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,