Real Estate Information Archive


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Nate Jacobs promotes his dream at WBTT

by Roger Pettingell

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

A construction capital campaign close to its goal is 'Heartbeats Away'

REALTALK interview with Nate Jacobs of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
A 2016 interview with Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in REALTALK™ #101 ends with a song and dance.

On the last day of 2018 I highlighted some of the new construction projects in Sarasota and the surrounding keys. In that REALTALKplus™ article the capital campaigns of several non-profits were included. The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is one of them. Their programs have expanded beyond the walls of its current building that has blossomed the careers of many actors.

The educational and theatrical programs provided by the WBTT have been ongoing for 19 years. During that time Artistic Director and Founder Nate Jacobs has provided quality performances, while drawing crowds from all nationalities and bridging any divide in the community. Our desire for the cultural arts make us all one in Sarasota.

The 2018-19 campaign is critical for the theatre to expand to the next level. To support the enthusiasm Nate Jacobs has brought back the most requested shows and put them together as their “Command Season”. Performances include tributes to the great artists such as the wonderfully talented Aretha Franklin. The Prince of Soul tribute to singer, song-writer and Motown producer Marvin Gaye that continues through Sunday was written and adapted for the stage by Nate Jacobs. A list of their musicals and plays this year reads like an anthology of great stage productions.

The “Heart & Soul Campaign” for a building makeover is climbing to its goal of $8 million, of which $6.5 million has been raised through charitable donations. Every gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to a maximum $200,000 so your donation doubles in size. Naming rights are still available to their newly renovated Education & Outreach Building.

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe building
The remodeling of the WBTT Education & Outreach building in Sarasota was completed in April. The MainStage theater and seating on the Orange Avenue complex is about to be remodeled, beginning in May.

The planned theater will transform the existing building into an entirely new exciting first-class venue. When you first walk in your new experience will begin with a larger remodeled lobby. Seats will be expanded to 200 and remodeled with comfortable theater-style furniture. Your new experience continues with a redesigned MainStage, new lighting and sound system. Larger restrooms are planned for your convenience. Behind the scenes there will be upgraded dressing rooms, with new costume and prop areas. A second stage will be used for rehearsals and for student learning.

Education and outreach has been one of the founding principles of WBTT. The Stage of Discovery is a summer intensive program offered free to students ages 13 to 18. Not only will students develop their artistic skills taught by experienced professionals, they are challenged to become a greater person in society. Funding for this worthwhile program continues through charitable donations. The community continues its social growth through these gifts.

Special productions celebrating legacies and showcasing upcoming artists often appear on the WBTT schedule. On January 21 the troupe will present, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Celebrating his Legacy in the Spoken Word and Song, at the VPA Theatre in Booker High School. The Kid is Alright, an evening with Maicy Powell will highlight this young artist’s career on February 4 in the theatre where she began her talented story.

Black Nativity performed by the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
An annual favorite request of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is the Black Nativity, two-act musical. The holiday show written by Langston Hughes was expanded to more days in December and moved to the Sarasota Opera House to accommodate more guests.

One of the more lasting impressions on the community is the Black Nativity, a Langston Hughes’ Broadway adaptation by Nate Jacobs. Community support for this holiday-time performance has escalated where this year extra shows were added. The current WBTT stage was undersized for demand that a move to the Sarasota Opera House was needed to include a larger stage and more seating capacity. Sold out shows continued through its five days in December.

Delight in upcoming shows, The Amen Corner by James Baldwin beginning January 23, Love Sung in the Key of Aretha, with its first date on March 13. When these two theatrical runs complete, the seats will be removed and the building will begin its transformation into a first-class theater. Construction is expected to begin in May of this year. The dream of Nate Jacobs will continue to thrive and the city will be better for it. Everything of good in life comes with a little patience.

The first listing of 2019 at $4,040,000 on Bird Key
First 2019 Listing - 212 Bird Key Drive, Sarasota

When the Pineapple dropped in downtown Sarasota at Midnight last Monday I completed another county record with $106,112,445 in volume sales. This is the ninth time in eleven years I was the top-producing single agent in Sarasota. The average sale price was $1,493,853 and last week I highlighted some of the most significant properties sold in 2018. I draw your attention to my first listing of 2019, a $4.04 million estate at 212 Bird Key Drive. This is a unique new waterfront home that boasts an incredible garage with space up to 11 cars. Even that can be expanded with space for a lift at its center and a sturdy second floor. 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
212 Bird Key Drive $4,040,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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


Comparing online home buying programs

by Roger Pettingell

Comparing the Big Three to local agents

Offerpad, Knock and Opendoor may have their places in real estate sales

1449 Hillview Drive
Home For Sale in Harbor Acres - Are the new services the best choice in selling your home?

Considering selling your home by owner, either through a website or just by hanging a sign near the street? There are many obstacles to consider before you travel down this route, especially if you are serious about the sale of your home or residence. It seems lately there are new websites offering alternatives, claiming to save you thousands of dollars and with a quick sale.

Are these claims real? Let’s examine how websites such as Offerpad, Knock and Opendoor operate. They may be the Big Three of this new technology. We’ll see how others are getting into the game. RP Funding is bundling there services with a agent and offer to pay your closing costs. I’m not knocking their services. But as in other transactions, shop around for the best terms and interest rates. You could find yourself saving a little at closing but end up paying thousands more in interest.

As for the Big Three, let’s start with the fair market value of your home. Although Zillow is not in this market of selling your home, they do have a process of evaluating your home value called their Zestimate. Zillow has received a lot of criticism and even lawsuits for their Zestimate pricing structure. The company based in Seattle may not have a clue what a home on Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat Key is worth. They base their estimates on an intelligent algorithm, pulling from comps, tax records and possibly price per square foot.

What they don’t do is walk into your home, look at upgrades made to the home and give value to the little things that current buyers are looking for on Longboat Key. In contrast, the Big Three provide their valuations similar to Zillow, and offer their bid on your home at a value much less than the current market. Offerpad and Opendoor will offer to purchase your home based on their estimate. Knock will place your home on the market for six to eight weeks and offer to purchase it at the end of that listing period. By undervaluing the price of the home all three are assured of a profit.

Maybe you think that your savings in the sale will present itself with the fact that you do not have to pay a commission. The Big Three each charge a commission but may call it something else. Opendoor calls it a service charge of 6.5 percent. Their buyer-centric platform is openly admitted by these companies.

1235 North Lake Shore Drive
Home-buying programs may not be the best choice for the luxury waterfront second-home market.

Consider the cost of repairs. In the process a qualified independent inspector will provide a list of expected repairs. A professional agent working on the seller’s behalf is certainly acquainted with this process and will negotiate which repairs the seller is willing to make or will recommend a credit, if necessary. It is part of the negotiations. The Big Three are very rigid on these costs. If you are in a situation that you can not make the repairs, a mandatory credit is issued at closing.

Other fees with these online companies have terms such as customer experience fees, closing costs, market risk fees and holding fees. Knock does have unique programs to trade-in or trade-up your home, but interest can be as high as 8 percent while living in the home waiting for the sale.

Another concern about the Big Three is that they don’t take all homes offered to them for purchase. Each has restrictions on what they will take based on price, age of the home, clear title provided, occupied or the community has age restrictions. They may not make an offer on a home that has significant damage, they want a quick turnaround.

Also, they do not sell in many areas of the country. Offerpad listed six cities on its website, two of which were in Florida. Through the Tampa link I found four homes for sale in Sarasota and no homes for sale on the barrier islands. Opendoor had 10 cities listed with Minneapolis and Houston coming soon. The Tampa link did not have any homes for sale in Manatee or Sarasota counties. Buyers on Knock go through a free pre-approval process before gaining access to its inventory. These are hit-and-miss strategies for buyers, especially since they may know they have free access to hundreds of homes in these areas through the Multiple Listing Service.

These services may have a future in some markets and for some home sellers. Sellers that need to move on quickly may want to use these services. Inexperienced sellers, owners that want little to do with the process or homeowners in default and facing foreclosure may be good candidates. This doesn’t sound like the seller of a waterfront luxury property in a second-home market. Those sellers want the experience of a professional real estate agent in the market they have their home.

You can use some of those same arguments to justify using a professional versus hanging a sign alongside the road as FSBO. Those sellers lose out on the exposure of the MLS, the negotiating experience to get the best price and the knowledge of the closing process so the sale is seamless. It reduces the stress in selling a home. We have seen it many times, one year with a sign out front before they visit our office.

225 Sands Point Rd. #6105
New listing - 225 Sands Point Rd. #6105

Last week I listed an Inn on the Beach community resort residence on Longboat Key at 225 Sands Point Rd, #6105. It is a unique furnished home behind the gates of the Longboat Key Club. This is an income-producing property, listed in the rental program there. The owner has 30 days of access per year and all the Longboat Key Club privileges while in residence. We discussed the property and announced in REALTALK™ #176 that the proceeds from the sale benefit the Southeastern Guide Dogs program in Palmetto. 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
225 Sands Point Rd, #6105 $329,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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


Home Showcase XXIII - Longboat Key

by Roger Pettingell

Four unique residences on Longboat Key

Something for everyone looking for a part of paradise and easy lifestyle

This month we devote our Home Showcase series to Longboat Key and four residences for sale there. They are in the wonderful communities of 360 North Condominium, Grand Bay, Islander Club and Beaches of Longboat Key Club. All are splendid properties with their unique features, something for everyone looking for a good location on Longboat Key.

Completely renovated residence on the north shores of Longboat Key

260 North Shore Rd
260 North Shore Rd, #4

The first in the 360 North Condominium community at 260 North Shore Rd, #4 has been renovated from top to bottom. Beachfront living at its best, this charming neighborhood is located on Longboat Key's northern end, minutes from Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island. This rarely-available 3BR townhouse residence is located directly on Longboat Key’s pristine Gulf shores, offering stunning modern upgrades. Walk in and immediately fall in love with the picture-perfect beach views, 20’ cathedral ceilings, beautiful hardwood flooring, newer electric and plumbing, impact windows and sliders, eat-in kitchen and rooftop solarium, listing for $1,999,000. This is beachfront living at its best, on the far north end of the island in perfect seclusion.

Many amenities in the community of Grand Bay overlooking Sarasota Bay

3040 Grand Bay Blvd, #285
3040 Grand Bay Blvd, #285

Enjoy the ideal bayfront lifestyle at this charming Grand Bay #285 residence with beautiful views of Sarasota Bay and downtown that stretch on forever. This wonderful community offers its residents on-site management, 24-hour security and manned guard gate, dynamic clubhouse activities, library, social and game rooms, fitness center, four Har-Tru tennis courts, bayside heated swimming pools and spa. The south-facing, light and bright 2BR layout of this residence features 20x20 oversized tile flooring, a neutral décor ready for you to move right into and floor-to-ceiling walls of glass sliders that open to the impressive, extended wraparound terrace from every room listed at $929,000. Grand Bay is a socially-active neighborhood located behind the gates of Bay Isles, where residents enjoy access to private beach.

Islander Club residences, centrally located on Longboat Key

2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N
2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N

Simply waiting for you, this updated, direct Gulf-front residence at Islander Club offers Bamboo wood flooring, renovated kitchen, newer bathrooms and unmatched beach and sunset views. Endless vistas of the Gulf of Mexico greet you as soon as you enter this corner, seventh-floor residence. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliders open to the lanai from every room for optimal enjoyment. Islander Club is in a prime, central location on the island of Longboat Key. This lovely community offers residents upgraded amenities including a brand-new lobby, on-site management, clubhouse with library, game room and fitness center and heated swimming pool overlooking azure waters of the Gulf. Also, includes one deeded, covered parking space at 2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N, offered for sale, $849,000.

The Beaches, secure behind the gates of Longboat Key Club Islandside

775 Longboat Club Rd, #705
775 Longboat Club Rd, #705

Gorgeous beach-to-bay views welcome you at the Beaches of Longboat Key Club, 775 Longboat Club Rd, #705. This charming 2BR residence is situated in a private corner on the seventh floor. New floor-to-ceiling sliders open to the generous wraparound terrace, where you can enjoy stunning sunrises and crimson evening sunsets, with panoramic vistas that stretch on forever, all for an asking price of $849,000. Residents adore life at the Beaches. This direct Gulf-front community is conveniently located behind the exclusive gates of the renowned Longboat Key Club Islandside. First-rate amenities include on-site management, 24-hour concierge, updated lobby and hallways, newer clubhouse with catering kitchen and social rooms, fitness, tennis, heated swimming pool and spa, with a boardwalk down to enjoy pristine Gulf shores. Also offers plenty of covered parking for guests.

In addition to the residences on Longboat Key listed in this article, last week I placed on the market a three bedroom residence in The Savoy on Palm community in the heart of downtown Sarasota, within walking distance to the best that the city has to offer. 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
401 S. Palm Ave, #402 $2,300,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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


The current process for home loans

by Roger Pettingell

Allow extra time for mortgage process

Home buyer considerations before the purchase offer is made

REALTALK™ #121 on mortgage challenges
Mortgage challenges - I compare cash with home loan offers last week in REALTALK™ #121.

I explain in my REALTALK™ #121 video last week why cash is preferable in making an offer on a house. There are a few reasons why that is true and I explain in summary why obtaining a home loan today is more challenging compared to the days where no-doc mortgages were prevalent in the years leading up to the housing bust in 2008. Since then legislation reformed the loan industry when it was enacted as the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010.

The consumer credit process for home loans needed a change to avoid another housing disaster like the one that was created where 8 million homes were foreclosed upon. Under this new legislation predatory practices were reduced. Banks have less options for preparing loans that put an undue stress on the home buyer. These loans were advertised in ways that seemed very attractive but eventually would be the cause of many foreclosures.

Two fundamental principles were altered that would challenge even those with good credit to obtain home loans. The first was an increase in the credit rating an applicant is now required to have in order to receive loan approval. Whether a financial institution uses the FICO score or another form of credit rating, the applicant’s perceived ability to repay the loan is a much bigger part of the process. The second is the documentation required for a loan today, as I outline in the steps below.

The first step is a prequalification, used as an initial indicator, and then the pre-approval process. Although the prequalification is a basic step to get an idea as to how much a lender is willing to loan you, it requires little documentation. It may mean nothing to the buyer if you submit a prequalification letter to the seller’s agent with an offer, so many people don’t bother with prequalification. The pre-approval process will have some meaning since you have gone through the beginning of the home loan process and are approved for the home loan amount. Possibly you have even locked in an interest rate with the bank. Since your ability to repay has been tested, you have a reasonable expectation to continue income, and your debt levels are low, the next stage of the process becomes easier.

Since pre-approval is typically before the offer is made, the next stage begins when the offer is accepted by the seller. The full application is made at that point. The documents needed for pre-approval will need to be updated, especially if they are older than 90 days.

The application is submitted to the processing department of the financial institution. If everyone has done their diligence this may be a smooth process. If steps are missed in the application, the processing department may require additional documents to proceed with the loan. If both Realtors have properly advised their seller and buyer of the property fair market value, an appraisal is only a necessary formality. A bank is not interested in providing a loan that is far higher than the property value. In that way the bank protects its investment and in a foreclosure can recover its money through the sale of the home. There may be other documentation required such as HOA rules and regulations.

Once a satisfactory commitment is achieved by processing, underwriting will look for any potential fraud and review the submitted documentation. They will also review the fair market value of the property from the appraisal before the loan is cleared to close and a closing date is set or confirmed.

Underwriting must also review the loan so that it complies with Federal rules. In order to be insured by the Federal Housing Administration the bank must demonstrate that loan meets minimum guidelines for down payment and the credit of the borrower is in good standing.

In 2016 the FHA refined its rules to make the process more transparent to the borrower. Banks are now required to disclose all costs associated with the loan within three days of the application. This extends the review and rescission period for the consumer. A governmental online resource site was created that simplifies the loan payment schedule and has a tool to compare rates from different institutions in your area. Within three days of closing the lending institution is required to confirm its original costs and terms so the consumer is not faced with this review at the closing, where the pressure to sign is increased.

New rules also place new calculations and procedures on how some debt affects the loan. Student loans and 30-day revolving credit accounts are verified for payments on time. The money received for a down payment is reviewed for its source and more documentation may be required.

With interest rates still hovering around four percent, depending upon the type of adjustable or fixed mortgage and the length of the term, loans are still attractive to those who can make higher percentages on their investment money. This may change however. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has hinted that the central bank may have three separate interest rate hikes this year.

The length of time for the loan application process to go through its steps has increased. Consider this at the time the purchase contract is signed. Don’t commit to a short closing process unless you are confident that the bank is prepared to complete their process on time. It may be frustrating to renegotiate a contract to extend the closing date. I discuss more about that in REALTALK™ #121. Good luck.

Last week I listed an elegant estate behind the secure gates of The Oaks Country Club in Osprey. The home is a delight for features and décor. 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
468 Walls Way, Osprey $1,995,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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


Sales for the year 2015

by Roger Pettingell

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Record setting year for me and local counties

602 South Owl Drive on Bird Key in Sarasota
Highest sale of 2015 - This waterfront home on Bird Key was my highest sale of the year at $4.55 million.

When the ball drops at Times Square on Thursday I will have sold over $74 million for the year. It has been a good year and is another record-setting year for me, increasing the volume of sales by $7 million at minimum. That was last year and my previous record since I started selling real estate in this area over 30 years ago. In Sarasota and Manatee we only needed 370 home sales to break the previous mark set in 2014.

Supply and demand drove up prices too, creating a seller’s market. With an increase in median pricing of 13.6 percent comparing the two Novembers, buyers are willing to shell out more for the inventory that is on the market. In both counties the supply of houses is near 3.5 months worth of inventory, where a six month average is considered neutral for supply to equal demand.

My inventory is growing though. In the last week of December in 2014 I had 34 listings on the market. Currently I have 51 listings and expect a few more before the week is over. These are new listings that sellers realize the potential for increased pricing in their homes they had been sitting on. I am also adding some MLS sales to the new construction of Azure on Palm, a community of 16 residences at 711 South Palm in Sarasota.

Those are not the only reasons my inventory has increased. Sellers are eager to have their homes on the market for changes in the banking system. The rates are heading up beginning with the first short term interest rate hike in nearly a decade announced recently by the Federal Reserve. December traditionally sees a spike in home sales because buyers want to get their homes closed by the stroke of midnight on December 31. That way they take advantage of the state’s homestead exemption for 2015.

Buyers seeking conventional loans will see an increase in time that it takes to close with new legislation that puts more informational burden on the lending institutions. That doesn't affect a majority of my buyers. Nearly 60 percent of my sales for 2015 were through Cash Only transactions. Of the 53 homes I sold this year, 31 were purchased with cash. My biggest deal of the year was a listing on South Owl Drive on Bird Key, a beautiful home that closed on March 20 for $4.55 million.

Check out my new listing last week with information below. It is a rare, true three bedroom residence at Beachplace on Longboat Key. I hope your holidays are going well and that 2016 is a good year for you. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1085 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #205 $699,000   Photo Slideshow


Closing costs, guide for buyers and sellers

by Roger Pettingell

Knowing Your Responsibilities in Paradise

Some costs are unique to Florida, some vary by location

Tom Luzier, real estate attorney at Dunlap Moran in Sarasota talks about doc stamps and title insurance
Doc stamps and title insurance - Sarasota real estate attorney Tom Luzier discusses closing costs.

Buying a home in Florida is a wonderful thing. After all, you are purchasing in paradise. Florida has some other unique tax laws that also make it attractive. For instance, no state income tax. Our unique homestead act not only protects the property of homeowners from creditors but it also reduces the amount of property taxes for those who meet resident requirements. The costs associated with the home-selling process are standard among other states but the responsibility for who pays each can be a little different in Florida, and may even vary by county.

There are a few professionals involved in the process to make a better experience for the seller and the buyer. It can become complicated, these experts are there for you and have costs associated with their services. Even such fees as documentary stamps are something new to buyers if moving in from another state. Many of my buyers are on their second or third homes here and moving up in square footage, or have a desire for waterfront property. They may be familiar with the process.

As to who pays for closing costs can be negotiated in the contract, but you can start with some basic assumptions for buyers. Many of my buyers are also cash buyers so they can avoid the costs involved with a lender. For those buyers seeking a mortgage can eliminate points, but the payoff for the bank may be at a higher interest rate. Rates are so low now you can consider eliminating points as an expense. Most banks will require insurance to protect their equity in the home. Once a contract is signed it is good to shop for rates as it is typically required that they buyer pays for one year and have proof at closing. Property taxes and insurance can be escrowed into the loan.

Assuming the contract does not alter the fee structure the buyer will also cover attorney fees, title agency fees, or both. A home purchase may have bumps in the road so it is good to have a real estate attorney you trust, they can also serve as the closing agent. A home inspection is desirable too, even if the contract is without a mortgage contingency through a cash only sale. You will want to know the exact condition of the property you are purchasing. Even with “As is” contracts, there is an inspection period of 15 days so the buyer can have an opportunity to discover a defect in the home that could significantly reduce the value of the home.

The seller is left with fees associated to the sale of the home. As in most state the real estate agent costs are the responsibility of the seller as are any repairs that may have been discovered through an inspection. There can be a repair limit that the seller can negotiate in the contract.

Who pays title insurance can vary by location. The deed is a written document recorded with the county and sometimes confused as the title, likely since the title of a car is written ownership. Title insurance covers the accuracy of the deed and other tangible documents recorded with the county. It also is a one-time insurance premium that covers intangibles that may not be recorded such as a botched probate in a chain of property transactions. In Sarasota County it is assumed that the buyer covers the cost of title insurance, but just to the north title insurance is typically paid by the seller in Manatee County.

If you are moving from Nebraska you may be familiar with documentary stamps. As Tom Luzier, real estate attorney at Dunlap Moran in Sarasota pointed out in REALTALK™ #38, doc stamps are the way our “state keeps the lights on” in the government offices. Although Miami-Dade County in southeastern Florida has a different rate for doc stamps, the rate in our counties are calculated at seventy cents on every $100. Doc stamps are typically paid by the seller. This tax is typically thought of for home purchases but is extended to other real property transactions such as the purchase of mineral rights or easements.

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, call our office to get started in the process. For sellers we can give you a fair market value price on your home. I can also walk through the different costs associated with selling your home. When it comes time to negotiate a sale, our office can calculate “what if” scenarios to get you the best price for your home. We offer similar services when we represent buyers. For each property you have an interest in I will review comparable sales in the area so the homes are not overpriced and will find hidden gems once I learn your likes, dislikes and budget.

1378 Harbor Drive, Sarasota, Florida, 34239 | home for sale
Luxury waterfront home for sale at 1378 Harbor Drive with a spectacular sunset view of Sarasota Bay.

Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy. I just listed this wonderful estate in the exclusive community of Harbor Acres. This home for sale is a showcase of beautiful details, designer embellishments and wonderful conveniences. The private gated entry, tranquil fountain and brick-pavered driveway welcomes you. A stone staircase and balustrade leads up to the statuesque, double-door entrance and foyer. Formal living and dining rooms offer a lavish and open layout, excellent for entertaining, plus a stone-encased gas fireplace. Call me for an exclusive showing of this magnificent home.

1378 Harbor Drive, Sarasota $4,795,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Record Setting Year in 2014

by Roger Pettingell

Area Number of Sales Hits High Mark

My Closed Sales are Highest for Third Consecutive Year

2735 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, Florida 34228
Strong year for home sales - Homes like this one I sold last year for $5.75 million added to the record.

The final figures are in for the record setting year of 2014. I was able to set a personal record of 59 sales totaling over $66.6 million. I was not alone setting records, it was a banner year for Manatee and Sarasota counties. Sarasota County had more closings than any other year with 11,550, which was 68 more than in 2004 when the previous high mark was hit. Although Manatee County didn’t break a record, 7,976 closings were recorded for the year. The record was set in 2013 with 8,003 closings. The combined totals for the two counties accounted for nearly eight percent of all closed sales in the state.

My closed sales put me at the top of residential property sales in these two counties for the third consecutive year, and fifth time in seven years. I was second in 2009 and 2011.

So, what is going on? Certainly, the economy and consumer confidence is good for the housing market. Maybe more important, baby boomers that are retiring are looking at this area for their dream home. I don’t see that changing this year. More demand might put a strain on existing inventory, so now would be a good time to sell. As I mentioned late last year, beachfront property is prime real estate for retirees.

With higher demand prices of homes should increase slightly, and I am hoping for a three to five percent increase. This would be far different than the annual increases that were present leading up to the year 2008 when home values were increasing in double-digit percentages. The expected increase in home prices is healthy for the seller, but not high enough to discourage buyers. This is healthy when neither side feels slighted.

A five percent increase also isn’t alarming to home buyers who might feel as though we are heading into a price bubble that might burst any time soon. We still have not fully recovered from home prices in the area when the median price in 2005 was $322,700. At the end of 2014 the local median price was $210,000.

Low 30-year mortgage rates of 3.86 percent are also fueling the high number of sales. This may be noteworthy for homes of younger buyers who are able to spread their payments over that period. In the last six months, 66 percent of my buyers have paid in cash.

Those looking for investment properties, this year might be a good time to purchase. According to the on-line real estate clearinghouse Zillow, rental costs are expected to increase this year. I have a couple residences for sale that qualify as rental properties. Canadian-born visitors like rentals as their travel visas into the United States allow for a six-month visit.

Here are newspaper links announcing the final sales figures for 2014 in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy. Our new listings last week include an updated home in Queens Harbour with pool and boat and a beachfront condominium at Beachplace.

3590 Fair Oaks Lane $1,795,000   Photo Slideshow
1055 Gulf of Mexico Drive, #106 $1,249,000   Photo Slideshow


Advantages of Paying Cash

by Roger Pettingell

Cash Deals Dominate Area Home Sales

65% of Sales in Sarasota Are Made Without a Mortgage

Buyers might want to use cash to buy this view at Grand Bay #151
Cash Deals - Buyers might want to use cash to purchase this view at a new listing, Grand Bay #151.

When I talk to buyers for the first time they generally tell me they have accumulated a sizeable amount of assets and are looking to the Sarasota area to retire or establish a second residence for the winter. In either scenario they don’t want to add any debt. That is why 65 percent of home buyers here paid with cash in the first quarter of 2014, Realty Trac puts the national figure at 42.7 percent.

In many ways it is with good reason that this area is good for cash purchases. Remaining debt free in retirement years is a great goal. For ease of mind you also have full instant equity in your home without a bank loan hovering over your head.

With cash you can avoid the costs associated with the loan process, so your purchase is less expensive. Look at any Good Faith Estimate from the bank and you will see that the fees add up. Appraisal costs, title insurance, and mortgage application fees can costs thousands of dollars. And in many cases, banks will require Private Mortgage Insurance, which is added above the monthly payment amount to ensure that the bank does not have a bad loan. PMI is charged whether you have good credit or not.

Cash buyers also avoid bank requirements for home owner insurance. Although we received a legislative reprieve for some of the increases in flood insurance, these insurance costs can be quite expensive. Insurance then becomes a personal preference.

It also might go without saying that sellers may accept less money for an offer if they know a cash deal is in the works. Adding a third party, in this the case the bank, has the potential for tying up the closing process and sellers know this. Sellers also know the deal has a better of chance of falling apart so they welcome a cash deal more.

We also see that many international buyers will insist on cash deals. Foreign investors are using their own cash to close home purchases at a rate of 70 percent. This is sometimes a cultural difference.

There are investment strategies that start out as a cash deal, then convert to a mortgage after the home is purchased. This simplifies the initial buying process with the advantages listed above and might get you into a home quicker. Since you have full equity in the property immediately, you can apply for a home equity loan after closing. This is helpful if the initial purchase drastically reduces your cash reserves or you have some remodeling projects to complete.

In the last six months, 80 percent of my clients have purchased or sold their homes through cash deals. The sellers of these new listings will also consider your offer with cash for these condominiums. Please feel free to call the office at (941) 387-1840 when you are ready to buy or sell property.

3060 Grand Bay, #151, Longboat Key $1,450,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1135 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #301, Longboat Key $749,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1064 N Tamiami Trail, #1227, Sarasota $279,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Title Searches and Insurance

by Roger Pettingell

Florida Title Searches and Insurance

Clear Title on Your Home Purchase is Worth Insuring

2024 Alameda Avenue, Sarasota, Florida
Title Insurance - Although this home on Alameda may be sold for cash, title insurance is worth it.

A home title or deed is the property record with the county in Florida: recorded with the name, names or organization that has the rights to that property. That may be an oversimplification, but in its basic definition is the way we keep track of properties in the United States. It is the recorded proof of ownership, so to speak.

Every time a title is filed with a change of home ownership, the recorded deed adds to the purchase history of that home or condominium. If there is a lien put against the property, typically through some court ruling, that record will also show up with the property. The lien could follow the property and in the event of a sale, would require that the lien was satisfied before the sale could take place. It all sounds so simple.

With most records in the county open to the public, searching for a good title has been made easier. An Internet search of the local county records usually uncovers tax or personal liens. These searches are so easy that it is tempting to perform your own search and feel comfortable that you have a clean title.

The stakes are potentially high though and professionals are trained to look for the pitfalls. For instance, a lien filed under the name of John Smith might not show up if Jack Smith is listed as the owner of the property. Further complications could arise in divorce settlements or the death of a spouse when the home is titled to the deceased.

Mortgage lending institutions usually require a title search. That protects their interest in the property. And if you are opting for a cash purchase, as over 60% are in this area, you may only have that obligation to yourself to protect the property. There are a multitude of potential problems that could cost thousands, if not millions, of dollars down the road.

Title searches are also backed up with insurance, these policies warranty the search and free title. Any problem that arises later will result in an amount paid to you in order to satisfy the judgment. Once again, the bank will want this protection for their interest in lending the money for the home purchase.

In Manatee County, as in most counties in Florida, title insurance is typically paid by the seller of the property as a one-time premium. Here in Sarasota, the home buyer is responsible for purchasing title insurance. However, in both counties these responsibilities can be reversed if spelled out in the purchase contract.

Many fees on the Good Faith Estimate are negotiable. As for title insurance, the state of Florida has set the following guidelines for establishing its cost. Although these rates are set by the state of Florida, you do have the ability to negotiate the agent's fees for issuing the insurance. Call other title companies for competitive fees and work in the 0-30% range of the total cost as a negotiating tactic. In the chart below you can see the percentage rate of retention allowed by Florida law.

The rates below are those spelled out in Florida law. In the third column is the rate of retention allowed by the insuring company. Therefore, title insurance on a home of $75,000 is calculated to be $431.25, or $5.75 for every $1,000 of home value. It is on a graduated scale of costs per thousand, established as follows:

Amount of liability written Premium Agent
  Amount Retention
From $0 to $100,000 of liability written $5.75 30%
From $100,000 to $1 million, add $5.00 30%
Over $1 million to and up to $5 million, add $2.50 35%
Over $5 million and up to $10 million, add $2.25 40%
Over $10 million, add $2.00 40%


Using the table above, here is an example for $150,000 of insurance written for a home. The first $100,000 is set at the $5.75 rate, calculated to be $575, and the $50,000 above the $100,000 is at a $5.00 rate per thousand, or $250. Adding $575 and $250 together, the cost of insurance is $825. Since the entire amount is in the 30% range, you may be able to negotiate any part of the $247.50 that is legally retained by the agent.

Rates are discounted by Florida law when a loan is reissued as the result of refinancing and within 10 years of the original home purchase. There are restrictions, such as the loan must be made by the bank that issued the original loan. The law also calls for discounts when a new construction home is purchased.

This whole system may seem confusing to residents of other industrial countries. Much like the government here issues a car title as valid registration, property in other countries have their titles issued by their government. It is also the responsibility of their government to resolve any disputes. In this country the county does not determine who owns the land, they only hold the records. Disputes are settled among the parties involved.

On my website is a list of all the costs that are associated with the closing of your new home purchase. This article outlines what can be expected at closing. I recommend reading this web page well before your closing date, and use it as a refresher before the final walk-through.

The upcoming holiday weekend puts us on notice that summer is coming to a close soon, I hope you have enjoyed it. Please contact me with any questions on titles, insurance, or home ownership through (941) 387-1840. I will return with another blog entry next Tuesday. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

Market Updates and Saved Searches

by Roger Pettingell

Market Updates and Saved Searches

Using this website for home buying and selling research

Live Chat symbol
Live Chat - Have a question while researching? Click on the Chat with a Agent link in the lower right. has many ways for you to keep up with new home listings for sale, market updates for sellers, and comparative market analysis (CMA) reports. You don’t have to join a mailing list on this site to have access to this information. We can turn on limits that require you to set up an account after your first search, but I never liked those restrictions.

For instance, under the menus for Property Listings and CMA History you have many ways to explore the local real estate market for home sales. The CMA histories will give you a good background into home prices back to 2008 in some cases. We keep them current with comparative pricing for 18 different communities on Longboat Key and the Sarasota area.

However, setting up a free account on my other sites is easy and based on your needs, we will send you reports on a daily basis. Let’s start with Register as a buyer and input your requirements for your next dream home. You will receive a market snapshot within 30 minutes, then receive updates as new homes come on the market. Register as a home owner and we will send you updates on the market as it relates to your property.

As a home owner you can receive a free instant home market analysis report on There you will also have a chance to receive updates by registering with your email address. The instant report offers insight into the value of your home and how it compares to the neighborhood. There is also a comparison rating for the community in areas such as safety, schools and lifestyle.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) research is important to determine property values. Roger Pettingell discusses how the website has a library of CMAs for 18 different communities on Longboat Key and Sarasota in episode 14 of REALTALK, aired August 6, 2014.
Roger Pettingell discusses CMAs in REALTALK™ #14, aired August 6, 2014.

Enter the criteria for your home search as a buyer on and we will send you homes that match that criteria. As new homes come on the market we will send updates to your email address.

Look for the “Chat with an Agent” link in the lower right of and to be instantly connected to an agent. After hours you can “Leave a message for Roger” that I will respond to when I am able to research your question.

Under Property Listings on is an option to register for an account to search for homes, whether you are buying or doing research of similar homes as the seller. There are many benefits for creating an account, you can:

  • Save your property searches
  • Save properties to your account
  • Perform Quick Searches from your settings
  • Modify and add daily email parameters
  • Name and Save Multiple Searches
  • Modify your profile

All you need is your name and email address to get started with your Free account. An email will be sent to you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email to begin using your account. The next time you visit the site your saved searches and properties will be waiting for you after you sign into your account. By searching for properties on the home page form you can also begin the process. When you complete your search and the list of homes appear just click on the Save Search link and either register or login.

As REALTORS® we know there are months of research on average that buyers and sellers use the Internet to review the markets before contacting a REALTOR®. Over 90% of home buyers start their search online. It is my hope that we have provided you with a good start for this research. The information sent to you through the emails above are detailed, and most of all, they are free. When you are ready to list your home or purchase your next property here in the Longboat Key and Sarasota I hope that you will review my years of experience so that like many others, you will trust that I can provide good service to you. As a client I can provide you with more accurate information through email just by understanding your needs better.

And as with all the programs we have set up for you, there is always an easy opt-out link on each email. By then I will have hoped that you have made the best decision for home buying or selling with the information you have received from us.

Next week we will be observing Memorial Day in honor of all the military men and women who have sacrificed so much to preserve freedom in this great country. My next blog will be on Tuesday. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Please take a look at our most recent listings. We welcome these new sellers to our services here at Roger Pettingell, Coldwell Banker Previews International. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (941) 387-1840.

3010 Grand Bay Blvd., #432 $899,000 Video Photo Slideshow
530 Putting Green Lane $749,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1010 Bogey Lane $525,000 Video Photo Slideshow



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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.