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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 10, 2004 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

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This week's items: Little sales, big sales lead to record sales for AckermanLakewood Ranch land costs make bank branches expensiveCharley heats up warehouse marketLuzier leaves for Dunlap & Moran

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

Little sales, big sales lead to record sales

Before all of these hurricanes interrupted the Gulf Coast economy, some of you might remember that the first two quarters of the year produced record residential real estate sales. One of the Realtors helping to set that record pace was Barbara Ackerman, long-time top-producer in the Longboat Key office of Coldwell Banker Previews.

Eight-month figures show Ackerman has sold - get this - $71 million worth of residential property, a figure that easily tops the $60 million-plus she sold for all of 2003. That makes her the top-selling residential Realtor in Sarasota County so far this year, according to Sarasota County Association of Realtor figures.

How did she do it? It helped, of course, to have two of the biggest sales in the market. One was the L'Ambiance condominium on Longboat Key of Florida West Coast Symphony doyenne, Bea Friedman. It sold for $5.8 million. Another was the $6.35 million sale in May of a 5,000-square-foot home on Lighthouse Point, also on Longboat Key.

And one of Ackerman's other big sales - for $4.5 million - was a double lot in the Bay Isles section of Longboat Key. In that instance, the owner, whose home stood on the double lots, had gone through two other Realtors with no sale. When Ackerman took on the listing, she persuaded the owner to tear down his house and list the double lots at $5 million - $500,000 more than what the property was listed for with the house.

"Can you imagine," Ackerman told Coffee Talk, "asking the seller to tear down his house?" The strategy worked. The lots without the home sold for the original asking price.

Altogether, though, Ackerman attributes her record sales volume to working in all price levels. Her sales ranged in price from $230,000 to $6.35 million. "When the upper tier was slowing down, I was able to take advantage of whatever price point was selling," Ackerman says.

Asked if she found herself working harder and longer than in 2003, Ackerman says yes. Asked what she found herself doing more than she did previously, Ackerman responded: "Advertising." (Wow, talk about music to the publisher's ears.)

Land banking

GCBR's Banker of the Year (Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2004) John O'Neal, president and director of Sarasota's Century Bank, wants his bank to be in Lakewood Ranch because of the year-round retail traffic, but his main concern is the cost.

At the same time, Bank of Commerce has committed to putting a branch in the East County master-planned community. Coffee Talk wondered how much more the banks will have to pay now compared to SunTrust Bank, which built the first self-sufficient branch in Lakewood Ranch.

According to John Swart, president of Lakewood Ranch Realty, when the SunTrust Bank branch was built in late 1998, the average per square foot cost was about $12 a square foot. Now the area's average land cost is $18 to $20 a square foot. Based on a one-acre parcel, the two banks will need an extra $260,000 to own property in the market, the difference between $522,720 in 1998 and $784,080 today.

Charley heats up warehouse market

Another one of the unexpected consequences of Hurricane Charley has been a sharp increase in the demand for warehouse space in south Sarasota County.

Jon Kleiber, of Richardson Kleiber Walter, says: "The Venice market is really hot right now; people from the Charlotte area are having to venture even a little further north into Sarasota. ¦ Most of the demand was there before, Charlie just amplified it in the east and the south."

Realtor Jim Walter says the number of available warehouse properties has fallen precipitously.

"I don't think we have a project that isn't close to 100% occupied," Walter says. "We have been doing a lease a day since the storm. We usually do about three leases a month. This has to trail off, or we are not going to have the space or the land."

Walter says he can count on one hand the number of available properties. He says he hasn't seen a significant increase in rental rates, at least not yet.

Luzier leaves for Dunlap & Moran

Thomas Luzier has left the two-attorney firm of Riddell & Luzier to join Sarasota's Dunlap & Moran PA as a shareholder.

"It was an opportunity to move from a small firm to a medium-sized firm," Luzier says. "I liken it to choosing to go from the green grocery to the deli - going from place to place - or going to Publix. One of the other reasons was that (the Dunlap & Moran attorneys) were looking to flesh out their real estate and business practices."

Dunlap & Moran has 10 attorneys.

The former Riddell & Luzier law firm will be renamed the Riddell Law Group after the remaining attorney, Jefferson Riddell.

Etc...

× With little progress so far on the Bradenton City Center property, The Beckett Whitney Group LLC officials have turned their attention to Sarasota. Blake Thompson, chairman of acquisitions, says the developer plans to build a nine-unit high-end residential development on Ringling Boulevard.

× Sarasota's international speaker and employee motivator Barbara Glanz, has received the George Morrisey Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Speakers Central Florida Chapter. The award is the highest honor presented by the organization and is issued every three years.

"Barbara was selected as the individual who has demonstrated significant achievements in her speaking career and who has made a profound difference in the lives of her audience members," says David Glickman, president of NSCF.

Since 1995, Glanz, is one of only certified Speaking Professionals in the world, who has spoken on six continents and all 50 states.

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