Archives December, 2009

The New Normal

Across virtually every segment of the economy, 2009 sputtered-in as miserably as 2008 sputtered-out.  Yet in spite of its many challenges, the past year showed that it’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.  For if the experiences of 2009 taught us nothing else, we learned that true professionals united in common cause can truly make good things happen.

That’s how agents from Michael Saunders & Company helped re-awaken the region’s comatose housing market in 2009.  United in purpose and armed with statistics to prove the point—they were able to educate sellers to the new realities of a market in which competitive pricing is key.  Of course, it never hurts that ours remains Florida’s top destination for a lifestyle rich in world-class cultural and recreational amenities.

With corrected prices now the accepted norm and the popular first-time homebuyer tax credit renewed for another six months, buyers have rushed in and put the market on the fast track to stability.  They’ve driven up year-over-year the number of home sales by as much as 63 percent, according to the most recent monthly MLS sales recap for November.   As a company, Michael Saunders & Company is proud to announce that our agents finished 2009 with over $1 Billion in closed dollar volume and exceeded our 2008 production.  It took 30 percent more transactions to accomplish this uphill feat, but lowered prices proved the catalyst by which buyers were finally heartened to return to the market.

Even as the S&P 500 gained over 69% from its annual low, holiday sales rose and the consumer confidence index improved over 40% in 2009, economists are dubbing 2010 a “Tabletop” year for the real estate industry.  This means that having clawed its way back to a sustained level of sales activity, our market will continue in something of a horizontal recovery; without any major setbacks or much in the way of noticeable price appreciation, until the job market picks up and the inventory of properties—especially foreclosures—drops off. With unemployment showing signs of slowing, we are beginning to see the impact of our stimulus dollars at work.


Ask Michael – What Are Some Of The Charitable Resources During The Holidays?

This holiday season, Michael Saunders discusses a few charitable resources for giving back to the community.

All Faith’s Food Bank ( and Toys For Tots (

To view this video, please click here.

Sarasota Magazine provides other charitable resources, Click here.

The Charity Register 2008-2009, An Introduction to 218 Sarasota causes.

by Hannah Wallace

Beautiful Private Back Gardens, Sarasota, FL

This home has been written up 2 times in the Sarasota Herald. Featured as “one of the areas most beautiful private back Gardens” and the other featuring the “glorious interior and great use of space” in this West of the trail cottage. All you need to do is view the virtual tour and you will fall in love with this home.

To view the video, please click here.

Michael Saunders & Company -Donald Geikie – 2244 Alameda Ave, Sarasota, FL
MLS: 3914656

20 Gifts For 2010

Happy New YearCelebrating the holidays in a tough economy is enough to unleash the inner Scrooge in all of us.  It’s disheartening for many of us to not be able to give to our loved ones in the abundance we’re accustomed to.

Happily though, even the darkest cloud has a silver lining.  This year’s harsh economic climate, though by all accounts improving steadily as we hurl headlong into 2010, affords each of us the priceless opportunity to reconnect with the true meaning of the holidays and the spirit of giving.

Just before Christmas, we came across an emotional gift guide authored by Jack Levine—founder of the 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee and one of Florida’s best-known child advocates who was named Floridian of the Year in 1990.  It lists 20 intangible gifts to give to those who deserve special recognition for simply being who they are, doing what they do, and for the important role they play in our lives and communities.

No money, fancy paper or colorful ribbons are required to give the very gifts that ultimately touch their recipients’ hearts the most.  All you need are equal measures of understanding, compassion, love and commitment.  Better still, these are gifts—such as volunteering regularly at your favorite charity— that can be replenished all year long, thus extending the spirit of the holidays into every day of the New Year.

So with a brand new decade just a few days away, here is Levine’s 20-item emotional gift guide to help get it started in the best possible way:

  • To yourself….respect, confidence and faith.
  • To a friend….a heartfelt and caring spirit.


Last Minute Shopping – Top 10 Last Minute Gift Ideas for New Homeowners

Avoid the rush. Here are some tips for last minute shopping made easy.

Avoid the rush. Here are some tips for last minute shopping made easy.

The holiday season is here, which means your time for gift shopping is quickly running out. With friends and relatives taking advantage of one of the best times to ever buy a home, now is the perfect opportunity to purchase the things they can use to maintain and personalize their new place.

Owning a home is a celebration and an accomplishment all in one. So, help make this holiday season extra special for those new homeowners on your list by getting them what they really need. Here are our top 10 last minute gift ideas for new homeowners: (more…)

Ask Ann – What Has Changed in Obtaining A Mortgage in Today’s Market?

In the following video, Ann Stickel discusses what has changed in obtaining a mortgage in today’s market that have emerged in the last few years.

To view the video, please click here.

New Year’s Resolution

Sarasota’s real estate market traveled light years in 2009, compared with where it was this time last year; and where other Florida markets still are today.  Even as ours is being recommended as the #1 best-priced housing market in the U.S.— by such real estate gurus as Barbara Corcoran for NBC’s Today Show and the market analysts at—other major Florida markets, including Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami, are being dismissed as the nation’s most overpriced.

Last May, when Michael Saunders invited noted real estate expert Steve Harney to Sarasota to headline a company-wide assembly of our agents, he was very clear in his takeaway message. The only way to re-enervate our market is to educate sellers to back down from unrealistic price expectations born of an unrealistic boom.   Using actual statistics culled from the Sarasota MLS, Harney showed the enormous gap between what homes are listed for and what buyers are actually willing to pay.  He then challenged our agents to close the gap.   “If not you,’ he boomed to the back row, “Then who?  If agents from one of the most respected firms in the nation won’t take the lead, who will?”

Harney’s words had a seismic impact.  By mid-June—some six weeks later—agents from Michael Saunders & Company had achieved more than $110.7 million in overall price reductions; with more happening every day since then.  Moreover, they didn’t simply petition their sellers to lower prices, but came fortified with fresh market statistics to help their clients understand why such a move was vital to their best interests.

After that, the proverbial dam broke; unleashing months—even years—of pent-up buyer demand.  Buyers in droves jumped eagerly off the fence to take advantage of these best-priced opportunities, while many also queued-up to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit that had recently been enacted into law.  This past week the Sarasota Association of Realtors announced that overall sales for November 2009 were nearly 86 percent higher than last November. What a difference a year makes.

Asked by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune last week to identify which of our agents turned in the most impressive performances of 2009, the answer was a no-brainer.  As shown on the graphs below, it was through the combined efforts of every one of our agents working diligently in a tough market that led Michael Saunders & Company to increase its commanding share of the Sarasota market among the five best-performing brokers.  This holds true across all price ranges; but becomes particularly dramatic as the price range goes up. (Source: TRENDGRAPHIX: November 2009).  As well, the agents in our Manatee County and Englewood offices have achieved similar across-the-board dominance of their respective markets. Call any of our agents to share additional in-depth information from TRENDGRAPHIX—an independent source for the latest in local market trends and information.

If you’re planning to sell your home in 2010 you should pay particular attention to the graph that depicts the percentage of “buyer sales by dollar volume.”  It shows that agents from Michael Saunders & Company furnish the buyer for closed transactions as often as the next two competitors combined.

For the foreseeable future Southwest Florida will remain firmly entrenched in a buyers’ market where the best-priced properties will continue to sell, while the rest sit.  Pricing as correctly and aggressively as possible is the best way to ensure your home attracts the most buyers.  With the market’s largest share of buyers coming to us through every available portal—including, our international brokerage affiliations and our referral division—the best resolution you can make if you’re planning to sell in the New Year is to contact an agent from Michael Saunders & Company.




Ask Michael – What Are Some Alternative Ways To Buying And Selling A Home?

In the following video, Michael Saunders discusses the property-buying and selling alternatives that have emerged and become more prevalent within the last few years.

To view the video, please click here.

The Neighborhood Report – Lakewood Ranch

Many beautiful homes grace the Country Club at Lakewood Ranch. Pictured: 7045 Portmarnock Place.
Many beautiful homes grace the Country Club at Lakewood Ranch. Pictured: 7045 Portmarnock Place.

November was quite a month for home sales in the over $1 million range in the gated areas of Lakewood Ranch—The Country Club and The Lake Club. Four sales closed during the month and another three homes went to contract, but have yet to close. Compare these results to just 15 sales during the previous ten months of 2009.

Agent Kudos – Helping Sell Lakewood Ranch

The improvement in sales in Lakewood Ranch is a clear result of long-awaited rational pricing in this category, which is more in evidence each day. One of the best examples is a home in the luxurious Portmarnock neighborhood listed by Barbara Najmy of our Lakewood Ranch office. Barbara, who has been associated with several transactions this year in this price range, clearly outlined the pricing realities of the market for her customer. She discussed the substantial costs associated with keeping a home of this nature on the market for prolonged periods and demonstrated the best ways to prepare a home for would-be buyers. The result: the home was placed under contract in 60 days and closed in just 80 days. What a difference when compared to the other three closings that averaged nearly three years on the market before sale!

The Bottom Line

Lakewood Ranch offers four different gated communities: The Country Club, Country Club East, The Lake Club and Edgewater. Each provides a unique lifestyle and different price categories. All are part of a community with a sense of place rather than simply a collection of developments. With 46 homes available in the over $1 million category and a return to sensible pricing, there are many opportunities for others to become a part of Lakewood Ranch. Just make sure you work with someone who understands the market.

Ask Michael – What Surprises You The Most About the Market Today?

As 2009 comes to a close, we ask Michael Saunders what surprises her the most in the market today.

Please view the video below, where Michael discusses our listing inventory and the price ranges we represent.

To view the video, please click here.

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