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Let's cheer for the manatees during the holidays

by Roger Pettingell

Magnificent manatees, the gentle giants

Best viewing spots for viewing sea cows in the winter

Manatees in the intracoastal REALTALK #87

Manatees are magnificent animals that swim among us, all the while foraging for food. These mammals that live in the waters around Florida are gentle giants. Also known as sea cows, they share distinction in Florida with the dolphin as the state mammal symbols. The manatee is the state marine mammal and the dolphin is the state saltwater mammal. They love warm waters so observing them in the winter off Longboat Key is rare, they still can be seen in the wild.

One location for snowbirds to see them is at the Manatee Viewing Center established by Tampa Electric. Manatees in large numbers gather at the electrical plant outside the Big Bend Unit in Apollo Beach. A viewing center was created and nearly 5 million visitors have entered the gates for free to see these great creatures. It is designated as a manatee sanctuary by Florida and the U.S. governments. This year a new rays touch tank was added as a feature to the center that has exhibits to explain the sea cow habitats and other wildlife in the area. The center opens daily 10 am to 5 pm and closes for the season April 15. It is located off I-75 in Apollo Beach at 6990 Dickman Road.

Locally we have manatees that are known worldwide. Our own Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on City Island has a Manatee Research Program in order to provide assistance to conservation programs in Florida and the Caribbean. The researchers study manatees around the world to gather data that is critical to the survival of this species. Two of the residents there, Hugh and Buffet, are the only manatees in the world trained to participate in research programs.

The 68-year-old Snooty in Bradenton’s South Florida Museum holds the honor as the mascot of Manatee County. He was placed in the Guinness Book of World Record, starting with the 2017 edition as the oldest manatee in captivity. He may be the oldest alive because manatees live longer in controlled environments such as the 60,000 gallon tank in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the museum. Snooty has lived in captivity his entire life and would not survive in the wild, so he will continue to live with his loving caretakers. Other manatees have joined Snooty though in rehabilitation programs there.

In 1979 there were 1,000 manatees remaining in Florida. While in high school I established Save the Manatee Day, which I discussed in my REALTALK™ #87 video. That, combined with the efforts of many other informed residents, the manatees have recovered and 6,300 manatees are now reported. They are to be reclassified from endangered to threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The increased numbers and numbers of boaters though could reverse the trend of manatees making a full comeback. By December 12 of 2016 over 98 manatees have died in Florida, mostly the result of boat propellers striking them as they glided through the water. This was the highest reported number of accidental manatee deaths in a year here. A federal study concluded that manatees could face extinction if the number of deaths exceeded 12 per year.

Although these are accidental deaths, there are surface indications to observe the presence of a manatee or swarming group of manatees. Since their massive tails provide their movement you can visualize manatees underwater by large swirls at the surface. There have been studies that manatees can actually evade boat traffic, but even at higher boat speeds it literally becomes a race against time. It is therefore your obligation as a boater to avoid them when possible and obey the slow manatee zones that are posted in the waterways.

Aerial view of Marina Jack
This female manatee was seen among swimmers in the waters off Anna Maria Island last year.

The animals are protected by two federal laws, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and one state law, the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. There are 12 rules outlined by the Fish and Wildlife Service contained in the laws. You should not approach, chase, corner or disturb manatees by touching them. Then that goes with the concepts that you should not dive or stand on a manatee. Do not stab at a manatee, or even poke them with your hand or feet. Separating a mother from her calf is also forbidden. Manatees are under protection of research teams so do not interfere with these activities or the tags they place on a manatee that are used to track them.

You might think that people pay heed to the warnings. Not so, two men were arrested in June 2014 after they posted a video on Facebook that showed them jumping on a manatee. In another Islamorada incident in the keys this year, a man challenged Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers after he was seen antagonizing a manatee in the canal. In 2012 a woman was photographed riding a manatee in Fort De Soto Park. All of them, and others willfully disobeying the law, received heavy fines. Jail time was also ordered in some of the cases.

Despite the fact that they eat up to 10 percent of their weight a day eating aquatic plants, it is unlawful to feed them or to give them fresh water despite the fact they seem to enjoy both. I think it is fair to say that disturbing manatees in the wild by any means is unlawful.

You can still swim with them though in one Florida location. Citrus County was grandfathered in by the 1970 legislations as manatee tours made up a significant amount of tourism dollars there. Book a tour through the few operators on Crystal River to legally get up close and personal to a manatee. Homossassa Springs is another good location. And since manatees are seeking warmer waters in the winter, November to April are the best touring times on the river and in the springs.

Hope your holidays have been great for you and that you may have had the chance to view the manatees at the locations above. You may also consider a move to Longboat Key or a change of location here. I am pleased to announce another record breaking year for me. In 2016 I closed on over $77 million in sales volume. Last week I listed two new properties for sale. The first at 438 Partridge Circle is a custom-built luxury waterfront home built in 2004 on Bird Key. The second in Country Club Shores is ideal for the boating enthusiast at 512 Hornblower Lane. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
438 Partridge Circle $2,395,000 Video Photo Slideshow
512 Hornblower Lane $1,079,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Two marinas that serve boats to super yachts

by Roger Pettingell

Marina Jack, full service and award winning

Its location and service to customers earn high marks

Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota

With the beautiful waters surrounding Sarasota and Longboat Key, there are many marinas to service and moor the thousands of boats here that are enjoyed by the residents. There is a huge marina on Longboat Key operated through the Longboat Key Club. On the mainland there is the marina that is no less famous, Marina Jack. The services are there at both to cater to the boaters, and at the end of the day you can have a fine dinner or discuss your day trip in one of the bars.

Marina Jack has one of the best locations in Sarasota. Downtown is literally across the street, which provides access to many of the venues for fine dining and the cultural arts that Sarasota is so famous for. Most locations are within a half mile of the marina and if you prefer to venture elsewhere close you can arrange for the shuttle service from Marina Jack.

But you don’t have to leave the marina for fine dining. On the second deck, the main dining room serves exceptionally prepared steaks, seafood and pasta. The wine list has been mentioned in Wine Spectator magazine and the sunset vistas are spectacular. The Blue Sunshine Patio and the Deep Six Lounge also provide fine dining services. Nightly there is a piano serenade in the Deep Six Lounge.

Super yacht owners have docking facilities, the most current is in the marina and is over 200 feet in length. The basin has a depth of 8 feet which may be of concern for large sailing yachts with fixed keels. There are 316 boat slips in total. Professionals who work on maintaining and repairing the boats are highly skilled for work on power or sailing boats. Fueling docks are also available. If you are interested in buying a boat attend the Suncoast Boat Show at the marina, the next one is scheduled in April of 2017.

Aerial view of Marina Jack
An aerial view of Marina Jack show some of the 316 docks, main building and Sarasota skyline.

If you don’t have a boat or just want someone else to captain, consider the 96-foot Marina Jack II. Luncheon and dinner cruises show the sights of Sarasota from the intra-coastal waterway and some of Longboat Key when the boat ventures into the Gulf of Mexico. The tour is narrated and you can select an open-air or air-conditioned salon for sightseeing.

The name is Marina Jack, but it is doubtful that locals will correct you if you say Marina Jack’s. The latter may be the possessive name but an employee there named Bill told me it may be something as simple as the website was already registered. So the name Marina Jack’s also stuck. The website is for sale so some cyber-squatter may be sitting on the domain name. As the saying goes, they don’t care what you call it, just call it.

Someone has been calling it. Marina Dock Age magazine cited this location for its continuous investment, attention to customer service and partnership with the city of Sarasota to select Marina Jack as Marina of the Year in 2015. Selected in the large marina category, it was the first time in 47 years since Jack Graham purchased a Sarasota pier and turned it into one of the best marinas in the country.

A company named Suntex has also been calling Marina Jack. In September of this year Suntex Marina Investors LLC merged with the holding companies that oversee the operations of Marina Jack and a few repair facilities and local restaurants such as the Tiki Bar next door.

Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club
Serving Longboat Key - Considered a safe harbor from storms, the Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club provides many services. This view is from a listing at Grand Bay, click on the image for details.

How does Marina Jack compare with the Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club? Both are in perfect locations, serving different geographical markets. Although membership in the Longboat Key Club is an exceptional value, it is not required for a boat slip. This marina is located near the Grand Bay community and is behind the Bay Isles manned guard gates for more security. The Portofino Ristorante & Bar serving northern Italian cuisine is on location, and Longboat Key Club members have access to seven other Longboat Key restaurants. Considered one of the areas safest harbors, there are 291 docks with slips up to 150 feet in length. The marina is full service with maintenance, repairs, utilities, WiFi and pump out stations. There is a heated swimming pool, poolside lounge and tennis court in the Longboat Key marina village.

I have a new name for my Monday articles. Many times on Monday I can expand on my short REALTALK™ videos published each Thursday, and provide additional information on the topic. It only makes sense that the two names reflect the brand so this is the first week for REALTALKplus™.

Last week on REALTALK™ in episode #111 I provided a recap of the local real estate market and provided some insight into which communities did well in 2016. I also announced that I will finish the year with a volume of sales just under $80 million to break another personal record. I look forward to 2017 and announced two more listings last week. Looking for new construction on the Gulf of Mexico beach? My new listing at 6855 Gulf of Mexico Drive is right on the beach and has just been completed with five bedrooms and heated swimming pool. Also on the beach is my new listing at 4805 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #A102 in the Westchester community. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
6855 Gulf of Mexico Dr $4,595,000   Photo Slideshow
4805 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #A102 $539,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


What to expect at the listing appointment

by Roger Pettingell

A little preparation increases sale efficiency

December is a good month to market your home for sale

1117 Benjamin Franklin Drive, #A
This beach home on Lido Key is a new listing from a recent listing appointment.

December is a good month to list your home for sale in Sarasota. This may be different in the north when a springtime listing may take advantage of the upcoming good weather. And if you have listed a home up north you may find that the listing process may be a little different than what is expected here. In REALTALK™ #110 last week I discussed what I would look for in your home before we talk about placing it on the market.

Before the appointment I start with a little homework. I look at recent sales that indicate the current market of similar homes. But at that point I still don’t know the fair market value of your home until I get inside. Then I look for upgrades that will increase the value of the home. Home buyers tend to be more encouraged by an updated home.

I also want to know the condition of the home. Are there any cracks in the ceilings? Are there any maintenance issues that can be remedied for a quicker sale. I pay particular attention to the areas around vents where mold may accumulate. Some of these items may come up in the inspection after a sales contract is signed, but we prefer to know in advance so we can correct the problem and close more efficiently.

Our staff is ready to help in any way and can suggest the right specialist for each repair job. We have contact information for what we have found to be the best painters, plumbers, electricians, flooring installers and home cleaners. You may have your own handyman in these areas. If staging is an issue we can make recommendations there. If clutter is an issue we can suggest volunteer organizations that will remove furniture and give you an receipt for tax deductions.

Expectations for the listing appointment in REALTALK™ #110
REALTALK™ #110 - We discuss the listing process and what to expect at the appointment.

Once we have determined conditions that may need improved or any updates that have already been done we can review price. We want to settle on a price that is fair in the market but something that you would feel comfortable with. If you have a mortgage, will the price be sufficient to settle with the bank and hopefully have a good profit remaining. Most home sellers do their own research beforehand. Zillow is a popular website that gives Zestimates. However, these estimates do not take into consideration the condition of the home or any updates that increases its value. The comparable home sales tools that I have are likely to be more accurate. Contact our office and we can set you up with free emails that will show price adjustments and new home sales in your area.

Here is a good reference to use if you are planning to do any remodeling projects before you speak with an agent. It is the 2016 Cost v. value report for the Sarasota area, published annually by Remodeling magazine. This report compares 30 different remodeling projects and how they affect the value of your home. With this report you can compare the Sarasota area to other areas of the southeast region and the nation. For instance, fiberglass attic insulation can have a 150.9% return on investment in Sarasota. A garage door replacement can have a return of 103.1% when you price the home for the market.

After we feel comfortable with the price, then we can establish an action plan for marketing your home. I have Coldwell Banker to thank for providing me with many print and online opportunities that we use to the fullest. I promote homes through my website here and a personal website for each home with the Internet address based on the physical address of the home. My full-page weekly ads in the Longboat Key Observer is a print medium I use. We also use direct mail to market your home.

There is a list of documents that I request so they are readily available for any interested buyers. I feel this is important so that we are able to answer any questions while the buyers are excited about the home after a showing. Also in the REALTALK™ video I explain the need for these documents and cited insurance premiums as an example. I use these for the printed brochure that we provide at each showing. We copy and create digital documents in PDF format before returning them to you. Our service can convert most sizes, including large floor plans. Here is a list of documents that are useful:

  • Insurance papers
  • Survey
  • Title insurance policy
  • Floor plan
  • Site plan

Age, warranties and make of appliances:

  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Oven
  • Microwave
  • Hot Water Heater
  • Air Conditioner

You can expect that I will request a copy of the home key, elevator code or security code. Some agents use lockboxes. Since we accompany our showings, we add a layer of security by keeping these keys locked in our office until the time of the showing. We can make copies if the keys you possess are your only set.

I will also want to know the financial condition of the home. If the home is in a trust or owned by an LLC, with this information I will be in a position to better discuss an offer with a buyer’s agent. Any equity in the home is good if there is a mortgage on the home.

I do like listing appointments and hope that you contact my office when you are ready to sell. This home at 1117 Benjamin Franklin Drive, #A is across the street from the Gulf of Mexico beach on Lido Key and is a new listing last week. The home is listed at $1,299,000 and has plenty of wonderful updates. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1117 Benjamin Franklin Drive, #A $1,299,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Sleepy Lagoon community spotlight

by Roger Pettingell

Private Longboat Key neighborhood

Community of homes on both sides of Gulf of Mexico Drive

536 Lyons Lane
Lyons Lane - This home on Lyons Lane has wooded areas and a canal within steps of the back door.

Cozy, private, secluded: three words to describe the community of Sleepy Lagoon near the north end of Longboat Key around the 10 mile mark from the south. Boating enthusiasts will enjoy the bay side homes as finger canals line practically every street. Gulf-side homeowners have the Gulf of Mexico beaches to enjoy. Nearly all of the 269 homes in Sleepy Lagoon are surrounded by mature landscaping and trees that provide more privacy to the residents in Sleepy Lagoon. All owners have a private deeded beach access. Carve out plenty of time for tennis, golf, fishing or just relaxing that comes with a Sleepy Lagoon lifestyle.

This is a close-knit community. The $25 annual HOA dues is invested in welcome-back parties and other social gatherings. Drive north over the Longboat Pass bridge and Coquina Beach greets you on the left. This stretch of sand in the park is a favorite for locals, and a fresh food market on Sundays. Artisans peddle their wares and musicians entertain on the walkway where the tents are arranged. A little further north and you enter the lively Bradenton Beach business district. Nearly all of Longboat Key is at your disposal to the south.

Homes are a mixture of style, age and price. Take for instance a home I recently have listed at 712 Marbury Lane, originally built in 1978 and has been completely remodeled. The three-bedroom, two-bath home on the canal has a split bedroom plan for guest privacy. A 10,000-pound boat lift is situated on the seawall and the home has a two-car garage with an additional workspace.

712 Marbury Lane
This 3BR/2BA new listing at 712 Marbury Lane built in 1978 has been completely remodeled.

A home I have listed at 536 Lyons Lane for $699,000 built in 1989 has a heated swimming pool and screen enclosure, 10,000-pound boat lift and one-car garage. This home has two bedrooms and also has a split-bedroom plan.

In the last 12 months eleven homes sold for an average price of slightly more than $1.4 million, the most expensive home on the Gulf side that sold for $4.3 million. A home at 649 Norton Street on the bay side sold for $453,000 and was the least expensive home last year in Sleepy Lagoon.

Last week I listed two properties on Longboat Key, one is a stunning penthouse with Gulf-to-bay views at the Promenade. The panoramic ninth-floor views from the residence at 3030 Grand Bay Blvd, #392 are breathtaking. The wraparound terrace with a Biscayne floor plan overlooks the Harbourside golf course and Sarasota Bay. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #904 $1,289,000 Video Photo Slideshow
3030 Grand Bay Blvd, #392 $1,199,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




Why Choose
Roger Pettingell?


  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.


  • Number 1 single Coldwell Banker agent in all of Florida for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • Number 1 Realtor on Longboat Key and Bird Key for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Number 1 Realtor for all Sarasota in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Coldwell Banker Society of Excellence award in 2013, 2014 and 2016
  • Ranked among the top 250 agents in the country for 2014, 2016 and 2017 by REAL Trends as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.