This is your captain: Step aboard and listen up!

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Keeping it Real By Natalie Gutwein

There are numerous decisions to navigate when choosing a house for you and your family.

What does it look like on the inside? Is it a fixer-upper, or has it recently been remodeled? Are you a coastal contemporary-style person, or do you prefer modern or Mediterranean construction?

How many bedrooms are there? Is it on the water, and how big is the lot?

These are all typical considerations but when purchasing on a barrier island, in a tropical zone, and in a vacation destination, there are multiple factors to consider.

One of the first questions I ask someone looking for a new home on Siesta Key is, “Are you looking for a home on boating water?”  

If the answer to that question is yes, that opens up an entirely new conversation regarding the height and depth requirements of their boat. All waterfronts are not created equally — you wouldn’t want to sell someone a house on a canal if they have a sailboat!

Deep, sailboat-friendly water is going to be some of the most expensive. The waterways for these homes have no bridges to go under to get to the Gulf of Mexico. Homes on the east side of the Key such as the Hansen Bayou side of Flamingo Drive, or in the Hidden Harbor community, fall into this category.

Alternatively, homes along the Grand Canal are situated on the primary waterway running through Siesta Key, requiring passage under just one bridge at Midnight Pass Road to reach the bay. Boats of considerable size can navigate the Grand Canal, with a bridge clearance of about 12 feet, depending on the tide. Additionally, there are homes scattered throughout the canal system that have bridges with much lower clearances.

Despite this, these homes can still accommodate boats large enough to venture out into the gulf.

Another major factor to consider is insurance costs, which are a derivative of the home’s elevation, year of construction, and upgrades. Never before has there been such a focus on having windows and doors with impact glass, a newer roof with the latest code requirements, and upgraded pipes and electrical systems. As a homeowner it can be expensive to add these upgrades, but it can be even more expensive if you don’t!

Are you planning on renting the house? Renting a property is a great way to earn income to offset taxes and insurance, but please respect the rental restrictions for the home’s zoning. Homes in the city of Sarasota, which is on the northern end of the Key down to Garden Lane, have a seven-night rental minimum. These homes often sell for slightly above other comparable homes on the island because of the income potential.

Most of the homes in the unincorporated part of the Key have a 30-day rental minimum, except for those around Siesta Village that might have different zoning.

The bottom line: Purchasing real estate on Siesta Key involves many more considerations than purchasing on the mainland. Make sure you do your homework and pick a Realtor who is familiar with the island and knows the waterways and the nuances of purchasing here.

Unfortunately, I see many prospective buyers represented by real estate agents who have never sold a single property on our island. Unfortunately, that might not be the best choice for a successful result.

Stay sunny, Siesta!

(Natalie Gutwein is a licensed Realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Judie Berger Team and a member of the board of directors of the Siesta Key Association.) (Data accurate as of April 14 from Stellar MLS.)

Natalie’s Numbers

Siesta Key / March 2024

Active listings 152

Days on market 90

Closing price to

original price ratio 90.6%

Avg. sale price $ 3,284,112

New listings 36

Number of sales 25

Mos. of inventory 6

Sold price by sq ft $911

Natalie Gutwein
Author: Natalie Gutwein

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