Bubil: A slice of history sells


It’s no secret that I love historic properties and their stories.

One just sold, and the new owner is so proud that he sent out a press release announcing his purchase and plans for the building.

It’s the Villa Serena, a 1926 apartment building in Whitfield Estates. The Herald-Tribune featured the property when it was listed for sale at $1,495,000 in 2011. Chistopher Brown was the seller.

It has been purchased for $875,000 by Steven Levin, who at one time owned and operated the 1924 Colonial Theatre in Keene, N.H.

With Perez Tile and Construction of Bradenton as general contractor, Levin plans to re-roof, rebuild a swimming pool, repave the driveway and make other upgrades.

“My business history has reflected a thorough respect for preservation, conservation, history and older properties,” said Levin. “I would love to continue the fine tradition. That idea is both the hope and the challenge.”

Fair housing

I gave up my usual spot on the cover of this section today so that our condominium law columnist, Tamela Eady, could address issues raised by a regulation passed by the Casa di Amici condo in Venice that appeared to prohibit unit ownership by gay couples.

The condo’s board is backtracking, as noted by Eady in her column and by Herald-Tribune reporter Shelby Webb in her news reports. But it brings up the importance of anti-discrimination rules as detailed by the Fair Housing Act and the Realtors’ code of ethics.

Basically, sellers — FSBO or otherwise — and real estate professionals need to know the rules and follow them. But occasionally, the rules are broken.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in home selling or mortgage lending based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex or family status. That does not include sexual orientation.

But the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics goes further, stating that NAR members “shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation,” or be a party to any “plan or agreement” to do so.

Lenders can get in trouble for using discriminatory application or qualification criteria. Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Fifth Third Bank, Fifth Third Mortgage Company and Cranbrook Mortgage Corp. with discriminating against a couple with disabilities who were attempting to refinance their mortgage. HUD claims the lenders required the couple to show unnecessary medical documentation in order to qualify for an FHA loan.NOTEStartIf HUD’s charge is heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge, rather than going to a trial, the judge may award damages if he finds discrimination has occurred.


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: August 25, 2013
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