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Featured Property of the Month: July

Just past Palmer Ranch, this newly remodeled luxury Sarasota home has a spa pool and: four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, three-car garage, and high-end finishes.

Luxury Secluded Oaks Home

Perhaps you’re tired of the traffic. Or perhaps you’d like a lifestyle change. If you’re looking for a home removed from the everyday bustle of growing Sarasota, but still want to be less than 15 minutes away from all Sarasota has to offer, maybe this home is for you.

What sets this house apart is its location. Conveniently located two miles east of I-75, this home enjoys the benefits of wistful, mature oaks and a country feel. Positioned in the luxury neighborhood of Secluded Oaks, this house was built on a deep lot with grandfather oaks, a rarity on most lots of this size in Sarasota.

Most builders would raze the natural beauty of Old Florida, but in Secluded Oaks, you can still enjoy all the modern amenities of contemporary luxury while sipping your coffee in the mornings, overlooking the gentle sway of the moss in the trees.

Secluded Oaks Home Swimming Pool

The owners took great care to rejuvenate this home. Freshly painted and updated, the home features an open-floor plan that connects to the central living space. The two spaces are connected by two walls of hurricane proof sliding doors that overlook the spa pool. Light illuminates the interior of the home from the play of light on the pool. A wealth of windows graces each room permitting a sense of lightness throughout the four bedrooms. Moreover, the home is a part of a gas-community and features a well sprinkler system: both amenities offer significant long-term savings and reduce the home’s impact on the surrounding nature.

Gather loved ones, or enjoy a coffee alone on the expansive back lanai, this home will remove you from the everyday tick and hustle. This home is an entertainer’s delight as its gourmet kitchen (complete with granite and stainless steel) is located in the center of the home, near the lanai, permitting an open flow between the indoors and outdoors.

How do you get a house ready to put on the market?

5 quick ways to maximize your return and sell your property quickly:

How to Prepare Your Home for Sale1. Fix what needs fixing. Have you been putting off fixing the running toilet or the chipped paint somewhere in your home? Buyers often notice the things that will cost them money first. Because most buyers aren’t looking to renovate when they move, the houses that attract buyers are in top shape. As a result, they are more likely to pay top dollar.

2. Renovate (smart). Renovation is a scary word. Renovations cost money and potentially a lot of time. Buyers are just as concerned with renovating as sellers are about the cost of updating their homes for resale value. I wouldn’t advise a “full” or “total” remodel without contacting a realtor/broker (to learn more about resale value), and potentially, an architect.

  • Kitchens/bathrooms (they can make or break your sale): Inexpensive fixes, that often soften the true age of a home’s design, are: kitchen and bathroom faucets, perhaps investing in higher-end kitchen countertops, and if necessary, stainless steel appliances and cabinet refacing. On average, you will see a 86% return on your kitchen/bath remodel.
  • Grout: Deep clean or regrout completely. Buyers hate grime and they don’t want to imagine someone else’s dirt; depending on the size, usually under $200.
  • Paint: Both inside and outside if necessary in neutral colors – light grey, white, light beige. Remember, just because that fantastic indigo paint in the bathroom worked for you, doesn’t mean it will for the average buyer.
  • Hardware: Bring your home into this decade by simply updating cabinet hardware in the kitchen and bath. Home Depot and Target have knobs as inexpensive as 87 cents!

Though these may seem like minor changes, in a buyer’s eye these changes have the potential to transform their first impression of your home. What once seemed like a total remodel, now appears fresh and problem-free. As a result, buyers are more willing to overlook remodel upgrades, if they are happier with what they can live with for now. Remember, the definition of a “turn-key” property means buyers don’t have to do anything to the home. Buyers are willing to pay more, on average, for a turn-key home than a money pit.

3. Reduce personal items. When buyers walk into a property, they want to immediately imagine themselves in the space. They make plans regarding furniture placement. Most buyers have a difficult time imaging a space that still looks lived in. While this will be particularly difficult for sellers with children, consider editing your family’s belongings, reducing an abundance of personal items, i.e. large family pictures, intimate photography, toys, etc. Invest in plastic tub containers for your special belongings and place out of the way in the garage, or better, in a storage unit.

4. Clean ALL the things. This may sound obvious, but many sellers don’t realize the importance of keeping their house very clean at all times while their home is on the market. Buyers are just itching to find faults. Not all buyers can imagine themselves in a place already inhabited by someone else.

5. Reduce furniture. Often, people have no idea that they’ve bought too much furniture for their homes. Large furniture or too much furniture both shrink a home, hiding the true potential and expansiveness of a space.

6. Edit furniture. In other words, keep pieces in the home that most compliment the space and do not scream OLD. Buyers like fresh spaces with innovative design. Bad design only emphasizes other faults in the property, while great design complements a space highlighting its potential. Consider hiring someone to stage your home. This ranges from a few hundred dollars to several thousand for luxury properties.

Featured Luxury Property of the Month

Featured Luxury Property of the Month for March
Sarasota golf is among the best in Florida. For someone who loves to wake up and spend a day on the course, Laurel Oak Estates could be the answer. Laurel Oak Estates is a luxury and exclusive golf community located in Sarasota on the Gulf Coast of Florida. This particular property was built on 1.2 acres and has been recently (just last month) completely remodeled from the inside out by custom builder Steve Rinehart of Rinehart Homes. The property is nestled among mature oaks and tropical landscaping. Its simple elegance is highlighted by a luminous interior that features only custom, top-of-the-line finishes complete with a luxurious master ensuite, superior craftsmanship. This Laurel Oak home is characterized by its graceful lines and a wealth of windows that invite natural light through out.

Featured Property Listing
Virtual Tour

This luxury home, at 4,764 square feet, features a gourmet kitchen, stainless steel appliances, granite counters and island, walk-in closets, and four spacious bedrooms. In addition, the formal dining room, living room, and kitchen flow together to produce a truly open floor plan.

Enjoy this rare opportunity and long-term real-estate investment listed at $1.099 million in Laurel Oak. Laurel Oak Estates is a premier, guard-gated community with optional tennis and golf membership, conveniently located near all that Sarasota has to offer. This is truly a rare find; you must see this home to appreciate it!

Contact Leah George at (941) 780-0597 to schedule a viewing today!

Buying Your First House in Florida: What to Consider When Making the First Real Estate Investment of Your Life

Buying your first house marks a momentous occasion. For many people, it is the most substantial purchase they’ve made thus far. For others, buying a first house can signify the culmination of years of planning, worrying, and hoping. But when you’re finally ready to take the plunge, what are some ways of approaching the purchase of your first home?

Important Steps to Take:

Get Pre-qualified: Learn how much “house” you can afford by meeting with a mortgage broker. They will guide you through the initial steps of securing a mortgage. Sellers are often more open towards buyers who are “pre-approved” as it denotes readiness and seriousness on your part. When you are “pre-approved” for a mortgage, it means that you have already applied for a mortgage and have a letter from your lender that ensures the amount for which you’ve been approved. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help prevent heartbreak because it provides you with a concrete price range that reflects what you can actually afford. In addition, the costs of pre-approval are often taken care of when you close on your loan and are usually nominal.

Create a List of Needs and Wants: Create two lists, one that respects your needs, and a second list that reflects “wants.” First-time homebuyers are often taken aback by the reality of what they can afford and what is available at any given time on the market. It is important to consider what are “deal-breakers” (i.e. one bathroom featured when you need three for a larger family) and what you can change later on. Everyone’s list of “needs” vary widely, just make sure to be honest with yourself about your needs so that the property that you end up purchasing is indeed what you have been looking for. This can help to avoid future disappointment.

Create a second list of “wishes.” Considering that most properties may not feature all of your prerequisites, it is important to remain realistic about what may actually be available on the market at the time you are ready to purchase. Wishes reflect things you’d like to have, but can realistically live without – at least until you can better afford to address them (i.e. pool, gourmet kitchen, only high-end finishes).

Location: Considering your needs, where would you like to buy a house? Do you have children and are concerned about the school district? Are you newly married and would like to start a family one day? Would you like to be closer to work? Or do you not mind a long commute if it fulfills more of your wish-list? When buying your first home, consider
the perspective of other future buyers. Would a perspective buyer find the location of your target home attractive based the local crime rate and school district rankings, for instance? Consider the positive (parks, nearby shopping) and negative aspects (garbage dump, street noise, etc.) that would effect another buyer’s decision in buying.

When to hire a real estate agent? Consider hiring a real estate agent who works for you, the buyer, and not the seller. Agents can advise you on location, taxes, HOAs, and other important considerations. They only get paid if you decide to purchase a property.

Stay organized and objective:

  • Create a file of maps with the areas in which you are interested highlighted.
  • Take notes on each property you see (or video/pictures) to refresh your memory
  • Remember it may take more than one visit to the same house before you make a final decision
  • Don’t choose a house based on your furniture! Sometimes buyers give up the property that fulfills their needs because their furniture doesn’t fit. There are many ways to reorganize a house and decorate to suit your budget while finding the right home
  • Know the real cost of cosmetic vs. major renovations: Hate the red kitchen? Paint can be a low cost fix. Hate the bathroom, but can live with it a while? Get free estimates from local contractors (that your realtor can often advise you on) to give you a better idea of any hidden costs you may have to budget for
  • Get a thorough inspection done on the home (your realtor will have several trusted individuals they can point you to)
  • Request another walk-through a day or two before the closing

Buying your first home, whether it’s a luxury new construction home in Sarasota or a start home in a modest area, can be overwhelming. It is a big financial and emotional purchase that can serve your family for years to come. Florida Elite Homes can ensure that you are making the most informed decision possible, as our agents will leverage their unparalleled knowledge of the Florida real estate market. Give our agents a call today or shoot us a message and let us help you find the right home at the right price!

Lakewood Ranch Real Estate Market Attracts Major Development

by Andy Newton

Lakewood Ranch Luxury Real Estate

Lakewood Ranch, currently ranked number 9 among the best-selling communities in America, has long been a hub for local builders looking to construct high-end, luxury home communities, even during the troubling years of the recent housing crisis. Now with the real estate market rebounding, however, and renewed buyer demand putting prices on the rise, the Lakewood Ranch real estate market has begun to draw major developers, already boasting three of the top 14 national home-builders by closings, according to Builder Magazine.


Several of the nations top real estate developers have laid plans for construction in the area, offering what will be a diverse product line for homebuyers. Taylor Morrison, currently ranked number 14 nationally, is setting out on the Esplanade Golf & Country Club, and D.R. Horton, ranked number 1, plans to build on a limited basis in Greenbrook Village.

It is home developer Lennar, however ranked number 3 in the nation that has put in motion the most considerable construction plans in Lakewood Ranch, projecting to build a wide variety of luxury homes in the area. Their Manor home, priced from $299,990, will be 2,245 square feet, with four bedrooms; while their NextGen model, designed especially for families with multiple generations under one roof, priced from $369,990, will be 3,828 square feet, with five standard bedrooms and an additional one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment for grandma. Lennar will also build Estate homes, priced from $369,990, at 2,394 square feet.

Locals Welcome Big Real Estate Developers

Over the past decade and a half, Lakewood Ranch has been a terrific site for local real estate developers to enhance their reputations, not to mention their market shares. The arrival of such major homebuilders as D.R. Horton and Lennar, though, will by no means prove a disadvantage to nearby firms. In fact, local developers are welcoming the national attention.

Lakewood Ranch is a rich, diverse community in terms of development, with a plethora of different style homes for refined, niche tastes. Major companies like Lennar and D.R. Horton offer various specialized product lines, which would not necessarily compete with the models offered by local builders. If top ranked firms move into the area, it will attract national interest, which will only make sales in the community more fruitful. Mike Storey, an executive for Southwest Floridas Neal Communities, believes the onset of major development is, if anything, a good sign: When national builders are willing to reinvest in the market, it shows confidence in the overall marketplace. New development further indicates that the real estate market is once again on the upswing.

(Information cited from http://realestate.heraldtribune.com/2013/07/27/lakewood-ranch-draws-in-the-big-builders/)

Coral Gables Real Estate Offers Antique Charm with Modern Comfort

by Andy Newton

Coral Gables Luxury Real Estate

The historic community of Coral Gables has long been a destination for residents seeking a bit of luxury and tranquility within the heart of Southwest Florida. Developed during the land boom of the 1920s, this picturesque neighborhood offers people from all over the country a lavish slice of the past, while still retaining an eye to the future. Now with the housing market rising steadily throughout the region, Coral Gables, with all its wide boulevards and stately homes, is proving as appealing as ever to buyers looking for a dash of old fashioned class and charm amid the comforts of modern living.

Homes for Sale in an Ocean Paradise Emerging From the Wilderness

Coral Gables was first founded by real estate developer George Merrick, a ministers son who lived with his family on a grapefruit plantation nestled in the pine flatwoods west of Miami. Merrick possessed a vision of building a beautiful community out of the wilderness, a Miami Riviera. He sold his first lots in 1921, and, in just 4 short years, Merricks dreams were in full effect, advertising 40 miles of waterfront, lobbying for the construction of the University of Miami, and hiring orator and repeated presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan a resident of the nearby Coconut Grove to spread the word about Coral Gables among prominent northerners.

Although the Florida land boom went belly-up in 1926, Merrick and his starry-eyed partners whether they knew it or not left a cherished historical legacy to the future residents of Florida, a beautiful community that was to become an iconic American city. Tree-lined boulevards showcase palatial, Mediterranean style homes, custom designed by such notable architects as George Fink and Phineas Paist. City dwellers enjoy lush parks, grand plazas, and dazzling churches, not to mention the University of Miami. One of the first planned suburbs in America, Coral Gables stands as a monument to an optimistic past, while continuing to provide comfort and cheer for present and future residents.

Sales High in Coral Gables Real Estate, as Housing Market Rebounds

Now, nearly ninety years later, Coral Gables endures as one of the wealthiest cities in the South, boasting the 15th and 34th most expensive zip codes in the US by home price, at $3.48 million and $2.67 million, respectively. The average price for one of the communitys more modest dwellings, situated in the north, further from the ocean, is $500,000.

Nevertheless, with the real estate property values higher than they have reached in years in Coral Gables, home sales are still going strong. This may be due to a certain character and refinement about the city that have perhaps been perceived as lost elsewhere. It has a sense of place, commented Ayra Moore Parks, author of George Merricks Coral Gables, as well as the forthcoming Son of the South Wind, a biography about the towns developer. The landscaping is extraordinary the entrances and plazas that have been preserved. The theme that it had is still there, said Parks. It is a wonderful community.

(All information cited from http://realestate.heraldtribune.com/2013/07/13/walkabouts-coral-gables/)

DeSoto Acres: Lavish Homes Amid Natural Splendor

by Andy Newton

Sarasota Luxury Real Estate

Country Estates in the Heart of Town. Thats how advertisements read for DeSoto Acres, one of the oldest residential communities in Southwest Florida. Located just outside of Sarasota, DeSoto Acres is the perfect spot for anyone craving a taste of rural living, while still wishing to have a finger on the pulse of the city.

DeSoto Residents Find Leisure and Luxury

DeSoto Acres combines rustic charm with creature comforts. Grand trees and lush vegetation surround the communitys expansive properties, and the vast array of luxury homes ranging from ranch houses custom built in the 1950s and 1960s to modern, six-bedroom palatial estates matches the eclectic group that resides there. “We have retirees, snowbirds, professors, lawyers, surgeons, plumbers and electricians, and families,” said Jane Paquette, vice president of the homeowners association. “Ten are from overseas, in Europe, and spend their winters here.”

The diverse appeal of DeSoto Acres lies in the tranquility and freedom that the exuberant town offers. “We like the serenity, the openness and the fact that we’re at least 300 feet from our neighbors,” said longtime resident Sam Miller. “It’s far enough so we don’t put our noses into other people’s business, but close enough to help out if needed.” DeSoto dwellers like to take full advantage of all the leisure and comfort available to them. The large estates mean vegetable and ornate flower gardens are commonplace, and many keep horses. One resident even enjoys riding his buggy around town.

In all its verdant beauty, DeSoto Acres is still never too far from civilization. Inhabitants are just a 10-minute drive from downtown Sarasota, and the city itself is convenient to the rich shopping and dining opportunities up and down University Parkway and on Lakewood Ranchs Main Street. DeSoto Acres is also nearby the Ringling Museum and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Sales Steady for DeSoto

DeSoto Acres remains a prime example of quality Sarasota real estate. With the housing market on a recent upswing, DeSoto Acres endures as one of the most desired locations to settle in Southwest Florida. Sales have been strong in the neighborhood. The past year and a half has seen 15 transactions in total, with property prices ranging from $84,000 to $569,900. The inventory of available homes is low, ensuring values will remain steady, as developers consider new opportunities to add to the community.

(All information cited from http://realestate.heraldtribune.com/2013/07/19/market-snapshot-desoto-acres/)

Spring Real Estate Sales in Sarasota Hit 8-Year High

by Andy Newton

Real Estate Sales High in SarasotaPhoto by psyberartist | Flickr.com

The Sarasota housing market looks better than ever. Sales are on the upswing in the area, as the spring season showed an astounding number of sales and the momentum leading into summer is only building greater.

Record Number of Sales in April

Spring is typically a peak season for Florida real estate markets, but these past months have proven especially fruitful for homeowners in the Sarasota area. The number of sales for single-family homes hit 714 in April of this year and condominium sales reached 303, for a total of 1,017 closings, the highest one-month total since June 2005. These numbers show an increase of 14% from April of last year.

Sarasota property sales have not cracked the 4-figure mark since the markets height in 2004 and 2005. April 2013 is the 10th month in the last 10 years in which sales have exceeded 1,000 properties. The all-time one-month record of sales in the area came in April 2004, with an impressive 1,223 sales recorded.

Prices on the Upswing

The record number of sales in April of this year was coupled by an increase in Sarasota housing prices. The median sales price for single-family homes rose to $217,000, an increase of 24% from last Aprils rate of $175,000. This is the highest monthly figure in the area since August of 2008.

Pending Sales Suggest Continued Growth

Spring numbers were big, but information shows that this trend has not by any means subsided. The number of pending sales in the Sarasota area points to continued significant growth in months to come. The pending sales figure refers to the number of properties that went under contract during a given month, and so indicates sales that will potentially close in the following months.

Pending sales in April of this year reached 1,097 in Sarasota. Although slightly lower than the previous months figure, Aprils numbers are up from those of the same month of the previous year, which peaked at 1,068. Pending sales in the Sarasota area have topped 1,000 every month so far this year, indicating strong sales in the months that follow.

Note: all statistics cited in this article are from this document.

Miami Real Estate Market Continues to Thrive

by Andy Newton

Miami Condos for SalePhoto by Mr.Thomas | Flickr.com

Now is clearly the time to sell for Miami homeowners. High demand for properties in the area has caused prices to surge over the past several months, as an already limited market inventory of homes continues to steadily dwindle.

March a Strong Month For Miami Market

Prices for single-family homes and condominiums in the Miami area have been rapidly rising over the past year, with March showing a particularly astounding surge in rates. The median sales price for single-family homes in Miami rose by 16% to $225,000 from February to March of this year, a whopping increase of 25.1% in the year-over-year median sales price, the highest year-over-year increase since 2005. The median sales price for condominiums in the area has risen substantially over the past two years, with a 19.3% increase to $167,000 since March of the previous year and a 1.2% increase from only a month prior.

This tremendous surge in Miami housing prices comes as a result of an especially high demand for homes in the area amid a rapidly shrinking inventory of properties. Residential sales in Miami-Dade County rose by 2.7% in March, compared to sales rates in the same month a year earlier. Single-family homes prove to be in high demand, with sales increasing by 6.1% year-over-year, from 963 to 1,022. Condominium sales increased 0.5% year-over-year, from 1,451 to 1,458.

Statewide and National Trends

Although Miami rates prove to be particularly impressive, statewide and national sales prices are also on the upswing. Median sales prices for single-family homes increased 15.2% statewide in March to $160,000 and median sales prices for condominiums in the state increased 15.9% to $120,000. Meanwhile, the national median existing-home price for all housing types rose by 11.8% year-over-year to $184,300, according to the National Association of Realtors.

New Listings Needed to Satisfy High Demand

Active listings at the end of March fell 5.0% from the previous year, from 13,760 to 13,067. At the current rate of sale, there are only 5.1 months of supply of single-family homes and 5.9 months of supply of condominiums in Miami-Dade County, a dramatic decrease in rates from a year prior, when the area was already experiencing a housing shortage. With prices continuing to rise and supply continuing to dwindle, this proves an opportune time for Miami homeowners to consider putting their properties on the market.

Note: all statistics cited in this article are from this press release.

High Luxury Home Sales Spur New Development

Sales of luxury homes are on the rise in Southwest Florida, and with current real estate inventories diminishing by the day, new developments are quickly cropping up to satisfy the renewed buyer demand.

A local investment firm, Buyer Concession 113 LLC, purchased a plot of vacant land in December for $8 million in order to construct the second phase to the Concession Golf Course Community east of Lakewood Ranch, a sizable investment that suggests an overall restored confidence in the regions already thriving real estate market.

A New Project in a Rejuvenated Luxury Sarasota Real Estate Market

This land deal comes amid a pronounced rejuvenation in luxury sales, with rates unseen since the market peaked in 2004 and 2005. Sales steadily trended upward through the Fall 2012 season in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, with 41 homes sold at seven figures in October and 38 traded in November, the height coming in December with a total of 47 luxury homes and condominiums exchanged in the region.

This past April also proved especially fruitful. Typically a strong month for real estate sales in Southwest Florida, a total of 46 properties were sold this year at over $1 million, reaching an overall total of $85.3 million in monthly sales, outperforming the previous years monthly total of $76.4 million in overall trades.

Concession 113 Brings New Inventory to a Dwindling Luxury Housing Supply

Concession 113s second phase project will have to compete with home and lot sales in the upscale housing developments first phase, which contains around 100 sites and already 2 dozen constructed homes, many of which are currently owned by the family of notable golfer Jack Nicklaus, who also designed The Concessions widely renowned golf course.

Concession 113, however, is secure in their projects success. Real estate inventories in the region are rapidly shrinking. January of this year saw a hefty 57-month supply of homes, a number which dwindled staggeringly to a mere 12-month supply by the end of April. With demand continuously on the upswing in the Sarasota area, new development will surely be required to meet the markets needs.

Contact Info

Janette K. Schafer
Cell: 954/298-7791
Fax: 954/389-9487
Office: 941/377-4905
About Janette

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