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6 Reasons You'll Need a Real Estate Agent in this Market

Real Estate Tips

Over the last couple of years, we've seen record low inventory, significant demand, and low-interest rates, which have created an unprecedented seller's market. While rising rates are expected to cool things off a bit, sellers are still very much in the driver's seat.

However, our real estate agents say buying a home in this market isn't impossible. Buyers just have to adjust their approach. It's also never been more important to have an experienced real estate agent in your corner. An agent is critical for navigating the complexities of today's market and avoiding costly pitfalls. Here's why:

  1. See Listings As Soon As They Hit The Market
    Properties aren't sitting on the market very long these days, which is why you'll want to get in to see them as soon as possible. Your agent can let you know the minute a property hits the market. The multiple listing service (MLS) website, which is only available to real estate agents, can be configured to send you an email the moment a listing matches your criteria. Speed is essential when it comes to booking home tours, and you can rely on your real estate agent to battle for an appointment time. Your agent may even be in the loop on new properties before they hit the market and can get you in ahead of the competition. For example, if you'd like to schedule a tour of one of these Bradenton homes for sale, a good agent can get you in to see one today.

  2. Help You Spot Potential Pitfalls
    It's hard to spot potential problems during a 15-minute home tour. As a buyer, you'll likely spend the time trying to envision yourself living in the space. Therefore, you can rely on your agent to be an experienced second set of eyes that can help you spot problems, costly pitfalls, or other elements of the home that you may overlook.

  3. Draft A Competitive Offer
    To win a bidding war these days, buyers often have to get creative. Your agent can help you draw up an offer that stands out from the competition. Whether it's waiving inspections, increasing earnest deposit, or determining the right offer price, an experienced agent likely has a good sense of what it'll take to "win" the home.

  4. Administrative Tasks
    There is a lot of documentation involved in the home closing process. It's important that you have an experienced real estate professional in your corner to help you wade through the paperwork. Your agent can take the time to walk you through the various documents, so you know exactly what you're signing.

  5. Coordinate Inspections
    Your real estate agent has a wide network of industry contacts, so they can refer you to reputable inspectors, contractors, and other service providers who can help support the transaction. They'll also work to schedule these appointments on your behalf.

  6. Negotiate On Your Behalf
    Most real estate transactions involve some negotiating. Whether it's contingencies, repairs, or the final sale price, negotiating terms takes time and energy. If you're in the market for one of these Sarasota homes for sale, you want someone in your corner who knows what they're doing.

Buying a home is challenging in today's market, but a good agent can help you find success. Contact us today to start exploring local listings.


How to Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams

Tips to Avoid Phishing

When you're buying a home, you often have a full to-do list. You have to arrange financing for your new home and get your old property prepared to sell or move out of. It's likely that you have multiple things demanding your attention; this, unfortunately, can make you susceptible to phishing scams.

A phishing scam is a scam that uses a text message, phone call, or email to trick people into revealing their sensitive information. The scammer makes the scam message appear as if it's from a company that you know, like your bank, credit card company, a retailer, or even a government entity.

Once you click the link or contact the scammer with your info, they're able to use it to access your financial accounts or potentially open financial products in your name. The scammers can then run up debt in your name or steal your money. 

Phishing scams can even be real estate related to trick would-be homeowners into revealing their info in hopes of navigating the home buying process. Our real estate agents recommend following these tips to protect yourself from phishing scams. 

  • Never Reply to a Suspicious Text or Email
    If you receive a text or email that claims there's a problem, don't reply to the message. The scammer wants you to worry and immediately reply. Instead, look up the phone number for the company that the message claims to be from (using a reputable source, like the company's official webpage). Then, call the company directly to see if there's an issue with your account. This guideline also applies to phone calls you receive requesting information to correct a "problem." Hang up, and call the company back using the number that you locate on their official website. Don't depend on your caller ID to vet a company; it's possible for scammers to spoof information so that the name and number appear to be authentic. When preparing to buy one of the Sarasota homes for sale, these guidelines also apply. You don't want to provide information that can compromise your identity or result in the theft of your savings when you're trying to buy a home. 
  • Avoid Clicking on Links or Attachments
    Never click on links or attachments that are in a potential phishing message. Links and attachments can download tracking software to your device that will steal your information. 
  • Keep Your Software and Operating Systems Updated
    While exploring Bradenton homes for sale, it's important to keep your devices updated. Check that your mobile devices and computers are scheduled to automatically update your software. Operating software frequently receives patches to fix potential security bugs. You should also confirm that your computer has updated antivirus software. 
  • Know the Warning Signs That Something is Off
    There are often a few warning signs that indicate something is off with a message. Typically, there are spelling and grammar errors in the message. While the message may initially appear to be from a reputable company, there are usually things that reveal it's a scam. The website may slightly vary from the company's official webpage, or the email address the message is sent from isn't the company's authentic address. The business's name may also be misspelled. Reputable companies don't usually ask for sensitive information via text message, email, or phone. 

Following these tips can help you avoid a phishing scam. One of the best ways to protect yourself from real estate phishing scams is to have an experienced agent in your corner, helping you out through the process. Contact us today!


New Year's Resolution: Find Your Florida Dream Vacation Home

Florida Vacation Home

With its amazing weather and beautiful beaches, it's not hard to see why purchasing a vacation home in Florida is the ultimate dream for thousands of people all over the world. Not only is a Florida vacation home a great escape, but it's also a fantastic investment. Florida is a hot real estate market, and it's easy to generate rental income from a second home when you're not using it

If buying a Florida vacation home is one of your New Year's resolutions this year, here are some tips from our real estate agents on how to find the right dream home for you:

  • Choose Your Location
    With so many beautiful parts of Florida, choosing one location can be a challenge. Florida is home to 1,350 miles of coast, numerous state parks, and of course, Disney World. To choose the right location, think about your personal preferences and lifestyle. Do you prefer to be on the beach or inland? Do you prefer the Atlantic or Gulf coast? If you're having trouble deciding on an area, take a look at these beautiful Bradenton homes for sale or these amazing Sarasota homes for sale for inspiration.

  • Secure Financing
    If you're planning to finance your vacation home, you'll need to secure a second home mortgage. Keep in mind, second home mortgages often require higher down payments and may also have higher interest rates and fees than a traditional mortgage as lenders may consider second homes to be a bit riskier. Be sure to get pre-approved by a lender before you start shopping.
  • Determine The Rental Opportunity
    When buying a vacation home, you'll also want to consider if you'll be planning to rent out the property while it's not in use. If so, you'll want to choose a home in a popular vacation market to maximize your rental income. Do some online research, and check rental websites like Airbnb to get a sense of how much income you can generate from rentals.

  • Consider The Tax Benefits
    When financing a second home, you'll have the benefit of being able to increase the mortgage interest you deduct from your annual income which can result in big savings. However, to achieve this, you will have to use the home as a vacation home. In other words, the primary purpose of the property can't be to generate income alone, you have to treat it as a vacation home first.

  • Find A Good Real Estate Agent
    No one knows the local market like a real estate agent. An agent can not only help you find the right dream home but can also stand in your corner and negotiate a deal. An agent is also a great resource for learning about the local rental market and connecting with property management and vacation rental companies.

A Florida vacation home doesn't have to be a dream. If you're planning to make a purchase in 2022, now is a great time to start your research. For more info on the Florida real estate market, contact us today.


7 Tips for Saving Up for a Down Payment

down payment

Saving up for a down payment can be one of the most challenging parts of buying a home, especially for first-time buyers. Here are seven tips our real estate agents recommend to help you save for a down payment on your dream home!

  1. Set a Goal
    First things first: It's important to know how much you need to save. Research Bradenton homes for sale, for instance, to see average home prices in the area. It might be a good idea to talk to a lender, not necessarily to get pre-approved right now but to get an idea of what kind of a loan you will likely qualify for and how much you'll need to put down. Once you know how much you'll need, you can set a goal and start saving!

  2. Reduce Your Spending Money
    There's one place you can always cut back, and that's your "fun money." It might not sound like fun to cut back on trips to the movies, coffees to go, and impulse buys, but putting that money into savings instead is an easy way to save. If that new TV seems too tempting to refuse, browse Sarasota homes for sale to keep yourself motivated!

  3. Lower Your Expenses
    You may be able to save money on your expenses, too. Make a list of your monthly expenses and look for two different things: expenses you can reduce, such as by changing the deductible on your car insurance or even eliminate entirely, such as a cable subscription or gym membership that you don't use often enough to justify the expense. The money you save each month can go straight into savings.

  4. Save Any Unexpected Money
    Any extra money you get, above and beyond your usual income, can also go straight into savings. This includes bonuses from work, gifts from family, and pay for side jobs. If you want to be really ambitious, you could deliberately take side gigs or even a second job on a temporary basis to generate some extra money for your savings.

  5. Start a Dedicated Savings Account
    When you're saving for something specific, such as a down payment on a house, it's a good idea to create a brand new savings account, separate from your regular savings account. Make sure your regular savings account has enough money in it to cover you in an emergency, but having a dedicated account for your down payment savings will help you to save better and see at a glance how you're doing.

  6. Transfer Money Automatically
    Out of sight, out of mind applies here! Add up how much money you're saving each month on reduced expenses and spending, and set up an automatic transfer to happen every month with that base amount. You can always add to it as you can, but this way, you'll have a minimum amount going straight into savings every month.

  7. Seek Help
    No matter how good you are at saving, you could benefit from looking into various programs that will get you into a home sooner rather than later. For instance, many employers offer the ability to borrow from your 401(k) to pay a down payment. There are also many grants and other programs available for homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers.

Saving for a down payment may seem daunting, but having a solid plan in place can put your dream house within easier reach than you might think. Ready to start your search? Contact us today.


Tips for Picking A Real Estate Agent During a Hot Market

Real Estate Market

It's a hot market, and you're looking to buy or sell a home among Sarasota homes for sale or Bradenton homes for sale. While an agent can help you in any type of real estate market, their help is especially critical during a hot market. Here's why.

Why Hire an Agent?

Yes, your home might just fly off the market with a Craigslist ad or the like, but what if it doesn't? With an agent, your home will get considerably more exposure in MLS (multiple listing service) databases created and maintained by real estate professionals to help homeowners like you sell their property. It just makes sense that the more potential buyers see your property, the greater the chance that the selling price could go much higher than your expectations. You could have buyers competing with one another, and that could only benefit you.

Your agent will be there throughout the whole process and able to offer advice for any aspect of the sale, from determining a price to staging your home to determining the scope of repairs you want to do before you put the home on the market. 

But an even better reason to hire a real estate agent is that many potential buyers are not comfortable talking to the owner of a property and prefer to deal with an agent. Not only can you -- and should you -- make yourself scarce while the agent shows your home, but you'll boost the comfort level of potential buyers, who may feel they are visiting you, as the owner of the home, rather than seriously looking at a home they want to live in.

What to Look for in an Agent

As you begin to look for a real estate agent, you will likely focus on an individual's experience in selling houses like yours in your neighborhood. Ask neighbors for recommendations. Get at least three referrals. And remember, while experience is important, so is personality. Can you relate to this person? Does he or she seem real to you? Look for an agent you can build a rapport with, in addition to their sales and successes.

Pay attention to the agent's marketing tools, including website, business card, brochures, signage, social media efforts, and more. Does the agent's personal appearance give you confidence in them, or is something lacking? 

When you discuss the sale of your home with a real estate agent, you want someone who can guide you through what can be a precarious journey. Can your agent answer questions reliably and with real data about investment analysis, neighborhood-level market performance, and possibly even the impact of your decision to sell? You don't want an agent who honey coats their answers; you need real information about possible pitfalls, so listen carefully to how your agent replies to your questions and make sure the agent is really hearing you.

Our real estate agents can give you solid advice on how to hire the right professional to help you sell your home. Contact us today. 


How to Prepare for a Stress-Free Move

Stress Free Move

Moving can be stressful, but does it have to be? It's never too early to think about how you'll make moving easier, even as you're just starting to look at Sarasota homes for sale. By following these guidelines from our real estate agents, you can stay organized and hopefully avoid any big surprises on your moving day.

  1. Get the Move Scheduled in Advance
    With the number of Bradenton homes for sale and how the market is currently booming, movers and trucks get booked up more quickly than you might think. If you're using movers, schedule with them about a month in advance, possibly longer if you have more notice of your impending move. If you're renting a truck, schedule that too, so that you don't find yourself with a lot to move and no way to move it.

  2. Set up a Labeling System
    Make it easy for movers to get your boxes into the right rooms by color-coding boxes. This will help ensure boxes end up in the room they are supposed to be in. For even more convenience, make sure you label each box's contents on each side of the box.

  3. Start Packing Non-Essentials a Month Prior
    Don't make the age-old mistake of overestimating how much time you still have before your move! Start packing up non-essentials as early as possible. You'll be surprised by how much of your household doesn't get used on a daily basis. Starting early allows you to ensure the nonessentials are well organized and labeled, especially helpful after the move since these are the things that'll probably be unpacked last.

  4. Donate to the Thrift Store
    While you're packing, keep a few boxes labeled for the thrift store. It's easy enough to put things you don't want in the thrift store boxes and drop off a big load of donations when the house is nearly packed. No sense in paying to move things you don't want to keep!

  5. Take Pictures for Reference
    As you're packing, take pictures of anything you want to remember when you're unpacking. Even if you think you'll remember how Grandma's china was displayed or how the stereo is wired up, it may be a long time before those things are unpacked, and you'll have a lot of other stuff on your mind in the meantime. Pictures will make it faster and easier.

  6. Pack Overnight Bags for the New Place
    To prevent having to scramble to find essentials your first night in the new house, pack an overnight bag for each person. Make sure everyone has changes toiletries, a phone cord, a book to read, and anything else you might need if you were staying in a strange place for a couple of nights.

  7. Have a Backup Plan
    No matter how prepared you are, last-minute changes can still happen. Make sure you have several options just in case things go awry. For instance, have a list of local moving companies you can call if your movers fall through or friends with trucks and large vehicles who would help you in a pinch.

Moving is a big event, but it's also an exciting one! By being fully prepared for your move, you can turn your attention to the thrill of moving into your dream home. Contact us today to start the process of finding the perfect home for your family.


What to Consider When Choosing a Gated Community

Gated Community

Everyone wants safety and security for their homes, but before you assume a particular gated community is right for you, it's important that you understand all the rules and restrictions that accompany that security. Our real estate agents can help you make the right decision based on your lifestyle. There are several basic types of gated communities. Each has its own pros and cons.

  • Equity Country Clubs
    These are communities associated with a private country club. In addition to monthly homeowner's association fees, which take care of regular maintenance tasks, homeowners are assessed with a portion of the costs to renovate or add amenities, such as the golf course or tennis courts. These are known as equity fees. Avid golfers may find these added costs worth the benefits.
  • Non-Equity Country Clubs
    These country clubs do not require membership of all residents, who will therefore not have to pay equity fees. That probably also means you are unable to use the golf course or other facilities. Each community has its own rules, so you need to check what amenities are included for your use. 
  • Guard-Gated Properties
    A guard at the gate checks the ID of all visitors. After verifying that the visitor is authorized by a resident, the guard will direct the visitor to the appropriate destination. The guard will usually follow a strict protocol to ensure the safety of the entire community. These properties typically include amenities such as fitness centers, clubhouses, and tennis courts. Their maintenance is included in the monthly homeowner fees. 
  • Guard-Gated 55+ Communities
    Monitored by a guard at the gate, this community is focused on the interests of residents over the age of 55. You will often find social gatherings, crafts, and outings in addition to a clubhouse. To qualify, a household generally only needs one person of the appropriate age, but there may be limits on the number of people under that minimum age in the entire community. Normally, school buses are not allowed on the grounds, and you will rarely find playgrounds. Grandparents who find themselves bringing up their grandchildren may find this a hardship. 
  • Non-Guard Gated Communities
    The gate to these properties is accessed via passcode or telephone. Visitors may need to insert an ID while speaking to someone via camera. With a phone entry system, visitors input numbers on a keypad which causes the resident's phone to ring. The homeowner will then buzz them in. Homeowner fees are typically less expensive than in guard-gated communities.

In addition to the perks and restrictions specific to each of these, there are some policies that apply to all. Some benefits include lower crime rates, less traffic, no solicitors, and higher property values. Most exterior maintenance will be covered by the HOA fees. Some properties even include cable and house painting. Less work on the part of the homeowner means more spare time to enjoy the amenities offered. The downsides can be restrictions on the type of pets allowed, excessive HOA fees, restricted visitor access, and strict rules governing home exteriors. Deliveries may be problematic. Many communities require the owner to reside in the home for a defined time frame before renting to avoid turnover.

Once you understand the parameters of living in the various gated community types, it's easier to know what to look for in a new home. Contact us when you're ready to look at Bradenton homes for sale or Sarasota homes for sale in gated communities. 


Top Reasons Why You Should Use a REALTOR When Purchasing New Construction

New Construction

If you want the option to select the finishes in your home or if you prefer a brand-new space, our real estate agents know a new construction home is an excellent option. When purchasing a new construction home, you may be tempted to forgo using a REALTOR®. Here are a few reasons to use a REALTOR® when purchasing a new construction home. 

  1. A REALTOR®Has Your Interests in Mind
    When purchasing a new construction property, you'll encounter individuals who represent other parties (like a builder rep) who will offer to handle the details of the sale for you. While these individuals are capable, you should remember that they are already obligated to represent the best interests of someone else. A REALTOR® will focus only on your best interests. 
  1. Your REALTOR® Will Help You During the Negotiation Process
    Like any home purchase, you want to procure the best terms when you're purchasing new construction. Even though the builder might act like the terms are final, there are likely some details that are up for negotiation. Your REALTOR® will recognize these details and help you procure the best terms possible. Maybe the builder is firm on their price; your REALTOR® might suggest negotiating for upgraded finishes or adding extra items (such as appliances or blinds).
  1. A REALTOR® Knows What Builders are Reputable
    Most people only buy a few homes during their lifetimes. A REALTOR® handles thousands of real estate transactions. As you browse Bradenton homes for sale, your REALTOR® will advise you as to which home builders are known for doing quality work. 
  1. Your REALTOR® Can Provide Helpful Recommendations 
    Throughout the homebuying process, you'll find yourself searching for professionals to assist with your purchase. Before you start looking at Sarasota homes for sale, you'll want to get preapproved for a mortgage so that you know what you can afford to borrow. While your builder may suggest a mortgage, your REALTOR® can suggest lenders that they know are buyer-friendly. Once you're ready to commit to a new construction, you'll want to ensure that the finished product is sound. Your REALTOR® can recommend a home inspector to make sure your new home is ready for you to occupy. You'll appreciate having a knowledgeable resource throughout the process.
  1. A REALTOR® is Familiar with the Neighborhood
    When buying a home, it's important to find a property in a neighborhood that's right for your lifestyle. It's hard to get an accurate feel for a neighborhood during a short visit. A REALTOR® is a valuable source of information for the neighborhood's true environment. They know which neighborhoods are good for families and which areas are better for individuals who value their privacy. 

Ready to start exploring new construction? Contact us to get started!


5 Reasons You Should Move to Sarasota in 2021

Move to Sarasota

Would you like to wake up every day and feel like you're on vacation? Then a move to Sarasota may be just what you need. Our real estate agents love welcoming new residents to Sarasota. Even those who have lived in Florida their entire lives are wowed at the beautiful beaches, spectacular shopping, and laid-back lifestyle of this Gulf Coast city. There are dozens of reasons you should move to Sarasota in 2021; here are five of our favorites.

  1. The Weather
    You don't need to ever step foot in Florida to know that it's home to some of the most preferable weather conditions in the country. Although the summer highs always tempt a trip to the beach or an afternoon by the pool, the winter months are just as comfortable in their own ways. Limited rainfall and highs in the mid-70s allow you to spend as much time outdoors as you wish. Imagine spending New Year's Eve strolling the beach with only a light jacket.

  2. The Culture
    When most picture Florida, a beachy vibe comes to mind. What many don't realize, however, is that Florida is home to a wealth of diversity. Sarasota itself is a haven for the arts, often referred to as Florida's Cultural City. Museums, such as the Ringling Museum of Art, galleries, music festivals, food festivals, and hundreds of other seasonal or year-round events offer the opportunity to explore diverse arts and cultures without venturing far from home.

  3. The Houses
    How do you envision your perfect Florida escape? Whether you're looking for a bungalow near the beach, a condo in the city, or something in between, you'll find it in Sarasota. It's an affordable city for real estate with median home prices just above $349,000. If you're searching for brand-new homes, the new master-planned community Lakewood Ranch was rated one of the best-selling communities in the country. One look at our Sarasota homes for sale, and you'll see why Sarasota's population is growing year after year.

  4. The Proximity
    Dining, shopping, entertainment, relaxation… it's all just outside your front door in Sarasota. Fine-dining at five-star restaurants and seaside cafes mix with fresh yet cheap eats at roadside diners. World-class shopping lets you peruse luxury brands and homemade boutique goods in a single trip. Sports fans are only an hour away from live games in Tampa, while nature lovers can reach the gateway to the Everglades in just over two hours. Of course, you can always take a five-minute drive from home and relax on Siesta Key Beach, voted the best beach in the country.

  5. The Lifestyle
    With sunny skies, vibrant culture, and a short drive from the best Florida's Gulf Coast has to offer, living in Sarasota is the ultimate experience for every lifestyle. You'll enjoy equal parts excitement and relaxation in effortless ways. In a single day, you can enjoy a resort-like beach experience, savor prime seafood, and attend a renowned event, all within a few miles of home.

Would you like to call this Southwest Florida gem home? As one of the top-rated places to retire in the United States, now is the perfect time to put down roots in the Sunshine State for the long-term. Contact us today to see our latest listings for Sarasota homes for sale.


Buying Your First Home? Why Now is the Perfect Time!

Buying Your First Home

Ready to buy your first home? 2020 has been a year unlike any other, and there are unique opportunities available to anyone who is dreaming of becoming a homeowner for the first time. Interest rates are lower than ever, sellers are very motivated to find qualified buyers, and you can take detailed tours of available homes without leaving your current residence. Our real estate agents have all the details on why this is the perfect time to shop for your first home, and how you can prepare for this opportunity.

  • A Unique Opportunity with Historically Low-Interest Rates
    As of July 2020, interest rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to an all-time low of less than 2.98 percent, the first time ever that rates have dipped below three percent. Lower interest rates make it easier to get "more home" for your money and help keep your mortgage payments lower over time. These record-low rates won't last forever, which makes this a unique opportunity to purchase your first home.
  • Tour Homes Online or In Person
    Shopping for Bradenton homes for sale, but not able to tour homes in person right away? 2020 has seen a major surge in the use of virtual tours and virtual open houses, which allow you to tour homes from the comfort of your computer or mobile device. No matter where you currently live, you can now shop from a distance in your target neighborhoods.

Tips to Help Land Your Perfect First Home in This Unique Market

  • Review Your Credit Report and Boost Your Score
    Putting together a competitive offer for Sarasota homes for sale is much easier when you have strong credit. Request your annual free credit report from the three major bureaus at, and ask your REALTOR® about opportunities to improve your score. Once your credit is looking strong, avoid opening new lines of credit or making large purchases until after you have purchased your home.
  • Start Saving for Your Down Payment
    Making a larger down payment has two key advantages because it helps keep your mortgage payments down while also increasing the appeal of your offer to sellers. Saving as much as possible in advance will improve your purchasing power.
  • Research Loan Options and Get Pre-Approved
    If you want sellers to seriously consider your offer, then getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a must. There are many different types of loans available, so it's wise to research what various lenders have to offer before making your choice.
  • Find A Qualified Real Estate Agent
    Especially in this highly competitive "seller's market" if you want to land the perfect home, you need the right real estate agent. A good agent is especially important when shopping for your first home because they can walk you through all of the details of the purchasing process. Your agent can help you analyze the market, identify properties that fit your ideal specs, negotiate the best possible deal when you find a home, and act as a trusted advocate during every step of the process.

Ready to purchase your first home, but still searching for the real estate agent who will help you cross the finish line? Contact us to buy and sell homes in the Manatee and Sarasota, FL area.


How to Make Your Offer Stand Out in a Competitive Market

Competitive Market

If you're looking to buy a home and have found one that you love, that's great news, but we are in a competitive market, so you'll need to make your offer stand out from any others that come in.

Our real estate agents love helping people find a new place to call home in the Sunshine State. With the real estate market being as hot as the Florida summer weather, we suggest the following five ways to make sure your offer stands out. 

  1. Keep it Simple
    Make sure that when you make an offer on a home, it's simple. The contract that's most appealing to the buyer is based on price, of course, but also on the number of contingencies it has, and the fewer the better. Common contingencies include your ability to obtain financing or a painting allowance so you can pay to have the home repainted, but in a competitive market, it's best to make your offer as straightforward and simple as possible.
  2. Show That You Can Afford the Home
    Contact a mortgage lender early in the home buying process so you can be pre-approved for a mortgage. Our mortgage partner, HomeBridge Mortgage, provides buyers with a pre-approval letter that can help you submit your offer in the best possible light. You'll receive a pre-approval letter that indicates the amount and type of mortgage you can qualify for based on your financial situation and credit history. This type of documentation demonstrates that you can successfully obtain the mortgage and close on the loan. If you won't be getting a mortgage but will instead be paying cash for the home, submit proof of the funds along with your offer.
  3. Make Your Inspection Period Short 
    You'll want to have a licensed inspector check out any home you're thinking about buying. This includes a close look at the home's structure as well as systems such as the heating and air conditioning to determine if they have any problems. You'll want to talk to your REALTOR® to be sure that you have a plan in place for having a timely home inspection. That way, if the inspection comes back showing problems and you decide not to buy the home, the seller can put the home back on the market more quickly.
  4. Make Your Best Offer on Price  
    You may assume that if the home seller thinks your offer isn't high enough, they'll make a counteroffer. But especially in a competitive market, this may not necessarily be true since the seller may receive other offers that are higher. If you don't make your initial offer your best one, you may not get another chance.
    It's essential to work with a REALTOR® in today's highly competitive real estate market. Contingency clauses are becoming more common and navigating them successfully takes the expertise of a REALTOR®.
  5. Write a Letter to the Seller  
    It can help to write a cover letter along with your offer so you can explain why you love the seller's home. Let the seller know what you appreciate about their home and give them a glimpse into how you'd love living there. Just make sure to let your real estate agent approve the letter so you don't accidentally violate Fair Housing laws.

Contact us at Wagner Realty today to see Bradenton homes for sale and Sarasota homes for sale and let us help you with your search. We'll help you make an offer that stands out in a competitive market and gives you the best possible chance of buying the home you want.    


Married and House Hunting: Working Together to Buy a Home

Buying a House as a Married Couple
Everyone's "dream home" looks a little different, but what happens when you try to merge two different pictures? House hunting as a married couple is easier than going solo because you have emotional and financial support throughout the process. If you and your spouse have different ideas about your future digs, it's important to find out now and figure it out.  Keep in mind, compromise isn't always easy when you're making the most significant purchase of your life. 

At Wagner Realty, our real estate agents are committed to simplifying your search for a home. We know how important it is to find a house that works for both you and your spouse. As you prepare to embark on a house-hunting journey, here are some home-buying tips to help you avoid common conflicts:

  • Know Your Credit Scores and Financials
    Your finances may already mingle, but do you know each other's credit scores? Before you start the process of applying for a mortgage, pull up your credit reports and see if there's room for improvement. For example, errors should be reported and corrected, and it may be wiser to pay off certain loans or credit cards than to face a higher interest rate. Getting a firm grip on your entire financial picture will also prevent surprises down the road.  Contact to request your free annual credit report. 

  • Create Lists of Your Individual Musts
    As you search for a home, which features are the most important to you? What about your spouse? Instead of learning about each other's must-haves and dealbreakers along the way, take some time to write them down now. Take a week or two to make lists on your own time, and don't consult each other about them. Think of at least a dozen things you want your home to have, like a spacious backyard, master bathroom, or waterfront views.

  • Tap into Your Real Estate Agent's Expertise
    Don't forget: you two aren't doing this alone! Your real estate agent has insights into the local market and the painstaking process of choosing a home, and they're emotionally removed from your disputes and decisions. Use them as a mediator of sorts. If you and your spouse are first-time home buyers, this is especially important, because you will need unbiased input before making emotional decisions that affect your whole future.
  • Fixer-Upper or Move-in Ready?
    Remodeling is right for some homeowners, but you should be on the same page about the amount of remodeling you're willing to do. If one partner wants a move-in-ready house and the other is willing to make repairs and upgrades for years, it's time to decide on a compromise. For example, how much money are you both willing to spend on upgrades? Is it okay to make remodeling plans if key spaces – for example, the kitchen or living room – are already up-to-date? These are questions that may help you get closer to the same page.

Ready to start looking for a house with your spouse? Contact Wagner Realty to find an agent who can help you find a home that makes both of you happy.


Budgeting Your Way into Your First Home

First Home Buying Budget

Buying a new house can be a long, costly process, and preparing as much as possible will make it easier. You can avoid unexpected expenses and find a place to live that's affordable and comfortable for your family. Here are some tips from our real estate agents to help you budget your way into your first home.

Tips for Making Home-Buying Dreams a Reality

Save for a Down Payment

You should make your down payment as large as possible to save on mortgage interest. If you put at least 20 percent down, you can avoid paying for mortgage insurance. This type of insurance protects the lender and guarantees payment for people who choose lower down payments. According to Investopedia, it usually costs about 1 percent of the mortgage balance per year. That would be $1,500 for a $150,000 loan, more than $100 per month. Recent tax cuts eliminated a deduction for mortgage insurance and increased costs further.

Even if saving 20 percent isn't possible for your family, you can reduce costs by making your down payment as large as possible. Also, a larger down payment will give your home immediate equity and help you increase your credit score. That way, you can easily qualify for an additional loan for a new car or fresh decor for your home.

Prepare for Buying Expenses

Closing costs usually include fees for:

  • An appraisal
  • A survey to verify property lines
  • A wire transfer to send funds to the seller
  • Loan underwriting
  • Document preparation
  • Credit reporting
  • Recording fees for changing property records
  • Title insurance to protect you if the seller doesn't have the full deed to the property

Our agents can help you negotiate with the seller to reduce these costs as much as possible. We can also assist you with persuading sellers to replace old appliances and take care of repairs before you move in. That way, you can save time and money.

Decide How Much House You Can Afford

The cost of the mortgage isn't the only thing you need to consider. Other recurring expenses include homeowners insurance, maintenance, and landscaping. The rent for many apartments includes water, sewer, and trash pickup. In most cases, you'll need to pay these fees if you own your own home. Some homeowners' associations (HOAs) include some of these services in their fees, but you may end up paying more than you would in a house without an HOA. You'll also need to pay for property taxes and larger utility bills.

Budgeting for your first home can help you and your family make buying a house and moving less stressful. It can also prevent unexpected expenses. Contact us at Wagner Realty for help with creating a budget for your first home. We can also assist you in finding a place in your price range that meets your needs and help navigate the closing process.


6 Ways to Make Your Move with Your Pet Easier

Make Moving with Your Pet Pawsitive

6 Tips for Moving with Your Pet
Did you know that February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day? Our real estate agents know just how much people love their pets, and offer six simple ways to make your move low-stress for your furry friends (and you!). After all, pets are family so it's important to make sure to help them adjust and stay safe during a move.  

  1. Update Your Pet's ID.
    Make sure your pets are wearing proper collars and ID tags with your name, address and current cell phone number before you move.  Consider getting your cat or dog microchipped, as collars and tags can fall off and get lost. If your pet already has a chip, it's vital to update your contact information in the event that they do get lost.

  2. If You're Moving out of the Area, Get Vet Records and Medications.
    Contact your vet and obtain your pet's records and prescriptions for any medications they may need. Some animals are prone to motion sickness, so it's also a good time to ask your vet about any remedies or get medication. Ask your vet if they have any recommendations for a new doctor in your new neighborhood.

  3. Put Your Pet in a Comfortable, Quiet Place During the Move.
    Animals can become very stressed when familiar surroundings are disrupted. The day of the move, take your pet to a friend's house or a kennel while you pack up the truck. If you can't find someone to take your pet for the day, put them in a crate or secure room in your home with some food and water to ensure they stay safe and comfortable. Setting up a room or area for your pet in the new house before they arrive can also help make the transition much easier.  

  4. Prepare For the Trip Ahead of Time.
    Make a kit that includes dog or cat food, kitty litter, toys and grooming supplies so you have easy access to them during your trip. If you're moving close by, it's still a good idea to keep these things out so they're easy to find for the first few days in your new home. If you're driving long distances, check out pet-friendly hotels and make reservations ahead of time.

  5. Transport Your Pet in a Carrier.
    Put your pet in a crate or carrier with comfy blankets, toys, and a worn t-shirt. Your scent will help reassure them that you're staying close by and can make them feel less stressed.  Leash your pet before opening the doors of the car or the crate during any pit stops. They can easily get spooked by the new environment and run away. Same goes for when you arrive at your new home—carry the crate into the house or make sure your pet is securely leashed before letting them out.

  6. Move Small Animals with Care.
    Pets like birds, guinea pigs, and fish need extra TLC during a move. Keep all small animals secure in a cage with plenty of food and water until they're safe inside your new home. High-strung animals like guinea pigs may need more reassurance and comfort than others. Moving with fish is possible if you're not going too far. Consult with your local aquarium store to determine the safest way to move your fish. If you're making a cross-country trip it's best to find them a new home.  

If you're ready to move with your furry friends, we can help you find the home of your dreams. Contact Wagner Realty today to get started.


Don't Be Suprised By Closing Costs

Buying a Home Closing Day Surprises

Transferring the ownership of a home at closing can be confusing. Even though real estate closings take place daily, the paperwork and costs that ensure that your property transfers legally can often be met with surprises if you're not prepared.

Our real estate agents are here with an explanation of what costs to expect at closing so you are not caught by surprise.

Closing Costs: No Surprises

In any real estate transaction, buyers and sellers should understand each closing cost component before coming to the signing. Some items can be negotiated before the closing to determine who pays.

Typical costs that may appear on your real estate closing statement are:

  • Real Estate Commissions: Usually paid by the seller, this is the realtor fee, usually a percentage of the selling price, to sell the property. The total may be divided between the selling agent and a buyer's agent.
  • Origination Fee: Often expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed, a lender or broker will charge a fee to cover expenses of processing a mortgage application, administrative costs, loan underwriting, and funding.
  • Points: A point represents 1% of a mortgage. Borrowers often have an option of paying more "points" to receive a lower interest rate. A point may be worth one-quarter percent reduction in the mortgage rate. Conversely, borrowers might ask for "lender credits" to offset some closing costs while raising the mortgage rate.
  • Underwriting Costs: These represent the cost of researching your credit history and other background information to determine if you qualify for the loan.
  • Credit Report: This information is required to determine whether the mortgage application is approvable and the maximum amount the borrower may borrow.
  • Appraisal: Lenders require a professional assessment of the property that will ensure they will recover the remaining balance of the mortgage in case of default and foreclosure.
  • Survey Costs: Often paid by the buyer, the mortgage lender may require a survey to confirm property lines.
  • Home, Flood, and Pest Inspection: Before closing, a professional inspection for damage and deterioration is standard procedure. Buyers may request that the seller repair deficiencies before the closing.  In some cases, the seller may have listed the home "as is." Alternatively, the seller may counteroffer with a reduction in the selling price.
  • Title Search: Cost to research the property title among public records.
  • Title Insurance, Lenders:  Title insurance protects the lender in case there are undisclosed liens or other encumbrances. Buyers may also purchase title insurance covering the property as long as the buyer or heirs have possession.
  • Settlement Fee: Paid by either buyer or seller, this fee is paid to the closing agent to manage the closing and escrow accounts.
  • Property Taxes: Responsibility of the seller until closing. After that, the buyer pays.
  • Mortgage Insurance Premium: To protect the lender, if required, the buyer may pay the first premiums at closing.
  • Recording Fees: In many areas, these are fees to record the new deed and mortgage with the local government.

Value of an Experienced REALTOR®

When you're ready to begin touring Sarasota homes for sale, there is nothing like the help of a local real estate professional by your side. Our real estate agents know the current market in Southwest Florida and are ready to help.

Contact us at Wagner Realty to get started.


8 Great Holiday Gifts for the First-Time Home Buyer

Holiday Gifts for First-time Buyers

Decking the halls in your new home for the first time is a cause for celebration. If you've got a first-time home buyer on your holiday gift-giving list, you'll want to spend some extra time choosing the perfect item. Whether you decide to take the sentimental route or opt for something more practical, you'll want to give a memorable gift that they will love for years to come.

Our real estate agents spend plenty of time with first-time home buyers, so we have some insight into the things they need. Here are eight of the best ways for you to help your loved ones turn their new house into a home. 

  1. Smart Home Electronics
    Smart home technology is all the rage now, with good reason. Not only are smart upgrades cool and convenient, but they can also make your home safer and more energy efficient. Video doorbells, programmable thermostats, and smart lighting technology all make excellent holiday gifts.

  2. Kitchenware
    First-time homebuyers aren't likely to have full sets of matching dishes, a variety of wine glasses, nice knives, or quality pots and pans. Try to think back to the things you needed when you moved into your first home, and it's a good bet that the person you're shopping for needs the same things.

  3. Towels and Sheets
    Let's face it, towels and sheets are expensive, and they aren't much fun to buy. If you're going to take this route, make sure to choose quality items that will last for some time. Plush, absorbent towels and high-thread-count sheets are both excellent gift ideas. 

  4. Gizmos and Gadgets
    Want to give a fun gift that will get a lot of use? Consider a robot vacuum, one-cup coffee maker, or electric wine bottle opener. Essential appliances like a slow cooker, stand mixer, or a quality blender is also likely to become household staples.

  5. Practical Tools
    Most first-time homeowners don't know what tools they need until they're in a situation where they need them. You can be the hero by setting them up ahead of time with a versatile toolset, a good tape measure, or a quality flashlight (with batteries!) Don't be surprised if one day you hear a story about how your gift saved the day.

  6. Safety-Savvy Items
    Safety items like fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, and security cameras all make excellent gift ideas. Some less expensive ideas include a first-aid kit, heating pad, and ice packs, or motion-sensing nightlights.

  7. Personalized Gifts
    Commemorate this special occasion with a personalized gift like a monogrammed doormat, custom holiday ornament, or upscale home décor. Taking the time to have an item specially-made shows how much you care and is sure to tug on the heartstrings of the recipients.

  8. Store Gift Cards
    Gift cards might not seem like the most thoughtful choice, but they're often a lifesaver for new homeowners. There will always be times when they need something right away, and the ability to get it without spending their hard-earned cash is a gift they'll appreciate. Choose cards from home improvement stores, big-box retailers, or even your local grocery store. 

Is a Sarasota Home on Your Holiday Wish List?

If a new home is on your holiday wish list, you're in luck. Now is the perfect time to start checking out some of the beautiful Sarasota homes for sale. Don't let the hustle and bustle of the holidays get in the way of making your dream a reality. Contact Wagner Realty today to learn how we can help.


7 Ways to Negotiate a Home's Purchase Price

Buy House Negotiate Price

If you walk into a supermarket and try to negotiate a lower price for a gallon of milk, you're bound to walk away disappointed. Luckily, when it comes to buying a house, the fine art of haggling is still alive and well. Our real estate agents are here to help you get the best price you can on your dream home, and these are the tips you need to know about negotiating a better deal. 

  1. Do Your Research
    Knowledge is power. Find out as much as you can about the property, its history, and how it stacks up against similar real estate listings--past and present--in the same general area. Relevant market comparisons are one of the most reliable tools you can use to negotiate a lower price, so don't skimp on the research.

  2. Act Fast
    Once you've made an offer and received a counteroffer, don't wait around. Respond as quickly as you can, ideally within 24 hours. This lets the seller know you're serious and prevents another prospective buyer from swooping in with a higher offer.

  3. Be Nice
    Nothing will get the door slammed in your face faster than rudeness. While it might be easy to assume an adversarial relationship with the seller, your goals are mutually beneficial – they want to sell a house, and you want to buy one. Approaching the negotiating process with respect and courtesy will make it more likely that you'll be able to reach an amicable agreement.

  4. Make a Respectable Offer
    From a buyer's perspective, the goal of negotiating is to arrive at a lower price, but it's possible to take it too far. If a homeowner lists their house at fair market value, a lowball offer might insult the seller to the point that you may not get a response at all. So make an offer that's below the list price, but not so far below that the seller will balk.

  5. Increase Your EMD
    An earnest money deposit (EMD) is the sum of money you put down to show the seller that you're serious. Typically it's between 1% and 3% of the sale price of the home. But offering a higher EMD, say 3% to 5%, can let the seller know that you're serious about buying, and may make them more receptive to an offer that's lower than their listing price.

  6. Be Flexible
    Buyers and sellers each come to the table with a list of contingencies, and it's to your benefit to be a little flexible on both counts. Reducing the number of contingencies you're asking for makes the whole process easier for the seller, and being flexible about the seller's needs – such as what date you will take possession of the property – is a great way to butter them up.

  7. Check Your Emotions
    You have to be in love with a house to be serious about buying it, but you should never let your emotions run amok during the buying process. Keeping a cool head will help you stay within your budget, and will prevent any missteps that could put the whole deal in jeopardy. 

Contact Wagner Realty today to learn more about how our team of experienced real estate agents can help you get a better deal on Bradenton homes for sale. We're no strangers to the negotiation process.  We work with you to help you get a house you love at a price you can afford.


Buying a House When You Have Kids

Buying a House When You Have Kids
Buying a home is often a time filled with both excitement and anxiety, and if you are a family with children, those feelings can be even more intense. With kids, your house hunting strategy will be different than that of a single person or a retired couple. Our REALTORS® in Sarasota understand the ins and outs of the housing market, and we've put together a checklist of things to consider as you prepare to find your family's dream home.

  • Get the Kids Involved 
    You might not bring your children to every home tour; however, making them part of the decision-making process can be an advantage. Children can provide a different perspective during a house hunt, and they may bring features of the house to your attention that you hadn't considered. Of course, you won't want to put the ultimate decision-making power in your kids' hands, but letting them experience the process and voice their opinions will make them feel included and allow them to learn a little as well.

  • Education and Your Family's Future
    Most families with kids who are shopping for a home make looking at the school district a priority, and for a good reason. Quality education is essential for all families, and you want your children to have access to schools with high marks. Besides checking online resources and visiting with schools in your desired neighborhood, consider speaking with other parents in the area as well to gain their feedback on area schools. Keep in mind that some communities with highly desirable schools also have higher home prices and property taxes, so you'll need to weigh the benefit and determine if you're planning on living in the home long term.

  • Perfect for Now, But How About Later?
    When you're looking at Sarasota homes, it's easy to picture how well its size and layout will work for your kids at their current age, but it's also key to factor in how it will suit your family's needs as your children grow. Bedrooms and bathrooms are particularly crucial as children transition into their teenage years and want more privacy and space of their own.

  • Yards and Beyond
    Outdoor space is many times considered a must for families with children. Not only do they want a place to play, but parents also want that place to be safe and comfortable. While touring potential homes, consider both the size and layout of the yard to see if it will be ideal for your family. Note whether the yard is fenced or can be quickly and if it borders a busy street or intersection. Many parents also want their children to have neighborhood buddies, so take some time to get a feel for how many other families with children of similar ages live nearby.

Wagner Realty wants nothing more than to see your family's dream of owning your own home come true. We provide personal, results-oriented service to you from our first meeting to closing day for your perfect home. For more information about Sarasota homes for sale, contact Wagner Realty today.

Contact Wagner Realty


Buying Your First Home? Learn These Lessons Today.

Home Buying Lessons
Buying a home is a huge deal especially for first-time home buyers. Apart from being the single biggest purchase you will ever make, the process itself can be complicated. When you work with one of our real estate agents from Wagner Realty, we will always be on hand to help guide you through the entire process. Below are the key lessons to learn today to help make your home-purchase journey a little less stressful.

Put Aside Your Down Payment Money

It's common for lenders to require you to put down 20 percent as down payment for your new home. Although many lenders allow as little as 3 percent for first-time home buyers, committing anything less than 20 percent will mean higher loan costs and additional private mortgage insurance fees. Save enough money for your home's down payment using several savings schemes such as setting aside work bonuses and tax refunds or having an automatics savings plan.

Explore All Your Down Payment Options

As a first-time home buyer, you have several down payment options available to you if you cannot raise the deposit money. These are:

  • Federal mortgage programs offer loans with only three percent down
  • Federal Housing Administration loans permit 3.5 percent down payments
  • Veteran Affairs loans sometimes require little to no down payment at all
  • Crowdfunding or asking family members to pitch in

Check Your Credit

Your credit is a key factor in determining whether or not your home loan is approved. Moreover, it will determine your loan terms and interest rate. Therefore, work to improve your credit score in advance and offset outstanding debts early.

Pick the Right Home

Always consider everything you are looking for in your dream home when shopping around for one. Here:

  • Pick the right location and neighborhood
  • Consider crime and safety statistics
  • Check out noise, traffic, and activity levels
  • Look out for the nearest hospital, grocery store, pharmacy, school district, and other amenities

Budget for Closing Costs

After making an offer and starting the process of closing the deal, you need to account for closing costs that can run from two to five percent of your loan amount. Here, our real estate agents can help you shop around for affordable options to minimize some of your closing expenses such as title searches, home inspections, and homeowners insurance.

Take Your Time

Perhaps one of the hardest lessons on this list, but taking enough time to look for your dream home and shop around for all the services you will require throughout the buying process is essential. Try to minimize your frustrations and manage your emotions because making rush decisions can easily lead to buyer's remorse.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Making a strong offer is not a guarantee that you will close the deal. As issues arise from the home inspection and appraisal processes, be prepared to make compromises with the seller on certain things. However, too many compromises may result in high renovation costs.

Find a Great REALTOR®

When looking for homes for sale in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, it is important to hire the services of a professional buyer's agent to help you through the buying process from your home search through moving day.

Contact Wagner Realty today to get started buying your Flordia dream home.

Contact Wagner Realty


What is the Difference Between Pre-qualification and Pre-approval

Buy a House - Real Estate Terms
One of the first steps our real estate agents recommend when you decide to start shopping for a home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. While many people use these terms interchangeably, they are different and depending on your situation you might choose one over the other. Here's what you need to know.

What They Have in Common

Both pre-qualification and pre-approval refer to a statement in writing from a lender that they are willing to finance your home purchase. Either or both will happen before you start looking at homes. However, neither is a complete guarantee that you'll be approved and a lender can still turn you down for a mortgage up until you've actually received final approval.


Most people wait until they are actually ready to buy, but getting pre-qualified can happen early on in the home-buying process. It's a good idea to start here if you're not sure how your financial situation will impact the home buying process or if you think you may need to make improvements to your credit. Pre-qualification is a basic review based on your monthly income and debt. A pre-qualification means that based the lender's initial evaluation, you'll probably be eligible for a mortgage of a certain amount. This evaluation is based on the information you provide to the lender about your monthly finances. It doesn't consider your credit report or history, verify stable employment and other information, or scrutinize your financial situation. Often, you don't even have to meet with a lender in person. Pre-qualification can be helpful if you aren't sure how much or what kinds of mortgages might be available to you.


You can start with a pre-approval or get pre-qualified first, then move on to a pre-approval once you're completely ready to buy. Pre-approval requires you to actually start the mortgage application process. You may be charged a fee to cover pulling your credit report and the letter from your lender will state that you are pre-approved for a specific amount. Your lender's underwriting department will verify all your financial information such as your assets and salary, verify your employment and personal information, look at your bank statements and pay stubs, obtain your credit report and do a detailed review of your finances.

A pre-approval means you've gotten the financial details out of the way, all that is left is to find a suitable property. In a hot market, a pre-approval can give you an advantage, since it is the next best thing to paying cash. Since you've already started the application process, it shows you're a serious buyer and sellers know the chances of your financing falling through after this point are slim. Unless your financial situation changes significantly for the worse, or the appraisal comes in low, you're good!

A pre-qualification or pre-approval is an essential first step and both will give sellers the confidence that your offer is the one they'll want. Contact Wagner Realty and get started on your home buying journey today!

Contact Wagner Realty


Buying a Home vs. Renting: Which is Right for You?

Buying a Home v. Renting
Buying Your First Home. 3 Reasons Why It Could be Right for You.

If buying your first home has been on your mind lately, maybe it's time to escape the rental trap that so many people have fallen into and begin the search for an investment in your future. There are many advantages to being a homeowner, and it might be easier to purchase your perfect home than you think!

Invest in an Asset

Buying your own home is effectively ensuring that you have invested in your own future. Falling into the cycle of putting your hard earned money towards rent may keep a roof over your head, but the only one making a profit is your landlord or rental agency. A well-maintained home will retain and usually build value as time passes, so you are virtually saving for years to come when you make a mortgage payment. A home purchase is a solid way to enhance your long-term net worth and even build your credit. You can't recoup the money you've been spending for rent payments, but you can take the first step today in making a solid investment in your new home.

Do the Math

Many people don't realize that buying a home vs. renting might actually save them money. Rent prices have been on the rise and in many cases, may actually exceed what you would be paying for a monthly mortgage installment. You're likely footing the bill for the rental property insurance and maintenance in your rent payment. If you own your own home, you have the advantage of being able to shop around for the best prices and services for these extras.

More Control Over Your Environment

As a prospective buyer, you are able to research and ultimately decide on your surroundings. You might be tired of less than thoughtful neighbors surrounding you on all sides, and a nice quiet neighborhood could be just what you're seeking. Want to make improvements or updates to your living space? Often, that's not possible when you're renting. Even getting basic repairs performed sometimes proves to be a hassle if your landlord isn't ideal. Owning your own house gives you the freedom to make your home uniquely yours without the hassle of having to ask permission or haggle over upkeep with a landlord.

If you're ready to break free from the rental trap, contact Wagner Realty and let's discuss your goals as a future homeowner. Our real estate agents are known for their personal and dedicated service to their clients and are waiting to hear from you!


Make Them an Offer So They Know You Mean It

5 Tips for Making an Offer to Buy a Home

Tips for Making an Offer to Purchase

So you've fallen in love with the perfect house. Your dream home is waiting, and now the ball is in your court. Knowing how to make the right impression with the seller is an important element in negotiating an agreeable selling price and ensuring that your prospective new home doesn't slip away and into someone else's hands. Our real estate agents have the experience and know how to help you make an offer that's hard to refuse, and we've put together a few suggestions that could give you the advantage in sealing the deal.

1. Straight to the Heart

Many home sellers have an emotional attachment to their home and may be a bit reluctant of letting it go to a virtual stranger. If you are ready to make an offer, consider taking the time to write a cover letter to send with it. Of course you'll want to introduce yourself and perhaps give the seller a little bit of personal background, but more importantly, you'll want to let them know why their home is so appealing to you. Giving the seller insight as to why you love their home may just give you the upper hand, especially if there are multiple offers on the table.

2. Build Trust and Confidence

An offer is one thing, but documentation that backs up your offer in black and white is almost certain to get the seller's attention. Proof of financing terms from your bank as well as an underwriting approval indicates that you are ready and have the financial resources available to purchase the home.

3. Think Twice Before Asking for Extras

Asking for seller concessions such as closing costs may put your offer in line behind other buyers who aren't requesting such credits. Furnishings and fixtures are not always included with the home, and no matter how much you fancy them, it might be wiser to wait and purchase comparable items on your own instead of giving the seller a reason to hesitate in considering your offer.

4. Know Your Budget and Use It to Your Advantage

If you are in a position to do so financially, you might give some thought to making an offer over the seller's list price. There's no doubt that an offer that exceeds the seller's expectations will be taken seriously.

5. Sweeten the Pot

Want to let the seller know that you mean business? Here are a few other ideas that might sway the seller to accept your offer:

  • Propose a quicker than normal closing date. This may work especially well if the seller is motivated and wanting to move quickly.
  • Increase your Earnest Money Deposit. By willingly putting more down to begin with, you send a message to the seller that you are committed to obtaining the financing needed in order to purchase the home.
  • Offer a month of free occupancy for the seller. Some sellers may actually need more time to complete the move from the home they're selling. Giving them the luxury of a little added time after closing might be a winning move on your part.

You know what you're looking for, and now you know some of the best secrets to making a successful offer. Your dream home is out there, and we want to help you find it Contact Wagner Realty today, and let our team of experts show you a world of possibilities!

Contact Wagner Realty


Right on the Money | Getting Your Finances in Order to Buy a Home

Getting Your Finances in Order to Buy a Home

Get Right on the Money to Buy a Home
Preparing to purchase your first home starts long before you choose a REALTOR® or fill out a loan application form. You've probably started the process without even knowing it by graduating from school, accepting your first job, and financing a car.

There's something you should know before we get started: lenders typically base their loan approval on two things:  

  1. a buyer's ability to make an acceptable down payment and
  2. the buyer's credit profile.  A good credit profile shows the person's ability to make timely, ongoing monthly payment.

Before you begin the loan application process, it's important to get your finances in order to buy your first home.

Save for a Down Payment

Saving for a down payment is hard, but it is worth the effort. A more substantial down payment will give you better interest rates and more options. The amount of your down payment increases or decreases the risk the lender takes when providing the financing for your house. The larger the down payment, the less chance of losing part of their investment.A good rule of thumb is to save at least 20 percent of the purchase price of a home.  By doing this, you'll receive better mortgage and interest rate options--and avoid the extra cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI).  

Following a monthly budget will allow you to save enough money for your down payment. Designate a savings account fund earmarked for your down payment.  Once you buy your home that same money-saving discipline will help you save enough money to make your monthly mortgage payments.

Your Credit Score

Lenders use your credit score to determine how likely you are to pay your bills in a timely manner.  Typically, the higher your credit score, the better interest rate you may be able to obtain.  A person's credit score is based on information about your credit history taking into consideration factors like the amount and type of debt and late payments.  

You can order your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They will all be slightly different, so look at each report. You can order free copies once a year from Look for any inaccuracies and report them to the credit reporting agency. Fixing mistakes takes time, so start this process as early as you can.

Getting your finances in order prepares you to impress mortgage loan reviewers and qualify for the financing you need to buy your first home.  Contact Wagner Realty to get your home search started.

Contact Wagner Realty


Baby Boomers are Landing in Sarasota

Baby Boomers Sarasota

It happens every year as sure as the change of the seasons: Folks from the North and even into Canada travel south to find a warm, mild climate to spend the winter. The name given to those who happily engage in this annual practice: Snowbirds.

Snowbirds are typically established professionals or retired people who want to enjoy a change of scenery and a slower pace for winter. There'll be no worries about keeping the furnace hot or digging the car out of the snow when you decide to bask in beautiful Sarasota.

Just how welcoming is Sarasota? Its winter temperatures run from about 51 degrees at night to 70 or so during the day. Air conditioning is ubiquitous throughout Florida, so virtually any place you plan to spend your time will also be equipped with central heating.

It should come as no surprise some people decide to finally settle down here. In recent years, Baby Boomers have flocked to Florida like never before!

Sarasota Has the Most to Offer in Senior Living

When it comes to easy living, Florida's retirement scene is almost as well-known as its beaches. Florida has been a retirement destination for decades and has developed amazing amenities to match.

It offers world-class cuisine, golfing, water sports, and more. Some of the nation's leading hospitals are also found here, making it easy for elders to access the care they can count on. When family comes in to visit, there are outstanding airports to choose from--and even rail travel.

Florida is far and away the best when it comes to communities focused on senior living. Due to a convenient location, climate, weather, and gorgeous surroundings, Sarasota has attracted an enviable share of developments with the snowbird and retirement lifestyle in mind.

Some include:

  1. Esplanade at Lakewood Ranch, 12825 Malachite Drive, Sarasota
    A gated enclave featuring 1250 single family homes and detached villas, Esplanade at Lakewood Ranch is beloved for resort-style accommodations. From the 18-hole championship golf course to the Amenity Center packed with activities and gathering places, its features are second to none.

  2. VillageWalk of Sarasota, 8109 Camminare Drive, Sarasota
    VillageWalk has an array of more than 1,700 residences over 516 lush acres. Residents can choose luxury single family homes, patio homes, and townhomes with maintained lawns. Bridges and lakes liven up many miles of walking paths and lead to the tennis courts and pool of the Town Center.

  3. The Isles on Palmer Ranch, 5901 Benevento Drive, Sarasota
    This lakefront master-planned community is integrated into a wondrous landscape of lakes and nature preserves. Tennis, bocce ball, basketball, a pool, and more are available. It is maintained by a full on-site staff including an activities director who works to provide fun, friendly events.

  4. Cascades at Sarasota, 4450 Royal Cascades Way, Sarasota, FL
    A secured and gated community north of University Parkway, the Cascades at Sarasota helps residents stay active and feel their best. It boasts a complete spa and exercise facility, tennis courts, and pool, as well as nine ball courts. Activities and classes are scheduled on a regular basis, too.

  5. LakeRidge Falls, 4200 Lakeridge Blvd, Sarasota, FL
    This active adult community offers a wide range of social gatherings including an art league and all-day getaways to the famous Immokalee Casino. There's always something being added or renovated, so the fun never stops. The 399 homes sit on 170 acres with no less than 16 lakes – ducks included.

To discover Sarasota homes for sale, contact Wagner Realty. Our REALTORS® look forward to helping you find your Florida home.

Contact Wagner Realty


Buying Your First Home May Not Be Out of Reach

Home Loan Options
These days, it seems like there are more barriers than ever between first-time home buyers and their dream homes. One of the most challenging is coming up with a down payment. Conventional wisdom suggests that home ownership might be out of reach for someone who can't put up a down payment on a home – but that might not be the case. 

We asked our REALTORS® to share some tips on how to buy a home with no money down. As it turns out, there are several options that could help you become a homeowner without having to come up with a down payment.

Avoiding Down Payment Woes

A recent survey by shows that 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Considering that the standard 20% down payment on a $200,000 home is $40,000, it's not hard to see the problem. Even a federally-insured FHA loan requires a down payment of 3.5% (or $7,000 on a $200,000 home). The fact that home prices appear to be on the rise again certainly doesn't help.

No Money Down Loans

To buy a home via the traditional route requires a traditional mortgage, and most mortgage lenders would never dream of offering a loan to a buyer who has not saved up enough for a down payment. That being said, these are the non-traditional options:

  • USDA Loans: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Housing loans are available with down payments as low as 0% in many areas. These loans essentially exist to help fill underpopulated parts of the country and are particularly helpful for low-income families looking to buy homes in rural areas, though they are available in many areas that are surprisingly close to major cities. Check the USDA Eligibility page to see if you qualify.

  • VA Loans: Dating back to the GI Bill of 1944, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' loan program offers zero down payment home loans that many veterans and military families may qualify for.

  • Credit Unions: Many credit unions (nonprofit banking cooperatives) offer mortgages to their members requiring low or no down payments. To qualify, you typically need a very good credit score and an income less than 80% of the median in your area, but it's an option worth looking into.

  • Navy Federal Loans: The Navy Federal Credit Union offers qualified members 100% financing. Eligibility is restricted to members of the military and their family members, along with certain civilian employees of the military and U.S. Department of Defense.

Weighing Your Options

Not everyone will qualify for a zero down payment mortgage, but you might be surprised by how many people actually do qualify. It might be just the edge you need to put home ownership within reach.

Of course, it's also good to keep in mind that putting no money down on a home isn't the best option for everyone. If you can make a down payment then you should, if only to have some equity in your home and avoid paying extra for private mortgage insurance. And of course, the more you are able to pay upfront, the less you will have to pay in interest in the long run.

Contact Wagner Realty to learn more about how you can buy a home with no money down. We are committed to helping you find your dream home in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, and are ready to explore all options to make that dream a reality!

Contact Wagner Realty


Secrets from the Pros for Finding the Right Neighborhood

Secrets for Finding the Right Neighbhorhood
You may be looking for your dream house, but have you given any thought to your dream neighborhood? The location of your home is at least as important as those four walls and a roof -- perhaps more so. The right neighborhood can offer not only amenities that are important to you, but an investment that will pay off in years to come. 

It's easy to browse Sarasota homes for sale, but harder to shop for a neighborhood directly. Without MLS listings for neighborhoods, how should you determine where to look for your dream home? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Identify Your Priorities

Before you even start shopping for a home, you should have a good idea OF what you want in a neighborhood. Sit down and make a list, ranking them in order of priority. If there is something you can't live without, such as good schools for the kids or walking distance to work, school, shopping, or public transit, put that at the very top of the list and mark it off from the rest.

Some of the factors you might consider in your search for a neighborhood are:

  • Schools
  • Urban vs. suburban
  • Accessibility
  • Ease of commuting
  • Security and safety
  • Amenities such as shopping, restaurants, parks, and more

Balance Price and Investment with Quality of Life

Financially speaking, the best investments are where you buy in during the beginnings of a period of growth, when a neighborhood is just starting to improve itself and grow in popularity, so that your home's value will accrue quickly. Look for areas that are adjacent to popular neighborhoods that have already gone through that period of growth and improvement. As rising values price out young, new buyers, they'll look to recreate the same experience nearby.

This being said, there's still a balance to achieve between a good investment and quality of life. Look for neighborhoods that offer the opportunity for rising values, but also those qualities you ranked as most important. This might mean that the best investments don't make the most sense for you and your family, but that's okay!

Start Your Research Online

The Internet is good for more than just browsing Bradenton homes for sale at 1am. As you browse, make a list of the neighborhoods you see in the listings, and then use Google, municipal websites, and a variety of other online tools to:

  • Read reviews of local schools online
  • Check crime statistics
  • Locate and read reviews for grocery stores, gas stations, coffee shops, etc.
  • Track traffic during peak times in Google Maps
  • Look for community information, such as local organizations, rec center and library event schedules, etc.

Visit the Neighborhood

If your preliminary research online checks out, it's time to go to the neighborhood and check things out.

  • Visit the neighborhood during various times of the day and on different days of the week. What's it like during the day? How does it change in the evenings and on weekends?
  • What is the foot traffic like through the neighborhood?
  • How do the homes look? Are the houses and yards well-maintained?
  • Is the school well-maintained? How do the facilities look?
  • Are there bars on the windows? Graffiti or other signs of mischief?

Ask Your Agent

Don't forget about one of the most important resources at your disposal: your real estate agent. Our REALTORS® are knowledgeable about the neighborhoods they cover and can help you more easily navigate the process of finding the right neighborhood for you and your family. Contact Wagner Realty today to consult with one of our experienced agents about your search.

Contact Wagner Realty


5 Tips for Sarasota Newlyweds Buying Their First Home

Newlyweds Buy First Home
Finding the right first home is much like finding the right life partner. Will it be love at first sight or a determined search? Are you looking for a fixer-upper to call your forever home--to have and to hold, to shape and to mold? It's a serious endeavor often fraught with pitfalls. First, you'll need a map and a good compass. Yes! A map of Sarasota homes for sale and a seasoned guide from our REALTORS® to point you in the right direction with these five tips for buying your first home.

1.  Love Nest Wish List

Your love nest wish list is a compilation, using pen and paper, of all the things you are looking for in your first home. This is important. Don't wing it. Certainly, compiling a list of "things" is a rather broad task. Shorten it. Define what "things" means to you and your spouse. However, for the sake of buying your first home in Sarasota, the term "things" refers to quality, not quantity--what you need now with room to grow.

  • Floor plan: Write down all the rooms you need and want (e.g. bedrooms, baths, kitchen size, family room, home office and bonus rooms).
  • Square footage: How much square footage does your floor plan require?
  • Landscape: Do you want to take advantage of Sarasota's year-round beautiful weather in an outdoor kitchen and pool?
  • Location: Are school districts important to you?

2.  Budget For Today, Tomorrow and # Years

Don't fudge the math or misplace a decimal point--it's number-crunching time. Yippee! Don't fret. You have a good plan in place, and you know where you're going. You have dreams. Absolutely! You also have a budget to map out for today, tomorrow and # years in order to make your dreams a reality.

  • Credit report: Are you applying for a joint mortgage loan? What is your budget if only one spouse is carrying the note?
  • Today: What is your price range today with a mortgage payment at 25% to 30% of your gross income?
  • Tomorrow: If you choose to sell down the road, will it be desirable to potential buyers regarding local property values?
  • Forever: Are you planning a family? Will you build out, convert unfinished attic space or undertake a different remodeling project?

3.  Pre-Approved Mortgage

Not that long ago, you simply found the home you wanted, submitted an offer and went to the bank for financing. It is now customary to secure a pre-approved mortgage before a seller or agent will show you a home. However, you are not bound by the letter. Once you find the perfect home in Sarasota, shop different financial institutions for the best interest rate available to you.

4.  Home Inspections

The last thing you want is to move into a beautiful first home only to discover problems with essential systems. Are there signs of roof leaks, uneven room temperatures, plumbing issues and/or electrical problems?

Don't be shocked after the fact if you come across system problems regardless of a home's age. Moreover, make sure a home inspection includes the age of HVAC systems and the roof--two major expenses should they need replacing.

5.  Hiring A Real Estate Agent

As newlywed first-time home buyers, work with a real estate agent familiar with the communities that interest you. Our REALTORS® know the subtleties of Sarasota markets and will craft a realistic offer on your dream home substantiated with comparable statistics. We do the footwork and guide you through the entire home-buying process.

From your love nest wish list to closing, speak to a real estate agent with extensive experience in Sarasota homes for sale by contacting Wagner Realty.

Contact Wagner Realty


Step-by-Step Guide for Relocating to Sarasota

Sarasota Relocation Guide
If you're thinking about relocating to a warmer climate, Sarasota, Florida is a wonderful choice. It's the city "where urban amenities meet small-town living." Winters are tropical, with occasional Gulf breezes and rain showers to ease the heat. You'll find a thriving art and culture scene and exciting residential and commercial architecture. If you're making the transition as a Sarasota retiree, you'll find many activities to fill your leisurely days.  

Our REALTORS® live, work, and play in the Sarasota area. We believe it's one of the most desirable cities in America. When you're ready to explore local living options, we'll be happy to arrange tours of Sarasota homes for sale. In the meantime, take a look at our Step-by-Step Guide for Relocating to Sarasota.

1. Visit Sarasota
If you haven't made up your mind about your move, visit our fabulous city and you'll know for sure. Sarasota is far more than just palm trees, beaches, and sunshine. You'll enjoy entertainment, dining, and outdoor activities. With the extensive selection of homes, you're certain to find the style, space, and amenities you want.

2. Connect with a REALTOR®
Establish a relationship with a Florida real estate professional who can manage the home-buying process from beginning to end. Your REALTOR® can begin searching for a home that meets your criteria. 

3. Organize your move
Consider delegating your moving tasks. Movers can pack, load, move, unload, unpack, and set up at your final destination while you relax and remain stress-free. If you're moving for a transfer or promotion, your employer might reimburse your expenses. Otherwise, they could be tax deductible.

4. Arrange your utilities
You must contact several sources to establish utility services in your new home.

5. Connect your phone
If you're a cell-only family, check to see if your provider has coverage in Sarasota. Companies like Wirefly, Xfinity, and others offer Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) home landline service. 

6. Get legal to drive in Florida
Drivers in Florida must have:

  • Florida auto insurance: Ask your current agent for a referral to a Florida insurance agent.
  • Florida drivers license: The Sarasota County Service Center may be able to convert your out-of-state license to a Florida license. Bring original documents to prove your ID.
  • Legally registered vehicle: You must register your out-of-state vehicle within 30 days of establishing residency, placing your children in school, or beginning a job. Visit your local Florida Tax Collector's office with your ID, original car title, vehicle registration, Florida Insurance verification, and an executed HSMV 82040 VIN verification inspection form,

7. Find a new doctor
The Sarasota County Medical Society maintains an online Sarasota Physician Directory.  

8. Find a new dentist
Visit for a directory of Sarasota dentists

9. Enroll your kids in school

10. Change your address
Complete a online address change so your mail will follow you to Sarasota. USPS partners will send digital coupons you can use at your new location.  

11. Register to vote
Follow the instruction at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections website to complete the voter registration process online or print, complete and mail the application. 

Wagner Realty to Find Your Sarasota Home

We'd love to help you make the move to Sarasota. Contact Wagner Realty if you're buying or selling your home, or visit our Sarasota Home Buyers Guide to learn more about living in Sarasota.

Contact Wagner Realty


5 Spots in Sarasota to Ring in the New Year

Sarasota New Years Eve Spots2018 is almost here, and our REALTORS® in Sarasota know just how to celebrate. If you're still free on New Year's Eve, it's time to make plans for an unforgettable evening. 

Here are five of our favorite ways to ring in 2018 right here in Sarasota: 

  1. NYE Party at the Municipal Auditorium
    One of the biggest and most popular parties in Sarasota, this all-inclusive bash benefits charity and features top-shelf liquor, bottomless champagne, live music, appetizers, valet parking, and other VIP perks. We're actually sponsoring this year's event, which will fill out the historic Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. Get your tickets now to take advantage of early prices for the "Best NYE Party in SRQ".

  2. Pineapple Drop & Fair on Main Street
    Downtown Sarasota gets tropical every year for a unique NYE tradition: the Pineapple Drop. But before you look up at midnight to watch the illuminated fruit on Lemon and Main, you can spend all day with the family at a big outdoor New Year's Eve Party. Carnival rides, games, three stages of live entertainment, dozens of local food and drink vendors, and more will fill Main Street from 2 pm onward. Grab the kids for an all-day celebration, or come after dark to drink and dance the night away with your favorite adults.

  3. Fireworks Show at Marina Jack
    This year, Marina Jack and the City of Sarasota will work together to produce a midnight fireworks show over the marina and bay. Grab a seat at one of two four-course dinners at the restaurant (which overlooks the water), or spend midnight on the water itself, with a four-hour dinner cruise that boards at 8 pm. The celebratory cruise will include a delicious buffet, champagne toast, and live music. No matter how you spend the evening, the fireworks show is sure to dazzle.

  4. Speakeasy at the Powel Crosley Estate
    Want to ring in 2018 like it's still 1928? Come to the famous Powel Crosley Estate for a New Year's Gala and After Party that will be roaring all night long – or at least until 1 AM. The waterfront mansion will transform into a speakeasy-style party venue, complete with card games, live jazz, dancing under the stars, and a classic and delicious meal straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Get glamorous and channel your inner flapper for an unforgettable New Year's Eve.

  5. Glamour at the Selby Gardens
    If you're looking for something formal and fancy, why not spend the evening among the flowers? Our friends at the gorgeous Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are hosting a black-tie New Year's Eve "experience" among their tropical plants and festive holiday lights. The evening will include hors d'oeuvres, a four-course dinner, and live music and dancing. Of course, it all ends with a champagne toast at midnight and a fantastic view of the fireworks over Sarasota Bay.

After you experience our night life, don't forget to check out all our beautiful Sarasota homes for sale. Our agents are always ready to help you find the listing of your dreams. Contact Wagner Realty today to get started on your search for a new home in the new year.

Contact Wagner Realty


First-time Buyers Guide: Buying a Home in 2018

Buying Your First Home in 2018
2017 has been a busy year for home buyers and 2018 seems like it will be booming too. 

While some people will shy away from getting involved in such a busy housing market, first-time buyers should be excited! First-time buyers have some major home-buying advantages.  There are many state, county and municipal assistance programs available for first-time home buyers.  In addition, time is also on the side of the first-time buyer. Since you don't have to worry about selling an existing home before you move, you can gather information and take action on your terms.

Let's focus on the top ten things you can do to get off to the right start.

  1. De-mystify Your Credit
    Authorized by federal law, Annual Credit Report provides a free credit report once per calendar year. Good credit means a better mortgage loan, so this is the place to get started. Follow up on any errors to raise your credit score fast.

  2. Pay Any Debts You Can
    Outstanding debt is another big part of your credit score and, thus, your mortgage options. If you have any debts you can pay off in the next few months, focus on them. Avoid opening new credit lines or canceling existing ones.

  3. Work on a Household Budget
    A sound budget helps you save for your home and transition smoothly to mortgage payments. It's the perfect time to gather the bills, figure out where money is going, and see if you can cut a hundred or two in expenditures.

  4. Determine What You Can Afford
    Knowing how much house you can afford will save you time and help you focus on the best homes for you. There are several home affordability calculators available on the web to help you zero in on the right home price based on annual income, debts, and down payment.

  5. Get Pre-approval – Ideally, Before April
    Pre-approval is a written commitment by a lender to issue a loan with certain terms. Although pre-approval does expire, it's best to get it done before April – that way, you know if your tax refund needs to go to housing expenses.

  6. Start Choosing Your Neighborhood
    If you can find the ideal neighborhood for you, you're halfway home! Most buyers start by deciding what amenities they need in a home and neighborhood. Then, they visit neighborhoods at different times of day and talk to local residents.

  7. Save for That Down Payment
    The bigger your down payment, the less you'll have to finance and the more money you'll save in the long run. It's also important to put some money aside for closing costs, which often can't be financed fully. Even a few thousand dollars can make a difference.

  8. Research First-Time Buyer Programs
    The government offers a number of mortgage loan programs, many offering special incentives for first-time buyers. Each one is overseen by a different federal agency, which creates guidelines lenders must follow. Programs include the USDA, VA, and FHA loans.

  9. Check Out Houses
    It's never too early to get a sense for what you want in a house. Online listings are available at the click of a mouse any time of the year. Don't forget to attend some open houses to see your options live and in person.

  10. Find a Real Estate Agent
    Wagner Realty is the #1 agency for first-time buyers. Our REALTORS® have helped thousands of people get first homes in Bradenton, Longboat Key, Lakewood Ranch, and Sarasota.

Contact Wagner Realty for expert help to get the search for your first home started.

Contact Wagner Realty


Top Tips from the Pros For First-Time Home Buyers

Tips for Buying Your First Home

First-time buyer tips from the pros

Buying your first home is an important life milestone. The process requires your patience, dedication, and financial commitment. You must think differently and consider factors that may not have been important before now.

The good news is that our REALTORS® know what it takes to find a home that's right for your family. When it's time to search for your new home, we'll help you through the process. Our Real Estate Guide for Buying Your First Home provides a to-do list to help you prepare for your home buying experience.

Build Your Bank Account

You should stop spending and start saving long before you begin touring homes for sale. You'll need the money when you close on your home and cash to cover a wave of home-related expenses.

  • Down Payment
    Traditionally, home buyers put down 20 percent of the sale price. A higher down payment will be even more beneficial in the long-run. It will lower your finance costs and your monthly payment.
  • Closing Costs
    The day you sign your closing documents, you'll pay title fees, taxes, homeowners and mortgage insurance, and other expenses that could add 2 to 5% to the home sale amount.
  • Ongoing Home Expenses
    You will need a financial cushion to cover recurring home operating costs, unanticipated repairs, and planned remodels. You'll have a home full of appliances, home systems, a roof, and a yard to maintain. You must also pay for trash services, water and sewage fees, and higher energy costs.

Start Thinking Like a Buyer Instead of a Renter

If you have no idea about the kind of home you want, look at home listings, attend open houses, and drive by homes for sale. Even if you're not quite ready to buy, you can get an idea of communities, home prices, amenities, and how much you're willing to pay for what's available.

Check out the Local Schools

If you have children or plan to someday, you must make sure you're in a thriving school district. Visit a non-profit school rating website like to see community school ratings.

Determine How Much You Can Afford

The FHA Mortgage Calculator and similar online apps and websites make it easy to calculate monthly mortgage costs. You input the mortgage amount, down payment, terms, rates, and other factors and the calculator shows you the monthly payment and income you need to afford it.

Get Your Credit in Order

You can pay the three major credit bureaus for a copy of your credit reports, but you can access them for free at Viewing your reports allows you to uncover problems that may make it difficult to get your home financed. You can eliminate inaccurate information and contact debtors to correct, resolve, or dispute problematic credit entries.

Get Pre-approved

When you find the home of your dreams, your pre-approval letter will save some delays. Your mortgage company will review your debt, credit rating, and financial standing to determine if you're mortgage-worthy. When they issue an approval letter, it tells potential home sellers that you're ready to buy.

Consider Mortgage Assistance Programs

You may qualify for mortgage assistance from Veterans Administration, HUD, and other government programs. They offer low mortgage rates, minimal down payments, and reduced qualifications.

Let Us Help You Find Your First Home

If you're ready to buy your first Gulf Coast of Florida home, you need a realtor to provide professional guidance. Contact Wagner Realty if you're buying or selling a home, or simply want information about the communities we serve.

Contact Wagner Realty


Holidays on Main at Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch Holidays
Our team of Lakewood Ranch REALTORS® loves a good Christmas party as much as anyone, and we wanted to give you a heads up on some of the fun holiday happenings around Lakewood Ranch this season! You can expect a packed schedule of events on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch this month, including some that you definitely don't want to miss. So gather up your holiday cheer, and join us for Christmas on Main!

  • Thursday, December 7, 14 & 21 - Carriage Rides, Strolling Carolers, Santa Stroll
    Every Thursday until Christmas, carolers will be out on the streets spreading holiday cheer from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. You can also take a carriage ride as you listen to the carolers sing, and keep an eye out for Santa as he strolls the streets during this free weekly event.

  • Friday, December 8 - Holidays At the Ranch
    This annual holiday street festival is one of our favorite Christmas events. From 6 pm to 9 pm, you can enjoy a spectacular Christmas lights display, join in with singing carolers, and watch Santa make a grand entrance in a horse-drawn carriage. There will also be children's activities, rides, and crafts, as well as plenty of holiday-themed refreshments.

  • Saturday, December 9 - Lunch with Santa at MacAllisters
    Join Santa for lunch at MacAllisters Grill & Tavern between 12 pm and 3 pm for great food and a chance to have some fun with Santa Claus himself. Call ahead to reserve a spot.

  • Saturday, December 16 - Breakfast with Santa at Polo Grill & Bar
    In case you missed your chance to dine with old Saint Nick at MacAllisters, he'll also be sitting down for breakfast at Polo Bar & Grill from 8:30 am to 10:30 am on Saturday, December 16. Reservations are available by phone, and don't forget to bring your Christmas list!

  • Sunday, December 17 - Lunch with Santa at Main Street Trattoria
    Last chance! Sit down with Santa for lunch at Main Street Trattoria from 1 pm to 3 pm on December 17. We assume he'll be too busy making toys from then until Christmas, so be sure to make a reservation and take the opportunity to meet him while you can!

  • Friday, December 22 - Jingle Run 5K
    One of the largest chip-timed 5K run/walks in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, the annual Jingle Run 5k is a great way to get your blood pumping and the holiday spirit flowing. Just tie some jingle bells to your shoes (they will be provided) and you're off! There will be holiday music along the way, and a post-race party at the end of the line.

  • Saturday, December 23 - Christmas Celebration
    The Christmas on Main festivities culminate with the December 23 Christmas Celebration, which includes food, fun, games, rides, and music. Join Grace Community Church for this special Christmas Celebration from 6 pm to 8:30 pm.

No matter the season, there's always something going on at Lakewood Ranch! Contact Wagner Realty today to learn more about life in this vibrant community. Our team is committed to helping you find the perfect Lakewood Ranch homes.

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Sarasota Farmers Market-Year Round Family Fun

A Chance for Sarasota Families to Gather  

Sarasota Farmers Market
Held every week, the Sarasota Farmers Market takes place right in the heart of Downtown year-round. Read on to find out more, and feel free to get in touch with our REALTORS® to learn more about life in Sarasota, FL.

A Long-Running Sarasota Tradition  

The Sarasota Farmers Market was established in 1979, offering a selection of local plants, produce, prepared foods and crafts that caught on quickly with the local community. It has only grown in the years since, quickly becoming a beloved mainstay of the Downtown Sarasota area. Today, the market spans more than 5,000 square feet and offers a space for more than 70 vendors to sell their locally grown and crafted goods.

Weekly Family Fun in Sarasota, FL

Operated by the nonprofit SFMV, Inc. (Sarasota Farmers Market Vendors), this weekly market promises a colorful variety of locally grown produce. Availability changes with the seasons, so be sure to return again to see what's new! Of course, there's a lot more to the Sarasota Farmers Market than fresh veggies. For example: 

  • Arts and Crafts: Handmade soaps, jewelry, baskets, clothing, candles, pottery and paintings are just a few of the things you can find at the market.
  • Flowers and Plants: An ever-changing selection of plants are available from local nurseries and florists, from orchids and floral arrangements to vegetables and herbs that you can plant in your own garden. 
  • Food and Beverages: Food trucks and tents provide all kinds of refreshments, from a hot cup of Joe at JavaDawg Coffee to a hearty meal courtesy of Alpine Steakhouse. :
  • Local Produce: As with any good market, farmers are at the heart of the Sarasota Farmers Market. Local and organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, eggs and honey are always on the table. 

Visiting the Sarasota Farmers Market also provides an opportunity to check out some of the local businesses in Saratota's vibrant Downtown district. Grab lunch at Boca Kitchen Bar and Market, find the latest catch at Duval's Fresh Local Seafood, or stop for coffee and fresh baked goods at Coffee Carousel. 

Plan Your Trip to the Farmers Market

The Sarasota Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm. Unlike many farmers markets that close up shop in winter, the Sarasota Farmers Market continues every week throughout the entire year, offering a selection of goods that changes with the seasons. You'll find it on Lemon Avenue, near its intersection with Main Street. Parking is available on the streets and in public lots nearby. 

Contact Wagner Realty today to learn more about all the latest happenings in the Sarasota area. Our team is standing by to help you find the best Sarasota homes for sale.

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Home Buyers Guide: How to Win in a Seller's Market

Buying in a Seller's Market
Open houses are packed to the rafters, "for sale" signs are few and far between, and the appealing properties that do make it to the market are selling before you even get a chance to pull out your checkbook...What do you do when you're working to buy a home, and see the signs of seller's market all around you?

Buying a house in a seller's market is never going to be easy, but it's absolutely possible if you're willing to make some extra effort. Our REALTORS® know what it takes to navigate a seller's market, and we've put together five must-know tips to help you do the same.

5 Tips for Buying a House in a Seller's Market

  1. Find the Right Real Estate Agent
    Purchasing a house is a complex process even in a buyer's market, so when you're trying to navigate a seller's market it really helps to have the right real estate agent. Your real estate agent should have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, good relationships with listing agents, and experience helping buyers land homes in competitive markets. But finding the right agent is only the first step. Once you do, you'll want to stay in contact, ask questions, and work with your agent to quickly identify homes that match your needs.

  2. Get to Know the Listing Agent
    In order to make a competitive bid right away, it's important to understand exactly what the seller is looking for in an offer. So once you find the right real estate agent and line up some homes that fit your needs, asking your agent to contact the listing agent is a great way to find out what it will take to make a winning offer. Remember that a phone call to the listing agent will typically yield much more valuable information than an email or text.

  3. Prioritize Wants vs. Needs
    Being prepared to pounce when you find the right home is essential in a seller's market, and it's a good idea to understand exactly what you're looking for in a home. So if you're searching for homes for sale in Bradenton, for example, consider what you want, what you need, and what you can live without. Knowing what you want ahead of time helps give you the confidence to make a competitive bid when you identify the right home.

  4. Be Ready to Bid Competitively
    In a buyer's market, you may have the luxury of starting out with a lower offer and negotiating from a more favorable position. Time is such a huge factor in a seller's market that starting out with a low-ball offer will often mean losing the opportunity to buy. Be prepared to make a very strong offer right away, and let the seller know that you mean business.

  5. Write a Letter
    Let's say you're looking for Sarasota homes, you find the absolute perfect match, and you know there will be a lot of competition for the home. Your offer is already strong, but what can you do to help make that final push? Try writing an honest, heart-felt letter to the homeowner, to let them know exactly why you're so excited about the property. It won't win you the deal on its own, but a letter can really help sway the seller to your side.

Are you searching for the right real estate team to help you land your first-choice home in a competitive market? Contact Wagner Realty for all of your real estate needs in the Sarasota and Bradenton, Floridareal estate areas.

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10 Traits of a Great Neighborhood

10 Traits of a Great Neighborhood
Finding the right home may be your top priority as a shopper, but identifying the right neighborhood is just as important for landing a home you'll love long-term. Our REALTORS® know what it takes to become a neighborhood expert, and we've compiled the top 10 traits of a great neighborhood.

How to Find a Neighborhood You'll Truly Love

  1. Easy Access to Key Services
    Whether you need to shop for groceries, go to the gym, stop at the post office, or simply run your daily errands, having the services you need close to home makes it much easier to get things done. So if you're shopping Sarasota homes for sale, keep an eye out for neighborhoods that allow you to take care of business.

  2. Fun and Entertainment Close to Home
    Every neighborhood offers something to do, but the right neighborhood for you will have entertainment options that match your taste. If you like the idea of a master-planned community with nearby entertainment options, check out Lakewood Ranch homes.

  3. Local Businesses
    Small businesses are the lifeblood of so many neighborhoods because they provide necessary services, unique products, and fun activities close to home. An active, growing small business community is a sign of a great neighborhood, so be sure to sample the local business scene.

  4. Great Food
    We all have our own neighborhood preferences, but most would agree that great food close to home is a major plus. Look for a neighborhood that offers all of your favorite dining options, along with new things to try. Becoming a neighborhood expert has never tasted so good.

  5. Safe Streets
    Whether you're shopping for a family home or flying solo, finding a neighborhood with low crime rates is certainly an important priority. Try visiting neighborhoods both during the day and at night to get an idea of security in the area.

  6. Strong Schools
    Perhaps you're shopping with your family in mind, or you simply want to leave the option open in the future. Either way, finding a neighborhood with a strong school system will serve you well.

  7. Spectacular Scenery
    It's so nice to be able to sit on your patio or peer out the window and enjoy spectacular scenery close to home. Shopping for a home near the water is a great idea if you're looking for lovely views, and Longboat Key homes are a perfect example.

  8. Walkability and Public Transportation
    Do you enjoy being able to walk to nearby amenities, or hopping on public transportation rather than driving to work? Finding a neighborhood with transportation options that fit your lifestyle will make life much easier.

  9. Outdoor Fun
    You won't have any trouble finding outdoor fun in Florida neighborhoods, but it's still a good idea to make sure that a neighborhood offers your favorite outdoor activities. Homes for sale in Bradenton make it easy to enjoy all of the outdoor entertainment our corner of Florida has to offer.

  10. The Right Fit for You
    We have covered many of the topics that shoppers find most important in neighborhoods, but ultimately this process is all about finding the right fit for you. Try creating a list of your own ideal neighborhood features, and rank them in order of priority.

Whether you're still searching for the perfect neighborhood or you already have an ideal match in mind, our local real estate team is here to help you cross the finish line. Contact Wagner Realty to buy and sell homes in the Sarasota/Bradenton area.

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Don't Miss Lakewood Ranch's BOOFEST on Main Street

Living in Lakewood Ranch is a HOWLING Good Time

Lakewood Ranch Boofest Event
It's October, and we all know what that means, everywhere you turn ... ghosts and goblins abound.  It's no different in Lakewood Ranch.  Just minutes from Southwest Florida's beach, shopping, dining, and local events, the Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Corporation is busy preparing for the community's annual themed Halloween event, BOOFEST on Main Street.

The mission of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Corporation is to nurture a sense of community and friendships through memorable events and social clubs within their community. Some of the LWR's  activities are so popular that they have become annual events such as the Eggstravaganaza, Boo Fest, and Holidays Around The Ranch.

Our local REALTORS® know the importance of getting to know your new neighbors when you buy a home in a new community, so we've created this Lakewood Ranch event highlight so you don't miss any of the howling good fun that will be happening at BOOFEST on Main Street.

BOOFEST On Main Street Is A Lakewood Ranch Tradition

Kids of all ages love Halloween. The family-friendly community of Lakewood Ranch has plenty of scary good fun planned for its annual October holiday event. 

Since Halloween falls on a school night, BOOFEST is scheduled for Friday, October 27--the fun starts at 6 PM.

Children will find plenty of thrills and chills at this all-ages Halloween celebration. It includes its own super Spooktacular Maze, crazy balloon art, and themed performances from local dancers.

Young guests are encouraged to dress in costumes to visit neighbors and friends. Exhibitors and sponsors will fill their bags with all sorts of tasty treats. Naturally, there will be a costume contest with plenty of prizes.

A full haunted house is planned – giving all the young ones many chances to enjoy on one of the most exciting nights of the year. It's the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit!

Find Your Lakewood Ranch Home with Us

BOOFEST is your family's opportunity to pack a whole season of Halloween fun into a single night. Plus, if you just can't get enough of this creepy extravaganza, you still have time for a full evening of trick or treating throughout the weekend.

Lakewood Ranch is known for its safe and welcoming neighborhoods, so parents can feel confident as their children participate in the local festivities. And, of course, BOOFEST is just one of several yearly events you'll be able to enjoy if you buy one of the homes for sale in Lakewood Ranch.

People throughout Florida and beyond relocate to Lakewood Ranch for all sorts of reasons including great amenities, mild weather, and a wide range of beautiful homes. Once you visit, you might find that you wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Our REALTORS® can help you find the perfect home for you and your family.  Contact us to get started.

Contact Wagner Realty


Buying a House as a Single Mom

Home Buying for the Single Mom
If you're a single mother, the idea of buying a house can seem like an unreachable dream. The Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2016 show that women still earn less than men. As the custodial parent, you must stretch fewer dollars to meet increasing financial obligations. Homeownership can seem unrealistic under such tight financial circumstances.

Our REALTORS® understand your concerns and we want to help. We believe that buying a house should be an attainable dream, so we've compiled a list of resources to help you reach your goal.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development
    maintains a number of programs that can assist you in buying a house. The Community Development Block Grant Program, Home Investment Partnership Program, and Neighborhood Stabilization Program direct home buying assistance funds to local communities via Florida state agencies.

  • Florida Housing Finance Corporation
    The First-Time Homebuyer Program works with approved lenders to offer a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. As with many loan programs, when you are buying a home, you must meet income and credit guidelines.

    The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) provides funds and block grants to Florida communities for low-income families. These grants fund home rehab, down payments, homeownership counseling, and other critical services.

  • Habitat for Humanity Florida
    Habitat for Humanity Florida has provided 17,000 new and rehabbed homes to deserving Florida residents. If you qualify as a single applicant, you must give 200 hours of your time to help build your home. You must also agree to live in a Habitat-designated neighborhood and attend homeowner classes. When your home is finished, Habitat will sell it to you with no consideration for profit.

  • Fannie Mae
    publishes a list of Fannie Mae foreclosed properties for sale. Their First Look program gives individual buyers an opportunity to view and bid on foreclosed properties before investors have a chance to buy them.  Homepath offers a three percent reduction in a Homepath property's closing costs when you complete the Ready Buyer online homeownership course.  Homepath properties that qualify for the Home Ready mortgage program may be eligible for a low down payment and other benefits included in HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

  • FHA Loans
    An FHA mortgage can minimize the problems of buying a house when you have limited cash flow or a problem credit history. The requirements are less strict than a traditional loan. The mortgage requires only a 3.5 percent down payment and it offers competitive interest rates.

  • USDA Loans
    Under the Rural Development Home Loan Program, the USDA will guarantee 90 percent of your home loan.  You must meet USDA income and credit qualifications, but the standards are less stringent than traditional loans. The home you choose must also meet eligibility guidelines for rural properties and must be your primary residence. USDA charges a monthly fee for mortgage guarantee insurance.

When your dream of owning a home seems out of reach, we can help. Contact Wagner Realty to help make your homeownership dream come true.

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Famous Homes in Sarasota - Ca dZan

Ca' d'Zan - Home of John Ringling

Sarasota Ringling Home
Sarasota's neighborhoods are teeming with gorgeous, modern, waterfront homes, but one building still stands out nearly a century after it was first built. One of the most beautiful and historic homes in Sarasota, the Ca' d'Zan, was restored to its former glory at the turn of this century. Today, the bayfront mansion's Venetian-inspired architecture and opulent furnishings are just as impressive as they were in 1926, when the Ringling family moved in and hosted glamorous parties on the water.

Whether you want to step back into the Roaring Twenties, catch a gorgeous sunset, or learn more about Sarasota's history as a circus town, this mansion-turned-museum is a must. Here are some of our favorite things to do at the Ca' d'Zan.

Sarasota's World-class architecture

Admire World-Class European Architecture

When circus magnate John Ringling started building the Ca' d'Zan ("House of John") in 1926, his family was one of the wealthiest in the world. Instead of pinning their dream homes on Pinterest, they traveled through Europe for inspiration, and the authentic masterpiece is a great example of Venetian and Spanish architecture from the 1800's. The Ringlings spent $1.65 million (more than $20 million today) and imported most of their materials – and design ideas – from Europe, and the manicured grounds and well-preserved mansion may transport you to the middle of Italy with their authentic details. For example, the roof is tiled with a cargo ship's worth of salvaged Spanish antique tiles, and the home itself is modeled after the Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy.

Enjoy Gorgeous Sunsets Over Sarasota Bay

There are plenty of places to watch the sunset in Sarasota, but this mansion offers one of the oldest and most beautiful vantage points. As the sun begins to set over Sarasota every night, bursts of color illuminate the blue bay and cast a golden glow over the Ca' d'Zan's marble walls. Once a month, donors gather on the outdoor terrace for live music and gourmet dinners during this natural spectacle. It's easy to see why Mable Ringling commissioned a custom dock and gondola for the property. In the 1920's, servants would take Mable and her friends for picturesque sunset gondola rides along the shore. Towering Banyan trees, colorful gardens, a six-story tower, and a patio right on the sea wall complete the picturesque outdoor experience.

Take a Walk through the Ringling Family's Life

The mansion was donated to the State of Florida in the late 1930's, but it deteriorated so much in the decades to come that Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow filmed Great Expectations there in 1996. By then, the dilapidated mansion was the perfect fit for a reclusive Dickensian widow's dusty, crumbling manor. Fortunately, that's all changed, and the well-restored mansion now looks a lot like it did when the Ringlings first moved in. Renovations began in 2002, and today the mansion is meticulously restored and furnished with much of its original artwork, décor, and furniture. Restored murals by famous artists depict vivid circus and Renaissance scenes customized for the Ringlings themselves. Even clothing in the closets, liquor bottles in the bar, and silver in the butler's pantry are original possessions of the Ringling family.

Our REALTORS® are eager to help families like the Ringlings start a beautiful new chapter in Sarasota, Florida. Whether you want a mansion on the bay or an apartment downtown, we will make sure your search is productive and your deal is fair. Contact Wagner Realty today to find a real estate professional that can help you find your dream home in Sarasota.

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7 Instagram-Worthy Spots in Bradenton

Downtown Bradenton - Bradenton Area Visitors Bureau
Bradenton is one of the most desirable communities in all of Florida's picturesque west coast. With seaside charm and sophisticated amenities in a mid-sized city of 54,000, it attracts visitors and new residents alike each year. As the county seat and the core of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice area, there is truly something for everyone.

Sure, just about any seaside town in Florida will wow you with its fair share of marvelous attractions, but Bradenton is in a class by itself. Let's take a closer look at seven of the top sights that will make you want to take a selfie:

  1. Bradenton Riverwalk
    In 2012, Bradenton launched its 1.5-mile Riverwalk packed with beautiful homes and high-class businesses. It has become one of the city's economic engines, filling the social calendar with events like concerts, festivals, and talks by world-class experts. Plus, it's absolutely gorgeous: Known as a "gallery of outdoor art" it boasts nineteen distinct pieces by local artists.

  2. Village of the Arts
    The Village of the Arts is a small, spirited community where artists from a variety of disciplines live and work. From the first moment you arrive, the colorful buildings, murals, and even cars will take your breath away. From baking to yoga, you'll find anything with a creative spark here. One of the monthly art walks is the best way to take it all in and stage the perfect photo.

  3. Twin Dolphin Marina
    It's not surprising that Bradenton is home to an enthusiastic boating and water sports community. No matter whether you like sailing, jet skis, or anything in between, you'll find what you want at the Twin Dolphin Marina. Amenities include luxury live-aboard facilities, concierge services, and – of course – sunset harbor views that are second to none.

  4. Bean Point
    Bean Point is as far north as you can go on spectacular Anna Maria Island. This seven-mile barrier island is known for the sea turtles that come ashore each year to nest. Bottlenose dolphins cavort and play in nearby waters, and a vast assortment of seabirds can be found through most of the year. Named for its first resident, Bean Point offers some of the best views in the area.

  5. Robinson Preserve
    Robinson Preserve is a 600-acre natural preservation area that offers a true adventure to those willing to explore. It welcomes visitors to a secluded and pristine vision of Old Florida that can be compared only to its "big brother," the historic Everglades. The best way to trek through Robinson Preserve is to plan a day-long kayaking expedition with an experienced guide.

  6. Historic Bradenton Pier
    When walking along Sarasota Bay for sightseeing or a picnic, no journey would be complete without a visit to the Historic Bradenton Beach City Pier. It is home to one of the most popular restaurants in the entire metro area, serving delectable seafood. It's also one of the best places to glimpse a truly unobstructed view of the Bay – and you're welcome to fish all day.

  7. Your New Bradenton Home
    Picture it: A beautiful home that meets all your needs, nestled in the heart of a seaside paradise. Warm sun, sand, and surf all year around, with inviting sea breezes and the gentle whisper of the water lapping not far from your window. All of this and more could be yours when you decide to work with Wagner Realty, the trusted REALTORS® in Bradenton.

Homes in Bradenton appeal to people of varying tastes and lifestyles. You can combine beauty, convenience, and "old Florida" charm with the right home. Contact us today.

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Living Like a Local in Longboat Key

Longboat Key Dining Spots 

Longboat Key Restaurants
When you find yourself in a living in a new city and want to find the best spots to grab a bite to eat, what do you do? That's easy—ask a Local! Luckily, our REALTORS® live and work in Longboat Key are thrilled to share some of our favorite eateries that will have you dining like a native Floridian in no time.

Homes in Longboat Key offer easy access to beautiful Gulf Coast views and miles of beautiful beaches. With all that seaside scenery, it comes as no surprise that Longboat Key serves up some of the best seafood around, but our local restaurants also offer much more! Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Amore, 555 Bay Isles Parkway, Longboat Key
    This incredible Italian fusion restaurant offers up a delicious traditionally-inspired menu that includes savory pesto gnocchi—a perfect comfort food if ever there was one—and possibly the most tender, juicy and flavorful rack of lamb we've ever tasted. Amore also offers both indoor and outdoor dining, and a full bar with live entertainment.

  2. Lazy Lobster, 5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
    For high-end seafood in a relaxed, casual setting the Lazy Lobster is your go-to destination in the Longboat Key area. Their menu is stacked with seafood dished both classic and creative, from chilled ahi tuna and lobster bisque to crab cake salad and lemon-garlic shrimp and grits. They also have great happy hour specials, and a wide range of gluten-free options.

  3. Chart House, 201 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
    Although it's known for its seafood, with many dishes sourced from local catches, Chart House is also a great place to go when you want to branch out. In addition to mouth-watering seafood dishes like stuffed flounder and cedar plank salmon, you'll find a menu stacked with delicious soups, salads, and some of the best steaks around. And all you chocoholics better stick around for dessert, because the hot chocolate lava cake is about as good as it gets.

  4. Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
    The lunch menu at the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill gets high marks for offering a dizzying variety of options in a gorgeous waterfront setting (to be fair, the dinner menu is great too, but a top-notch lunch spot is harder to come by). In the mood for seafood? The grouper sandwich is offered grilled, fried or blackened. Have a burger in mind? The half-pound Angus boathouse burger has your name on it. Vegetarian? If not, you will be after you try the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich.

  5. Euphemia Haye Restaurant, 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
    A perfect spot for a romantic dinner, Euphemia Haye might just be Longboat Key's most unique fine dining spot. A stone's throw from the beach, this picturesque restaurant is nestled in a historic wooden cottage and surrounded by a garden of tropical greenery. The creative a la carte menu includes an overflowing wine list and lots of healthy and vegetarian options alongside amazing pasta dishes, juicy steaks and fresh-caught seafood. The neighboring Haye Loft offers a more casual location to grab a drink and check out some live music.

When you're ready to begin your search for a home in Longboat Key, contact Wagner Realty. We have the "inside scoop" on the best homes for sale in our area--not to mention the restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and attractions in Longboat Key.

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Gamble Plantation State Park in Ellenton FL

Find the Unexpected in Ellenton, Florida

Ellenton Florida's Gamble Plantation

 Most people envision crystal blue water and white sandy beaches when they think about relocating to Florida and not American history class and the Civil War.  However, plantations were built and flourished in Florida.  One such plantaton still stands today as the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park in Ellenton, Florida.

Gamble Plantation's History

In 1844 Major Robert Gamble purchased 3,500 acres northeast of today's Bradenton and his plantation soon became a leading producer of sugar cane, molasses, citrus, grapes and olives.  Gamble's plantation became renowned for its 10-room, two-story architectural design.  Greek revival in design, its red brick and tabby walls were two feet thick.  The exterior of the home showcases wide-shaded upper and lower verandas wrapping around three sides of the home.  The original 40,000 gallon cistern remains today.

Legend has it that Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin used the Gamble Mansion as a safe haven after the Confederacy fell in 1865 until he fled the United States for England. Like many southern plantations, after the war the Gamble Mansion fell into disrepair.

Gamble's mansion was sold to the Patten family after the war.  In 1925 the property was saved by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and restored the home, who donated the mansion and 16 acres of land to the state of Florida.

Gamble Plantation Historic Park Today

Ellenton's Gamble Plantation Historic State Park welcomes thousands of visitors each year. The park covers over 3,500 acres and the beautifully restored mansion is open for guided tours.

The Gamble Plantation State Historical Site is the only remaining plantation house in South Florida. Built in the mid-1800's by Major Robert Gamble, it was the epicenter of a large sugar plantation. The area along the Gulf Coast from the Crystal River to below Tampa Bay was optimal for growing sugarcane, and many wealthy Floridians settled and built plantations there.

The park grounds open daily at 8 AM. The visitor center/museum is open Thursday through Monday, 9 AM – 5PM.

Living in Ellenton

Ellenton, FL is a cozy community settled along the banks of the Manatee River just a short drive away from Bradenton, Sarasota, and Anna Maria Island. Waterfront properties abound and an eclectic variety of Ellenton homes offer the best in Florida living.

When you are considering a move to the sleepy southern town of Ellenton, our REALTORS® can help you find a beautiful home that will suit your family's needs. Contact Wagner Realty to find out more about South Florida living.

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Don't Miss Siesta Key's Turtle Beach! |

Siesta Key Turtle Beach

When it comes to beach days in Sarasota, Siesta Beach gets most of the hype – and rightfully so. Its powder-white sand and gorgeous sunsets regularly top "most beautiful" lists and Siesta Key is a historic beach town with plenty of daytime and nighttime activities. However, that national and global acclaim brings the crowds, especially on sunny weekend days. If you want to enjoy the charm and beauty of Siesta Key without spreading a towel on a packed beach, we recommend Turtle Beach instead.

Just a few miles south of its more popular cousin, Turtle Beach takes up the southern tip of Siesta Key, nestled close to quiet Siesta Key homes instead of hotels and bars. Here are some of our favorite things about Turtle Beach:

Turtle Beach Has Both Lagoon and Gulf Views

Turtle Beach is right on the Gulf of Mexico, but it's separated from the other side of Siesta Key (the part that faces Sarasota Bay) by a small lagoon. This keeps it quiet, narrow, and difficult to develop, especially as erosion frequently eats away the sinkingly soft sand. Even during peak seasons in Sarasota, Turtle Beach is one of the quietest places in Siesta Key, and it's sandwiched between two bodies of water to boot. Get gorgeous sunset views to the west and quiet lagoon views to the east, plus overhead shade from trees that tower over the grassy dune.

Amenities Make it Easy to Get Away

Turtle Beach has everything you need to spend a fun, stress-free day at the beach: ample free parking, public restrooms, showers, picnic tables, charcoal grills, and even a boat launch. It's not as newly renovated or well-maintained as the public facilities as Siesta Beach, but the parking lot isn't nearly as crowded either, so you probably won't have to hunt for a spot in the lot or get there at dawn to get a table. Just spread a tablecloth and set up lunch with your family after a few hours in the water.

Snorkeling & Shelling

Turtle Beach's name is no accident. Sea turtles nest here once a year, and sea life in general is more active and visible, in part because the beach has a steeper drop-off and human feet don't disturb the deeper water. Bring your snorkeling gear (or rent some on your way through Siesta Village) to take advantage of some of the best snorkeling off Siesta Key, FL. When you're on shore, pay attention to the shells in the darker sand too. Local artists and collectors love Turtle Beach for its abundance of unique, well-preserved shells.

Our REALTORS® in Sarasota know which beaches are the least crowded, and they also know local real estate trends and news that will give their clients an upper hand. If you're selling your house or looking for a new home in Sarasota or Siesta Key, contact Wagner Realty to get in touch with an agent who can help.

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Battling Multiple Offers and Winning Your Dream Home

Battling Bidding Warts
Sarasota, Florida has it all--beautiful weather, amazing amenities, and a community with something for everyone. It's no surprise that, when buying a house, you might find yourself in a situation where the home you want has multiple bids.

It may seem like the only thing you can do is raise your offer and hope for the best. Sometimes doing just that is the simplest way to get a seller's attention. Still, it's not your only option.

In an ideal situation, you'd make your offer, find out you're the only buyer, and move toward closing within a few weeks. Still, there are some homes that are worth the extra effort. Let's look at some steps you can take to fend off multiple offers and emerge victorious.

Multiple Offers Don't Mean the End – Here's What You Can Do

  • Stay Calm
    Just because there are multiple offers, it doesn't mean you're out of the running – even if offering more money is not right for you. Other would-be buyers could fall in love with another property or discover something they don't want to deal with in the current one. An agreement could fall apart for hundreds of reasons, even something as simple as a personality conflict.
  • Get More Information
    To start, you should work with your real estate agent to figure out, if possible, how many offers are out there and what the current high offer is. Outplaying just one other buyer isn't that hard, but do you want to push forward against three or five? If budget is a concern, you should tread carefully at first. Don't let emotion draw you into a costly "bidding war!"
  • Write a Letter
    When you lead with a more generous offer, it can foreclose other options that might be just as effective. Building a human connection with the seller can be a tremendous help. Send a letter that offers a quick biographical sketch, including reasons why you've fallen in love with the property in question. Sellers are more likely to work with those they like!
  • Offer Cash
    Financing adds a lot of time and complexity to an offer. If you have the opportunity and you're confident the property is right, consider paying in cash. This can be a huge relief to sellers, since it simplifies things and allows them to meet any deadlines they've set for themselves. If you know you'll need a mortgage, get a pre-approval to raise a seller's confidence.
  • Buy the Home As-Is
    Many buyers are anxious to avoid purchasing a property "as-is," feeling that it must mean the seller is hiding something. You can defend yourself against this by getting a property inspection done. Still, if you really want to make a unique impression on a seller, bring up the topic of buying as-is – especially if the seller hasn't mentioned it.
  • Ask Your Agent to Make a Call
    Your real estate agent is there to ensure your best interests are represented. A good real estate agent is a partner who understands not only the market, but the personalities involved. Sure, a miracle is unlikely ... but it never hurts to turn things over to the experts. It just might be the case that a quick conversation with your agent may make a decisive difference.

Buying a house requires the best help you can get. Contact Wagner Realty for the top Sarasota homesour REALTORS® work hard to get you the home you dream of!

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Spending the Day at Sarasota's Marie Selby Botanical Gardens |

Sarasota Selby Gardens

Sarasota certainly isn't short on beautiful scenery, but one hidden gem shines especially bright. Full of colors that rival our sunset skies and scents that evaporate stress, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is tucked into a lush waterfront spot right next to the Marina. In between beach days on Lido and Siesta Key, you can spend a whole day exploring this downtown treasure, known simply as Selby Gardens or Selby to those with homes in Sarasota. Whether you're planning a romantic date, a fun family outing, or a solo stroll, Selby is the perfect place to do it, and it's open every day except Christmas for your convenience.

Here are some of our favorite ways to make the most of your time at this world-renowned plant conservatory.

Explore the Children's Rainforest Garden

One of Selby's newest and most impressive sections is the Ann Goldstein's Children's Rainforest Garden. This interactive space is designed to simulate the biological richness and cool tranquility of the rainforest, while turning every spot into a hands-on learning opportunity for kids. Your kids will love the 12-foot-tall waterfall that splashes into a tranquil pool, the century-old Banyan tree that offers ample natural shade and seating, and the swinging rope bridges that stretch overhead for bird's eye views of the canopy and garden. You'll love the way Selby integrates biology and ecology lessons into their all-natural play areas, which also include special thatched research huts and an outdoor classroom.

Take an Art, Landscaping, or Yoga Class

Your day in the garden could also be a learning experience – if you enroll in one of Selby's many art, wellness, or horticulture classes. Join Yoga in the Gardens for an early morning stretch session, hone your photography skills on Tripod Tuesday, or pick a watercolor class that matches your experience level. Or if you want to learn how to landscape your Sarasota home, take a gardening class that focuses on orchids, bamboo, succulents, or another Florida-friendly theme. Selby's educational opportunities include one-off classes and season-long series, so you can choose how much time to commit.

Walk Among the Butterflies & Ferns

Everything at Selby serves a purpose beyond looking pretty, but the plants and flowers in front of Payne Mansion have a magical role: attracting butterflies. Visit the Butterfly Garden after touring the historic mansion, and meet dozens of colorful guests who drop in every day to enjoy the gorgeous plant life. Then stroll over to the Fern Garden for another blissfully serene experience. Just follow the circular path around the low-lying and towering ferns, which flourish in Sarasota's subtropical climate and show off a wide range of scents, textures, and colors.

Selby Gardens View

Follow the Mangroves for Waterfront Views

Make sure you stay until Selby closes, because the waterfront location makes for perfect evening views of Sarasota Bay, downtown Sarasota, and Bird Key. Three different mangrove species are native to the region's shorelines, and Selby's boardwalk meanders through grand examples of all of them. Enjoy the black, white, and red mangroves as you follow the wooden path along the shoreline, to a spectacular lookout spot right on Sarasota Bay. Selby hosts a Fourth of July party every year to take full advantage of these stunning bayfront views.

When you live in Sarasota, you have year-round access to this lush retreat and its schedule of fun and educational events. Our REALTORS® in Sarasota can help you find the perfect home to landscape in our subtropical beach town. Contact Wagner Realty to get started today.

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Amazing Fourth of July Events in Sarasota

How Sarasota Celebrates the Red, White and Blue

July 4 Events Sarasota

When the night sky lights up this Fourth of July, where will you be? For families with homes in Sarasota, it's hard to get this answer wrong. Siesta Key's explosive Independence Day celebration has drawn thousands for the past 26 years, but the country's best beach isn't the only place to be on Tuesday, July 4. Our gardens, parks, and restaurants also offer world-class waterfront views and patriotic celebrations this Fourth, so you can choose your view every year.

If you live or plan to buy a house in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, just pick which body of water you want to see sparkle, and settle in for a full day or evening of Fourth of July fun. Here are some of our favorite spots to celebrate:

Siesta Key Public Beach

It's no surprise that Sarasota's most popular fireworks show happens right on its famous white sand beach. The 27th annual Siesta Key Fourth of July Fireworks start at 9:15 PM this year, and the explosives last at least a full half hour, with colors and shapes that rival even the most picturesque Siesta Key sunsets. The Chamber of Commerce's official celebration is always on Siesta Key Public Beach, but if you want to beat the crowds and enjoy unbeatable views, go a little south of the public area, toward Crescent Beach.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

A lush, tropical retreat in the middle of downtown Sarasota, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are nearly surrounded by Sarasota Bay and the Hudson Bayou. They take advantage of their stellar views of multiple fireworks displays over Sarasota Bay, with an evening party that features live music, a cookout, and cool drinks. The All-American Cookout starts at 6, but free trolleys bound for Selby start leaving the Sarasota Friendship Center at 5 PM.

PIER 22 in Bradenton

Would you rather skip the beach and city crowds, and take in some waterfront fireworks at a slower pace? Head north to Bradenton's PIER 22, a literal pier that juts right out onto Manatee River for unbeatable waterfront views. This Fourth of July, the restaurant is hosting a buffet-style barbecue and waterside fireworks display. Come to PIER 22 at 6 PM for the Independence Day buffet, a single seating event that coincides with the explosions over the river.

Bayfront Park & Marina Jack Trail

The fireworks over Sarasota Bay are visible from both sides of the causeway, but the best views are from the edge of the marina, where family-friendly Bayfront Park pokes out into the water. Grab dinner and drinks at Marina Jack or O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill, then walk the Marina Jack Trail along the perimeter of this small but beautiful bayfront park. The fireworks over Sarasota Bay will begin at around 9 PM this Fourth of July, so grab a bench or spread a blanket and enjoy the spectacular show.

Before the Fireworks: Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Looking for a family-friendly distraction before the fireworks begin? Sarasota Jungle Gardens is right on the Bay near Ringling Museum and New College of Florida, and it's an interactive wonderland with flamingos, alligators, and lush landscapes where kids can frolic and adults can relax and take in waterfront views. Kids' admission is half off from Saturday, July 1 through Tuesday, July 4, making it the perfect pre-fireworks destination for Sarasota families.

Are you interested in buying a house in Sarasota? Contact Wagner Realty for more information about our beautiful beach town and its fun, lively neighborhoods. One of our REALTORS® in Sarasota will help you get started on your real estate journey. 

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What's It Like to Live in Siesta Key, FL

Buying a Home in Siesta Key FL
Many people looking at Sarasota homes find themselves drawn to the charm of Siesta Key, just a 15-minute drive from downtown Sarasota proper. Siesta Key, a community of just over 6,000 people, is a barrier island with some of the most beautiful sights in Florida.

If you're searching for the right place to truly enjoy the climate and views only Florida can offer, Siesta Key is perfect. Although it attracts many tourists, there are also plenty of "out of the way" places to enjoy a slower pace.

Spanning just 3.5 square miles, Siesta Key is made up of four main districts:

  1. Siesta Beach
    Siesta Beach is consistently ranked one of the best beaches in the world and among the top three in Florida. The Siesta Beach area is home to many eateries showcasing the region's best seafood. As a resident here, you'll live where people come to get married or go on honeymoon.

  2. Crescent Beach
    Crescent Beach sits just south of Stickney Point and has a distinctive crescent shape. This is the place to be if you want true beachfront property situated right next to the water. Crescent Beach is easily accessible for those who want to walk to major amenities instead of driving.

  3. Turtle Beach
    Turtle Beach is home to some of the top resorts and campgrounds in the area. It is a smaller and quieter beach known as the place to go for fishing. It is one of the only beaches around Siesta Key without white sand – the shore is known for a distinctive black coloration instead.

  4. Siesta Key Village
    Siesta Key Village is what most people think of when they think of Siesta Key homes. From shady streets to sunny beaches, Siesta Key has what you need to make everything a Florida holiday. It's especially famous for watersports and parasailing.

    No matter where you are, Siesta Key is known for breathtaking sunsets. Blackened gator tail and local fish are some of the dinner favorites, topped off at the end with a slice of authentic key lime pie.

Living in the Land of Sand and Surf at Siesta Key

Thanks to its unique geography, living in Siesta Key feels like being away from it all – but you still have access to all the best amenities of Sarasota, Bradenton, and even the Tampa Bay Area. But how can you know if Siesta Key is right for you?

Locals applaud Siesta Key for its laid back community, great shops, and nightlife. Despite its popularity with out-of-town visitors, it is amazingly intimate and local, with a flavor all its own. It also has a strong arts and culture scene, and there is always something to do. Don't miss the historic Ringling Bros. home.

For its permanent residents, Siesta Key attracts families and established professionals working in the growing technology and healthcare scenes in Sarasota or Bradenton. The area is serviced by the world class Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Sarasota County Schools operates more than 30 public schools in the area, with many elementary schools rated among the Sunshine State's best.

Intrigued? Get Started Today with Wagner Realty

Siesta Key is the place to be, no matter whether you're moving to Florida from outside the state or "trading up" from a hectic urban lifestyle. Truly, the best way to appreciate how Siesta Key can transform your life for the better is to see some of the amazing homes for sale.

Want to find out more? Contact Wagner Realty to get started. Our REALTORS® in Sarasota will be glad to help you find the perfect Siesta Key home for you.

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Bradenton Beach Pier - Part of Florida History

Bradenton Beach City Pier
Sometimes, the most beloved local landmarks are created from the inspiration that comes when a city replaces something old with something new. Back in 1967, a new drawbridge was built to connect Anna Maria Island with the city of Bradenton Beach, FL, replacing the bridge the connected the communities for more than 50 years. Rather than consigning the old bridge to the demolition squad, city officials decided to turn it into a gathering place for the community. Bradenton Beach City Pier opened to the public soon after, and it's been delighting both visitors and locals ever since. 

Bradenton Florida

Get Daily Access to the Pier When You Buy a Bradenton Beach Home

  • Fishing Fun – When you stake out your favorite fishing spot on Bradenton Beach Pier, you're taking part in a tradition that stretches back decades. Experienced anglers will settle right in to catching the local fare, and anyone new to fishing will find a very welcoming atmosphere. You can rent rods, buy bait, and get fishing advice without ever leaving the pier. With a little luck, you might even reel in a seafood dinner that's as fresh as it gets.
  • Fresh, Fabulous Food – Not in the mood to catch your own dinner? No problem! The Bradenton Beach Pier Restaurant serves up fresh, local seafood prepared in any way you can imagine. Enjoy the catch of the day, sample succulent appetizers from the raw bar, or dig into a collection of Florida seafood favorites. While your busy enjoying a meal with your favorite people, be sure to look up from your plate once in a while to take in all of the seaside sights.
  • Stunning Views – Bradenton Beach homes for sale give you everyday access to some of the most scenic views on the Florida coast, and Bradenton Beach Pier allows you to see the sights from a whole new perspective. You will find spectacular scenery no matter when you visit, but there's no doubt that things reach another level in the evening. There's simply nothing like watching the sun set over the open sea, with the sky awash in vivid colors.
  • Tiki Bar – It's been a long week of work, and you're searching for the perfect place to unwind with friends. What could be better than a tiki bar, some live music, and a waterfront sunset? The tiki bar at Bradenton Beach Pier is the perfect place to relax and recharge. Best of all, you're sure to run into some old friends or make new ones.
  • Local History – The Bradenton Beach Pier plays a big role in local history, and you can learn quite a bit about Bradenton while exploring the pier. With all of the fun to be had on the pier, it's easy to forget that you're standing on an old road and bridge. The same pier that you enjoy today once carried local and tourists alike from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island, and back.
  • The Day Dock – The day dock is a relatively new addition to the pier, with public access for boaters to dock on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can tie up at the dock, enjoy a meal on the pier, or even head into town for some shopping before hitting the water again to take the scenic route home.

Our Bradenton Beach REALTORS® are here to help you find your own Florida seaside retreat near the Bradenton Beach Pier. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Bradenton, FL real estate area.

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Anna Maria Island Historic City Pier

Anna Maria Island features seven miles of sandy beachfront off Manatee County, Florida. The City of Anna Maria is a quaint, walkable Florida village that has become a destination for travelers seeking sun and relaxation and people looking for a place to call home.

With nearby amenities of Bradenton, this island features multiple communities at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Standout features of the area include emerald green water, white sand beaches, cottage-style Anna Maria Island homes, and of course the Historic City Pier.

The Settlement of Anna Maria

Anna Maria Island was known to native inhabitants of the America's for many years, but being only accessible by boat, no one wanted to live there. The Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes would visit as did the Spanish explorers who gave the island the name we use today. It wasn't until 1892 that the island gained its first official resident in George Emerson Bean, who spurred the development of the area.

Anna Maria Island's first residents were forced to commute to the mainland by boat or ferry, leading them to create the historic Anna Maria City Pier in 1911. A bridge over the water wasn't added until 1921.

Anna Maria City Pier

Described by Trip Advisor as, "Stunning," this historic pier stretches 678 feet across Gulf Coast waters. The pier has stood the test of time, weathering hurricanes for over 100 years as residents continually rebuild this attraction. Most recent renovations include a planned $1.7 million upgrade project, promising to keep generations visiting for years to come.

And why do people keep coming? Food, fishing, and fun just to name a few.

Rod and Reel Restaurant

The Rod and Reel restaurant offers 360-degree views at its iconic home at the end of the pier. Squeeze yourself into the tiny bar on the lower deck for an icy cold margarita, or find a table upstairs for a more formal meal. As you might guess, the seafood here is fresh!

Fishing at the Anna Maria Pier

A unique twist to the Rod and Reel Restaurant is that the area doubles as a fishing pier too. A common sight you'll see are the dangling fishing lines of fishing enthusiasts, hoping to catch a bite -- before they order a bite. It's a great way to pass the time during the busy summer season (the restaurant may have a line.)

Florida Fun

Florida's Gulf Coast is the perfect place to spend your vacation. Wagner Realty has vacation rentals available to share experiences and make memories with family and friends.  Play on some of Southern Florida's best golf courses, relax on sandy, white beaches, shop our local shops and boutiques.

No need to be sad when your visit ends because with the help of Anna Maria Island REALTORS® you can become a resident. Contact Wagner Realty to discover the best beachfront properties or the perfect vacation bungalow and enjoy the community of Anna Maria Island.

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Longboat Key Maintenance-Free Living

Discover Maintenance-Free Living in Longboat Key

Longboat Key Communities

Longboat Key is a town divided between Florida's Manatee and Sarasota counties.  The charms of this tropical, Gulf Coast community are endless with 12 miles of secluded, sandy white beaches. Ask anyone who owns a maintenance-free home in Longboat Key and they'll tell you it's the best choice they ever made. Our REALTORS® have all the information you need to join this maintenance-free living style--trading bleak winters for alluring beaches and plenty of sunshine.

Activities Abound in Longboat Key

  • Beaches
    The stunning beaches along the Gulf of Mexico Drive are clean and easy to get to. You might even catch a glimpse of the manatees swimming by. You'll see beachcombers sifting through the soft sand and collecting shells along the shore. Longboat Keys' world-famous Coquina and Siesta Key beaches mean more than just sunshine. You can also enjoy a picnic in shaded picnic areas or have a barbecue with friends.

  • Dining and Shopping
    Imagine enjoying dinner at an outdoor café under the shade of an umbrella at St. Armands's Circle or dining on European cuisine or fresh seafood like stone crabs and oysters. Whether you're in the mood for a steak, pizza or roasted duckling, you can find it in Longboat Key. Stroll through local shops featuring whimsical jewelry, clothing, and leather specialties or high-end stores.

  • Arts and Culture
    One of the benefits of maintenance-free living is that you don't have to spend your time keeping up with your property. That frees up your days for learning new things at the Longboat Key Education Center. Catering to adults, the center presents courses in yoga, tai chi and performing arts. You can find more art and culture in nearby Sarasota. Some say it is Florida's cultural capital with over two-million visitors to their arts and cultural events each year.

  • Sports and Recreation
    Maybe you like to spend your free time outdoors (why not, you live in Florida). Well, Longboat Key has plenty for you to do from riding your bike along the many cycling trails to taking a kayak tour. If you're a golf or tennis enthusiast, the Resort at Longboat Key Club offers professional tennis courts and a pro-level golf course.

Benefits of Maintenance-Free Living in Longboat Key

Whether you're a beach comber, club hopper or nature lover, maintenance-free living homes in Longboat Key are the answer to your new way of living. When you tour Longboat Key condominiums and homes, you'll soon understand why so many opt for a maintenance-free lifestyle.

  • Amenities
    Maintenance-free living in Longboat Key places all the conveniences at your fingertips. Many maintenance-free communities offer clubhouses, swimming pools and fitness centers.
  • Travel
    If you have always wanted to travel but the responsibility of maintaining your home held you back, taking advantage of maintenance-free living will give you time for travel. Plan that trip you've always dreamed of once our Longboat Key REALTORS® find your new home.

  • Free Time
    Leave home maintenance to someone else. Homeowner's association contracts provide for such home maintenance chores like lawn mowing, trimming shrubs, mulching, painting and roof repair.

Contact Wagner Realty to introduce you to the world of maintenance-free living in Longboat Key, FL. Our REALTORS® in Longboat Key have the market knowledge and experience to help you search for the perfect home in Florida for you.

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Get to Know Sarasota's Best Neighborhoods

5 Great Sarasota Neighborhoods to Live

Sarasota Neighborhoods

Finding yourself thinking about Sarasota homes?

A Florida city whose rich history dates all the way back to 1763, it is nicknamed "Paradise" by its 53,000 residents. Though the greater metro area is home to more than 700,000 people, it's the picturesque surrounding communities that often attract homeowners moving to the state.

When you choose Sarasota, you have access to some of Florida's most dynamic cities – but you can disappear into the peaceful tranquility of any number of gorgeous beachfront towns. The Sarasota Keys offer a truly unique experience to those lucky enough to live there.

Let's look at some of the best places to live in Sarasota:

  1. Bird Key
    Bird Key homes maintain the Florida country charm that can so easily be lost in the most popular tourist areas. If you want a true rural experience complete with large tracts of land perfect for raising your own animals, this is the best place to be. While home prices are higher on average here, crime is virtually nonexistent and it offers some of Florida's best parks and fishing.

  2. Longboat Key
    Longboat Key homes are nestled in a small and quaint community of about 7,000 people where you can enjoy virtually untouched white sand beaches. Top attractions include parks, resorts, and delicious international cuisine. Longboat Key has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the most attractive islands in North America. It's perfect for boating, too!

  3. Bradenton
    Bradenton homes are ideal if you're looking for the perfect place to buy your first home. In fact, the area combines a lower cost of living than the state's average with a lower crime rate than the local average. Found right on the coast, it's well known as one of the top places to retire – thanks to great healthcare options, dining, shopping, and much more. A true beachfront paradise!

  4. Siesta Key
    Siesta Key homes can be found right on the sparkling white sands of this gorgeous resort island. Miles of southern Siesta Key around Turtle Beach are virtually untouched by development, giving you a taste of tropical paradise. In the north, you'll find Siesta Village – the site of tasty Sunshine State seafood and festive music. Naturally, the Key attracts tourists in the winter!

  5. Lakewood Ranch
    Lakewood Ranch homes are dispersed across seven distinct villages in a picturesque planned community with everything from townhouses to estate homes. Sprawling 8,500 acres, Lakewood Ranch has world class dining and shopping opportunities in the village centers and miles of beautiful hiking trails in the acreage beyond. It is one of Florida's leading green communities.

Interested in coming home to Sarasota? It's truly one of the best places in America to work, raise a family, or retire. No matter which area you're interested in, our REALTORS® in Sarasota will be glad to help you find the home of your dreams. Contact Wagner Realty to find out more.

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Five Favorite Anna Maria Island Restaurants

Visit the Best Dining Spots on Anna Maria Island

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants

Anna Maria Island, FL is a truly unique community, and that commitment to originality is always on display at the diverse dining destinations around the island. As you might expect from a seaside town, many of Anna Maria Island's most popular dining spots are big on serving fresh, locally sourced seafood, with entree inspirations from around the world. Enjoying a meal on the island is as much about the scenery as it is about the food on your plate. Let's just say you won't have any trouble finding waterfront dining when you call Anna Maria Island, FL home.

One of the nice things about living on Anna Maria Island is that there's a dining spot for every occasion. You can enjoy an elegant, sit-down meal by the sea, or head straight from the beach to a bistro in your flip-flops. No matter the occasion, Anna Maria homes for sale put you close to the action on the island.

Anna Maria Beach Restaurants

Five Food Favorites

  1. Beach Bistro – 6600 Gulf Drive – The Beach Bistro has been delighting locals and visitors alike for more than 25 years. With a menu of unique seafood options, Beach Bistro has earned countless awards from ZAGAT and other big-name restaurant reviewers. As an added bonus – or perhaps the main attraction – Beach Bistro has also been lauded as having one of the best wine lists in Florida, with more than 200 options available.

  2. Eat Here Anna Maria Kitchen – 5315 Gulf Drive – The Anna Maria Kitchen wants you to "Eat Here," and we certainly won't be arguing. Eat Here Anna Maria Kitchen is a collaborative effort between the operators of Beach Bistro and a number of young, creative restaurateurs in the area. The result is a less formal setting that's still big on atmosphere, perfect for lunch or an evening out with friends. While the atmosphere is less formal, the quality of the food is just as fantastic as what you'll find at Beach Bistro.

  3. Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe – 4000 Gulf Drive – Noticing a theme, yet? If you enjoy eating with your toes in the sand, then you won't find a better place than Anna Maria Island to pursue your culinary passion. The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is a friendly, welcoming dining spot located right on the beach. In addition to a diverse menu and a well-stocked bar, the cafe is big on entertainment. On many nights, you'll have live music to serenade you as you eat with the sunset in the background.

  4. The Waterfront Restaurant and Craft Bar – 111 South Bay Blvd. – Special occasions call for special meals, and The Waterfront always delivers. This is a formal, sit-down restaurant with fantastic seafood dinners and a menu of craft drinks that you won't find anywhere else. Enjoy a light, tasty lunch, or stop by at dinnertime for a truly unforgettable meal.

  5. Sandbar Seafood and Spirits – 100 Spring Avenue – The Sandbar is a place where memories are made, and knots are tied. This is one of the most popular restaurants on the island for weddings, thanks to its combination of fantastic food and stunning scenery. Of course, you don't need to be planning a beach wedding to enjoy a meal at this beloved Santa Maria Island establishment.

Anna Maria Island Dining Patrons

Our REALTORS® in Anna Maria love getting to experience the island, and we know you will too. Contact our local Anna Maria office to shop for homes on Anna Marie Island, and learn what it's like to enjoy a world-class meal by the sea.

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Best Restaurants in Sarasota for Easter Dining

Sarasota REALTORS® Pick Five Favorite Restaurants

Sarasota Restaurants

When it comes to celebrating a holiday, there nothing better than spending time with family and friends over a good meal.  Easter Sunday is no exception.  Nothing says Easter quite like a big brunch with the family. 

Even though Easter Sunday is just a few days away, if you "hop to it," there's still time to make reservations.  Our REALTORS® in Sarasota live and work in our community and have created this Sarasota Restaurant Guide of their five favorite restaurants with something special planned for Easter Sunday.

Sarasota Dining Easter

  1. Louies Modern, 1289 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida
    Louies Modern is pulling out all the stops on Easter. Their Easter buffet ensures everyone can get exactly what they want. Are you in the mood for something sweet? Try one of the Danishes or a croissant with house jam, then head over to the Easter candy display or pie stand. Trying to eat healthy? The salad station has you covered. A carving display will have prime rib, bourbon glazed ham and rack of lamb, while the seafood station will fulfill your desire for surf-and-turf. Cost for the all-you-can-eat brunch feast is $65 for adults, $25 for kids.

  2. Libby's Cafe and Bar, 1917 S Osprey Avenue, Sarasota, Florida
    Serving up seasonal modern American food in a casual yet contemporary atmosphere, Libby's Cafe and Bar is a great place any day of the year; however, on Easter Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm you'll find a great Easter brunch available. Form a freshly crafted omelet to prime rib or shrimp cocktail, this buffet has something for everyone. Finish out the meal with cake, brownies, cookies, pies and Easter candy. Kids dine for $20, and adults for $50.

  3. The Table Creekside, 5365 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida 
    For waterfront dining at its best, make your Easter Sunday reservations at The Table Creekside for their Easter Sunday Brunch served from 11am – 3pm.  Sample their Maine Lobster Benedict or Elephant Ear French Toast.

  4. Turtle's Restaurant, 8875 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota, Florida
    Turtle's Restaurant gives you the chance to spend Easter on the water. Their special Easter menu will include leg of lamb, grilled salmon, honey glazed ham, filet mignon and several surf-and-turf options, all for a pretty affordable price and with a stunning view.

  5. Mattison's Forty-One, 7275 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida
    This Mediterranean inspired restaurant caters to a number of dietary needs, so if you've got someone in your group who is vegan or gluten-free, you'll find something here that will appeal to them. On Easter, a traditional Easter Brunch Buffet will be served from 10 am to 2 pm. The meal is priced at $36.95 for adults and $18.95 for kids. The buffet will include seafood, crepes, omelets, lamb, prime rib, chicken, gourmet cheeses and a number of fruit and vegetable options. Dinner will also include a special Easter menu.

Contact us when you're considering relocating to Sarasota.  Wagner Realty has access to the most up-to-date listings for Sarasota homes for sale including Sarasota school district and subdivision information.


Loving Life in Lakewood Ranch, FL

Lakewood Ranch Designed with Residents in Mind

Lakewood Ranch Florida Living

31,000 acres, 15 neighborhoods, and world-class amenities around every corner. The master-planned community of Lakewood Ranch, FL is anything but average--and that's no accident. From the start, the community was designed with its residents in mind, so that you can find everything you need in a peaceful, secure, scenic Florida setting. There are homes here to fit every buyer in Lakewood Ranch and enough recreation activities to keep you busy for years to come. 

Lakewood Ranch, FL - A Master-Planned Community

While the community is a major selling point, life at Lakewood Ranch still starts at home. Lakewood Ranch homes include single-family homes, condos, apartments, town homes and custom-built homes from the best builders in the area. The community is broken down into 15 villages, or neighborhoods, each with its own perks and amenities.

Most villages in Lakewood Ranch are adjacent to at least one golf course and offer beautiful views even if you're not the type to hit the links yourself. There are also age-restricted villages to be found within the community, along with family-friendly villages. Our Lakewood Ranch REALTORS® can help you find a house you'll love in a neighborhood you'll be proud to call home.

World-Class Golf Moments from Your Front Door

The Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club is really three great golf courses in one, each with its own unique personality. Cypress Links, King's Dunes and Royal Lakes are the three 18-hole courses that make up Lakewood Ranch and Country Club. Every course at the club makes use of the gorgeous natural scenery of Lakewood Ranch, and can be enjoyed by golfers of any skill level. The club also offers a host of other recreational activities, and a busy schedule of special events that are always well-attended by the community.

Year-Round Fun and Sun at Lakewood Ranch

When you live in Lakewood Ranch, winter is little more than a distant memory. Even during the heart of January, you can golf in a short-sleeve polo or go for a cool, comfortable morning jog without bundling up for a blizzard. In addition to great golf, you can enjoy year-round fun at the Premier Sports Campus, the Sarasota Polo Club, and the Ancient Oak Gun Club. Parks, walking trails and scenic hideaways dot the community as well, so there is always something new to explore.

Move-In Ready and Maintenance-Free

Whether you're purchasing a second home or moving in full-time, Lakewood Ranch offers move-in options to make life a little easier. There are move-in ready homes available in some villages, as well as maintenance-free homes that provide peace of mind throughout your time in Lakewood Ranch. You're also welcome to handle those details yourself, but it's nice to know the all-inclusive option is there if you need it.

Town Centers for Dining, Entertainment, and Shopping

Town Centers are the hubs of Lakewood Ranch's villages, where residents go to shop, dine, drink and enjoy an evening out with their neighbors. Neighborhood shopping centers allow you to handle grocery shopping, banking and all of life's little errands without leaving Lakewood Ranch. You'll also find three large, central town centers called San Marco Plaza, Waterside Place, and Main Street, each with its own unique businesses, dining spots, and entertainment options.

There has never been a better time to find your place in the beautiful, all-inclusive community of Lakewood Ranch. Contact Wagner Realty to shop for homes in Lakewood Ranch, FL, and learn what it's like to have everything you need in life located within minutes of your front door.


Anna Maria Island – A Coastal Paradise

Relocate to Anna Maria Island

Moving to Anna Maria Island

Tucked away on the Gulf Coast just south of Tampa, Anna Maria Island, FL is a slice of paradise even by the very high standards of the Sunshine State. The first thing that you notice when buying a house on Anna Maria Island won't be the tall condos or big-box chain stores, because the island doesn't have them. Instead, you'll be greeted by pristine white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the warm, sunny weather that the community enjoys throughout the year. So pull up a beach chair, grab a cool, refreshing beverage, and get ready to experience your own personal paradise on the Florida coast.

Life Starts at the Beach

The pace of life on Anna Maria Island is very laid back, and you won't find a better example than the island's beautiful beaches. The beaches of Anna Maria Island are quiet, clean, and beloved by the locals. You can spend a relaxing afternoon with your favorite book and your toes in the warm sand, or break out your paddle-board to explore the island from a new perspective on the water. There are fishing spots to be found throughout Anna Maria Island, while the beaches are a great place to catch a glimpse of Florida's vibrant coastal ecosystems and diverse wildlife.

"Welcome to Paradise, without an Attitude."

The motto of Anna Maria Island captures life here perfectly, and says a lot about why the locals love to call the island home. This is the sort of island where you are more likely to see people traveling by surfboard or kayak than by yacht. Everyone is welcome, and everyone who arrives is happy to be here. Why have an attitude, when paradise is waiting outside your door every morning? Buying a house in paradise should be a pleasant experience, after all.

Follow Your Favorite Teams

Are you searching for Anna Maria Island homes for sale, but currently living in another part of the country? When you live on Anna Maria Island, you won't have to say goodbye to your favorite teams. Every spring, teams from across Major League Baseball come to the Florida Coast for Spring Training games and fan-friendly promotions. Popular teams like the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, and Cardinals participate in the Grapefruit League each spring, and there's always time for a day at the stadium in paradise.

An (Almost) Endless Summer

Does it still count as winter, when the average daily temperature still tops 70 degrees? Put it this way, you'll never have to put away your flip-flops for the season when you live on Anna Maria Island. The "coldest" month of the year on Anna Maria Island is January, and even then daily highs routinely top 70 degrees. For most of the year, it simply feels like summer. Beach season never ends after buying a house on the island, and cold winters are little more than a distant memory.

Fresh, Local and Open for Business

Rather than trying to attract big-name chains, Anna Maria Island much prefers to keep things local. The dining scene on the island is especially robust, with fresh seafood, brilliant barbecue, and gourmet meals set to beach-front views. You'll also find all of the services you need provided by small businesses on the island, so there's no need to leave paradise when you need to get things done.

Our Anna Maria Island REALTORS® are here to help you find your own piece of paradise on the coast. Contact our office to buy and sell homes in Anna Maria Island, FL, and get ready to fall in love with this gorgeous coastal community.


Sarasota, FL Named to Best Places to Live in the US

Why Living in Sarasota is One of Life's Best Rewards

Sarasota FL Living

It came as no surprise to native Sarasotans that our hometown was named as one of the Best Places to Live in the United States by US News.  People move to Sarasota in record numbers because of its "paradise-like personality."  Who wouldn't love this city's wonderfully warm, year-round temperatures, white, sandy beaches and crystal clear water?  Sarasota certainly does check all of the boxes for beaches and weather; however, factors like our dedication to the arts, affordable living, housing choices, great schools and a flourishing business environment are even more reasons to move to Sarasota.

Our REALTORS® in Sarasota created this list of why so many are making Sarasota their home.

Sarasota - A Warm Place in the Sun
Like most cities in Florida, Sarasota is known for its year-round warm temperatures.  When other parts of the US are experiencing cold, snow and ice, Sarasota's residents enjoy an average annual temperature of 72 degrees.  Now don't get me wrong--it certainly can get hot from June through September in Florida, but as most Sarasota residents will tell you…that's the perfect time to head to the beach or one of our six barrier islands.

Sarasota Beach

Sun & Fun at Sarasota's Beaches
Sarasota has over 40 miles of coastline located just off the Gulf of Mexico and its beaches are considered among the most beautiful in Florida and, in fact, the US.  But, don't take our word for it…just ask TripAdvisor.   Siesta Beach, located in central Sarasota, is no stranger to receiving high rankings for beachcombers in the know.  In addition to TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award, Siesta Beach has ranked highly by Dr. Beach (a.k.a. Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman) as a Top 10 Beach in America.  In addition to sun and sand, Sarasota's six barrier islands (or keys) are home to others noteworthy beaches:  Siesta, Lido and Longboat in Southwest Florida.

Culture Along the Coast
Sarasota's arts scene is diverse as the types of seashells found on its beaches.  Sarasota is home to a host of performing arts including the Sarasota Opera, Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Sarasota Ballet of Florida as well as world-class museums like the Ringling Museum of Art and the Ringling Circus Museum located on the former Sarasota estate of John Ringling, circus magnate.  No matter what your preference, Sarasota arts and cultural activities include gala and charitable events, theater options, musical venues, art galleries and showcases, a film festival and even sand sculptures.

Outdoor Fun in Sarasota
There's never a need to waste a sunny day in Sarasota. Aside from the obvious opportunities to play in the ocean and run along the beaches, Sarasota also offers an outstanding array of other outdoor activities. Take advantage of our massive Myakka River Stark Park,  learn how to sail or kayak; grab your gear and head out for a day of exciting fishing opportunities; hit up the bike trails that crisscross the area and get back to an Old Florida feel on the Sarasota Legacy Bike Trail; or take your favorite set of clubs and play a round on any of the excellent golf courses in Sarasota.

Best Places to Eat & Drink
A genuine foodie haven, Sarasota has been named by Conde' Nast Traveler magazine as one of the 15 best food cities in the United States.  Conde' Nast cited two Sarasota restaurants specifically:  Indigenous, known for incorporating local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients into their menu items and C'est La Vie in downtown Sarasota for its savory crêpes and fresh croissants.  Sarasota offers a bona fide restaurant roster offering local diners a full range of gastronomical delights to work their way through.  Here are three of our team's favorite dining places (in no particular order): Crab & Fin in St. Armand's Circle features global seafood from raw oysters from various oceans to rich cioppino made with local red snapper. Selva on Main Street features Latino cuisine with at least 10 different ceviches and masterfully-made cocktails.  Owen's Fish Camplocated in the heart of downtown Sarasota, showcases Old Florida classics such as fried oysters and cornmeal-crusted catfish as well as craft-beer and wine.

Moving to Sarasota
Florida has been called "paradise" by many of its residents and Sarasota is an excellent example of what they're talking about.  When you're searching for Sarasota homes for sale, it's hard to go wrong with the beautiful sunsets for which our area is famous. Sarasota's sandy beaches, top-tier cultural offerings and shopping and dining options are among the best available in the nation. When you're ready to start living in paradise, contact our team at Wagner Realty to start your search for a Sarasota home.

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