New Rental Properties Are Impacting the Sarasota Real Estate Landscape


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, May, 16, 2013 – The accelerating entry of institutional investors in residential communities through the acquisition of single family homes and converting these into rental properties can significantly alter the profile of these neighborhoods or the subculture among residents, some industry analysts believe. As a consequence, prospective home buyers now would have to do deeper due diligence on deed restrictions in the properties that they are considering.

At the minimum, what could be an ideal alternative to pure home ownership is a happy balance between permanent residents and renters. In years past, acquiring properties for rental purposes was primarily confined to multifamily homes, such as condos, villas, and townhouses. Single family homes, in more recent times, too increasingly became the target of investors seeking rental properties. Two factors essentially contributed to this development.

Distressed properties draw big buyers

Rental property

One primary impetus is the proliferation of home foreclosures brought about by the collapse of the housing market in the mid-2000s. The volume of these distressed properties coming into the market in recent years has become quite significant that big institutional investors have found their bargain-level prices very attractive. The main thrust of these institutions is to buy foreclosed homes and rent the properties out until prices improve enough for them to make a profit reselling the acquired residences.

This trend has become apparent in Southwest Florida, which like the rest of the Sunshine State, has a high number foreclosures compared to other U.S. markets. In the Sarasota and Manatee counties, active buyers noted since last year include the Blackstone Group, Polish Investments, and Fundamental REO. Among the three, Blackstone is the most aggressive, with its buying estimated near the $10 million level as it brought some 76 foreclosed properties in its fold for the two counties alone. For the whole of Florida, the company was reported to have drawn $80 million from its war chest allotted for distressed property purchases.

Tourism is a lure as well

Florida’s rich tourism potential, manifested in nearly $72 billion total revenue for the industry last year, appears as another incentive for Blackstone and its ilk to focus their home inventory buildup in the state. One strong indication of the potent vacation rental opportunities in the Sunshine State is the tourism boomlet in Sarasota during the 2013 first quarter. For the month of March alone, rentals in the county were reported to have achieved a 95% occupancy rate.

Significantly, long-time residents in many Southwest Florida communities are wary about the growth of rentals in their neighborhoods. Within Anna Maria Island, for instance, old-timers are seeking stricter regulations on property rentals and new zoning rules, concerned that these hubs for tourists and transients can alter the quality of life in their long-standing communities.

Why a good agent is a blessing

Given these factors, it is exceedingly important for buyers with an eye for Sarasota homes for sale, either for purely residential purposes or for vacation rental possibilities, to work with or be represented by a broker having a thorough local knowledge. Inputs in a due diligence for specific properties they would need include not only county ordinances or land use codes. Buyers would also need to wade through the rules and regulations, as well as bylaws of homeowners’ associations with jurisdiction on the properties being considered for purchase.