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Longboat Key Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 5 months ago

Longboat market climbs, but concerns remain over aging stock

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Median prices have soared in recent months.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Tight real estate inventory has driven up prices on Longboat Key and elsewhere, but  the town remains concerned about the effects of an aging stock of condominiums.

Median sales prices on Longboat Key have been higher in seven of the first nine months of 2020 than in 2019. The region’s highest-ever sale was recorded in July when a gulf-front estate in the 6000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive sold for a dollar more than the previous record of $13 million. 

In the Manatee and Sarasota region, as well, the overall  median sales price rose to a record of more than $351,000 in September.

Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick, who works as a Realtor for Michael Saunders and Co., said she’s noticed people wanting to move from the Sarasota County mainland to the barrier islands, where there is a lower population density, which also adds upward pressure to prices.

“It’s almost a reversal, we notice, of what had been going on in the prior year, and I would think that would help somewhat,” Dominick said. “Also, we really shifted into a seller’s market, and we’re getting multiple-offer situations. A lot of full-price and over-price contracts, so I would certainly hope that, that would help in next year’s valuation.”

Data from the Florida Realtors research department shows Longboat Key’s active inventory of available homes and condos has steadily decreased from 370 active listings in February to 197 in September. 

“The demand we’ve gotten for homes right now is the pent-up demand from the spring buying season that we missed,” Florida Association of Realtors chief economist Brad O’Connor said. 

Although immediate market trends seem to be encouraging, another economic blip has the eye of town leaders. 

Longboat Key saw its year-to-year taxable property values decrease for this budget year, something that hasn’t happened since 2013. 

“This was a bit of a surprise to us this year,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said. “As you look at Sarasota County in general and all the other municipalities in Sarasota County, they all saw growth, in some cases pretty significant growth in their tax base.”

The town hired John Tuccillo, president of a economic consulting company, to examine property values in town. 

He reported to comissioners that older condos,  traffic issues, and mainland competition were  concerns moving ahead but that it’s likely the dip of 2.81% in Sarasota County’s portion of town was a one-time event. 

Manatee County properties rose by 3.6%, resulting in a overall drop of less than a percentage point. 

The residential side of the St. Regis complex will feature three condo buildings.

“I think that very clearly, there will be an uptick in valuation for Longboat Key properties based on the excess demand for properties here in general,” Tuccillo said of the 2021 valuation process, which begins in January. “You will benefit from that.”

Of the 27 gulf-front condominiums in the Sarasota County portion of the Key, 18 were built in 1990 or before, records show.

Two new projects are on the drawing board. Unicorp National Developments’ The Residences at the St. Regis Longboat Key Resort, to be built at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive, is taking deposits on 69 units starting at $2 million. Groundbreaking is set for 2021.

Here is a rendering of the proposed Sage Longboat Key condominium development at 4651 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Developers also announced plans for 16 units to be built under the banner of Sage Longboat Key at 4651 Gulf of Mexico Drive, the site of Sun ‘n’ Sea Cottages & Apartments. Prices are expected to start at $4 million. Completion is expected in 2022.

Ellen Paris, who writes about luxury real estate for Forbes, recently published a story about the Longboat Key real estate market, said the newest condos will satisfy a new breed of buyer. 

One important takeaway? Million-dollar or more sales remain strong, indicating an interest in Longboat’s luxury mindset.  

“If I were somebody within that $4 million to $6 million price range, yeah, I want to have an elevator that goes straight to my unit. I want to have my own private garage,” she told the Longboat Observer in an interview. 

“If I’m spending that much money, I want that.”

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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