Monday, February 28, 2011

Lakewood Ranch partners with Microsoft

I just ran across some interesting video on Fox News about Lakewood Ranch. 

The story is about how Lakewood Ranch is employing color-coded tags on businesses to give smart-phone users more information, online coupons, etc.  Sounds nice, but as usual, there's more to the story.

Smart tags are not new.  In fact, I've been using them on my website,, for months, as well as here on my blog.  They are called QR codes, which stands for Quick Response, and they are being used worldwide.  QR codes work with mobile phones on any operating system, Mac or Android.  Even better, the app to read the tags is free, and many websites provide free QR code generators.

The QR codes are black and white, meaning you don't need a special printer to make them, and you can print them right in your existing laser printer to apply to outdoor signs, banners, and in my case, my car.  They also are faxable.

I use QR codes on yard signs to direct potential buyers to interior video (yes video, not animated still photographs) and a detailed property listing on my website for that property.  The days of calling an office and getting a desk floor agent who knows little to nothing about the property is old school marketing. 

Here is the link to the video:

While I applaud the effort of Lakewood Ranch to embrace technology, they only got it half right.  I wonder how much of the Lakewood Ranch CCD fee went to this Microsoft partnership, where only a segment of the mobile browsing public can actually use this service?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sarasota Real Estate: It's Still a Pig...

Sarasota Real Estate: It's Still a Pig...

It's Still a Pig...

...even if you put on the rosiest lipstick.

That's what I recently was treated to in a recent email newsletter from our area's self-appointed luxury real estate leader.

We are in high season here in Sarasota, as snowbirds flock south to escape arctic blasts.  "I've rarely seen more visitors out and about; happily soaking-up our sunshine by day and our culture and cuisine by night", gushes the broker.  They then further expound on the predicted boom times to come:  " After one of the worst recessions in history, consumers are finally noticing the first real signs of relief. Economic growth is accelerating, discretionary spending is up considerably; and consumer confidence is at an eight-month high as the outlook for jobs brightens."


Following another link in this same email newsletter, January 2011 versus January 2010 sales were trumpeted as further evidence of the market turn-around and happy times to come for the real estate business.  I, for one, remain unconvinced, as a modest one-month increase over a lackluster 2010 economy hardly qualifies as a rebound.

Consider this article saying metro areas previously thought immune to drastic real estate price corrections are now in the same boat as Florida:  Also see this article on national new home sales, down drastically in January:

True, there's a lot of visitors here right now, but based on national statistics, those visitors are probably not as likely to be here to buy real estate if they are under water on their primary property.   They're just trying to warm up.

Maybe this is why so many of the "luxury leader's" listings are drastically reduced in price (and maybe this blog is why I stopped getting those email notifications).  A realistic view of the current market is necessary to accurately price and market properties.

I would be advising home owners in this market to price their property as aggressively as possible and don't let any potential buyer get away.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Taking on Zillow, Part 2

I've posted here earlier about Zillow and how they present misinformation to home buyers and sellers.

This morning I was reading a real estate news article about the market nationally, and they quote Zillow as an "expert source".  So I started wondering, where exactly do they get their data?

According to Zillow:  "Our data on and appreciation for these reports is based on the Zillow Home Value Index - a valuation index calculated as the median value (Zestimate) of all homes in a particular geographic area. At the national level, this data is then weighted according to population in each area".  That's interesting, since real estate is decidedly a factor of local economics and geographic specifics such as beaches and climate.  Ponder why, if Zillow's methodology is correct, Port Charlotte and Sarasota don't have the same housing prices, since we are geographically similar.

In fact, Zillow contradicts themselves as you dig further into the FAQ section of their website:  "The Zestimate is not an appraisal and you won't be able to use it in place of an appraisal, though you can certainly share it with real estate professionals. It is a computer-generated estimate of the worth of a house today, given the available data. does not offer the Zestimate as the basis of any specific real-estate-related financial transaction. Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home".  Correct.  Zillow does not have licensed Realtors or local contacts in any major real estate, other than the Realtors who mistakenly support Zillow by advertising on their site.

Digging even deeper, Zillow posts the accuracy of their "Zestimates" for all Florida Counties.  In Sarasota County, only 21% of their Zestimates were within 5% of the actual sales price, and only 64% of their Zestimates were within 20% of the sales price.

Bottom line:  Buyers, don't bother with Zillow.  The data is inaccurate.  They even admit they don't offer their information as a basis for you to purchase a property.  Sellers, if you are looking to sell, an agent such as myself who is prepared to counter a buyer armed with incorrect Zillow data will result in a quicker sale at realistic market prices.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New content on

I just added a rental page to my website,

I included condo and single-family rental property in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties, listed from least to most expensive.

If you have any questions about rental properties please contact me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Real Estate in the Museum Area of Sarasota FL

The Ringling Museum is one of the Sarasota area's most well known and recognizable landmarks.  What you may not know is that the neighborhoods surrounding the Ringling Museum are some of Sarasota's most eclectic places to live.

The Museum Area is generally defined as west of Tamiami Trail, stretching from an enclave called The Uplands, south past New School to Whittaker Bayou, just north of downtown Sarasota.

The Museum Area is home to a wide variety of properties.  Here you can find starter homes with old Florida charm and architectural detail starting in the mid $100's, ranging to bayfront estates with prices well over $1 million.  A popular area for investors, the housing inventory here offers opportunities for rental to nearby Ringling School of Art and New School students, especially as these schools increase enrollment.

Starter homes with old Florida charm like this home can be found in the Museum Area
Newer homes on Sarasota Bay can be found in the Museum Area
  Click this link to see a list of currently available properties in the Museum Area as of 2/10/2011.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Siesta Key Real Estate

Siesta Key is one of the most popular areas in Sarasota to visit with it's world-famous white sugar sand beach and azure clear waters.  It also happens to be a great place to live or buy investment property.

Investment Opportunities

There are only a handful of hotels on Siesta Key.  Most vacationers opt to rent a fully furnished condo. The most popular rental condos have an on-site property manager, which handles reservations and unit cleaning and maintenance for guests, much like a hotel.  Investors can achieve positive cash flow with units with liberal rental restrictions.  The best investments are those that rent weekly or even daily.  Some will pay utility bills and condo fees out of rental revenue. 

Expect a typical in-season beachside (not necessarily right on the beach) can rent for upwards of $5000 per month.  Off season during our summer and fall months, we get vacationers from the Tampa and Orlando areas, so the rental market remains active throughout the year.  Sales prices range from the lower $200's for a 1 BR unit and up.

Residential Properties

Properties on a barrier island such as Siesta Key sell at a premium.  A starter single-family 2/2 home usually starts in the mid $300's and will need some kind of updating.  Beachfront and bayfront/ICW homes are priced well over $1 million.  Siesta Key is fairly large and offers boaters a wide range of waterfront options.

See Siesta Key Online

I have devoted separate pages on my website to Siesta Key single family homes and Siesta Key condo listings, live from our MLS.  You can also take a video tour of Siesta Key on those pages.

If you're interested in Siesta Key real estate, I look forward to working with you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

West of Trail in Sarasota

It's easy to forget as a long-time Sarasota resident that terms like "West of Trail" may be foreign to out of towners, especially those looking for real estate.

West of Trail technically is any area in Sarasota, Manatee, or Charlotte Counties that is west of Hwy 41 (Tamiami Trail). 

In the Sarasota area, locals inside and outside the business, when referring to "West of Trail", usually are referring to the area south of Mound, stretching south to Field Road and the Oyster Bay Estates neighborhood.  The west of Trail area north of downtown Sarasota is better known locally as the Museum Area, since that area's most prominent landmark is the Ringling Museum.

The West of Trail area I describe ranks among one of Sarasota's most prestigious areas for residential real estate.  Neighborhoods here include Harbor Acres, Cherokee Park, McClellan Park, San Remo, and the aforementioned Oyster Bay Estates.

I have devoted a page on my website with MLS listings for properties located in the West of Trail area here:  If you are looking for real estate in this area, I welcome the opportunity to be of assistance to you.