Archives December, 2009

How Will The New FHA Guidelines Affect YOU?

By Gino Blefari, President and CEO – Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

For many years, the Federal Housing Administration, by virtue of its policies designed to help people with lower incomes or those just starting out, made it possible for millions of Americans to purchase their own homes. They made it possible for these people to take part in the American Dream.

Fast-forward to 2006, at the height of the “boom” real estate market, and the FHA found itself backing just 3 out of 100 home loans, as “non-conforming” loans were being given to, pretty much, whoever asked for them, and their requirements were virtually hassle-free when compared to those that the FHA had in place.

Today, the FHA backs 3 out of every 10 new home loans, because, as other lenders have tightened restrictions, FHA has followed the status quo, keeping things fairly liberal.

The result of all of this? Problems. Big ones.

On December 2, 2009, the Secretary of Health & Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, stood before Congress and announced that the FHA’s cash reserves have fallen well below the Federally-mandated level of 2%, to a staggering .53%.

To try to alleviate the FHA’s problems and raise reserves to their legally-required levels, Mr. Donovan indicated sweeping changes would be coming to the FHA’s loan process. Here’s some of what you should expect:


‘Tis the Season – Top 10 Reasons to List During the Holidays

Homes decorated for the holidays add a special touch for homebuyers.

Homes decorated for the holidays add a special touch for homebuyers.

From November to January, folks are geared up for celebration, family gatherings and holiday cheer. While this time of year is well known for shopping and gifts, it is also a good time to have your home on the market—contrary to a common mindset.

It is no surprise to learn that homeowners believe that trying to sell their home during the holiday season is a difficult, challenging task. With all the rush and responsibility this time of year brings, why add another headache to the equation? In fact, many sellers take their home off the market during the holiday season, which reduces the competition in the real estate marketplace.

So, go ahead and decorate your home for celebration, and be sure to keep that For Sale sign standing tall. Here are the top 10 reasons why it is a good idea to keep your home listed during the holidays. (more…)

The Right Approach to Selling Your Home


Willy Sutton, a Depression-era bank robber wanted for frequent heists in New York, Miami and New Orleans, was asked by a reporter on the occasion of his capture, “Why do you rob banks?”  Sutton’s answer was as irrefutable as it was obvious. “Because that’s where the money is,” he said.

The same sort of unassailable logic underscores why so many sellers choose to list their homes with Michael Saunders & Company.  Because that’s where the buyers are.

It’s a fact.  The worldwide presence and connectivity of Michael Saunders & Company—combined with our agents’ drilled-down knowledge of the local market, its many neighborhoods, lifestyle options and essential pricing tools—attract more buyers to the closing table, by far, than any other company in Southwest Florida.  While this holds true across every price range, the latest research from TRENDGRAPHIX reveals that the higher the price range your home falls into, the more likely an agent from Michael Saunders & Company will furnish its buyer. Here’s why:

With over 500 of the market’s savviest and best trained agents blanketing the region, your property is networked among all 16 branch offices of Michael Saunders & Company from the moment it is listed with any one of them.  In addition, scores of these agents and their non-competing managers convene weekly to personally review and visit the company’s newest listings.  Together they share educated insights on such key issues as proper pricing, staging techniques to make the home show best, unique marketing opportunities; and other best practices to elevate the property above its competition.  Indeed, what is likely to go down as the region’s highest-priced residential sale of 2009 involved exquisitely-choreographed teamwork between agents representing no less than four of our offices.  The buyers—longtime customers of a team of associates from our Bradenton office—recently closed on the magnificent waterfront estate on Casey Key; but not before they were afforded the advantage of tapping into the expertise of agents from our Main Street, Palmer Ranch and Longboat Key offices who are the acknowledged waterfront experts in the neighborhood where the sale took place.


Inviting Bayshore Property – Nokomis, Florida

This property located at 1812 Bayshore Road in Nokomis, Florida is perfect for friends and family gatherings.  Features include, a newly renovated kitchen overlooking the pool, split plan for privacy, two family rooms in addition to the large living room.

Within one mile to the beach, restaurants and shopping and includes par-3 golf course and access to rentable boat dock.

1812 Bayshore Road, Nokomis, FL – Listed by Linda Stowe of Michael Saunders & Company

To view the video click here.

Neighborhood Report – St. Armands, Bird Key and Lido Key

The St. Armands area offers a variety of lifestyle options.

The St. Armands area offers a variety of lifestyle options.

Barbara Roberts, managing broker of our St. Armands Circle offices, reports an increase in walk-in activity. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the agents of her office noted return customers coming in to inquire about the status of the real estate market.

St. Armands Office Agents – News and Notes

We are pleased to welcome Karen Lyons Nowadly to our St. Armands offices. Karen brings over 10 years of real estate experience Michael Saunders & Company.

A premier property was just listed by Jenifer Schwell in the Grand Bay condominium community on Longboat Key. This residence is elegant and sophisticated with top-of-the-world views of the city and Sarasota Bay. This newly listed property is priced at $1.295 million. (more…)

The Season of Giving – Top 10 Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

Lend a hand this holiday season.

Lend a hand this holiday season.

As we enter the month of December, activities and events are full speed ahead for the holidays—a time for celebration, family and being thankful for all the things that make our lives special. But above all, the holiday season is a time of giving; a time to lend a hand to help those who are less fortunate and in need.

In addition to the gifts for family and friends, consider giving a gift that will make a significant impact: volunteering. From feeding the hungry to ensuring gifts for children, there are a handful of local organizations and charities that help make the holidays a little brighter for the disadvantaged.

Want to make a difference in somebody’s life this holiday season? Here are the top 10 local volunteer opportunities in the Sarasota area: (more…)

Through the Eyes of a Child

Toys for Tots 001

MSC office - Toys for Tots Drive

With the recession making the approaching holidays seem for many of us about as joyous as a midnight tax audit, we might all do well to regress a little bit and revisit the holidays as seen through the eyes of a child.  Everyone remembers how exciting and filled with fun and anticipation those days were.  The sights, sounds and smells; not to mention the expectations of surprises to unwrap, delicious holiday meals to inhale and families coming together at the end of every year was enough to make even the worst times stop dead in their tracks—if only for a few days.

Making the holidays special for a child makes them special for all of us.  That’s why even with its huge philanthropic heart very much in tact, Southwest Florida still has its work cut out for it this holiday season. The unemployment rate—now hovering at 11.2 percent statewide—is at least a full percentage point higher in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties—thus forcing not a few families to make the gut-wrenching choice between paying the bills and putting food on the table and gifts into little hands.

This is not to say that the community hasn’t already stepped-up commendably to address the widespread fallout created by the worst recession and housing crisis since the Great Depression.  Yet the growing tsunami of need has vastly outstripped just about every charity’s ability to provide the necessary depth of even its core services.

According to last week’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune, volunteers at All Faiths Food Bank “sorted and boxed 936,000 pounds of donated food over the last three months—a 17 percent increase over the same period last year.”  Even so, they were still forced to dip into their cash reserves to come up with the one million pounds of food requested by 160 area food pantries.  Such reserves are fast being depleted at charities throughout the region, as contributions from individuals and corporations also fall victim to hard times.


Siesta Key – Exquisite Bayfront Home

This property located on 6629 Peacock on Siesta Key is designed with unexpected features and extraordinary detail.  Here are just some of the properties exquisite features:

Rich ebony-stained wood floors, arched reception foyer, elegantly proportioned grand salon, soaring 32′ domed ceiling, sunrise and water views, tumbled travertine through-out, infinity-edged pool, cast stone portal

6629 Peacock, Siesta Key, FL – Listed by Stacy Haas & Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company

To view the video click here.

The Neighborhood Report – Siesta Key – Bay Island

Homes on Bay Island offer stunning views over sparkling bay waters.

Many homes on Bay Island offer stunning views over sparkling bay waters.

The gateway to Siesta Key, Bay Island is itself an island located on the key’s coveted northern end. Dissected by Siesta Drive, the waterfront homes of the north have views of Sarasota Bay, Bird Key and the striking Sarasota skyline. Bay Island is home to the three-acre Bay Island Park, a beautiful place to relax or throw out a fishing line enveloped by gorgeous vistas. As local area specialists, the agents of our Siesta Key office bring a wealth of Bay Island community experience and market knowledge to help homebuyers and sellers.

Bay Island – A Closer Look

The waterfront homes on the south side of Bay Island overlook Roberts Bay, Big and Little Edwards Islands and her rookeries. Both bodies of water, as well as the canals, offer quick access to the Gulf of Mexico using Big Pass. (more…)

Go Forward In Time

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