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Featured Community

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Featured Properties

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Home Valuation

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Owning a lakefront property is the dream of many, wishing to be able to sit on a porch swing, gently rocking back and forth watching the sun rise or set in the distance, with the light beaming across the waves. Memories are waiting to be made, while enjoying all that nature has to offer.

Of course, waterfront property differs from landlocked residences; and, in more ways than one. Everyone knows that lakefront property is more expensive because of high demand and limited space. Many decades ago, it was valued mostly for its functionality, being able to accommodate trade vessels. While that’s still the case in some areas, most waterfront property is now residential, but, it certainly comes at a premium price for such a natural amenity.

Though price is a big factor when considering buying lakefront, it shouldn’t be the only thing to think twice about. Having a waterfront property means special circumstances. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few considerations.

Things to Consider about Waterfront Property

Since price is always the make or break decision maker, we’ll start there. Financing for a lakefront home depends on the home; and, the lake itself. So, it’s best to find out as early as possible if there will be any problems with financing the house. Speak with your bank or mortgage broker far in advance of looking at any waterfront properties.

Once you are certain about your financing options, it’s time to revisit your decision to buy a waterfront home. Which brings into play the amount of playtime you plan to spend on your lakefront property. This will either justify the purchase or reveal that perhaps short term renting is the way to go.

“Scenic lakes have lured families to their shores for generations to fish, boat and swim. Once at the lake, people discover more – like the fun of seeing a line of ducklings paddling toward the shore or the sight of a beautiful blue heron wading through shallow waters. When you buy lakefront property, you assume part of the responsibility of caring for the lake. Your actions on the land as well as in the water affect the health of the lake and everyone’s enjoyment of it. If you are thinking about buying lakefront property, a little time invested in learning about lakefront living will pay back sizable dividends in matching your expectations to reality.” --United States Environmental Protection Agency

Unfortunately, it’s not only financing and the time you’ll spend in the house, but how you’ll go about purchasing it. This is where an experienced agent or broker comes in--ask yourself, do you have an experienced waterfront property agent to work with? If the answer is no, find one who is, because there are simply too many things which could otherwise go overlooked--such circumstances could cost you dearly.

Speaking of cost, the home might look nice and the location might be great, but what isn’t conspicuous? What is hiding from plain sight? Ask the selling agent if there is any damage or structural weakness before making an offer.

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Lakefront Home in a Golf Community

Even though you might have all the information needed above, the list of questions continues. Be sure to get clear cut answers so you know precisely where you stand when you are the owner.

  • Who manages the lake? What you’re really asking is who manages things like weed control, wildlife control, insect control, and the general management of the lake. You don’t want to buy a beautiful property only to find it’s a mosquito magnet. (Or, that it's an alligator habitat that's simply off-limits to residents out of an abundance of safety.)
  • What is the shoreline like? Lake shorelines range greatly in composition: from mucky mud, to murky, tangled grass, to rocky. This might not seem important, but it could well prove problematic after a rainstorm. Basically, you should know its regular state and any known issues.
  • Does the water level fluctuate? You’ll definitely want to know because it could present a danger to your land or even your home. The answer could also mean having to secure a high level of insurance or face certain water-related restrictions.
  • Ask about what you own. This includes not only the shoreline, but the dock (if applicable) and the property boundaries. If you do own some of the shoreline, you need to understand any riparian water rights, if these are indeed part of the ownership.

If you are considering purchasing a lakefront home, then contact us for a free consultation. We can speak with you about the differences in owning waterfront property and assist you in finding the perfect waterfront house that fits all your needs and is within you budget. We're experts at golf home properties, so we know how to best guide you through the buying process.

When you sell your golf home, it's easy to get caught-up in the excitement of the sale and the prospect of finding a great new home. It's during this time, most transitioning homeowners are focused nearly solely on finding and buying their new property, with their old home a fond memory. However, what might otherwise be a fond memory could well become a nightmare reality that revisits itself without warning, or, at least it seems.

There are many facets to selling real estate, and of course, these go way beyond just marketing one property, complete with hosting open houses, and securing financing for the new place. The unenviable task of moving will be a necessary part of the whole process. What's not obvious by its lack of attention is the home you've just sold. That residence is still yours, despite having accepted a purchase offer. Until the closing is completed and ownership transferred, you are responsible for it, a kind of fiduciary duty to the buyer.

Because you will be the responsible party should something break, the property suffering from natural forces, or be vandalized. Such a precarious condition may well be the cause of much stress and financial hardship if something does happen and that's why you have to take steps to ensure that the home is safe until the buyer takes legal possession.

Things to Do before You Move Out

With the warm season well under way and summer fast approaching here in beautiful Sarasota, there's no better time to refresh your landscape and reinvent your outdoor living space. It's time to host cookouts and pool parties, to spend evenings entertaining and laughing around the fire pit, and to wow your family and friends with wonderful features that make your backyard the envy of everyone who sees it. The good thing about landscaping is it doesn't have to cost a lot of money and no matter the amount of space you have to work with, it's enough to really transform it into a beautiful space.

When to Update Your Outdoor Space

You want to buy a lakeside golf home and have an idea of what you want the interior to look like but aren't exactly sure what best fits into a lake theme. When you begin your search, you ought to be prepared for decorating it. The good news about this kind of theme is one that's easy to create and can be very inexpensive because you'll find that the "less is more" approach will bring the best results.

The trick is to incorporate and accentuate the peaceful view that's right outside the windows as much as possible. You can achieve this with some materials you'll find on your own property and with a little imagination and crafts, you'll have a great interior decor to enjoy. To get started, borrow a few ideas from magazines, social media, and from other homeowners. You'll find this allows you to create something unique because you'll come-up with some of your own creative ideas.

Don't Make these Home Decorating Mistakes

If you're considering selling your golf home, there's a lot to think about. First and foremost is where you'll live next. And, what type of property you'd most like. Of course, there will also be things like your must-haves and wish list items.

Selling a golf home (much like any other type of property) means having to create and follow an actionable plan. For instance, you'll need to stage your home to present it in the best possible way. The reason for home staging is to not only make it look it's best but also, to help buyers. That's right. Statistically, only 1 out of 10 people can imagine a space in a different way than they see it. And, it only takes between 7 and 10 seconds for people to form a first impression. So, you've got to strike the right chord.

What is a Pre-Listing Inspection?

    If you play a lot of golf in the Tampa Bay area, chances are you have heard accented English spoken on the fairways and greens of our golf courses. Only Canadians purchase more Tampa Bay area properties among foreign buyers than do the British. In the year before the Brexit vote, 19% of all foreign purchases of property in the Tampa Bay area were by British citizens. With the UK now officially leaving the European Union, there are as many signs of a slowdown in traffic from Great Britain as there are signs of even more interest.

    Just after the Brexit vote, property values in London and other hot British markets plummeted, leading to speculation that owners of those properties would sell and seek shelter from the post-Brexit storm in stable markets like Tampa Bay, where the sun shines on more than just the fairways and beaches. Politics in the U.S. may stimulate among Americans uncertainties about the future, but those do not compare with the anxieties about the economy, immigration and terrorism that many in Great Britain feel.

    But although Florida and other U.S. destinations may have looked good to nervous English citizens, especially immediately after the Brexit vote, a drop in the value of the pound sterling meant that British buying power in the U.S. also dropped, making it considerably more expensive to buy vacation homes in the Sunshine State. Without Britain in the EU, the value of the Euro, united Europe’s currency, is also under pressure, making it more expensive for citizens on the continent to travel to and buy property in Florida.

    With or without the British invasion, the Florida real estate market is strong, and the low inventory of homes for sale, both inside and outside the gates of golf communities, cushions the market from a slowdown in activity from overseas. The baby boomer bubble continues, with 10,000 people born between 1946 and 1964 retiring every day in the U.S. That should sustain a healthy real estate market, but there are still reasons to believe traffic from the other side of the Atlantic will buttress real estate activity in Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

    One reason is that the British love beaches; millions of them choose to spend their two to four weeks of vacation each year beside sand and water. They consider living within 10 or 15 minutes drive of a beach like any of those along the Gulf of Mexico to be a luxury. Another reason to remain upbeat about British investment in golf properties here is that the UK pension system permits lump sum payments to retired persons, which could help with the purchase of a home. And Florida taxes and cost of living are significantly lower than in places like London, one of the most expensive cities in the world.

    Those citizens of London, the most populous United Kingdom city by far, have access to dozens of the best museums in the world. That is one reason many of them target the Tampa/Sarasota area where they can enjoy a trifecta of activities -– the beach, the golf course and world-class museums like The Ringling in Sarasota and the weird and wonderful Dali Museum in St. Pete.

    The migration from New England, the Middle Atlantic and upper Midwest to Tampa Bay and the rest of Florida will continue for the foreseeable future. It remains to be seen how much that traffic will be supplemented from Great Britain and the European continent.

Larry Gavrich is the founder and editor of Home On The Course, LLC. His web site, GolfCommunityReviews, features more than 1,000 articles he has written about golf real estate in the Southeast U.S. Larry also counsels couples on both sides of the Atlantic about how to choose the golf communities that best match their requirements. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Buying a golf home means having the convenience of being near a great course and enjoying many community amenities. It's a great lifestyle to embrace, with plenty to explore, see and do. When you're in the market for a golf home, you'll be faced with many choices. Fortunately, it's often difficult to decide because contenders offer so many wonderful things. So, the last thing you want to do is to commit one or more financial mistakes.

What to Look for in a Golf Home

There are some things you should know about buying a golf community home. First and foremost, is location. While you might want to be close to the clubhouse and pro shop, be sure to look into traffic and parking. You'll also need to learn about the community amenities and any restrictions. For instance, you might be limited as to how many guests you can host at the clubhouse. Ask about any future development if there is a lot of green space nearby.

When a lender pre-qualifies you for a loan, they just take a quick look at your financial situation. Then they throw out a number they might be willing to lend you. It's all very breezy and informal (i.e., worthless). The pre-approval process goes deeper. This is when the lender actually pulls your credit score, verifies your income, etc. But neither of these things guarantees you will get the loan. The only time you can be 100% certain of your mortgage approval is when you close the deal. Up until that time, there are plenty of things that can derail the process. --Home Buying Institute

Do a little research into the homeowner's association. Ask current residents about the HOA members, rules and more. The great thing about living in a HOA community is the maintenance. Plus, you won't run the risk of a neighbor devaluing your house with some crazy exterior paint. Of course, you'll want to find a golf home with exceptional design. Also, plenty of creature comforts, as well as personal likes.

Avoid these Big Financial Home Buying Mistakes

What you need to avoid is committing any unintentional financial mistakes. If you are financing with a conforming or nonconforming mortgage, you need to stay focused. Just one misstep can put a serious damper on living in one of the best golf communities as planned or having to make adjustments. Here are the biggest financial mistakes you need to avoid when buying a golf community home:

  • Opening new lines of credit. You probably know your loan amount is based on your debt-to-income ratio or DTI. That figure is the difference between your monthly income and monthly obligations. So, don't throw off your DTI by opening new credit lines. Even you don't use these for purchases, they will probably going to be considered potential debt. (Remember, lenders usually run a "soft credit check" just a day or two prior to closing.)
  • Spending more on open credit. The same applies to your already open lines of credit. While you can pay these down, no new purchases should be made. After settlement day, this won't matter to the lender. But until you have the keys in your hands and are moved in after closing, don't use credit.
  • (Re)moving bank account funds. Whether it's to pay cash for this or that or simply transferring money from one account to another, try to avoid this. Ask you real estate pro and lender what is and isn't acceptable. Moving cash around is just an unnecessary risk.
  • Changing jobs before closing day. Unless you have this cleared with your lender, don't change employers prior to settlement. A huge factor in your home loan amount and approval is based on your employment history. Lenders simply do not like any unknown risk. If you are planning on going to another employer, be sure to consult your lender first.
  • Making a career change prior to closing. Even worse than going to another employer is making a career change. Here again, unless your lender is in-the-know about it, such a move is one that puts your financing at risk. Changing careers means starting in a different field of work and that's what can make your mortgage lender uneasy.
  • Not obtaining the proper insurance coverage. Here in the Sunshine State, you'll probably be required to have an insurance policy in-place by your mortgage lender. Know what insurance policies, amounts and more are needed so you aren't inconvenienced at the last moment. Additionally, look into pros and cons of bundling insurance policies.

In addition, be prepared to interview with the HOA. This is a common formality and you should know what to expect; so, ask your buying agent for any helpful advice. If you are considering buying a golf home, contact me for more advice about what to expect with the process. Plus, get help to navigate the entire purchase from beginning to end.

If you are looking for a local lender in the Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Venice area try Fairway Funding 

I have been involved in hundreds of golf home transactions throughout my real estate career. I talk with homebuyers and homeowners every day. I often hear laments such as, “I wish I had thought of...” or “I wish someone had told me...”. It’s unsettling and completely avoidable. During my long career, I’ve listed homes which sold quickly and others which languished on the market season after season. Buyer after buyer passes up on the home and chooses another property. Sellers list their homes and tell me so many secret regrets. They also share their strategies for their next golf home purchase. Besides buying the wrong home, buyers also move into a community only to reverse course. They become overnight sellers, quickly re-listing and moving out because the community just wasn’t right or wasn’t what was expected. There is a lot to consider and buying a new home in a new community is a daunting process. I’ve learned much over the years. So, the following is a compilation of the 7 most common golf home mistakes to avoid:

1) Purchasing a Home on a Lot without a View This is commonly the most serious mistake a buyer can make. Why? Because when it is time to sell, the property will struggle to resell in a Seller’s Market. In a Buyer’s Market, lots of inventory is available. So, the house will linger on the market for an extraordinary length of time. If this is your first golf home purchase and you are coming from up north to sunny southwest Florida, then you need to understand a very basic reality. Most of the north is densely populated and you might have been in a development where the homes are built close to one another. Homeowners expect that their neighbor’s yard will be in their rear view. In this context, it is ok to have a nice, picturesque small yard. It’s not the same in a golf community. Most buyers will demand the most extensive view possible. They greatly prefer to look out over a lush green fairway or shimmering lake, see the wildlife and watch the golfers cruising up and down the fairway. Buyers who will consider a restricted view are quite limited in number. Builders definitely know this, so developers charge a steep premium for extensive golf views. The unwritten rule is, the better the view the higher the lot premium. Conversely, the worse the view, the lower the lot premium. (This is why some lots are even free.) Some restricted views enjoy a better chance of selling than others. Here are some possible views and their impact on resale:

  • A lot backed up to another home is the worst possible choice.
  • A lot backed up to a road, parking lot, large power lines and/or street noise is the second worse choice.
  • A lot backed up to a dense preserve which comes too close to the house. This lot will sell in a seller’s market but really struggle in a buyer’s market. (Ask me why?)
  • A lot backed up to a tee box. Many buyers tolerate sitting on their lanai, only to be constantly interrupted by the next foursome waiting to tee off, gawking into their personal space and awkwardly striking up conversations with them. This lot will negatively impact a substantial number of buyers. However, eventually, there will be a buyer for it. (Ask me why?)
  • A property in range of being struck regularly by poorly hit golf balls. Living in a home that is constantly being pelted by errant golf balls is too much an unsettling experience.

2) Laying Out a Large Initiation Fee to the Golf Club for an Unguaranteed Equity Membership not Designated to be Repaid in a Timely Manner I’ve often heard from sellers in golf communities who are struggling to fill out their projected membership quotas. They make comments like, “Maybe my heirs will get the equity refund”. Be sure to read the fine print in the membership documents. Here in southwest Florida, there are clubs that have a long waiting list for membership equity refunds. Many use a formula like one resigned membership gets repaid for every four that join. And, often the repayment is not a full 100 percent of the initiation equity fee. In other words, it can be a bad deal. So, ask me about this. Before buying, be sure to schedule a meeting with the Membership Director and/or Club General Manager. Ask questions about the club’s ownership and financial stability, membership goals, whether or not more members are resigning than joining, the stability of management and staff and about any long-term plans.

3) Buying a Home in a Golf Community that’s too Isolated from Beaches, Shopping, Restaurants, Theaters, Hospitals and other Amenities and Necessities It’s a real trade-off to commute an extra half hour into a newly developing golf community just to enjoy an extra 30 percent more home that a similar amount could buy in a more established golf community. You as the buyer, need to give this trade-off serious thought. Once the novelty of living in a golf community and visiting the Happy Hours, Club Dances, Karaoke Nights, Italian Buffet Nights and Card Nights comes to an end, you will leave the club gates for other adventures. And, when those adventures are a considerable drive away, the desire to stay in an area where there isn’t such inconvenience begin to emerge. This is when the fanfare of a “lifestyle” golf community will appear fickle and unfulfilling. This is especially true if one of the buyers isn’t an avid golfer or does not truly enjoy the game at all.

4) Buying into a Golf Community where the Residents are not a Good Social Fit Only you know the type of people you’ll enjoy as neighbors, as well as those you’ll interact with at the clubhouse daily. I highly recommend that you visit the clubhouse for lunch or dinner. And if possible, play a round of golf with a club member or two. I even recommend knocking on a prospective neighbor’s door to introduce yourself and ask a few questions about the community. This kind of interaction will help ensure your dream of “Living in Paradise” does not turn into a regrettable nightmare.

5) Buying into a Newly Opened Golf Community where the Developer doesn’t Offer a Completion of Amenities Guarantee In the mid 2000’s, when the real estate bust unfolded, many home buyers bought into newly opened communities. In many of these fledgling communities, the developer planned to add the first or more amenities as home sales progressed. So, financing for said amenities depended on home sales. But the unfortunate reality of no home sales, no amenities, took hold and resulted in very unhappy homeowners. You can imagine the nightmare conundrum for those homeowners. The market crashed so their homes were worth much less than their purchase price. Even if they could sell and absorb the loss, the stymied development kept any buyers from considering their homes at all. This created a hard double whammy for many poor owners.

6) Being Wowed by the Builder’s Model Home, Beautiful Clubhouse and Overpaying by not Consulting with a Realtor Proficient in Negotiations Many buyers think that they will get a better deal with the builder without a Realtor. The rationale being, if the builder doesn’t have to pay a real estate commission, then it’s more likely to receive buyer concessions during negotiations. This just might be true with a small unsophisticated builder. But, a large-scale, experienced builder knows very well Realtors are going to account for 60 to 70 percent of home sales. As a result, developers factor this into the overall home pricing. Builders simply don’t give any of this back to an unrepresented buyer because it’s already been factored into the averages and spread throughout the sales. So, there is no advantage to the buyer to purchase a home without a Realtor. Be aware, a Realtor proficient in new home sales can help you as the buyer understand which upgrades to include and which to exclude. Your Realtor can help you understand when and why some builders offer more discounts and incentives on some homes and not on others. Plus, tell you how to get certain discounts and incentives. And, your Realtor can offer advice on your future resale possibilities based on the home you are considering. A good Realtor also provides good follow up, progress reports and pictures of the home’s construction. What’s more, depending on the size and price of the home and commission, the Realtor may offer additional incentives and help with closing costs to the buyers. If you are considering buying a home from a builder, be sure to read my free report: “7 Secrets to Buying a Home from a Builder”.

7) Not Researching All of the Golf Communities which also Might be a Good Fit Understanding the golf community market takes years. Few Realtors have a thorough understanding of all of the communities available, the types of memberships communities offer and the styles of homes and pricing that are on the market. Working with a Golf Home Pro will put your mind at ease. You’ll receive the best possible information to make the right choice.

Golf home staging helps to sell a property for more money and in a shorter time. In fact, it's time and effort that's spent worthwhile because it does so much to make a home appealing to potential buyers. Staging is a great way to make a home stand out from its competition. After all, there will be comparable properties in the top golf course communities in the area. Your house needs to be on buyers' must-see lists and the right staging will accomplish that goal.

Why Home Staging is Important

Everyone knows the majority (about 90 percent) of house hunts begins online. That means having to make a positive, actionable impression right away. Part of this can be done by including the amenities and best features of your golf home community. But more powerful are great listing pictures. To get the best, it's critical to stage your house first. But why stage your home? After all, it looks just fine. Well, staged properties, on average, sell in only 23 days, about 87 percent faster than non-staged properties.

Appearance is everything when selling a home. That's where home staging comes in. And we all want to make our houses look like they are “Designed to Sell”-worthy. But hiring a professional stager to prepare the home for prospective buyers can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, according to Jessica Page, a Realtor with Innovative Real Estate near Denver. Fortunately, homeowners can take matters into their own hands, many times for less than the $2,000 budget of the HGTV show.

Additionally, 81 percent of homebuyers state it's easier to visualize the property as a future home when it's staged. Staging also makes 46 percent of buyer more willing to see a house in-person after being viewed online. And, 45 percent of homebuyers say staging positively impacts the value of a home decorated to their general tastes. Moreover, investing 1 percent to 3 percent of your house's value in staging can make 8 percent to 10 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

5 Golf Home Staging Tips

These statistics show the power of home staging. It's simply one of the easiest ways to make your property showable. It also solves two big problems home sellers often face: buyers' first impressions and limited buyer imagination. It takes just 7 to 10 seconds for a buyer to form an impression about a home. Since 9 out of 10 buyers see a home online first, if it's staged, it will make a positive impression. And because only 1 in 10 buyers are able to imagine a home in another way than presented, staging helps them to see it as their home. To take advantage of these many benefits, here are some golf home staging tips you can use to sell your house quicker and for a larger return-on-investment:

  1. Make the golf course the focus. There's a reason you choose to live in your particular golf community and it's the same reason a buyer would also. The golf course is one of the biggest selling features, so be sure to make it the focus so it's readily visible when buyers come touring. It's should also be a powerful part of your listing description.
  2. Highlight the house's best features. Your home must also boast its own features. For instance, this could be a newly remodeled kitchen, an outdoor living space, or other features which really attract buyers. Speak with your listing agent to learn which features in your home are most appealing to buyers.
  3. Arrange furniture to maximize flow. Instead of pushing furniture against the walls, float in instead. This means grouping the furniture, leaving space around groups to enhance traffic flow and to maximize visual appeal. This will create a more open look and feel, something buyers will certainly notice.
  4. Declutter, depersonalize, and disinfect. When you decide to sell your house, you'll need to declutter every room and storage space, depersonalize the entire house, and deep clean and disinfect every surface. It's completely necessary because it creates more visual space, shows buyers how much storage the house actually has, and makes it pleasant to walk through.
  5. Give each room a specific purpose. There are two big objects buyers have about rooms: they are used for a purpose other than originally intended (a makeshift home gym rather than a bedroom) and a stuffed junk room. Give each room a purpose that fits with its layout and don't make the mistake of distracting buyers with a room full of junk.

Oh, don't forget about the curb appeal. While your golf community might offer a lot of beauty, your property should be a complement. With some colorful flowering plants, mulch, and a well manicured lawn, it will be more appealing. If you are considering selling your golf home, contact me for more advice about how to stage it so it spends fewer days on the market and you get the biggest return on your investment.

The Golf Home Pro’s Top 10 Golf Courses
in Sarasota/Bradenton

    With more than 30 thriving golf communities in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, golfers looking to play year-round where they live will find a full roster of excellent options, with homes priced from the $100s to the millions.  All these neighborhoods have something to recommend, but here are my picks, based on a combination of golf course quality and real estate value.  I’ve added a few great golf courses with no homes around them to round out the Top 10.

Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club
You’ll live large within Lakewood Ranch’s 8,500 master planned acres that stretch across former farmland.  First, Lakewood’s size gives it the heft to attract a full range of commercial services and entertainment establishments, all of them designed to fit the popular new urbanism, or village center, concept.

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Fine Properties logo

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Dennis Boyle, The Golf Home Pro



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