Real Estate in Bradenton Florida

Although I am a veteran Realtor from the Northern Virginia area (licensed since 1981), I am happy to be in sunny Florida with its entirely different real estate focus!

03/11/2010 01:47 PM
Baseball
Speaking of walking...walked from downtown to McKechnie Field to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Baltimore Orioles in Spring Training (Grapefruit League) last night.  First, the walk was refreshing, second, the weather was beautiful and, third, even though the Pirates lost, there was a great fireworks display after the game.

March is our biggest month for tourists in this area, for the weather, but also for the baseball fans!  The Pirates have returned to Bradenton for over 40 years now.  And, Sarasota is the new winter home of the Orioles. Avid fans follow their teams and enjoy foot long hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn and singing "Take me out to the Ball Game" an extra month of the year down here.  McKechnie Field now has lights and is available for rent for events too...imagine a wedding at home plate...happened here last year!

And, of course, the icing on the cake for the locals is that these teams bring in revenue for their counties and the teams are active contributors to local events and needs.

03/10/2010 01:38 PM
Walkable Communities
This morning I attended a very interesting presentation by Dan Burden, the guru of walking/biking communities.  Sarasota and Bradenton have a wealth of water ways and water fronts and water activities.  The livability of our communities depends on the future success of our civic leaders further developing these fine cities into walkable/bikable communities.  Sarasota, St. Armand's and Bradenton Beach have led the way with their wonderful walkability and Bradenton is working hard to develop it's riverfront and downtown.  There are lots of wonderful ideas, including public art and social gathering areas and volunteerism that need the support of the community.

Mr Burden has a wonderful web site http://www.walklive.org/ that I recommend.  This concept embraces many walks of life...public health, social services, transportation, commercial and residential real estate, merchants, store owners and governmental workers...all working in concert to encourage developing our downtowns as destinations and not as cities to  drive through. 

02/25/2010 11:22 AM
Free! Free! Free!
One thing that continues to amaze me around the Sarasota/Bradenton area is how many things are free.  There are plenty of concerts, plays, movies and other entertainment that cost money too.  But, you can go to free events with good music, free outdoor movies in the park, free art shows, art walks and free car shows on a regular schedule here!  Not to mention the free boat launches, the free beaches, the free parking at the beach, even free parking on the street in downtown Bradenton!  And, of course, how can anyone match the beauty of the free sunsets at Anna Maria Island.  Taking pictures of the beautiful birds, foliage and beaches is one of my favorite "free" things to do!

11/12/2009 10:46 PM
"Season"
Wow, the social calendar is in full swing around here! And the real estate market is coming back to life! Snowbirds are moving in and the hunt for real estate is beginning in earnest now for those who have been "hovering" for the past few years. The buyers are competing with investors for properties under 100K and cash is still king. Lots of interesting things are happening here so I will start blogging on a regular basis now.

One topic I am particularly interested in is the new building for the Manatee Players! With the downturn of the economy they have struggled to keep their donations coming in and the current season is still being held in the old building. Good things are starting to happen for them too and they are now beginning to finish up the exterior of the building. If you get a chance to drive by the new location be sure to check out their progress!

07/16/2008 12:47 PM
Catching Up on Real Estate News
It has been a slippery slope in the real estate industry since I last posted a blog! I couldn't figure out how to post my last one and so I dropped the idea, but now I'm back!! For 3 years now we have been in a declining real estate market. At first, hardly anyone realized it was any more than a pullback from the outrageous pricing in the previous two years, '04 and '05. Then, prediction after prediction came out by all sorts of organizations and economists stating we would recover by a certain date. Of course, in retrospect, none of that happened. Florida revamped it's portability of homestead exemptions, the government tried to shore up our increasingly devalued dollar and everyone in real estate related fields put on their game face and looked for signs of recovery. The car industry was faltering, employment was steadily increasing, particularly in related fields and people started missing payments on their mortgage. Little did we realize a year ago just how bad the defaults would become.

Some of those are valid and many are not. Often I show short sales and the owners are sitting there with two cars, wide screen tv's, gorgeous furnishings etc. More of us could afford these extras if we didn't have to pay a mortgage!! Then to add insult to injury, the same folks who aren't making their payments are destroying the home when they finally do leave. To the point where some banks actually offer to pay (to the same people who aren't paying them) an amount of cash for them to leave without damaging the property.

Please let me express my sincerest sympathy for the folks who lost their jobs, had medical problems or other major catastrophies in their lives and unwittingly fell on hard times. I, as well as most Realtors, have a special caring about our buyers and wish them a wonderful life in their new home. Likewise, it's shocking to see so many abuses of the lending institutions. Much finger pointing is going on but this is a shared responsibility by everyone involved. Aggressive lending, crooked appraisers, falsified applications, dummy leases...I've heard it all. This swirl of short sales and foreclosures has severely impacted the average buyer and seller. It has damaged many neighborhoods and neighbors and we will likely feel the impact of this for years to come.

01/24/2007 09:32 PM
Important Growth
Even though the real estate industry has been sluggish there are so many projects being reviewed and in various stages of planning that it's easy to forget the fear of overbuilding. Some are major neighborhoods being erased and rebuilt. Others are groupings of residential and commercial together. And some are commercial endeavors, several small and one very big one. Even Nordstrom's is considering a move here. If there's a nugget of truth in "build it and they will come" this area is heading for a population explosion. So many indicators of a vibrant growing area - the economic scene, low unemployment, new companies, expansion in the pharmaceutical sectors, public and private organizations working together to co-ordinate growth, better public transportation, emphasis on schools - all combine to make this a great place to live and play. If you want all the stats check with the Chamber of Commerce. I'm sure you will be impressed.

09/21/2006 10:14 AM
Real Estate in Bradenton Florida
Save Our Homes -The 3 percent tax cap was designed in 1992 to assist older people to be able to afford to keep their homes in the later years of their lives instead of being forced out of their homes by high taxes. The cap is only for primary residences. It's a complicated situation now because many homeowners would like to move but feel trapped to stay where they are in order to keep that tax benefit. For example a home at the beach for 120k in 1992 may be worth over 1 million dollars today. Now, Ken Wilkinson, the original designer of the law, is looking to create a portability to this benefit so owners may take the percentage of savings that they have in their existing property to their next home anywhere in the state of Florida. This would carry a $400,000 cap between the assessed and market values of a home which would diminish some of the savings in the beach example. If you back this portability then look for the website (coming soon) for "Save Our Homes Portability Inc" to sign a petition. The flip side of this is that Florida real estate owners who do not live in their property end up carrying a higher portion of the taxes since they don't get this benefit and pay the full freight each year. So, second home owners and investors carry a larger tax load.

08/06/2006 03:34 PM
Grand Old Landmark
Built in 1925 this pink Mediterranean Revival hotel went from it's fashionable predepression era as an "in" place to become housing for seniors in it's later years. This grand old lady will now house upscale condos and businesses along with an outdoor cafe. A welcome addition will be a lushly landscaped water fall. First known as the Manatee River Hotel it's new name will be Riverpark Grande Condominiums. It's a tribute to the community and the developer that sought to maintain as much of the original charm and detailing as possible in order to preserve this landmark. Downtown Bradenton, like Sarasota, is getting a lot of new growth so it's refreshing to see some of the resurrection of the old properties as well as the new ones.

07/17/2006 09:36 AM
Roads
Transportation and roads are always big issues when an area is growing. That is definitely the case here. Almost daily the news includes which roads or bridges will or won't be built, how much they cost to build compared to what the cost would have been 2 or 4 years ago. Some developers step up to the plate immediately to help out because they recognize that the new growth from which they are earning their living is, in part, causing the need for more and better roads. The county has maps which illustrate where the new growth has been improved and another map which shows where the roads will go or be improved. Between them you can see the growth trends in the area. The areas generally referred to as "out east" over the years will soon become "midtown". Florida is relooking at additional major roadways crossing and/or dissecting the state too, should they be toll roads to help pay for them, where should they go? Many major toll roads and toll bridges are already owned or leased by international companies. Serving Port Manatee, good access to the beaches, getting through town, overcrowding or I-75 and families doing split commuting between the Tampa area and the Sarasota area are all local issues here. It's a balancing act.

06/14/2006 07:54 AM
Florida Foliage
Landscaping is such an important part of buying and selling real estate. Many sellers get every little thing perfect on the inside of their house but the curb appeal of the outside is so average that the purchasers are ho-hum before they even go inside. Take a lesson from Neal Communities who does a fabulous job of flattering his models. Better still, let me take you to see his developments! Lush landscaping invites you inside and escalates value. Sellers, in a competitive market, wouldn't it make sense to get a buyer in the door rather than having them drive by? Buyers, could you visualize better landscaping as an improvement you could make and increase the value of a property after you purchase it? Doesn't it also improve the neighborhood? It's a wonderful way to extend your personalization of your home too. There are many styles of decorating and there are just as many landscaping styles to give your home just the right look!

06/10/2006 09:01 AM
Beaches, Blue Sky, Puffy Clouds and Sunshine
The media is filled with alarming news about insurance, hurricanes, and alligators. Good news is hard to find it seems. But if you take some time off you will be well rewarded by what this area has to offer. There is nothing so rewarding as a day at the beach. You don't even need a friend to go with you. You can swim, walk, look for shells, take pictures, read, snooze, picnic, and "people watch"! All of this is for free, white sand and blue sky and azure water. This is a big part of the reason everyone refers to our area as paradise. Interestingly, most "locals" vacation in this paradise too. They might take trips to visit family or tour an interesting part of the world but when they vacation, they "go to the beach"! There are lots of things I want to tell you about, and I will in due time, but for now, it's just to let you know that we're happy to have the freedom to dig our toes in the sand and let our the sounds of the waves sing music to our ears.

05/21/2006 12:04 PM
More New Homes!
There are so many developments under way and going through rezoning right now that it's hard to believe. "Out East" is quickly going to be a suburban area with the quick access to I-75 being a major plus. I'm visiting new homes communities in a little bit pricier range in this area. Many of them are half to one acre lots often with man made lakes and preserve areas surrounding them. Some of these communities are amenity laden (pools, tennis courts, trails, boat docks, etc.) which are great for families. Other neighborhoods are a retreat from the outside world, many without sidewalks or community pools. (Don't forget those amenities add to your total payment.) All of the sales agents for the builders are well versed about their product and it's advantages. One in particular, Gulfpointe Homes was extremely helpful in explaining the construction in such a way that even an engineer would be impressed! Two story homes are more prevalent in the over 500K range, as are the fancier pools. The 10 and 12' ceilings and trey ceilings are everywhere and very dramatic along with tall curved doorways. And I love the rounded corners here that seem to enhance the flow from room to room.

05/16/2006 11:47 PM
Florida Green
Preserving the planet, ecosystems, organic, environmentally friendly, biodegradable, recycle - worthwhile concepts across the nation, no doubt. Florida is doing a fine job educating those of us who care to be educated in the "green" options. Businesses related to these topics are creating new jobs and bringing in new service providers along with them. Florida Landscaping & Sea Turtle watches are but a sample of the specific ways we're being asked to contribute to a better lifestyle here in paradise. A fabulous website to check out is www.solutionsforyourlife.com sponsored by the University of Florida. Not only does it have lots of current "green" topics, it addresses other major issues such as disaster preparedness. Most certainly it is bookmarked for me!

05/08/2006 09:12 PM
Entrepreneurs
I've noticed this entrepreneurship and now I'm seeing it recognized in print by Inc. Magazine. The Bradenton-Sarasota area ranked fourth on the list of hottest Midsize Cities for entrepreneurs. The one year job growth rate was listed as 4.6 percent with a five year projection of 15.1 percent. This area was one of five Florida regions to make the top 10 in that category making Florida "Hot" in more ways than one! The picture here is clear, population is expanding and professional services have increased nearly 30% since 2002. Businesses and services need to keep this area in mind when they expand. I believe the people who live in this area are willing to take risks and work hard to make things happen and it is showing up in the statistics. I can only believe this growth and productivity is a result of good leadership.

05/01/2006 11:54 AM
DeSoto Heritage
April was filled with events in Manatee County relating to the discovery of Florida on May 30, 1539. The State has a Memorial at the site where it is believed the Spanish explorers landed. Don Hernando de Soto, along with 600 Conquistadors claimed La Florida in the name of Spain. There were parades and balls and bottle boat regattas and seafood festivals along with many educational events in celebration of the Spanish heritage. Barcarrotta, Spain is the sister city to Bradenton and the boyhood home of de Soto. Today, 225 Conquistadors continue to preserve the history and heritage of this event throughout the year. It gives new meaning to the names of many local streets in the area. The major final event was the Grand Parade. People put out their chairs along the route starting two days before the parade and families and businesses joined hands to promote and enjoy an old fashioned parade with approximately 150 entries including a school bus! Throwing beads to the throngs is the highlight and everyone, young and old, left smiling and happy with several ropes of beads around their necks!

04/21/2006 09:07 AM
April Happenings
No showers but lots of flowers here at this time of year! It's a busy month with the snowbirds leaving, the DeSota Heritage Festival which lasts the whole month, Seafood Festivals, Sarasota Film Festival, Earth Day-includes the Manatees, Boat Shows, taxes, and the state legislators trying to figure out what to do with their excess tax money! And of course, Sarasota and Bradenton both have these events with some crossover so you can join in whichever fits your schedule! Manatee County passed a 5 cent gas tax increase, effective Jan '07, to help with the road construction. Of course we're already taxed by the state but that money is distributed around the state, not necessarily to the area that paid it. Anyone can see that we have so much growth here, residential and commercial, that we need to constantly work on roads and bridges. Bridges - that's the great news because they all go over water! Creeks, Rivers, Bays, just waiting to be enjoyed! And another important item is the Homestead Exemption. The legislators are looking at that with an eye to improving it for full time homeowners. Many options are being considered so I will update you as they narrow down to 2 or 3 main ones. Of course, anything will be a help.

03/29/2006 10:30 PM
Turning the corner
Aha! She's a realtor...I'm getting those looks now as neighbors and others approach me about real estate and local questions. It's a great feeling since I felt fairly anonymous for a couple of months. But, it's also a sign that the tide is indeed turning and that Buyers are getting interested in the market again. I first noticed it on Mar 12, all of a sudden, the phones got busier and people started stopping by the office. There were people showing up at Open Houses too. Of course we have a backlog of 5 months of homes here, normal is 4 months and a very quick market as we have been having was only 2 and a half months. When the inventory gets low, prices skyrocket. Now the inventory is a little high but not precariously high. Sellers aren't able to escalate prices too high, but the odd phenomenen is that there are fewer houses selling, but the average sales price is continuing to climb. New Homes Sales are down and the Builders are very quickly responding by lowering their prices or adding value to the price with free upgrades, help on closing costs etc. They are also best friends with the Realtors again! Not quite fair, since some of them such as US Homes and Lennar (to name a couple) remained true to their established relationship with the Realtors. Many builders cut off the agents when the market is hot. I would say that more of them are also accepting Investors now than they were a couple of years ago. Once the inventory gets down to 4 months these incentives will probably be gone. Then it will be a more equal market. The fed rate hike isn't really causing problems for the Purchasers either since the current rates already had the expected hike built in to the price.

03/17/2006 12:59 AM
Lakewood Ranch, Florida
As a REALTOR, I've picked up information about the projects that make up this community and previewed some of them also. Yesterday I went to an event on "Main Street", brick sidewalks, fountain, great shops, by a lake. It's easy to see why some people just go straight to Lakewood Ranch to buy and don't shop other areas. The Welcome Center is full of information - all about "green" home construction and the different builder location and price ranges. Not only that but they are consistently friendly and helpful. Lakewood Ranch is one of the beneficiaries of the 44th Ave Extension that is planned. They have everything there, their own Corporate Center, medical facilities and even a college (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine)LECOM, a polo field already exists and a hockey arena is yet to come!

03/14/2006 06:42 PM
Road Expansion in Bradenton
This county is really growing! And, they seem intent on keeping up with the roads needed to move people around. The new plan is to extend 44th Ave from the central part of town all the way to Lakewood Ranch. It's a great idea and gives the Lakewood Ranch people closer access to shopping and the beaches as well as another major corridor for traffic patterns. Right now there are only two major roads going east and west. That extension will go through some rural feeling communities so I'm sure that some of those owners will sell rather than have the land around them get developed. The area that seems to be intent on keeping larger lots and maintaining the rural feeling is Parrish.

03/08/2006 10:37 AM
Schools
While I'm spending time previewing and going to visit new homes sites I'm also learning about local shool information. They have a "Choice" system here as well as magnet schools. I've also visited one of the private schools. So far it has been very impressive, what's being offered, the dedication and the enthusiasm of the educators. There's a lot of pressure to pass the FCAT's but there's a magnet school that focuses on Communitcation first and scores second. Those children start a half hour a day in Spanish from K on to 5th grade. They write and produce TV shows, they include music, dance and recess in their day and generally allow them to be kids! My children are grown now but I have seen the emphasis on curricula so strong that sometimes you just wish the kids could go out and catch fireflies in the evening instead of such a busy schedule.

02/25/2006 06:10 PM
New Projects in the Bradenton area
I've been previewing new projects as well as resales. One of the more memorable ones is The Grand Sarasotan, starting at $1,000,000 in downtown Sarasota. The Builder had a grand opening reception to kick off their project. It will be arranged to give you the most privacy, as if you were living in a house. At the other end of the spectrum is a group of converter 1 and 2BR condos called West Village starting at 145K in Bradenton. Even though they are modestly priced (by comparison) they developer put in some nice upgrades including granite in the kitchen. A very impressive area is north of Palmetto - Terra Ceia Bay which is a mixture of types of housing and some of them have an uninterrupted view of the Skyline Bridge. The golf course there is an executive course which would probably fit the average golfer better. It even has it's own restaurant on site with many more retail shops in the works for the surrounding area. Centex, on the east side of Bradenton is offering some great incentives to buy there!

02/23/2006 02:59 PM
Change in Market Conditions
Just like Virginia, the real estate market was booming here til last Fall. Now, the buyers seem to have disappeared. I am currently going to several new homes projects to get up to speed on what the products are. There are a few things under 100 k if a one BR condo is your style. Most of the newer homes are in the 300-500 K range. Last year, the builders weren't accepting investors, today they will sell to anyone and often with strong incentives. If property with boating facilities interests you, you will pay higher prices and have less to choose from. Many people here buy condos and come down for 3 to 6 months. With very little upkeep, they can safely lock up til the next trip. Although Florida is known for it's warm winters, the beaches are beautiful and, during the Spring, Summer and Fall Seasons they are relatively empty! One of the great things about this area is that it does not rely on the tourist dollar to survive. There are several companies who call Bradenton home as well as IMG Academies (Bollitierri Tennis, Golf and Fishing).