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!,, Sarasota Herald Tribune,

Friday, May 5, 2017

Re/Max Alliance Group is Number One!

With over 300 Realtors in our office, Re/Max Alliance is the NUMBER ONE RE/MAX in Florida. Re/Max Alliance has a proven track record of success in all facets of real estate brokerage - residential, commercial and property management.

What it takes to be number one is an easy question to ask. But implementing it takes great pain and sacrifice. It is something many do not have the stamina to continue to do. Re/Max Alliance Group does. What it takes to be number one is more than a plan. It is hard work and not giving up.

  • The number 1 is synonymous to being the best
  • The number 1 symbolizes the leader
  • The number 1 is the number of confidence.
  • The longest word in the English language containing only ONE vowel is “strengths”!
Becoming a successful real estate agent is a combination of getting the right education and finding an established broker such as Re/Max Alliance Group. I am proud to work with the best…and the number one office! If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Englewood or on Manasota Key, call me...your Hometown Realtor!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Safety and Security of Online Contracts

In my last blog, I discussed the evolution of technology as it relates to the world of real estate and specifically, online contracts and signatures. In this posting, I will discuss this further, especially the safety and security of these online documents and signatures.

On July 25, 2000, the first paperless real estate transaction took place in Broward County, Florida. That transaction involved the purchase and financing of a home and took less than five minutes to record. Confirmed documents bearing all necessary recording data were immediately returned to the settlement agent via e-mail. Images of the recorded documents were immediately available on the county’s website.

Paperless real estate transactions save time, and time is money. The process of accepting a purchase and sale contract; executing closing documents, the promissory note and mortgage; a compliance review by the lender; transferring the deed and the mortgage to be verified and recorded at the county office building; and issuing the title on the property — all can be sent electronically to the market for loan servicing rights. This process from beginning to end can be completed within one business day.

It has become clear that innovation and the paperless real estate transaction are essential in maintaining accurate consumer records and coordinating a seamless real estate transaction with great benefits to the consumer, the lending institutions and all the real estate professionals involved. Real estate documents often contain sensitive information and represent some of life’s most important transactions. With regard to security, a key advantage with e-signatures is this: Should an e-signed document’s validity ever be called into question, agents and their organizations can know with certainty that those documents are legally sound and defensible because the evidence of the signature is embedded into the document itself. And because independent e-signatures adhere to published, international standards, the signed document is valid forever.

Signatures have been the bane of a real estate professional’s existence for generations. With purchase agreements and closings getting more complicated every year, with more and more layers of mandatory disclosures, regulations, title assurances, and anything else you care to name, it’s easy for customers to miss a signature or initial. Historically, this meant that the real estate agent winds up expending precious prospecting time driving across town to track down the parties, or spending money to prepare and send documents back to them via FedEx. Now, this can all be taken easily and quickly online.

The signature request allows me to send a ‘sign form request’ and allows my clients to sign with a truly wet signature using a tablet or cellphone! My client can also use a laptop touch pad and a traditional mouse on a desktop computer too. There are easy methods for the computer challenged client where they are allowed to type and pick a font for their signature as well.

Are these programs legal? Electronic contracts and electronic signatures are just as legal and enforceable as traditional paper contracts signed in ink. Federal legislation enacted in 2000, known as the Electronic Signatures in Global and International Commerce Act (ESGICA), removed the uncertainty that previously plagued e-contracts. This e-signature law made electronic contracts and signatures as legally valid as paper contracts, which was great news for companies that conduct business online

Are these programs secure? These signature solutions use digital certificates to provide security and authentication. User authentication is enhanced by the fact that they require multiple layers of authentication. Virtually all electronic signature solutions generate an “audit trail” that includes the path the documents traveled and computer-generated event information such as the date and time the documents were signed as well as the IP address of the computer used to sign and send the documents.

No one wants to have a real estate transaction delayed because of a paperwork kerfuffle. Fortunately, there’s a better way, thanks to a miracle of modern information technology. It’s time to embrace the e-signature!

If you have any questions about online signatures, call me, your Sarasota Hometown Realtor and I will be happy to discuss this with you and…help you buy or sell your home in Sarasota, Florida.

Sources and credits: The Washington Post, Online Sunshine/The Florida Statues, NOLO Press

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Are You Stuck in a Real Estate Time Warp?

Evolution is a slow process in any industry and real estate’s technological evolution is no different. For many years while working as the IT Director as well as the technology support manager of the Real Estate business at Re/Max Alliance Group in Sarasota, FL, I worked toward creating an online system that would allow clients to able to sign and initial contact documents to avoid multiple reprinting, faxing, and the time delays associated with all the back and forth. Today, several large organizations have produced web based secure software that allows us to have documents electronically signed via email. Today, Re/Max Alliance Group uses such a software package.

I was in the computer world as a programmer before there were hard drives and ‘mice’ and know better than most that technology is a catalyst for change in most industries.  The real estate industry, in particular, has undergone major changes over the past 10 or more years and shows no signs of slowing down. While the basics of selling real estate haven’t changed, the tools used to do it have. Because of these tools, you and I can access virtually anything, or anyone, from a smart phone or tablet. I can complete paperless transactions from wherever I am. Gone are the days of being tied to an office or desk. Gone are the traditional ways of buying and selling property involving a land line and a fax machine.

Using this technology, I am able to get all parts of a purchase contract negotiated between a seller in Sarasota, FL and a buyer in, for example, Bombay India in 1 day! Without this system, that would have required hundreds of dollars in FedEx fees and several days, to say nothing about consuming a sizable chunk of a tree!

If you are stuck in a time warp and are leery of doing transactions online, worry not! The idea of paperless real estate transaction technology is obviously not brand new. It has been in the industry for a decade following the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act and the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act. Both acts were passed to ensure that paperless real estate transactions signed electronically were legally binding. I will go into this further in a future Blog.

In spite of all this technology, the real transaction happens because of the personal communication between you and your Realtor. If you have questions about using these services feel free to call me at 941-315-1185. And...if you are looking to buy or sell your home in Sarasota, FL, my hometown, definitely call me!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Sarasota Experience!

One of the slogans for Re/Max is: “It’s the Experience®” and this is very important on a couple of levels. When looking for the best Real Estate agent to help you buy or sell a home in Sarasota, Florida, most people are interested (or should be!) in the background and experience of the person they are choosing for one of the most important purchases they will have. So here’s a little something about me!

As the former Technology Director for a decade at RE/MAX Alliance Group and a lifelong Sarasota resident, I combined my real estate technical background, thirty-year construction experience and knowledge of Sarasota to help you buy and sell homes in my hometown. To do the best job possible, I joined RE/MAX Alliance Group. As a Graduate of the Real Estate Institute (GRI), a Certified New Home Specialist (CNHS) as well as Residential Construction Certified (RCC), I can assist you in making an informed decision.

The second level of “It’s the Experience” is YOUR experience in the buying or selling process. I always endeavor to achieve the following criteria for my clients:

  • Make it a learning experience - from the very beginning, I always educate my clients about the process, such as pre-qualification for financing, the difference between single family homes, condos and villas, types of insurance needed, especially for flood areas and in general, learning about the Sarasota experience.
  • The communication experience - I keep you informed every step of the way and am always available for questions and assistance with the details. Good communication is essential!
  • Ensure a smooth experience - I can assist with helping you choose and manage home inspection services, mortgage, title and closing services, insurance companies, moving services, pest control and all the things necessary to make your transition smooth.
  • Make it fun experience - Yes, it can be! I am always happy to give my clients the grand tour of Sarasota and all the fun things there are to do here.
  • And ultimately, I ensure a great experience in achieving your goal and ‘checking all the boxes’ when buying or selling your home. I don't believe it's my function to SELL you the home I think you need - it is to HELP you find and identify just the right home for YOU.

I have been very successful buying and selling Sarasota Real Estate in Sarasota; I have achieved this by providing excellent service for more than ten years. I am committed to my community and have a deep personal interest in the clients I serve. If you are searching for real estate in Sarasota, Florida, I look forward to showing you the town I know - see Sarasota through my eyes and trust me to help you find the opportunity of a lifetime in the wonderful hometown I have known and loved for decades. To learn more about me, visit my website

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sarasota’s Skyline - Cranes in Action!

It is easy to derive a sense of well-being from the abundance of stunning views in downtown Sarasota. From the azure waters of the Sarasota Bay, to the perfectly poised architecture of the John Ringling Bridge and the eclectic, yet charming design composition of our lovely little city. One addition to the skyline of downtown has added excitement and optimism for many, in the business sector at least, – cranes – and not Sandhill Cranes. Yay! 

Those capricious cranes, so elusive during the recession, have reappeared. There’s a flock of them now with their wondrously long necks causing a lot of ruckus in the Sarasota Downtown area. The tower cranes can be seen in almost every direction in downtown Sarasota, lifting concrete forms and other materials around construction sites and swinging them into place with the stately movements of a giraffe. It's fascinating to watch!

Dozens of projects, some spanning the maximum 18 stories, will permanently change the appearance of the Sarasota skyline, a post-recession surge of building fueled by pent-up demand and confidence in the future. The city has issued building permits valued at more than $1 billion in the past three years. While that total include all types of construction, such as repairs and renovations, the new projects are the top-dollar draws. In the 2016 fiscal year alone, the city processed $442 million worth of permits.

Consider that our country is growing by 3.5 million people a year. That means in 15-years we’re going to have 52.5 million more people living amongst us. And here are more numbers from around the southeast to think about:

  • Florida: Current population of just under 20 million people is expected grow to 25.5 million people by 2030, a 27.5 % increase
  • Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg: Current population is 2.2 million and expected to grow to just under 3 million by 2030, a 31% increase
  • Sarasota County: Current population of nearly 400,000 residents is expected to continue to grow.

As a lifetime Sarasota resident, I have seen many changes to our skyline, both good and bad. However, I remind myself that today’s construction is for tomorrow’s population, and the populace is moving into our urban core at a quick pace. Our city is growing vertically. This is driving the need for more high-density housing. When I first started as a Realtor almost 10 years ago, there was nary a crane to be seen in downtown Sarasota and a lot of concern about the economy…which makes cranes a magnificent sight to behold these days, after years of worry that they might become extinct. And in case you’re wondering –state bird of Florida is the Northern Mockingbird… unless you’re a developer or Realtor in Sarasota! 

If you are looking to buy a home in my hometown of Sarasota, call me at Re/Max Alliance Group and I will share my memories of the growth of our beautiful skyline and find a great home for you Sarasota's paradise!

Sources and Credits: Sarasota Herald Tribune, Allen Morris, SVN Commercial Advisory Group

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I am a REALTOR® and a Few Other Things Too

REALTOR®: What does that really mean...and what do all those letters and designations listed after my name mean? If you really care about the person you have hired to help you buy or sell your home, this is really important.

When I first embarked on my career as a real estate agent, the only reason I was aware of the difference between ‘agents’ and a ‘REALTOR®' is due to the fact that I worked as IT Director for Re/Max Alliance Group for more than 10 years. Since my job entailed working with the technology needs of all of the staff and agents there, I learned a lot about the real estate business. But the average buyer or seller does not usually know that there is a big difference between an Agent and a REALTOR®, so I thought it important to depart from my usual hometown stories and do my best at explaining this. Associated with the REALTOR® designation are others that are very important for a potential client to know. I happen to have several of these designations and to most people, it’s just kind of an ‘alphabet soup’ of letters after my name. And they are very important. So here we go, beginning with what a REALTOR®  vs a Real Estate Agent really is, followed by a description of my other designations:

REALTOR® vs Real Estate Agent:  A REALTOR® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, which means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics. There are so many types of real estate agents that even agents confuse themselves sometimes. To stand out in a crowd, some agents add titles after their names. They could be an associate, a real estate consultant, salesperson, or a REALTOR®, but they are all real estate agents. I am a REALTOR®-Associate and my Broker is Peter Crowley at Re/Max Alliance Group. Real estate brokers can work as agents but agents cannot work as a real estate broker without a broker's license. Agents who give real estate advice must have a real estate license. Most states, including Florida, maintain an online site where consumers can look up an agent's name, get a license number and check on violations filed against an agent. Feel free to look me up.

REALTOR®: I am proud to say I am a REALTOR®. People use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but that is incorrect. Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. There are differences between REALTORS® and real estate agents. They are not the same. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, the main difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR® is a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. REALTOR® must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. There are 17 Articles in the Code of Ethics. To many consumers, this matters. Click here to read more

REALTOR® and MLS: This is important - You can't get MLS access without being a REALTOR®. A multiple listing service is an effective home selling tool. One convenient way of selling your home is to engage the services of a real estate broker. Brokers are highly skilled at helping home-buyers find more homes than they'd find on their own. MLS® allows a REALTOR® to work together with other REALTORS® (even those from other companies!), to sell that property.  It’s important to understand that the public is not accessing a complete Multiple Listing Service database, which may contain confidential information about properties, such as the owners' schedule, security issues or other showing-related details. MLS listings seen by consumers include only particulars that will help buyers in their home search. RE/MAX has undertaken a massive effort to create a single access point to MLS listings from across North America. The result is one of the most powerful online home search tools in the industry where you can search for millions of homes for sale.

SFR: Following the 2008 economic downturn, for many real estate professionals short sales and foreclosures became the new “traditional” real estate transaction. Knowing how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities are not merely good skills to have in today’s market — they are critical. I have successfully guided many buyers and sellers through this murky water thanks to the knowledge I gained by studying and receiving the SFR designation.

GRI: REALTORS® with the GRI designation have in-depth training in legal and regulatory issues, technology, professional standards, and the sales process. Earning the designation is a way to stand out to prospective buyers and sellers as a professional with expertise in these areas. Buying property is a complex and stressful task. In fact, it's often the biggest single investment you will make in your lifetime. At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated. New technology, laws, procedures and the increasing sophistication of buyers and sellers require real estate practitioners to perform at an ever-increasing level of professionalism. So it's more important than ever that you work with an agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business. The GRI program has helped the best and the brightest in the industry achieve that level of understanding. GRI’s are:

  • Nationally recognized as top performers in the real estate industry
  • Professionally trained
  • Knowledgeable
  • Dedicated to bringing you quality service
  • A GRI can make a difference

CDPE: A Certified Distressed Property Expert® has a thorough understanding of complex issues in today's turbulent real estate industry and knowledge of foreclosure avoidance options available to homeowners. Because I have the CDPE desigantion, I can provide solutions, specifically short sales, for homeowners facing market hardships.

CNHS: Now that the real estate market has turned around, there are many new home developments sprouting up in Sarasota and the surrounding areas. The Certified New Home Specialist designation is recognized as Real Estate's #1 certification representing professionalism in working with Builders & New Home Buyers. More than 25,000 brokers, builders, managers & sales associates have earned this designation nationwide. Associates such as myself who earn this designation gain increased knowledge in the following areas:

  • Understanding today's buyers
  • Understanding the builder’s perspective
  • Broker services most important to builders
  • Important elements of new home contracts
  • Construction financing options and considerations
  • Residential construction from the ground up including materials, methods, terminology and the step-by-step building process
  • Architectural design, blueprint reading, understanding site design & topography
  • New home marketing strategies
  • Sales center design and demonstration techniques
  • The new home design process & organizing buyers' design information
  • Strategies for effectively selling quality design & construction
So in addition to my background in construction in the early years of my life, as a REALTOR® in Sarasota, Florida, I have continued to educate myself to give you the very best service and knowledge to help you buy or sell your home in my hometown.