Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Turkey Bowl

Thanksgiving has rolled around once more and like most folks, we are looking forward to pigging out and watching football. My wife and I have been reminiscing about our Thanksgiving Day memories and she fondly remembers The Turkey Bowl games. Everyone who lived here in the 1960s or ’70s remembers that the BIG game, the Turkey Bowl, was played at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day from 1962-1974. For many years, the Riverview Rams and their arch-rivals, the Sarasota Sailors, both called Ihrig Field home (although two games were played at the Ram Bowl). Despite the late-morning kickoffs, the annual “Turkey Bowl” contests drew crowds as large as 10,000 and served as an epicenter of Sarasota society. 

My wife Liz was a big part of those games – she was in the Sailor marching band as a flutist and a majorette at Sarasota High School from 1967 – to 1970. She remembers that her mom was very annoyed that turkey dinner cooking was interrupted by football but in reality, she was a big fan too. And Liz looked forward to coming home to her mom’s huge turkey dinner…hopefully after a big win by SHS! 

In those days, a general admission ticket to the Turkey Bowl game was $1.25 and Sarasota outscored Riverview by a total of 266-142 in the Thanksgiving Day games and won eight of the 13 games, including seven of the first nine. Unfortunately, this game is no longer played on Thanksgiving Day. The Turkey Bowl tradition wasn’t abandoned by either side. It was ended when the Florida High School Activities Association changed its playoff structure and put a halt to all regular-season games played on Thanksgiving across the state. 

To this day, Liz loves football and we regularly go to watch the Tampa Bay Bucs as well as the SHS vs Riverview games. But the Sarasota-Riverview games are just not the same as it was when it was the Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day!

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving…and if you know of someone looking to spend next Thanksgiving in a new home in the Sarasota area, I am never too busy for your referrals!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

FSBO means: Forget Selling by Owner!

I recently advised a resident in my neighborhood of the reasons he should not try to sell a home on his own, in other words, without a Realtor. If he does decide to do it by himself, I wish him luck and I really mean that. But…it is a bad choice and I hope to hear back from him in a few months and of course I will be happy to list his home when he is ready. But here are the facts I discussed with him regarding For Sale by Owner, commonly know as FSBO.

The 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that for sale by owner (FSBO) sales are at an all-time low, at only eight percent, versus the all-time high set back in 1981 at 21 percent. So why do you think this is the case? Here are some of the reasons:

  • There are many people to negotiate with - here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:
    • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
    • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
    • Possibly the buyer’s attorney 
    • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
    • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • Exposure to prospective buyers - Recent studies have shown that 88% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 21% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home and Re/Max Alliance Group has an aggressive marketing program.  Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased? Most results come from the Internet –about 43% on the internet, 9% from a yard sign, 1% from newspaper. The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.
  • Slower Sale - Sellers who tackle the prospect on their own often don't have the marketing expertise to do it right. This means that the home may sit on the market longer, because fewer buyers see it. Since almost 90% of buyers search online for a home, an online presence is critical, and many FSBO sellers don't know how to generate a good one or don't have the tools to keep it up to date and in the sight of potential buyers. One of the reasons successful real estate agents are successful is because they have a large reach to find prospective buyers for their homes. This starts on the internet, where the majority of buyers start their search. An agent is able to post in all online venues, including those linked to the MLS. In addition, agents know the most effective offline advertisement venues, so sellers don't waste their time posting in newspapers that no one reads.
  • Owner selling has become more difficult. The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.
  • You will have to pay for your own advertising and marketing. Because you don’t have as many venues to market your properties as I do, you’d get a lot less traffic. Less traffic = fewer offers = less money. Nationwide TV, Print, Radio and Online Advertising generates 8 billion impressions. RE/MAX has a dominant share of voice in the United States – meaning consumers view RE/MAX advertising on national TV almost as much as all competitors combined.
  • The seller nets MORE money when using an real estate agent. Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission. Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $208,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $235,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $27,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.
If you are still thinking of trying to sell your home without an agent, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you understand the contracts process well enough to not get into any legal problems or to explain to a buyers’ agent how you want things drawn up?
  • Do you have the time to field all the calls, faxes, and inquiries that will come with multiple offers? One missed phone call or fax could kill a deal.
  • Will you be able to let anyone in during the week to see the property? (if not, fewer offers = less money).
  • Will you know what to say and what not to say to those who call? (if not, less interest = fewer offers = less money).
  • Do you have the proper forms and disclosures necessary to do this on your own? (legal problems, no protection between you and a buyer).
  • Do you have the ability to make sure that the financing that your buyer has is good and won’t cause the offer to fall through?
  • Will you be able to meet the appraiser and/or inspectors to let them into the house? 
So here’s the bottom line. Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional  (hopefully me!) in your marketplace and see what they have to offer. Sellers considering selling on their own have an uphill battle to face. It's always better to partner with an experienced Realtor such as myself, as doing so makes the process ahead much smoother and less stressful. Remember - Sarasota is my hometown and I know it well!

Sources and Credits: National Association of Realtor, Forbes, FloridaRealtorsTube, American Mortgage

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Greatest Show on Earth...in Sarasota!

Those of us who live in Sarasota, Florida are so fortunate to reside in a town where art, music and theater thrive. What’s better than lounging on the Number One Beach all day and then enjoying a great production at the Sarasota Opera, an exhibit at the Ringling Museum or a concert at The Van Wezel? There are also monthly art walks, professional classes and world class entertainment which are offered every evening in Sarasota.
If you grew up on Sarasota or have lived here a long time, you might be familiar with the history of the Sarasota Opera building which used to be the Florida Theatre. First of all, ‘Downtown’ was the ONLY place to go – there were no malls. When I was a kid in my early moving-going days, this was where I went with my buddies on Saturday. For 25 cents, we had the bus ride at 5 cents each way (I lived near the Ringling Museum) the movie entry for a dime and 5 cents for box of candy and a soda!  We would have a full morning of cartoons and a feature movie…usually Commander Cody and his Jet Pack!

It was called the ‘Florida Theatre’ back in my day but this building is now the Sarasota Opera House and was first the Edwards Theatre, built in 1926 by A.B. Edwards, Sarasota's first mayor. "It was more than just a movie theatre, it was for vaudeville, live entertainment played here, there were some retail establishments downstairs, some apartments upstairs and some offices upstairs," says my Cardinal Mooney classmate and Sarasota County historian Jeff LaHurd. The Florida Theatre bought it in 1936. "When they were renovating this place, Jane Mansfield signed her name with 42, 26, 36 next to it." The Academy Award winning film The Greatest Show on Earth, filmed in Sarasota, had its Florida premier there in 1952 – my wife’s mother watched as they filmed it! And…did you know that Elvis Presley played there in 1956?  The evening show was a dollar for adults, 50 cents for kids.

After almost five decades, the Florida Theater closed its doors in 1973. In 1979, the Sarasota Opera Association bought the building and spent $7 million restoring it. Then in 2008, a $20 million renovation turned it into a world class facility. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it is gorgeous and one of the most popular venues in Sarasota. Sarasota Opera's mission includes the mandate "to entertain, enrich, and educate our communities, as well as patrons from across the state and around the world."

Then there was The Ritz Theater, which asked for 5 cents and an RC Bottle cap for entry. (There was a Dixie Lee’s Bar next door where my Dad would toss back a few!) The Ritz was originally The ‘Virginian’, and was opened by B.D. Robinson in 1916. Initially a vaudeville house, it began showing motion pictures a few months after opening. The Virginian became ‘The Sarasota’ sometime in the 20's, and then changed its name to The Ritz in 1934. The Ritz was the first of the two major downtown theaters to close. It was operated by Florida State Theaters in its later years and the building was demolished in 1968. But both The Ritz and The Florida theaters got many quarters from me and many hours of entertainment! 

Be sure to ready my HomeTown Blog about my memories of Sarasota's Drive-In movies:


And...if you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Englewood area, (or discuss Commander Cody!) I'm your Home Town Guy! Call Ron Beahm at Re/Max Alliance Group - 941-315-1185.

Sources and Credits: Sarasota History Alive, sarasotaopera.org, totaltheater.com, cinematreasures.org

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

My wife Liz and I have been enjoying going to the Tampa Bay Ray’s games at Tropicana Field for many years…sadly, they aren’t having such a great season this year. But we don’t care! Once a fan, always a fan and we support our ‘home team’ - it matters not whether they win. 

Even though Sarasota doesn’t really have our own home team now (other than the Orioles Spring Training games), baseball has been part of Sarasota’s history and lifestyle since the 1920's when the City of Sarasota wanted to bring a major league team to Sarasota and began developing Payne Park.

Once built, the new Payne Park baseball diamond met one of the stipulations of John McGraw, owner of the New York Giants, for bringing his team to Sarasota for spring training. Thus began Sarasota's continuing relationship with major league baseball. After trying to bring the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees, Sarasota got the New York Giants to hold spring training at Payne Park beginning in 1924.

After the New York Giants left in the spring of 1927, Sarasota wanted another major league team but nothing could be arranged. In 1929, the Sports Committee arranged for the Indianapolis Indians, to train at Payne Park. Having the Indians spring train at Payne Park provided much needed tourism to the Sarasota area. With the end of the land boom and the beginning of the Great Depression era, money was in short supply in both the city and county. As the Great Depression was affecting businesses all over the country, including baseball, the Indians decided to train closer to home.

The Sports Committee again took on the task of looking for another team to replace the Indians. They made arrangements with the Boston Red Sox to come train in Sarasota in the spring of 1933. The Red Sox agreed to play one season and if they approved of the playing park and conditions, they would return the following year. The Red Sox agreed to return in 1934 and continued to spring train in Sarasota until 1958. From the time Ted Williams drove up to the Sarasota Terrace Hotel in "an old jalopy" as a Boston Red Sox rookie, until the Sox concluded their spring training games in Sarasota, Williams was a popular subject in the local press and community.

The last tenant of Payne Park for spring training was the Chicago White Sox, who first arrived in 1960. After 29 years they moved to the new Ed Smith Stadium on 12th Street. Ed Smith Stadium was formerly the spring home of the Chicago White Sox (1989–1997) and the Baltimore Orioles (1991). In 1998, it replaced Plant City Stadium as the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds remained at the facility through 2008. After Cincinnati's club moved its spring activities to Arizona, Ed Smith Stadium spent a year without major league Spring Training. From 1989 to 2009, the stadium hosted a series of Minor League Baseball teams, the Single-A Sarasota White Sox, Sarasota Red Sox, and Sarasota Reds. From 2004 until 2009, it housed the Gulf Coast League's Gulf Coast Reds. The Orioles became Ed Smith’s tenant and operator in 2010 and Liz and I have enjoyed many Spring Training games there.

Baseball is, in the truest sense, a pastime...something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably. In a world that demands so much of us and our limited time, there’s something to be said for passing it agreeably. It's timeless and nostalgic. No matter what, it makes you think of older times some way or another. Columnist George F. Will has said, “Baseball is a habit. The slowly rising crescendo of each game, the rhythm of the long season—these are the essentials and they are remarkably unchanged over nearly a century and a half. Of how many American institutions can that be said?” He’s right.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Sarasota, Florida or the surrounding areas, call me and I will make it happen…and maybe we can take a break go to a baseball game together! PLAY BALL!

Sources and Credits: Sarasota History Center, Wikipedia, Sarasota History Alive, Sarasota Herald Tribune, scgov.net

Monday, August 21, 2017

Location, Location, Location?

My wife sometimes teases me about the fact that I carry a compass (well...I used to carry an actual compass but now I use the one on my iPhone). We have all heard the saying about real estate: “Location, Location, Location”. But I want to discuss this in a slightly different way. 

For those of you who are thinking about moving to Sarasota, Florida, and are actively looking at homes, I will always ask you this...which direction do you want your new home to face? I also utilize that compass on my smart phone as I am showing clients various homes so that they will get a feel for the movement of light from sunrise to sunset in each home they view.

Living in Sarasota means that you will have lots of sun, on a regular basis, streaming into your home. Choosing a home that maximizes the natural light, while still giving you the needed shade can be an important issue. When I was a young man building homes with my dad in Sarasota, we always oriented our spec homes to take advantage of the prevailing breeze to avoid the heat load of the western sun...but we didn't have such great insulation back then. So what is the perfect orientation for your new home? The answer may be different from one person to another.

Many homes in Florida use the open concept style - no walls between living, dining and kitchen. This style allows light to flow through the entire living area. Large sliding glass doors often are used as an exit to the lanai and pool. Keeping this in mind, you must decide what is most important to you. Do you want a direct view of our beautiful sunsets? If so choose a home with a west facing lanai. But…unless you have some trees to give you some shade, a west facing lanai gets the hot afternoon sun every day. Another thing to consider is if your pool uses solar panels be sure they are properly placed for maximum exposure.

If you prefer to wake up each morning to sunshine streaming into your room, you may want to choose a home with a master bedroom that faces east. If you are set on seeing the sun go down every evening, go for a home that maximizes that view. You may have to compromise on one thing or another, but no matter what you choose, you will love living in paradise! Give me a call at Re/Max Alliance Group and I will help you 'go in the right direction' and find the best location for your dream home in Sarasota, Florida!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer Aren't So Bad!

Find a dream home in Sarasota, Florida
Now that we are in the dog days of summer, new residents of Sarasota, Florida may be wondering if it will ever cool off and if we do indeed have ‘Seasons’. Even though we have sunny weather most of the time, we do have seasons here in Florida. Though the seasons may not be as recognizable as those in the North, there are differences in each season.

Summer, as you probably know tends to be very hot…but there is almost always a breeze off the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy. When I was a kid growing up in Sarasota, we didn’t have air-conditioning but we somehow survived on the breeze! Summer starts sometime in May, as the temps begin to climb. Temperatures average in the high 80's to mid 90's and more. It’s a good time to enjoy the A/C during the day and the pool in the evening. The best times to visit the beaches are early in the morning and of course, in the evening for the beautiful sunsets. 
Summer also brings the rainy season and the threat of hurricanes. Thankfully, it’s been many years since Sarasota has experienced a hurricane. There are some theories and local superstitions as to why the city of Sarasota has not had a direct hit from a storm since record keeping began back in 1871; the wildest one has to do with American Indian Spirits that still protect the area. These are what are known as “Urban Legends.” Others say that the Sarasota area is safe due to Mother Nature’s placement of the sand dunes on the coastal beaches, or the magic powers of Siesta Key’s white sand beaches and underwater crystals. Whatever reason people believe, we have stayed safe from these potentially monster storms along the Sarasota Sun Coast for quite a number of years. The record books say that Sarasota did take on varying degrees of damage from hurricanes in 1926, 1944 and 1950. So the best thing to do during storm season, which peaks in early September, is to keep your eyes and ears open for weather news and go on with your fun in the Sarasota sun! Regarding plants, Florida native plants grow like crazy during the summer; grass needs to be cut once a week. If we do have a good rainy season, we have to cut grass every five days or so. A typical rainy season produces the chance of afternoon or evening showers, on any day. In years past, I could almost set my watch by the 4:00 PM showers which cleaned and cooled the air for evening.

Fall usually starts about mid-October. Floridians really look forward to the cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels. It’s finally time to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air! For Halloween, there is as much a chance for very warm weather as there is for a cool evening. Hurricane season ends November 30th, a date we are all happy to see. This is a good time to enjoy the beaches, or go to Myakka State Park for a wildlife tour. There are not many tourists yet, and the seasonal residents (Snowbirds) have not yet arrived.

Winter in Florida can be a surprise. Even as a lifetime Florida resident, it’s still weird decorating for Christmas when it is 75 degrees outside, but that is most often the case. If you look closely, there are subtle differences in the plants as the temps get a bit cooler. Some tree leaves change color a little bit, but nothing like up North.
We have seen winters where the overnight temps never dropped below 55 degrees. On the other hand, the temps have dropped to the mid-twenties in the past. Some of the plants lose their leaves, but not many. The grass slows its growth, to the point where it only needs to be mowed every 14-20 days.  Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Snowbirds arrive in force. Stores, streets, beaches and restaurants become very crowded.

Spring, the best season in Florida! Starting in about mid March, spring usually offers cool nights, warm days and lower humidity.  A day at the beach can literally be an all day affair, as long as you don’t mind crowds. Springtime brings lots of guests and tourists to the Sunshine state. The Snowbirds have not yet made their way back North and the Spring Breakers pay a visit although it’s not as crazy as on the East coast of Florida. In our area, we do not get the large groups of young people looking to party hard, but we do get a good amount of those looking for a spot in the sun to relax. Just as in the North, spring brings new life to plants and some animals. If there were frosty nights in the winter and some of the plants lost leaves, new growth starts now. You can actually see some of the trees and plants get a greener color. Oak and pine trees start to throw off pollen, causing problems for those with allergies. So, Spring is not without some disadvantages; it arrives at the peak of the dry season. With the low humidity levels and the lack of rain for several months, the chance for brush fires is heightened.

A few other 'unofficial' Florida seasonal dates:
  • Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30
  • Snowbird season is about October to May, give or take a few weeks 
  • Strawberry season is December through May depending on the weather
  • Fishing seasons vary by species
  • Alligator mating season runs from about mid April to June, so watch out on the golf course! 
Having said all of the above, I'm sure you will agree that despite the lack of definitive seasons, we live in Paradise! No snow to shovel! Golf and beach-walking every day! Beautiful sunsets every night! What's not to love? So if you are looking to actually LIVE in Paradise, call me and I will help you find your dream home in Sarasota, Longboat Key, Venice, Englewood and Manasota Key.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Gillespie Park - Downtown Sarasota’s Newest Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

In keeping with reminiscing about my Home Town of Sarasota, Gillespie Park is one of the areas that I have seen change, especially lately, since my childhood days growing up in north Sarasota.

Gillespie Park has become one of Sarasota's great places to live for young professionals and retirees and empty nesters. With its great neighborhood feel, large trees, charming architecture and downtown location convenient to all the of Sarasota's amenities, Gillespie Park’s popularity is exploding. Nestled between Fruitville Road, 10th Street, U.S. 301 and Orange Avenue, the subdivision consists of old bungalows, cottages and Spanish-style townhouses, many of them dating to the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. A good number have been refurbished and renovated, or are in the process. With its lush vegetation and stately pines and oak trees providing a shady canopy, Gillespie Park has a distinctly Old Florida feeling.

So here’s a bit of history! Gillespie Park honors John Hamilton Gillespie, first mayor of Sarasota. This land was part of the town's experimental farm and when that failed due to poor soil, Gillespie laid out a golf course in 1886. After the turn of the century, the subdivision was platted for residential use. The real estate boom of the 1920s brought a wave of new inhabitants, and the neighborhood was named after Gillespie, who had arrived in town as one of the Scottish immigrants, built a hotel on Main Street and served as the city’s first mayor.

A focal point of the Gillespie Park neighborhood is the historic park named after Gillespie. The city created the park on 10 acres of undeveloped land purchased for that purpose in 1924. Gillespie Park was developed with special emphasis on recreation for children and, in 1926, won an award in the National Playground Beautification Contest. An oasis of trees and green open space, Gillespie Park now provides tennis courts, picnic pavilion, playground recreational facilities, and features a lovely meandering pond.

If you are looking for a great place to live in Sarasota that has on old Florida feel but is close to the many amenities in downtown Sarasota, call me, your Home Town Realtor!

SRQecoseeker.com, Activerain.com, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sarasotagov.com