Sunday, June 28, 2020

House Hunting in Florida Part 2

My New Home in Venice

I have received several requests for posts on house hunting in Florida from folks thinking about moving to this area. I posted previously on all the animals and wildlife here - something I really love. Today I am posting on how I researched and evaluated prospective homes i.e. how I found my perfect home researching online/social distancing/house hunting in the age of corona.

First, I wrote a list of the most important elements for me. My list included -

1. Classic exterior style - not Tuscan
2. Great zip code - the best IMHO for home appreciation and lifestyle
3. One level - best for resale here and I can stay in it forever hopefully
4. Great view - it could be a pool, lake, golf course, or preserves
5. Nice yard
6. Great location - close to beach, restaurants, shopping
7. Great community - amenities, gated
8. High ceilings
9. Lots of light
10. Flooring - important to me and a big ticket item to redo them all
11. Condition - I did not want to do a reno
12. Details - high end finishes and detailing
13. Three bedroom/two baths

I first researched and found my target zip code in Venice - 34292. I started looking online every day using the listing photos and virtual tours and bookmarked a dozen homes. I rated them all on each of these elements on a scale of 1 to 5. Only one got a perfect score. Then one after another they went pending very quickly because Venice is an incredibly hot market. My house was my only perfect score house. I called my realtor and said we have to see it. Immediately. It was the first house I looked at it person. It was love at first sight. We sat down and wrote an offer. I knew it was right because.......

My house checks off every single box for me.
*The exterior looks more Palm Beach to me than this area which is very Tuscan. Tuscan is not for me.
*The best zip code in Venice.
*One level with a great floor plan.
*Stunningly gorgeous view of preserves and ancient palms. When you walk in the door you literally gasp.
*Yard has lovely palms, lawn and room for me to enjoy my gardening, but small enough it will not be a full time job.
*Minutes to the beach, shopping, restaurants, bars, a brand new hospital, and the interstate.
*Stunning community, very sought after, gated, all the amenities.
*12 foot and 10 foot ceilings in every room.
*Filled with light, sliders all across the back, lots of windows, beautiful plantation shutters.
*Really high end stone floors on every square inch including closets, pantry, laundry room.
*In perfect move-in condition.
*Crown molding, chair rail, wainscoting, limestone, granite, stainless steel, plantation shutters, tray ceiling, built-in desks and bookshelves, surround sound, walk-in showers - lots more detailing than is common here for sure.
*Three bedrooms/2 baths.

For me, my scoring system was very effective, because it did not allow me to focus on a home that was amazing in one aspect, but lacking in many others. For example, one home I loved had a pool, was on a lake, overlooked preserves, and the yard was incredible. The setting temporarily blinded me to the fact that the house itself needed at least $100,000 in work. Using my scoring system, it did not do well even though the setting was truly fabulous. I eliminated it. Don't get distracted by a barn door or a freestanding tub or marble counters. You can add those features you want. Come up with a scoring system of your own and pick the house that scores the best.

I hope this system might be useful to others - it is obviously applicable to evaluating a home anywhere, not just in Florida. I think my approach led me to the perfect home and the right decision after seeing one home - my new home! And the home was vacant which was an even bigger plus with this pandemic. Online research is the key, especially now. I did 99% of my looking online.

I must say that I never intended to move to Florida. Golf Guy wanted to move here to play golf (LOL) and I wanted a fresh start. But now that I'm here, it really is paradise. The journey might have been a strange and winding one, but I'm glad where I landed. Things happen for a reason.


  1. I love your house scoring plan. It really helps to list your priorties, whatever they might be. And I totally agree about not getting distracted by the small stuff like trendy barn doors or free-standing tubs. Best to get the bones right --- it's expensive to redo wall placement --- and get the expensive hard finishes right like tile, granite, etc. But most of all, you have to get the location right. Everything else you can change. But you can't pick up a house and move it to another community. Well, you can. But it will cost a fortune and people will think you're crazy.

    1. Yes, people get turned off by a paint color or wallpaper, such easy fixes, and often don't focus on the really important things you can't change.

  2. This is really good advice on how to take an analytical approach to house hunting and ending up with an excellent result. This is especially important now when you do not want to be going to many houses in person.

    1. Yes, so easy to do most of the leg work online safely.

  3. Brilliant as I knew it would be. Too bad you had to pay a commission when you did all of the work (LOL!).

    1. You are so kind and the seller pays the commission and my realtor is great. Everything has worked out well for everyone. Well, most everyone. LOL

  4. This is a great system. Your new home is lovely. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. Thank you for following and all your lovely comments.

  5. Beth can you recommend a broker/realty company for that area? I just found out a friend is looking to move from NYC to Venice so I promptly let her know to check out your blog. She is hoping to travel down (fingers crossed) in September and line up some viewings.

    1. I have used Christina Miller of Sarasota Bay Real Estate, the managing broker, for both these homes. She is wonderful to work with, and I recommend her highly.

  6. Thank you for such great advice, can’t wait to see how you make it yours!

  7. How did you decide on the "best" zip code? What was the source, your standard, etc.?

    1. From speaking to my realtor, friends and acquaintances in Venice, and online research of several sites that rank by zip in terms of schools, property values, livability, crime, home ownership, real estate tends, and the like, a couple of zip codes were constantly mentioned, but the other lacked gated communities with amenities, which narrowed it down to my zip code.

  8. I am new to your blog...Please fill me in on...Golf guy. Thanks Linda

    1. The short version is that we began dating after my husband died of a heart attack. He wanted to play golf year round and I wanted a fresh start and we found a beautiful home here and renovated it. We moved in the fall. It has been a nightmare and I decided to move out and buy my own home. I may share more once I am safely out of here, or I might have to save it for my upcoming best seller - LOL.