Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sarasota Snowflakes…Wait...WHAT?

While the weather might be frightful in many parts of the country this time of the year, it is truly delightful here in Sarasota, Florida! If you are looking to leave the snow and the cold behind, you can’t beat the weather here. Usually the words “snow” and “Florida” don’t go together. As you may know, it’s quite rare for it to snow in Florida, especially in South Florida and Sarasota…until it really did! It’s so rare that it’s one of those memories that you know exactly where you were and what you were doing on that day. The news that dominated The Tampa Tribune on Jan. 19, 1977, was the snowfall in Tampa — that rare occurrence when a blast of Arctic air and our high humidity came together to make for an unforgettable experience. Real snow fell across almost all of Florida — even as far south as Miami.

It was the only time in South Florida history that snow fell from the skies, swirling over palm trees, dazzling school children and surprising the region’s normally sun-baked residents. That was 40 years ago. Officially, the National Weather Service recorded it as only a trace of snow. The moment it hit the ground, it quickly dissipated. Yet many people vividly remember that day. To them, it was akin to a raging blizzard. Some motorists pulled to the side of the road in wonderment. Teachers allowed school children to break out of classes to let flakes fall on their faces.

But for most, it was as awesome as watching a space shuttle launch up close and personal. The bold headlines in the Sarasota Herald Tribune the next day: "RECORDS TUMBLE, CITRUS IN PERIL AS SNOW, ICY WEATHER HIT FLORIDA"!  My wife remembers that she was at 7-11 buying milk, walked out and there was snow falling!  It was so exciting! But by the time it hit her hand it melted. She said she put her face to the sky, held out her arms, and whirled around in something completely foreign to her, a light snow. Other people got out of their cars in amazement, and looked at one another as if they were experiencing some kind of miracle.

Today's forecast, which calls for highs in the high 70s and low 80s across South Florida, doesn't include snow. Come on in, the water is fine! (It really is a matter of perspective but many of our Northern visitors repeatedly tell us the water here is warmer in the winter than it is back home in the summer). Our visitors find it hard to believe that our average water temperature from December to March is 65 degrees. Sure, there are days of “sweater weather” and there are days with a slight breeze coming off the Gulf. Either way, it is almost always sunnier here than it is back at home. However, when we drive by that 7-11, we still remember day it snowed in South Florida!

Liz and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and that you stay warm and cozy! And...If you are looking to buy a home in sunny Sarasota, Florida, call me and we will enjoy the warm winter weather and find your dream home in paradise...and we will tell you about the day it snowed in Home Town Sarasota!

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 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,,,

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,

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!,, 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.

Friday, February 10, 2017

John D. and Sarasota Ron

I have always been an avid reader, starting with the Hardy Boy books when I was a kid. Someone once said: “A non-reader is somebody standing there in a blindfold.” One of my favorite authors is John D. MacDonald . MacDonald lived in Sarasota for many years, and wrote many of his books while living there in his house on Siesta Key. He became one of the best read and widely loved Florida authors of his generation. Recently, Sarasota celebrated his life and his books for what would have been his 100th birthday. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has published tributes to his lasting influence by more than two dozen authors. 

John D MacDonald wrote 78 novels and almost 500 short stories. Many of his stories are set in Florida, making him probably the most prolific of all Florida authors. Most notable of the Florida books are his Travis McGee series. I read my first Travis McGee novels back in the 1960’s and have read every one them. They are good reads the second, third and fourth time too. These 21 novels are packed with mystery and adventure, and describe the changes in Florida between 1964 and 1985.

Travis McGee may be the first great modern fictional Florida hero. Commercially speaking, there has never been a smarter creation than Travis McGee. He is the embodiment of male wish-fulfillment. No nine-to-five job, lives by his own set of rules, resides on a houseboat, drinks but is not a drunk, tall, handsome, good with his fists but not a bully, etc. He has been called the first great modern Florida adventurer. 

One of my Sarasota hometown hangouts was the Crescent Club on Siesta Key. Nobody understood a place like the Crescent Club better than John D. MacDonald and he used some version of it over and over again in his books. It appears most prominently in his great Sarasota novel “Condominium“. There are bars like the Crescent Club the world over. But thanks to MacDonald, we have the embodiment only here in Sarasota.

MacDonald was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture its languid lifestyle, racy sense of promise and breathtaking beauty. This is why people come to Sarasota on vacation and fall in love with it. I have seen many changes in my lifetime of living in Sarasota; some say it has grown too fast and that we have enough people here. But how can you not want to live here once you have experienced paradise? I love this quote by J. Michael Blue: "Travis McGee had the right idea. Retirement days should be taken early and often." 

So if you are looking for a beautiful place to live and retire, Sarasota is it and I can help you find your dream home in Sarasota and tell you some stories about my hometown and why John D. MacDonald loved it here!

Sources and Credits: Florida Zone Blogspot,, Sarasota History Alive,

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hometown Sarasota Drive-In Movies

During my dating years one of the favorite things to do in Sarasota was to go to a drive-in movie. Sadly, they don’t exist in Sarasota any more. Sarasota built its first drive-in in 1949 with the opening of the Trail Drive-In on the North Tamiami Trail, across from the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. The Trail Drive-In touted itself as one of the largest drive-ins in the Southeast in 1951. I grew up near the Ringling Museum, so this was ‘my theater’! We would all mill around and visit with our friends before the movie and during the intermissions - it was real 'family time'. And of course, 'dating time.' (enough said!)  It had the capacity for 780 cars and showed only first-run pictures of the highest quality. In an ad in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on November 20, 1949, the Trail Drive-In was described as “one of the finest projection rooms in the nation. The screen impression, located 265 feet from the projection room is clear, sharp and light. The lounges are immaculate and a modern snack bar serves chicken and shrimp dinners for your refreshment.” The screen measured 65 feet by 47 feet and was the largest in the South.

Yes, that is an air-conditioner in the bottom, middle photo!
The Trail Drive-In stressed family entertainment by providing playgrounds for the kids and talent shows. The theater would open early so families would make an evening of it. One ad in the Sarasota Journal in the mid-1950s stated that the “whole family likes the Trail Drive-In Theater because Mom can leave her girdle at home; Dad likes to smoke big black cigars and he will hear no complaints at the Drive-In; baby sleeps in the back seat with all the comforts of home; brother likes snacks with his entertainment and the Drive-In Theater is less costly.”

The Trail Drive-in wasn’t the only drive-in in Sarasota. There was also the "Siesta" where Gulf Gate Shopping Center is today; the Tropical on the way to Venice; "Booker Park" on today's 27th Street for African-American's (Sarasota was segregated back then) and the "Bee Ridge," on Bee Ridge Road, just east of Beneva Road, which was the last drive in to open in Sarasota was the Bee Ridge and advertised the largest screen on the Gulf Coast. It opened in 1969 when air-conditioning had become the norm in Sarasota households. To maintain the comfort factor, the theater offered individual units, with the added benefit that it kept the mosquitoes out – somewhat!

Many blamed the introduction of daylight savings time and the end of the “baby boom” for declining revenues. The ‘80s brought cable TV and the introduction of the VCR, which kept people at home. Many theater owners, sensing that their time had passed, began selling land to developers. The Trail Drive-In closed in the 80s and stood vacant for years. Today it is a site of a hotel and storage facility. But my memories are still vivid!

Sources and Credits: Sarasota History Alive, Jeff LaHurd,