Archives October, 2009


What to Do? – Top 10 Sarasota Fun Spots (that are not the beach)

Aside from the beaches, Sarasota is bursting with fun activies for the whole family.When a location is graced with such beautiful, sun-kissed shores as those found on our acclaimed coastline, it is all too easy to lose focus on some of the inland attractions that make that area an exciting, fun-filled place to be. But there is so much more to Sarasota than sand and water. From theatres and galleries to exotic animals and marine life, Sarasota offers a host of activities and places to entice people of any age to get out of the house and out to explore. So, with respect to the award-winning beaches of powdery white sand and sparkling azure water that make our area a world-wide vacation destination, here are the top 10 fun spots found throughout the greater Sarasota area (beaches excluded): (more…)

Ask Michael – Why the West Coast Of Florida?

Florida’s west coast attracts many visitors and new residents from all over the world. Company CEO and Founder Michael Saunders talks about many special things that make our area so compelling.

What is so compelling about the west coast of Florida?

If you have questions for Michael Saunders, email


Recovery By Extension

ar125254684165608This is an audience participation post in which you are invited and encouraged to weigh-in with your opinions on one of our region’s most pressing economic issues.  But first, read on.

Counting today, there are just 30 days to go before the first time homebuyer tax credit expires.  For all intents and purposes, if you haven’t gone to contract on a home by now you probably won’t complete your purchase in time to qualify for the credit.

That’s bad news for many qualified buyers who have been in the market for months only to be frustrated at every turn by a system that refuses to budge.  Perhaps they’ve been denied financing due to an incompetent appraisal by an out-of-town appraiser.  Perhaps the appraisal was accurate, credit scores were good, but the lenders simply refuse to lend.  Or perhaps they’ve been on the buyer side of a short-sale where the seller and the lender have been locked in limbo for six months or more.   For these reasons—and because the tax credit has had such a positive impact on our market—we join Congress in its support for extending the deadline at least another six months.  There’s agreement on both sides of the aisle—and among leading economists—that a recovering housing market is the prime catalyst that will lead the rest of the economy out of the wilderness.

The tax credit has been so effective in stimulating sales and stabilizing home prices that continuing it seems like a no-brainer in light of a housing market that still exhibits contradictory signs of recovery.  Secondly, a significant new wave of foreclosures is in the pipeline that could easily undo much of the progress that has been made toward reducing inventory and firming-up prices.  One of the key benefits of the tax credit is that it ignited a firestorm of sales that has helped shore-up home prices in spite of the unprecedented number of foreclosures and short sales.



Spooky Sarasota – Top 10 Sarasota Area Haunts

Sarasota's past comes alive for Halloween. Pictured is an artist's representation of a spooky Sarasota.

Sarasota's past comes alive for Halloween. Pictured is an artist's rendition of a spooky Sarasota.

The mere mention of the name Sarasota is enough to cast fear into the minds of those who are aware of its terrifying past. No other place in the world is home to a more gruesome, bone-chilling history of blood-curdling horror and shocking tales of ghastly fright sunken deep within… 

Ok, I apologize. None of that is even remotely true. But with Halloween just around the corner, I would be remiss to let this moment pass without researching and digging up the scary tales and spooky celebrations found throughout the Sarasota area. Turns out, our sleepy waterfront destination is more sun drenched than blood drenched, which is fine by me. 

While we may not boast the macabre notoriety of places like Salem or Transylvania, you can rest assured that Sarasota does have some skeletons hiding in its tropical closet. Here are the top 10 most horrifying stories and scary places of Halloween celebration throughout the Gulf Coast area. Beware—some of these may cause nightmares. Probably not, though.  (more…)


The Flight to Safety


According to the 2009 World Wealth Report—a revealing new study commissioned by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management—the calamitous global economic meltdown of the past year has reduced the worldwide head count of high net worth individuals by almost 15%.  Nevertheless, 85% of these high net worth individuals—though admittedly having lost a fifth of their combined net worth—are still comfortably awash in disposable income.

High net worth individuals, according to the study, are defined as those having investable assets totaling $1 million or more—excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables.  Included in this number are ultra-high net-worth individuals, or those with at least $30 million in investable assets; and mid-tier millionaires having between $5 and $30 million.

Although understandably guarded about where they plan to park their assets going forward, these enormously well-to-do individuals are clearly hopping “a flight to safety,” which means they’re backing away from all but the most secure investment opportunities.    The categories they now deem the least risky include gold and precious gems, fine art, and real estate—tangible items with a proven record of gaining in value over the long term.  They don’t suddenly turn toxic overnight.

This should come as great news to clients who sell their residential and commercial properties through Michael Saunders & Company.   For not only do these high net worth individuals have an above-average interest in purchasing prime residential properties in major U.S. markets, but are shopping for first-rate commercial opportunities as well. (more…)

Ask Michael – Buyers Finding The Best Priced Real Estate

Michael Saunders answers a question on how buyers can find best priced real estate in the market. She discusses price ranges, neighborhoods, and the popular Michael Saunders & Company Best Opportunities program.

How would a buyer find the best priced real estate on the market today?

To view the link you can also click here.

If you have questions for Michael Saunders, email


Neighborhood Report – Venice Stories of Success

Venice Beach is just one of the area's many wonderful charms. Photo courtesy of

Venice Beach is just one of the area's many wonderful charms. Photo courtesy of

Venice office branch manager Kathy Wood enthusiastically reports a strong market in the Venice area; and she’s right to be excited. According to the Florida Regional Venice MLS, sales of single-family homes in August rose 49.12 percent compared to August of 2008, and condominiums sales for the month of August rose 40 percent compared to August of 2008. 

Just how important is it to know your market?

As one of our Venice agents recently learned, it is very important to be familiar with the market you serve. You will hear the same response from any number of Michael Saunders & Company agents, in any number of our offices, because they are all consummate professionals who have made it their business to know their area of expertise. They make a point to actually see the inventory on caravans each week, prepare comparative market analyses (CMA) for potential listings, and familiarize themselves with the surrounding area. (more…)


It IS Easy Being Green – Top 10 Green Innovations for Your Home

Solar panels make use of the sun to provide a clean, environmentally sound way to collect energy. Photo courtesy of

Solar panels make use of the sun to provide a clean, environmentally sound way to collect energy. Photo courtesy of

Within the last several years, environmentally sensitive features for homes have become increasingly popular with builders, designers and homeowners alike. As energy prices have increased and the green movement ascended, more innovative, eco-friendly materials, systems and solutions have emerged in many of today’s newest constructions and home designs.

The benefits of creating a green home are many, including lower utility and water bills and a host of tax incentives and breaks. Below are the top 10 green innovations and ideas to help turn any house into a self-sufficient, resource-saving home. (more…)


The Right Stuff

Deganit Shemy & Company - "Arena" performance at the Ringling Arts Festival

Deganit Shemy & Company - "Arena" performance at the Ringling Arts Festival. Photo:

It was nice to hear someone else say it for a change; someone who is both in the loop, professionally-speaking, and who spoke from a place well outside our market area.

That “someone” was Barbara Corcoran, long familiar to regular viewers of the Today Show as the program’s resident expert on all things real estate.   What Corcoran—who built a small empire selling properties in New York City, the Hamptons and Palm Beach—said in an interview with Al Roker confirms what hard-core statistics have hinted at for some time now.  There’s absolutely no time like right now to jump in and take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities that await homebuyers in Sarasota’s value-laden real estate market.

Said Corcoran moments before revealing the top ten U.S. markets in which prices have dropped the most, but come back strongest over the last quarter: “If you can time a real estate market—which you can’t often do—this is the time to buy in these particular places.” She then placed Sarasota squarely atop her list of the nation’s best-priced real estate markets; based on actual sales statistics compiled monthly by the National Association of Realtors. What these statistics don’t necessarily reveal is that only the most aggressively priced homes in every price range are moving into the sold column.

“The Florida markets were hit early,” Corcoran said in explaining why Sarasota is out in front of the real estate comeback. “Last year alone, prices went down by a full third in Sarasota. But prices are already up 13%. So it’s moving fast as buyers snap up bargains.”

That’s not all Ms. Corcoran had to say about Sarasota being a most attractive place to buy. When the affable Roker mentioned that Sarasota is also prized for possessing some of the country’s best beaches, Corcoran concurred, but went a step further. “It’s a beautiful beach,” she agreed offhandedly. “But on top of that,” she emphasized, “it’s a sophisticated city. It’s an urban city, with all the things that sophisticated people like to find there.”

Wow. Talk about winning the trifecta. Any one of these three positive attributes—great prices, awesome beaches and a richly cultivated lifestyle—is enough to lure most discerning buyers to Sarasota. Yet, even if you never plan to set foot on a beach or attend a live music, theater or dance performance, you still have unlimited recreational opportunities, great retail, restaurants, nightlife and—of course—low prices to take advantage of.


The Neighborhood Report – St. Armands Strides

Unique shopping and dining venues attract visitors to St. Armands Circle from around the world.

Unique shopping and dining venues attract visitors to St. Armands Circle from around the world. Photo courtesy of

The St. Armands area continues to garner attention for its exceptional location among beautiful beaches and world-class shopping and dining venues. To further introduce the many charms of their remarkable destination to potential homebuyers around the world, the agents of our St. Armands office have participated in blogs and engaged the web’s most popular social networking sites, according to branch Managing Broker Barbara Roberts.

The Power of the Web

Recently, St. Armands agent Barbara Dumbaugh received a lead through, one of the web’s most widely viewed real estate resources. Here, she was able to hand select and present a collection of area properties based on the buyer’s requirements for characteristics, amenities and neighborhoods. The buyer agreed, was satisfied with the selection, and made the trip here for an in-person tour. Barbara sold him a property listed by Yolanda Kaufman, also an agent of the St. Armands office. (more…)

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