Awesome link to local conditions

April 30, 2009

Yesterday we had lunch with a friend out on the tip of Anna Maria Island at a place called the Rod and Reel [875 N Shore Dr, Anna Maria, FL 34216, 941- 778-1885, Get directions).

Who knows how long the Roda and Reel has been a delightful dining destination??

Who knows how long the Rod and Reel has been a delightful dining destination??

This place is hard to describe … fishing pier, bait shop, bar, restaurant, all built at the end of a pier overlooking the blue waters of Tampa Bay where it meets the Gulf of Mexico. It has lots of character, charm and color (e.g., the men’s room is marked “Outboards,” the Ladies room “Inboards.”  The food is good and affordable, but the ambience is priceless.

But while my friends smoked, I wandered around and noticed a peculiar mast atop the building, fitted with solar panels. weather-station-at-rod-and-reel1When I went to investigate, I found that it is a weather monitoring station, with website listed.

Turns out there are quite a few of these stations scattered about the region, and their website will tell you where they .. and YES, you can view current, local conditions.

Cool? Take a look:

Click the rectangle in the center of the map to see that inset in detail. Station 23 is the one at the Rod and Reel; 21 is at Mote Marine near New Pass in Sarasota.

Now if there were just a live webcam at each site!

Big Rig!

April 25, 2009

Last weekend was the 4th Annual Small Boat Festival in Cortez, which is just up the road a bit. I could have kicked myself for not taking more pictures — there are always some really great smaller craft there, and interesting people doing interesting things with boats.

On the way back, we stopped by a tiny old marina on Palma Sola Bay to see what’s happening, and we saw that one of the neighbors has a clever approach to getting his/her  small craft down the street to the water’s edge:

Nothing shabby about this "tractor-trailer" rig

Nothing shabby about this "tractor-trailer" rig

Don’t laugh — it works! And you can’t tell from the photo, but that is some first-class aluminum fabrication on that custom trailer. Somebody who know something about aluminum spent a lot of time getting this just right.

You gotta love it!

Can I use my 401(k) or IRA to invest in real estate?

February 10, 2009

When you invest in real estate, you do so to make money – and making money means paying taxes.

Fortunately, there exist a variety of legal structures that allow one to avoid or reduce taxation on investments – and investments can include real estate. Today our office hosted a training by Scott Maurer of the Entrust Group on the topic of investing in real estate within one’s IRA or 401(k) retirement account.

As you already no doubt know, these types of retirement plans offer a variety of tax benefits that make them attractive for investments that are anticipated to produce either current income, appreciation, or both (and what investment isn’t anticipated to do at least one of those things?!?).

The training was fantastic. There is a great deal more flexibility than I had previously thought. And at the same time, it requires a lot of care to avoid mistakes that could trigger some pretty costly penalties. Fortunately, setting up and administering these investments is exactly what Entrust does. They do it well and they do it at modest cost.

For example, if your IRA or 401(k) doesn’t have enough money to buy an investment property, no problem. You can “partner” your retirement funds with ordinary funds (yours or another partner’s) or with another person’s retirement funds (your spouse’s, for example) – as long as the records are handled correctly.

On the other hand … want to rent that investment property to a son or daughter? Or use that vacation rental yourself a few weeks out of the year? That WOULD be a problem – IRS rules do not allow any personal benefit or dealing with lineal family members. Making that mistake could disqualify the whole investment, triggering back taxes and penalties., 800-425-0653 for more information.

Can I move that tree? Or not?

February 9, 2009

You say you have the perfect place for that new home or addition? But there is a big tree right in the way — will the powers that be let you remove it?

It is generally no problem — with the exception of so-called “Grand Trees.” What are those? Any oak that has a 24-inch Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) will be considered a Grand Tree. These can be a problem to remove!

Better check with the authorities before you make an offer! Most anything Read the rest of this entry »

FEMA rules for additions to exisiting waterfront homes

February 3, 2009

So you want to buy a waterfront home — one that was built prior to the latest hurricane codes. It needs updating and an addition to the building would be nice too … Not so fast.

Please, before making an offer, know what you can and cannot do with that structure! Start by calling the local Zoning department and asking lots of questions. For example, the cost of your new permitted work may not Read the rest of this entry »

A slice out of time

January 30, 2009
The old Ruth Louise, in photos from the late '50s - early '60s. Am I just a nostalgia freak, or are these older boats uniquely handsome?

The old Ruth Louise, in photos from the late '50s - early '60s. Am I just a nostalgia freak, or are these older boats uniquely handsome?

I have a waterfront listing in downtown Sarasota that was owned by the same family continuously from about 1946 until recently. I attended the estate sale held there today, and an old scrapbook of the owner’s was for sale. A couple of pictures caught my eye, and I asked to have them. The Ruth Luise, named after the matriarch of the clan, is shown here, and I believe the body of water is Whittaker Bayou, just down the way from the house. In other photos, she was shown with the Clewiston locks in the background – these are in central Florida, separating Lake Okeechobee from the waters leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently the owners got around a bit in her. When I was a boy, boats like this were common. Now that they are scarce, I can’t help but feel that something precious has been lost.

Some “Ins and Outs” of condo insurance

January 29, 2009

So you have a unit in a condo association, and part of your monthly (or quarterly) condo fee goes for insurance — so your troubles are over, right?

Well … not so much (and most of you know this), because the condo insurance doesn’t cover the inside of your unit. You have to purchase your own policy for your interior and contents.

What most folks don’t know is the “Ins and Outs” of that insurance and what to expect in case there is a loss, so let’s fix that. Spending a few minutes asking a few extra questions of your insurance agent and making sure you know what Read the rest of this entry »