Archives August, 2009

Making Home Affordable: Help for America’s Homeowners

As many homeowners continue to struggle with making their home mortgage payments and fear of losing their homes, there is help available. The government program and website provides homeowners with home mortgage information from both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as well as contact information for the mortgage servicers who have committed to assist eligible homeowners with either refinance or modification options which may provide them with the opportunity to stay in their homes.  The Making Home Affordable site also shares some great “how to’s” to guide homeowners through these challenging times and help them avoid pitfalls when reaching out for assistance.  I’ve attached a flyer which provides an overview of some of the support options available – please feel free to share this with homeowners you may know who could use this information.

Click on the document below to open and save as a PDF.


The Neighborhood Report – Venice Communities

2223 Lakewood Drive in Sorrento East

2223 Lakewood Drive in Sorrento East

To meet the demands and realities of the real estate market on Florida’s Gulf Coast, our agents place a strong emphasis on correctly pricing the properties they represent. Homebuyers are taking notice of these exceptional opportunities, resulting in increased activity throughout the area. Within the last 60 days, our Venice offices have noticed marked activity in Sorrento East, one of mid-Sarasota County’s most sought-after neighborhoods.

Sorrento East Stats and Successes

In the $150,000 to $250,000 price range, there currently are seven active listings, three pending, and three that sold in the last 60 days. Located in Sorrento East, 472 Rubens Drive East was listed by Drew Russell of the Palmer Ranch office and sold by Bonnie Morley of the Venice office. Priced at $180,000, the property went under contract in just six days and closed at $170,000—within 94 percent of the list price.

Also under contract is a listing of Venice agent Laura Kovac, just three houses away at 478 Rubens Drive East, priced at $239,000. This home went under contract on August 6 and is due to close on September 21.

Buyers have been searching for quite some time, and when a well-priced property is shown to them, they recognize not only the value, but the need to move quickly in this price range.

Other Active Areas

Another neighborhood that is not distressed and where prices are holding relatively well is Laurel Hollow in Nokomis, where two homes sold within a week of each other in May. While distressed homes are definitely having an impact on our market and getting most of the media attention, buyers prefer those that are correctly priced in more established communities and are moving quickly to buy at today’s prices. Convenient to both Sarasota and Venice, Sorrento East and Laurel Hollow are within minutes of the beach on Casey Key, have easy access to I-75 and Route 41, and have excellent schools, shopping, and restaurants at hand. Oscar Scherer State Park and the new Legacy Trail are just a mile away. This area is a quiet gem in the greater beauty of Sarasota County.


Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me

Social Networking Sites/ Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Images

Social Networking Sites/ Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Images/

The phenomenon of online social networking—often dismissed as yet another over-hyped fad—had something of a surprise coming-of-age party just hours after Iran held its presidential election last June.  The widely disputed results of that election triggered an ensuing wave of public indignation, angry street protests and general chaos that the embattled regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still trying to suppress.

They probably would have succeeded with relative ease had it not been for something entirely unexpected. After foreign journalists were basically barred from reporting and escorted to the border, the government of Iran suddenly encountered a voice it couldn’t expel or suppress.  Social networking sites—including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Digg and LinkedIn—continued to operate freely; disseminating and exchanging news, information and videos even as they became online rallying points for people on both sides of the oft-violent confrontations.  It was at this precise moment in history that these sites proved without a doubt that their technologies had not only ignited a worldwide revolution in communications but also had the ability to provide a platform for free speech wherever it is being squelched.  Twitter, which was about to shut down for scheduled maintenance, was petitioned by the State Department to remain fully operational throughout the crisis to allow Iranian “tweets” to be viewed in real time by an anxious world.


The Neighborhood Report – St. Armands Communities

St. Armands Circle

St. Armands Circle

The casually elegant St. Armands Circle on Lido Key stands as the southern gateway to Longboat Key, and presents a superlative collection of boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and outdoor cafes. Encircling a well-manicured park and enveloped by a tropical Florida ambiance, St. Armands Circle provides a memorable experience for residents and visitors alike, who seek the charms of a world-class shopping and dining destination. For those who desire their own piece of this exclusive location, the agents our longstanding St. Armands real estate office are area experts who specialize in matching people with the perfect properties.

Areas of Interest

Barbara Roberts, Managing Broker of our St. Armands office, has noticed a heightened buyer interest in available properties located on the southern end of Longboat Key and throughout Lido Key. These residential opportunities vary from elegant beachfront penthouses to modest single-family homes, so the choices are sure to please any taste. Agents working out of our John Ringling office are greeting more and more people who stop by to inquire about what “great buys” are around for them. We are also seeing more buyers who are planning to retire within the next several years and want to know how the market is faring. (more…)

The Neighborhood Report – South County Communities

Well-Manicured Courses Attract Golf Enthusiasts to Rotonda

Well-Manicured Courses Attract Golfers to Rotonda

The real estate market in southern Sarasota County and beyond to Charlotte County is very active, with two main driving factors: waterfront options and reasonable prices. The many available properties fronting waterways, canals and the Gulf of Mexico are cherished by those who enjoy fishing, boating, kayaking or even sunbathing along the miles of beautiful sandy beaches.

Areas of Interest

Home buyers looking for waterfront opportunities have an abundance of properties to choose from throughout Englewood, Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. Here, we have it all for a fisherman’s dream or a boater’s delight, all surrounded by scenic enchantment. In the Stillwater and Rotonda communities, there has been a notable increase in sales activity. Both communities offer newer construction and offer a variety of housing types. The golf courses of Rotonda provide challenging, well-manicured playing grounds for enthusiasts of the game. (more…)

Summer Sale

In today’s real estate market the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” has properties at unheard-of prices is a daily fact of life that has seldom been truer.

Indeed, some of the most incredible opportunities in the twilight of today’s buyers’ market belong to buyers intent on purchasing new, first-quality condominiums in prime Sarasota locations.  The developers of two of these premier waterside properties—Alinari at Rosemary Place and Summer Cove on Siesta Key— have approved substantial price reductions on their remaining inventories that make them hard to pass up.  In the not-too-distant future such record low pricing for comparable luxury will definitely be too good to be true. New, up-to-code construction of this quality and magnitude in such premium locations is already impossible to duplicate at anything remotely approaching prices like these.  Buyers, who have taken the time to visit these communities to examine their quality construction, superb locations and top-notch amenities have gotten the message and seized the opportunities.



7 Tips for Getting a Preapproved Mortgage

With stricter qualifications and more scrutiny than previous years for securing a home loan, preapproval letters provide piece of mind for sellers in knowing that the buyer is capable of handling the purchase. The following article lends some helpful tips for homebuyers in today’s market.

Today, the first step in landing a home loan is obtaining a letter of preapproval. This means a mortgage lender has verified that you’re approved for a mortgage of a certain amount over a fixed timeframe.

Preapproval letters are prepared even before you’ve picked out your home. They remove some of the uncertainty in the home-buying process. In the current housing market, real estate agents and sellers won’t want to work with buyers unless they have one.

“Before you even get in my car, you want to get preapproved,” says Gerry Bourgeois, a real estate broker and president of Towne & Country Realtors in Leominster, Mass.

With a letter in hand, buyers know exactly how much they can borrow – and therefore how much house they can afford. A preapproval letter shows the seller and the seller’s agent that the buyer is capable of buying their house. “For most sellers, the issue is not whether they can get an offer, but whether they can close the deal,” says Tara-Nicholle Nelson, a real estate broker in Oakland, Calif.

Agents see preapproved buyers as more serious (and more valuable) because they’ve taken proactive steps to secure a preapproval. When it’s time to make an offer, a preapproved buyer will be in a better position to negotiate.

Here’s what home buyers need to know about the new rules of mortgage preapproval.


The Neighborhood Report – Siesta Key Communities

Summer Cove on Siesta Key

Summer Cove on Siesta Key

The community of Sarasota Beach stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Grand Canal and includes the world renowned Siesta Key Village. Its meandering boating canals and proximity to Siesta’s beautiful beaches, world-class shopping and fine restaurants have made the community’s single-family homes, multi-family properties and carefree condominiums highly sought after for those in search of a convenient island lifestyle. Current list prices throughout Sarasota Beach range from $215,000 to $3.9 million. Presently, there are 34 active homes, 13 under contract (pending) and seven have sold in the past three months. Michael Saunders & Company was involved in four of the seven closings, which demonstrates our influence in the Siesta Key market. The hottest part of this market is found in properties priced under $500,000. At the time of this report, only six homes in Sarasota Beach are priced under $500,000, which means there is just a little over three months of inventory. (more…)


Bad Apples in a Good Bunch

Last September’s spectacular collapse of Lehman Brothers will no doubt spawn a thousand treatises on how one of the oldest and most venerable investment banks on Wall Street—founded in 1850—was pushed so thoroughly and completely over the brink that it perished instantly.  In fact, at least one is already in print.

One of the company’s insiders, Lawrence G. McDonald—a vice president of trading during the firm’s run-up to demise—has finished a book that explores the blinding greed, hubris and downright stupidity that essentially caused the company to completely implode financially.

In an interview promoting the book—entitled A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers—McDonald said that one simple phrase in the book basically underscores the sudden and spectacular downfall of Lehman Brothers:  “24,992 people striving hard, making money, and about eight guys losing it.”  In other words, a handful of bad apples spoiled the whole bunch.



The Neighborhood Report – Lakewood Ranch Communities

Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch

With a convenient East County location, Lakewood Ranch is an attractive master-planned community perfect for an active lifestyle. Miles of well-manicured trails and sidewalks connect residents to each friendly neighborhood, and a host of challenging outdoor recreational activities—including polo, cricket, golf and tennis—provide year-round excitement for sports enthusiasts. Seven splendid villages—Edgewater, Greenbrook, Lakewood Ranch Country Club, Riverwalk, Summerfield, The Lake Club and Country Club East—offer a variety of residential choices and share a dramatic backdrop of pristine preserve, tranquil lakes and gorgeous landscaping.

Lakewood Ranch Residential Statistics

Our Lakewood Ranch office is the company’s first brand-new building custom designed to greet homebuyers and sellers with comprehensive real estate resources. Branch manager Gloria Weed and her team keep their fingers on the pulse of Lakewood Ranch’s residential opportunities to ensure their clients receive the information essential to making wise real estate decisions. As of August 3, Gloria reports that there are only 244 single-family homes actively listed for sale in all of Lakewood Ranch, which constitutes a 6.5-month supply when figuring the 96 homes under contract. As far as pricing, there are only 16 single-family homes for sale under $200,000, and 38 between $200,000 and $300,000. (more…)

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