If you are shopping for a home in the Sarasota area from out of state (or country), you may have run into some terms referring to house styles or property attributes that can be a little confusing. Many common terms have Florida-specific meanings or refer to the vintage construction and architectural styles found in Sarasota's many historic neighborhoods. The following definitions should help to clear up some of this confusion and will hopefully be a good aid in your search.
Bungalow – a small, usually one-story house. Generally interchangeable with cottage.
Cabana – although this more correctly refers to a small structure used as a bathhouse or for recreational activities, it is often used to refer to a cottage or bungalow.
Canal home – a home built on a canal. This does not necessarily mean that you can access the Gulf by water from the home. See waterfront and sailboat access.
Carport – a roof that covers a driveway or other parking area.
Cottage – a small, usually one-story house. Generally interchangeable with bungalow.
Condominium (or “condo”) – an attached home generally characterized by a larger footprint on a single floor, but can have the architectural appearance of a townhouse. Unlike a true townhouse, however, the owner of a condo owns only the interior of the property, the exterior being owned by an association of tenants.
Craftsman style – an architectural style born out of the “Arts and Crafts” movement that spanned the late 19th to early 20th century. It is a common design found in Florida's historic neighborhoods up to the 1930s.
Duplex – a structure that consists of two separate family units.
Florida room – an enclosed porch or sunroom built onto the side or back of a home. Not to be confused with a lanai, which is often enclosed in screening, but is always open to the air.
Florida style – also known as “Mediterranean Modern,” this is the most common architectural style used in new home construction in Florida. A home of this design generally features stucco construction, tile flooring throughout, and sometimes a tile roof.
Lanai – an open-air porch built onto the back or side of a home. In Florida it is often enclosed with screening. Not to be confused with Florida room.
Old Florida style – an architectural style that was common to Florida from the 19th to mid-20th century. Old Florida homes typically have wrap-around porches, lots of windows, and open floor plans designed for great air circulation -- the best way to deal with the subtropical Florida climate in the days before air conditioning.
Ranch style – a simple, informal home style that was very popular in Florida in the 1950s. A ranch home is typically one-story and has little architectural decoration, but serves the demand for an affordable, functional family home.
Sailboat access – a waterfront home or lot with this feature offers deep-water access (usually at least four feet) to the Gulf without any overhead obstacles, such as bridges or power lines, that could block a sailboat mast.
Spanish Mission style – a common architectural design in Sarasota's historic neighborhoods from the 1920s and ‘30s. Spanish Mission homes typically feature stucco construction, interior and exterior arches, flat roofs, and tile flooring throughout.
Townhouse – an attached home characterized by a small footprint and multiple floors. The owner of a townhouse owns both the interior and exterior of the property, unlike a condo owner, who only owns the interior.
Victorian style – an eclectic architectural style somewhat common in Florida from the mid-19th to the middle 20th century. Victorian homes generally feature large windows, front porches, and lavish woodwork with Middle Eastern and Asian influences that add exotic flair.
Villa – originally referring to an upper-class country home, the term “villa” has a broad meaning these days, but is generally characterized by Italian Renaissance design influences and walled-off areas on the property containing patios, gardens, or even extra parking space.
Waterfront – refers to a piece of real estate that abuts any body of water, including a bay, river, lake, or canal. When shopping for a waterfront property, it’s important to find out whether or not the parcel offers riparian versus nonriparian rights, which determine a homeowners’ ability to use, restrict, or otherwise control access to the water. Interestingly, for most waterfront properties the water actually sits in back of the home -- but “waterfront” rolls off the tongue much better than “waterbehind” or “waterrear,” wouldn’t you agree?
Whether it’s a townhouse or villa, bungalow or condo, Sarasota Property Finders can help you on your search for the perfect home. Contact Julian to start discovering Sarasota properties today.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist