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Date of Issue: August 25, 2005

Island property: Still best value on Gulf Coast

ami real estate pic
Going up
The value of these condominiums under construction on 53rd Street in Holmes Beach at the site of the former Moreland Marine is increasing rapidly, according to local real estate agents, even though the units have not yet been put on the open market. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Real estate on Anna Maria Island continues to be one of the best values among Florida's Gulf Coast communities, according to many local real estate agents, but the boom in values the past four years may be slowing slightly. People, however, still want Island property, the agents say.

"The demand for Island real estate is still strong, but buyers are being more selective in their purchase," said Dave Moynihan of Wagner Realty in Holmes Beach.

"We've had such a significant increase in values and buyers the past four years that it's hard to maintain that pace. Values are still going to go up," he observed, but probably not at the high rates of the past four years.

The real estate boom has not been limited to the Island. The average selling price of a home in Manatee County reached $336,800, a 40 percent increase from June 2004, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

That increase was a bit higher than the Island. According to the just-released Anna Maria Island Property Sales Report, the average sale price of a single-family home in July was $773,000, up 27 percent from the $609,000 average for June 2004. The average price of an Island condominium jumped from $543,000 in July 2004 to $698,000 in July 2005, a 28.5 percent climb.

The increase in land values has not been limited to Manatee County, said Moynihan.

"It's not just the Island and Florida. The boom has been everywhere," he observed.

While the Island is in the traditional slow real estate season (August to November), Moynihan still sees a good deal of interest for any Island property, although the inventory of properties for sale is low.

"People still want the Island, they're just looking a lot longer before buying," he said.

But compared to other Florida Gulf Coast islands, this Island is a bargain, said Moynihan.

"Even with our values up, we are still the best buy on the Gulf Coast," he believes. Compared to other barrier islands along the Gulf, such as Sanibel, Marco, Captiva and Boca Grande, Anna Maria Island real estate is a great value for the price. "People have discovered Anna Maria Island," he observed.

Agreed, said Barry Gould of Island Vacation Properties.

"People are discovering the Island," he noted, particularly national and international media. Articles about the Island in Conde Naste, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post have all been published the past year. "The Island is not an undiscovered place anymore," he noted.

And with discovery comes the idea of purchasing a little piece of paradise.

"There is still a desire for Anna Maria Island property," said Gould. While concerned about how high property values can climb on the Island, Gould anticipates a "leveling off" of the recent meteoric climb in values, particularly for condominiums.

"I'd like to see a good, steady, 10- to 12-percent annual growth," he said. "But it's not happening yet."

While the number of inquires may have slowed because of the summer season, Gould said he has many clients who are "waiting for the right deal to come together to fit their needs."

At the same time, however, Gould observed that the Island's property values are only catching up with other barrier islands in Florida. "The future looks bright. I don't think we've reached the top," he said.

Brenda Boyd May of Boyd Realty was also optimistic about the Island real estate market.

"I see a rosy future for the next few years," the veteran real estate agent said.

While there may be some slight hesitations in the market, Boyd May said the wise seller will adjust the asking price accordingly to "leave room" for future buyers and sellers to realize a profit.

"It's still a seller's market and some expectations are high. The properties that sell quickly are those where the seller is priced accordingly," she added.

Although Island real estate prices may be catching up with other Gulf Coast barrier islands, Boyd May said prices on the Island are still a great value.  And it's still a "seller's market," she added.

Indeed. The AMIPSR said the 22 condo units sold in June 2005 was nearly triple the number sold in July 2004. In addition, only seven of the 22 units sold for less than the asking price, and the average difference was just 4.6 percent.

"Prices," echoed Boyd May, "will never be lower."

Barrier island prices

Compared to other barrier islands along the Gulf Coast, Island real estate is bargain basement.

An informal survey of real estate advertisements from recent newspapers published on Boca Grande, Sanibel and Marco islands respectively found the following prices:

Boca Grande: The lowest priced single-family home advertised for sale was $799,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath house not on the water. The lowest priced condominium advertised was $399,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit on a canal. The highest priced single-family home went for $3.7 million directly on the Gulf, while the top listed condo was for a cool $2.3 million.

Sanibel: The cheapest single-family home was offered for $1.1 million, while the least expensive condo was advertised at $499,000.

Marco Island: The lowest price for a single-family home advertised was $750,000, while the cheapest condo was offered for $549,500.

Sales report

The August issue of the Anna Maria Island Property Sales Report said that 22 condominiums sold on the Island in July for a total of $15.35 million. The average sale price was $698,000, a 28.5 percent increase from the $543,000 average in June 2004.

Eighteen single-family residences sold in July at an average sale price of $741,500, up 30 percent from two years ago, and a 13.7 percent gain from the July 2004 figure of $652,000. In July 2004, however, 22 single-family-homes sold on the Island.

Five duplexes sold in July at an average sale price of $708,000, while the Siam Garden Resort sold for $4.12 million. That resort has been converted to condominiums and the units are now available for purchase, but the property will continue to operate as a resort.

The AMIPSR is published by Dantia Gould. For more information on the AMIPSR, call 448-5500.