Archives September, 2009

The Neighborhood Report – Siesta Key Activity



Soaring Siesta Key condominium residences offer spectacular water vistas.

Soaring Siesta Key condominium residences offer spectacular water vistas.

Siesta Key has been bustling with activity for the past three months, according to Siesta Key office branch manager Debbie Judge. We are seeing buyers from all over the world take advantage of 2002 pricing, which is the last time we had a similar amount of inventory under $200,000. No matter what the price range, there are many options for buyers. One significant difference between 2001 and 2009 is the existence of newly/newer built product including two new subdivisions—Coronas Park and Spice Bay—as well as some new condominiums.



A Look Inside – Statistics

Consider this overview of the stats from the last three months on Siesta Key. We currently have 25 months of condominium inventory and 17 months of single-family home inventory overall. However, it is important to get a closer look to find that different price ranges had different results in terms of months of inventory: (more…)

First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit Deadline is November 30th

FirstTimeHomeBuyersTaxCrediAn invaluable resource is now available for you to promote the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit.

Please follow the link below to download the PDF, which you can distribute to your contacts.

Time is of the essence — the deadline to apply for the tax credit is November 30th.

For more information or to download the printable Tax Credit flyer please visit MSC Resources:

Also, see Sunday’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune article, “Two Minute Warning” or click here to read it now: The Two-Minute Warning

Homebuyers Are Going Green

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Photo Credit:

Rising energy costs have consumers thinking about energy conservation and the green must-haves for their home.

The Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) is federally recognized and has benefits for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can stretch their dollar with the energy-saving measures in the home that will help save on utility bills. Sellers who use an EEM to make improvements on their home will make older homes more comfortable and more attractive to buyers looking to go green. Homeowners looking to remodel or refinance also gain benefits from EEM by making improvements that will help save on utility costs and potentially increasing the resale value of the home down the road.

According to the Energy Efficient Mortgage Home Owner Guide on the Housing and Urban Development Web site, buyers who qualify for a home loan may also qualify for the EEM. The guide also says that availability is not limited by location, home price or utility company. When applying for an EEM, a Home Energy Rating System report must be completed on the house. An energy appraisal is done by an inspector and the results are certified. More information about EEMs and case study examples are available at

Tax credits also are available for energy-saving home improvement products placed in a home in 2009 and 2010.  For specific details visit

Market In Review: The Wells Fargo View Sm


Set the Stage – 10 Tips for Staging Your Home

Make your first impression memorable and welcoming.

Make your first impression memorable and welcoming.

When you place your home on the market, you want to sell it quickly and garner the highest amount possible. To do so, you need to be sure your property is at its most appealing to stand out to the homebuyers who come in for a tour. Staging is preparing your home so it is presented in its very best state, highlighting its strengths and downplaying its weaknesses.

Here are 10 helpful tips for effectively staging your home. Follow these and your property will stand out from the rest and get the attention you seek: (more…)


The Two-Minute Warning

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Photo Credit:

Hard to believe, but only two months remain before the November 30th deadline for earning the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit. While that may still seem like quite a ways off, if you’re planning to join the 1.4 million American families who have already taken advantage of this popular incentive—but have yet to zero-in on a property—you may very well find yourself in a sprint to get your purchase in under the wire.  This is not the sort of last-minute shopping that can be crammed into the few waning days before the cut-off date.

Even though the term First Time Home Buyer has been broadly interpreted to empower more people to qualify for the credit, if you truly are a first-time buyer you may not be fully aware of the time it takes to complete a real estate transaction.  At this late date, you will ideally want to have your home picked out by early-October in order to close on it by mid-November; with an extra cushion of time left over to deal with any last-minute details.

Once you’ve found the right home, your work has just begun.  In order for mortgage funds to be available at the time of closing, you must obtain a satisfactory credit report, a competent home appraisal, a commitment for home insurance, a complete home inspection and verification of personal data.  Add to this the fact that you will not be alone in trying to accomplish all these musts as the deadline begins to loom large.  Realtors, lenders, title companies, home inspectors and certified appraisers will no doubt be swamped by the last minute rush; in much the same way as car dealers were bombarded with buyers and a blizzard of paperwork as the Cash for Clunkers automotive incentive program entered its final days. (more…)

The Neighborhood Report – East County and Lakewood Ranch

Opportunities Abound - 6915 Westchester Circle - A grand Lakewood Ranch property listed by Mary Hellhake

Opportunities Abound - 6915 Westchester Circle - A grand Lakewood Ranch property listed by Mary Hellhake

The residential areas of East County differ widely, offering everything from charming single-family residences and exquisite golf course communities to grand, newly built estates and expansive equestrian acreage. Gloria Weed, branch manager of Michael Saunders & Company’s Lakewood Ranch office, finds that sales activity in East County has been brisk, with 291 homes pending, 189 homes sold and 312 new to the market in the last 30 days.

Lakewood Ranch Activity

The area’s most extraordinary master-planned community, Lakewood Ranch provides all the essential elements for a wonderful life. With beautiful homes, plentiful shops and places to play Lakewood Ranch has established a harmonious balance among the people and the surrounding natural environment. Its proximity to I-75 makes it the perfect location to reach other Florida destinations in any direction, with convenience to two international airports. (more…)


The Best of Times and the Worst of Times: The 2009 REO Market

(Article includes comments by Ann Stickel, VP of Affiliate Services for Michael Saunders and Company)

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Photo Credit:

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times: The 2009 REO Market
By Rick Sharga

It wasn’t all that long ago that veteran REO agents and brokers were wondering if they should be pursuing another line of work. Through the early part of the decade, foreclosure activity was at below-average levels, properties that entered the foreclosure process seldom made it as far as the foreclosure auction, and properties that made it as far as the auction were generally purchased by eager investors. As a result, very few properties became REOs, and business for REO specialists was scarce.

As it turns out, that scarcity was driven by unsustainable home price appreciation, a voracious consumer appetite for real estate investments, a seemingly endless supply of fresh capital from Wall Street and institutional investors, and lending practices that threw caution to the wind. These same forces which, through the first half of the decade, kept REO activity artificially low, eventually led to an explosion of REO activity the likes of which the industry had never before seen, and which – unfortunately – it was ill-prepared to handle.

After seeing almost 201,000 REOs in 2005, the last year before the current wave of foreclosure activity began, REO counts have spiraled upwards at a remarkable rate: Over 268,000 REOs in 2006, almost 405,000 in 2007 and nearly 862,000 in 2008. In just four years, the volume of REO activity has more than quadrupled, far outpacing the servicing industry’s ability to deal with the volume. And 2009 is on pace to set another record.

Bank properties are no longer scarce, and they’re no longer a hidden commodity. In many of the harder hit markets, especially in states like California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, it’s not unusual for bank properties to make up more than 50% of all existing home sales. In metropolitan areas like Stockton, CA and Las Vegas, distressed properties – primarily REOs – have accounted for as much as 85% of resale activities during the first six months of 2009. Consumer interest has never been higher, either. In a recent Harris survey conducted for RealtyTrac and Trulia, almost 60% of homebuyers said they were considering the purchase of a foreclosure property.


Well-Known and Well-Hidden – Top 10 Best Sarasota-Area Beaches

The End of Summer Doesn't Mean the End of Beach Days on Florida's Gulf Coast

The end of summer never indicates the end of beach days on Florida's Gulf Coast

As the summer season winds to an end, we find it perfectly fitting to boast the beautiful weather that defines Florida’s Gulf Coast. While those up north are readying their snow shovels, winter coats and heating systems, we here can continue donning our bathing attire to enjoy a few more months of frolicking on our favorite area beaches—some of which are renowned as among the world’s very best.

To send a taste of our tropical splendor to our cold weather friends, we present the top 10 beaches on Florida’s Southwest Coast. To help guide travelers on their journey down, these spots are listed from north to south. (more…)


Dominating the End Zone

Derrick Brooks from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scoring a touchdown

Photo Credit: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI

Even though the area’s real estate market is at long last exhibiting true signs of a gradual but sustained recovery, it continues to favor buyers in search of the best-priced buying opportunities.  Improvements in the market notwithstanding, the pool of available homes in Southwest Florida—although shrinking—remains much larger during any given month than the corresponding pool of available buyers.   In true “supply-and-demand” fashion, the region remains in a solid buyers’ market.  Nevertheless, if you’re planning to sell your home in the not-too-distant future, you can significantly improve the odds of obtaining better results faster by taking two important steps now that will deepen your own pool of potential buyers.

First, commit to pricing your home at least as aggressively as other homes in its competitive set, if not more so. We repeat this mantra time after time—week after week—because price remains the single most important catalyst for luring buyers away from indecision on the sidelines to confidence at the closing table.

Second, list your home where it is absolutely assured of being noticed by the most buyers. It’s a proven fact.  For homes in virtually every price range, Michael Saunders & Company engages more buyers and brings them to the closing table—by far—than any other company in Southwest Florida.  A bold statement, to be sure; but one for which we proudly offer independent verification based on actual sales data obtained from the Sarasota MLS—and reported monthly by the California-based, independent research firm TRENDGRAPHIX.

For homes priced from $150,000 and up, agents of Michael Saunders & Company brought buyers to the closing table 68% more often in the past 12 months than the market’s next leading competitor. For homes priced $250,000 and above, we are apt to furnish the buyer 87% more often.  Moreover, the spread between Michael Saunders & Company and the next leading competitor in the market is equally dramatic for attracting buyers to higher priced homes. This is a most vital consideration if your home falls into this category; since the recovery has yet to work its way into the upper tiers of the market.  Versus a year ago, nationwide sales of homes priced upwards from $500,000 are down 8.9%, those priced from $1 million and up are down 23.3%; and homes priced from $2 million and up are down 32.4%.



The Neighborhood Report – Palmer Ranch Communities

Lake and Golf Views from 4005 Las Palmas in Prestancia - Listed by Jane Rees.

Lake and Golf Views from 4005 Las Palmas in Prestancia - Listed by Jane Rees.

A sprawling, master-planned community, Palmer Ranch offers a myriad of lifestyle opportunities for any taste. Residential sales activity in Palmer Ranch has been lively, according to Palmer Ranch office branch manager Darla Furst. Convenient to Sarasota’s beaches, vibrant downtown and cultural attractions, the communities in Palmer Ranch include: Country Club of Sarasota, Deer Creek, The Hamptons, Huntington Pointe, Marbella, Prestancia, Savannah at Turtle Rock, Stoneybrook and Turtle Rock.

A Closer Look at Palmer Ranch Sales

There have been 35 single-family homes to have gone under contract (pending) within the last 30 days. Of those pending sales, six homes (17 percent) are in the Deer Creek subdivision, five are in Village Walk, and four in Turtle Rock. A majority of these properties were listed under $400,000, which universally seems to be the most active price range for the area. Twelve of the homes were listed under $300,000. The average days on the market for these properties were 99, which is also a good indication that the market is healthy. (more…)

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