PHOTO GALLERY: Leading by example - foreclosure buyers motivate neighbors

Transforming a shabby, run-down rental home to a beautiful residence has inspired neighbors of the Martinez family of Beaver Court on Marco Island to do a little sprucing up of their own

Article Highlights

  • “If the banks that own foreclosures could be pressured to do the same,” Xiomara Martinez said, “it could benefit the whole community and the real estate market on the island.”

Leading by example, a family new to Marco has revitalized their neighborhood by sprucing up a near-derelict foreclosure home they bought in 2008.

And, the Martinez family — of 960 Beaver Court — hopes their efforts will spread across the length and breadth of the island.

“If the banks that own foreclosures could be pressured to do the same,” Xiomara Martinez said, “it could benefit the whole community and the real estate market on the island.”

It’s taken the family about seven months so far to revitalize the house and property, and in that time neighbors have responded with projects of their own.

In addition, a couple of sales in the immediate vicinity have materialized over the past few months, something Martinez believes is also an off-shoot of the general improvement to the neighborhood.

“We bought when the market was really damaged,” she said of the new family home, which sits on a cul-de-sac facing a large waterway.

“It had one sale around 2004 at about $1,200,000, and then another soon afterwards at about $1,499,000. At that stage it had become an ugly rental home.

“We eventually bought for $531,000. I knew it would need a lot of work, but I could see the potential of the property with the views it had.”

So, in January of this year, the family began to “rehab” the property, as Martinez put it. So far, it has cost upwards of $50,000.

Neighbors, she said, showed immediate interest when they embarked on the clean-up, and soon started making improvements themselves.

One is Ernie Lasalle, who spearheaded the improvement of a landscaping feature at the end of the cul-de-sac.

“I walk and bike around the island a lot, and I think it’s a shame about the foreclosures and how run-down they are,” he said.

Lasalle had only praise for the Martinez family.

“That house was a train wreck,” he said. “Before they moved in there was mold showing in the window sills, the grass was dead, and whoever had been in the house just left the furniture on the driveway for about a week.”

In the meantime, Martinez, who describes her taste as “eclectic,” applied her interior decor talents to the inside of the home to complete the magic.

She, husband Felix and four-year-old daughter Kassandra plan on a long and happy residence on the island, she said.

Yahoo! Real Estate lists 256 Marco Island foreclosure homes at the moment.

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