, while Philadelphia tourists accounted for a 2.9 percent slice.


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Some Tips on Pricing Your Property for Sale

Longboat Key, Florida | August 6th, 2019 – Sellers’ asking prices and buyers’ bids are likely to become more and more fluid these days. This is especially so in the Sarasota‒Manatee region where our Judy Kepecz-Hays team has noted that recent price appreciation appears headed toward the historical norms of 3‒5 percent.

This pace, however, may seem too slow for some prospective sellers, considering the double-digit annual price gains that our market experienced since 1972 after the Great Recession. Now that these accelerated rates have slowed down quite significantly, selling a residence at current market conditions requires a sharper and more realistic approach in pricing.

Here are some of the basics steps when putting a price tag on the house you plan to sell.

Some Tips on Pricing Your Property for Sale

Seek objective advice

Keep your emotion in check when selling a house. Understandably, it would be a difficult exercise to price a dwelling which holds precious memories for you. Fond feelings of a residence can make it hard for its owner to set the price level market conditions dictate.

Therefore, try to be objective as much as possible and have an open mind. Seek and prepare to receive advice particularly from real estate professionals.

Consult local experts

Find a trustworthy real estate agent through recommendations from friends and relatives. Interview each candidate agent with an eye for the one who can provide you with the strategies which specifically work best in the local market.

It is typical for a professional agent to invite other local agents in an open house for sale to validate initial price estimates on a property. This is a smart move, as you’d be able to tap into collective viewpoints on prevailing market trends, a valuable input on pricing.

Check comparables

Have an overview of the residential properties sales-listed in the same bracket as your initial estimate. A professional real estate agent can help you on this step. It is basic for agents to collect data on properties recently sold in various price ranges and locations. From this resource, you can figure out the residences which are comparable to yours not only in terms of square footage and other features but also pricing.

Even if you’re already working with an agent, it’s also a good move to use available online tools, such as MLS data, to gather as much information about “comparables” or sales listings competing in your property’s price bracket. This way, you might be able to spot market listings which your agent might have missed.

Hire an appraiser

If you really want to boost further the degrees of accuracy of your pricing, engage the services of an appraiser. This professional, specialized in determining values of real estate properties, can be of help in particular if your agent is pushing a price too low compared with your own expectations.

Be aware though that the appraisal from your end would just come as another opinion on your property’s value. What would count, as far as a prospective buyer is concerned, would be the appraisal of the lender that this buyer is tapping for the purchase.

These are but some of the finer points of setting the price of residential properties. Contact us by phone or email if you want to learn more on setting the price of a real estate property you want to sell.


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Is a Rental Property Right for You? Here’s How to Decide

Longboat Key, Florida | August 2nd, 2019 – According to the National Association of Realtors, beachfront properties and lakeshore homes are the most popular choices for vacation rental purchases. That makes Sarasota and her islands, Longboat Key, Casey Key, Siesta Key, Lido Key, and Bird Key, prime locations for your rental property investment.

Economists believe investment homes, like vacation homes and full-time rentals, will remain steady. Meanwhile, Forbes has named the Sarasota-Tampa area among the best in Florida to own a rental property.

With more startups launching in Florida than Silicon Valley these days, people are relocating here, and there’s plenty of money to be made in local real estate rentals. Before launching your own rental property business, here are some considerations to help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you:

Is a Rental Property Right for You? Here’s How to Decide


Here are some pros to rental property investments:

● Money. Perhaps the biggest reason most people leap into the real estate investment business is that there’s decent money to be made. For many people, a rental property can be a reliable way to supplement or even replace your full-time income.

Of course, you’ll need to be wise about the property you choose. experts recommend starting small, especially if you’re a first-time landlord. If you enjoy property management, you can always grow from there. Additionally, think outside the single-family home “box” and consider multi-family units, which can often generate even more income.

● Vacations. If you purchase a vacation rental property in Sarasota, one of the pros is that you’ll be able to use it for a beachfront getaway when it’s not rented out. One crucial bit of advice is to go easy with this. After all, you’ll never make a profit if your property is continuously off the market because you’re staying there. Instead, consider vacationing during the off-season. That way, your home is available to renters during the in-demand months when you’ll potentially make the most money.

● Tax breaks. Just like other income, you’re required to report your real estate earnings on your tax return. However, the IRS provides tax breaks and deductions for rental property owners. For instance, you can deduct mortgage interest, operating expenses, and even repairs or property maintenance.


Owning a rental property takes a lot of effort, patience, and dedication. Here are a few downsides:

● Effort. Rental property management is a lot of work and can be stressful at times, especially if you’ve never been a landlord before. The cost of maintenance and repairs can add up, and not all tenants will care for the property. However, you can reduce stress by hiring a property manager. They’ll coordinate with local contractors and handle logistics for you. For best results, hire a property manager that offers 24/7 support and upfront pricing.

● Taxes. Although you’ll get tax deductions for running a rental property, you’ll likely need to hire an accountant to ensure you get the maximum number of deductions. Luckily, you can sometimes deduct your tax preparation fees as an expense for your rental property business. Additionally, a professional accountant can help you sort through the tax implications involved with eventually selling your property.

● Losses. Unfortunately, not all rental properties make money. According to the Washington Post, the best way to ensure your rental property is profitable is by doing some simple math. By making sure the amount you pay for the home is less than 80% of what the property is worth after repairs, you’ll be more likely to make your money back — and then some.

The Bottom Line

Although a rental property can be a wise investment, it’s not for everyone. However, if you have prior landlord experience or have hired a trustworthy property manager, owning a rental can be a worthwhile investment. Carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine whether a rental property makes sense for you. Because every situation is unique, it’s never a bad idea to consult with a real estate attorney, an accountant, or a financial advisor before making your decision. That way, you’ll know whether a rental property investment will bring you additional stress or extra income.


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Sarasota Is Back to School in August with an “A” Grade

Longboat Key, Florida | July 30th, 2019 – District schools in Sarasota received superior state ratings, thus reinforcing anew one of the county’s traditional strengths as an excellent choice for families to settle in. Ahead of the opening of local schools on August 12, state education authorities released their annual ratings covering the prior 2018‒2019 school year.

The Sarasota County School District, in this assessment, emerged as one of 24 Florida school districts that got an A grade. Significantly, this counted as the 16th consecutive year for the Sarasota district to earn an A since the state grading started in 2004.

Sarasota County School Superintendent Todd Bowden noted that their “huge emphasis on reading and literacy last year” has delivered in improving performance of the district’s students.

The Sarasota school district improved in five of the 11 categories used in the state ratings. The improvements included those in English language arts, overall math, social studies, graduation rate, and college and career acceleration.

Sarasota Is Back to School in August with an “A” Grade

Top 3 in Florida

The overall scores of Sarasota County Schools’ compared to the previous school year showed an improvement of eight points. Across the state, Sarasota came out third in the Florida education officials’ rating and was only behind St. John and Gilchrist counties.

A total of 34 Sarasota schools earned an A grade, 10 schools had a B grade, four schools got a C grade, and one school turned in a D grade. No school rated an F the district. Ten saw their school grades improve, including Brentwood Elementary, Glenallen Elementary, and Toledo Blade Elementary. All three leaped from a C to an A grade.

Both traditional public schools and charter schools were included in the state ratings. The alphabetized list in the table below indicates the ratings of each school in the Sarasota district, surely useful in cross-referencing the nearby residential communities that they serve.

Sarasota School District Ratings/School Year 2018‒2019

Alta Vista Elementary – B

Ashton Elementary – A

Atwater Elementary – A (up)

Bay Haven School of Basics Plus – A (up)

Booker Middle School – B

Booker High School – B

Brentwood Elementary – A (up)

Brookside Middle School – A

Cranberry Elementary – B

Emma E. Booker – D

Englewood Elementary – A

Fruitville Elementary – A

Garden Elementary – C

Glenallen Elementary – A (up)

Gocio Elementary – B (up)

Gulf Gate Elementary – A (up)

Heron Creek Middle School – B

Imagine School at North Port – B

Imagine School at Palmer Ranch – B

Island Village Montessori School – A (up)

Lakeview Elementary – A

Lamarque Elementary – A

Laurel Nokomis School – A

McIntosh Middle School – A (up)

North Port High School – A (up)

Phillippi Shores Elementary – A

Pine View School – A

Riverview High School – A

Sarasota Academy of the Arts – A

Sarasota High School – A (up)

Sarasota Middle School – A

Sarasota Military Academy – B

Sarasota School of Arts/Sciences – A

Sarasota Suncoast Academy – A

Sky Academy Englewood – A

Sky Academy Venice – A

Southside Elementary – A

Student Leadership Academy – A

Suncoast Polytechnical High School – A

Suncoast School for Innovative Studies – C

Tatum Ridge Elementary – A

Taylor Ranch Elementary – A

Toledo Blade Elementary – A (up)

Tuttle Elementary – C

Venice Elementary – A

Venice High School – A

Venice Middle School – A

Wilkinson Elementary – C

Woodland Middle School – B


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