Archives November, 2007

Giving Thanks

For Southwest Florida, 2007 has been fraught with challenges, many of them heightened by the trickle-down effects of the on-going real estate correction. Livelihoods across the board are on the line and personal fortitude is being stretched to the limits. But as much as we have that we wish would go away, there is still plenty on hand to pause and give thanks for.

Although the light at the end of the tunnel is still a faint one, at least it’s discernable and the region is predicted to have a speedier economic recovery than most other Florida markets. For that we can be most grateful. And even though the news is so often tinged with an excess of doom and gloom, we take great pride in the fact that month after month Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice has outperformed much larger markets like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

Another sign that the end is near is that 2007 saw more new households form in Manatee and Sarasota Counties than corresponding new housing starts; a trend that is predicted to continue. Which means our large inventory of homes will begin to pare down naturally and launch the long-anticipated turnaround in the market. Needless-to-say, we are still Sarasota, the town that Money, Forbes and other media outlets call one of the best in the nation to live, work, play, retire, do business in, and so on. We are still the ideal destination for scores of domestic and European homebuyers; still a top preference among active retirees, young professionals and second homebuyers; and still the envy of all who visit our shores. Which brings us to the next item to be grateful for.

We can be thankful that so many of the outstanding cultural institutions that give Southwest Florida much of its enormous drawing power continue to expand in size, reach, fiscal endowment, and quality of artistic and educational output. Just to name a few, we thank those who work tirelessly to expand the breadth and scope of Selby Gardens and the Ringling Museum, who underwrite the ability of the Sarasota Opera to mount the really large and important operas, and who contribute to our enormous menu of live theater offerings. These include, in no particular order, the Asolo Theater—which is now prepping a new production for Broadway—the West Coast Black Theater Troupe, Florida Studio Theater, Venice Little Theater, the Manatee Players, the Players Theater and the Banyan Theater Company.

We are thankful to live in a community with such an enormous philanthropic heart; one that tirelessly marshals thousands of volunteers and millions upon millions in donations for the needy through numerous local charities and worthy community services. From Palmetto to Port Charlotte we are a community that pulls together whenever and wherever help is needed.

Here at Michael Saunders & Company, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve such a dynamic, desirable and deserving community. We are grateful for the exceptional people who make up our family of dedicated employees; for the clients and customers who trust our counsel and expertise; and for the joy of putting homes and people together in the ultimate expression of the American dream.

Our sincerest wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Michael & Drayton

Choosing The Right Real Estate Agent To Sell Your Home

When the real estate boom of 2004/2005 was running full tilt, it almost seemed like anyone who could draft a contract—and produce a pen to help everyone sign it—could sell your home. Often in just minutes.

These days a home can languish on the market for months—maybe much longer—if the associate you choose lacks the experience required to understand the shifting dynamics of today’s market. Or launches the relationship by overpricing your home just to win your business.

Here are a few suggestions to help you choose an associate who will definitely operate in your best interests:

· For starters, never hire someone you meet by chance—be it on the golf course, at a social event, or during an open house—until you’ve diligently scrutinized their credentials, experience and track record. It is always wise to entrust the disposition of one of your most precious assets to a seasoned, well-tested professional; one who not only commands an in-depth understanding of trends and preferences in the local market but also keeps up-to-date with the latest in technology, real estate law, lending practices and other industry regulations.

· It is not unwise to ask friends and family members to suggest a good associate, based on their own buying or selling experiences. But choosing a friend or family member to actually sell your home can go a long way toward straining the relationship. No doubt you each want to help the other, but do they truly have the experience and wherewithal to manage a sale before the listing goes stale and the house gets perceived as overpriced or problematic?

· Be sure to ask exactly how they plan to set the price on your home and how they propose to market it effectively. If their response sounds tentative, murky, or ill-defined, thank them for their time, show them the door and keep looking. Pricing is everything in this market, followed closely by focused marketing.

· There’s a good chance the person you select will be attached to a large, multi-office real estate company. What is the reputation of the company, its length of experience and share of recent sales? Ask what sort of industry affiliations and marketing programs they have in place to attract a continuous stream of qualified buyers for homes like yours.

· Make sure the company has a strong and proven presence on the Internet and is linked to other real-estate intensive Web sites. Eight out of ten buyers now start their property search on the Web. Are you prepared to limit your reach to the two buyers who don’t?

· Exceptionally strong foreign currencies—combined with low interest rates and excellent values in our correcting market—have many international buyers seriously interested in purchasing in Southwest Florida. Does the prospective associate have a plan for reaching out to them and does their company have mechanisms in place 24/7 to field overseas inquiries during off hours?

For many more tips on how to make the most of your real estate experience, visit



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