Archives February, 2010

Vote “Yes” on March 16th

Mother Nature has been exceedingly generous in the amenities she’s bestowed on Southwest Florida.  Our top-rated beaches and magnificent web of pristine waterways—enjoyed amid abundant year-round warmth and sunshine—are why so many newcomers choose Sarasota County over all other possibilities in the Sunshine State.

The amenities we should be proudest of, however, are the ones we’ve bestowed on ourselves.  These, of course, include an impressive list of educational and cultural amenities; which continuously attract newcomers wanting more on their family’s horizon than a picturesque sunset.   As a community striving for a better brand of economic stability than we’ve gotten of late from tourism and development, it will ultimately be the quality of our public schools that will attract the businesses that help us diversify.  Virtually any town on Florida’s two coasts offers plentiful recreational amenities; but the decision of where to re-locate a business—or start a new one—is more apt to turn on the quality of an area’s school system rather than the sum of its beach and boating opportunities.

We should congratulate ourselves therefore for the steps we’ve taken over the years to improve the quality and output of our schools. In a state not renowned for the scintillating quality of its public schools, the voters of Sarasota County have gone to the polls time and again to reject mediocrity in their home district.   Most recently, in 2006, we voted “Yes” to renew our 2002 pledge of setting aside one mill in annual property taxes to preserve our top-ranked schools.

On Tuesday, March 16 we are being asked to renew this pledge again at a time when its critical funding has never been more urgently needed.   Please join us; first by showing up at the polls to have your voice heard on this important issue.  Then if you believe as we do in the power of good schools to bring prosperity to a region, please vote “Yes” for another four-year continuation of the one mill.  Early voting for the referendum commences Monday, March 1st.  To learn more about the absentee and early voting schedule; or to preview a sample of the referendum ballot visit


The Neighborhood Report – Siesta Estates

Homes in Siesta Estates rarely go on the market. This one is currently listed by Harvey and Ethel Lovelace.

Tucked away at the corner of Beach and Midnight Pass roads on Siesta Key is a private enclave of 16 homes in a private, gated community called Siesta Estates. The homes are newer, built since 1995, and the community offers privacy walls, lush tropical landscaping and underground utilities including natural gas. Although this community lives like a single-family community, it has yard and private pool maintenance included, which make it ideal for owners that travel or want to use the home part time.

Market Activity – Siesta Estates

Homes in Siesta Estates are a minimum of 2,000 square feet with the average being around 2,500 square feet. In June of 2009, the only remaining lot was put under contract by Mary Jo Violett and Kristina Rain with the Siesta Key office of Michael Saunders & Company. A new home is being built on that site. (more…)

Top 10 things you should know about the homebuyer’s tax credit before it runs out

A tax credit of up to $8,000 is available to new homebuyers. Act now!

With April 15 quickly approaching, many of us find ourselves scrambling for the necessary information to ensure Uncle Sam gets his share—and our refunds are maximized. This past year, new legislation passed through the United States Congress to extend and expand the popular first-time homebuyer tax credit. The new and improved federal homebuyer tax credit can benefit not only first-time homebuyers, but also homeowners who choose to upgrade or buy a new home.

So, if you are thinking about taking advantage of this limited-time offer, or already have, here are the top 10 things you should know about the homebuyer’s tax credit before it runs out: (more…)

Get Professional Help – Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent

Get the most from your home buying or selling experience. Hire a professional.

With a wealth of information and access to multiple media sources readily available online, many homebuyers and sellers may wonder, “Couldn’t I buy or sell a home on my own?” Our answer for this quandary is quite simple. You would hire a professional for real estate for the same reasons you acquire the services of any trained professional—to help you navigate safely and confidently through some of life’s biggest investments. So, if you want to get the results you hope to achieve, then hiring a real estate agent for representation is the way to go.

So, if you’ve wondered the same thing, here are the top 10 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a professional real estate agent when you buy or sell your next home: (more…)


The Price is Right

Although it’s impossible to predict the bottom of our real estate market with anything other than months of perfect hindsight after the fact, who can blame home buyers in this economy for at least attempting to time it to their advantage?  In the best of times, saving big on one of life’s biggest purchases is as American as apple pie.  In troubled times, it’s a daily crusade.

Yet, even if one could magically time bottoming home prices to the split second, you would still make a tactical mistake as a would-be borrower if you failed to notice a similar bottoming-out of mortgage interest rates.  Indeed, by allowing interest rates to climb while you wait for prices to fall, you can easily end up paying more for a property than if you actually bought it at today’s price while locked into today’s historically low interest rate.  That rate is presently hovering around 4.88%, give or take.

Meanwhile, there’s scarcely an expert on the market who doesn’t fully believe that mortgage rates have but one way to go—up.   Rates have essentially been held as low as they’re likely to go for quite some time now in order to stimulate sales.   However, March 31st is expected to mark the beginning of a trend toward fewer stimuli and more tough love for the housing market—mainly in the form of higher interest rates.

That day—the last of this year’s first fiscal quarter—is the deadline the Federal Reserve has given itself to begin scaling back on its widespread purchases of mortgage-backed securities.  Once this deadline has passed, most experts believe the Fed will begin in earnest to wean itself from propping-up a market that is already showing encouraging signs of sustaining itself through the lowest prices of a decade.


Ask Ann- Describe the Mortgage Options Available for Today’s Distressed Home Owner

We asked Ann Stickel-vice president of Affiliated Services for Michael Saunders & Company Mortgage, LLC-what government programs are available for distressed homeowners? Also, how these government loans help keep people in their homes and the foreclosure rate at a minimum.

If you have questions for Michael Saunders, email

Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte Counties: Year Over Year Sales Comparison

Recent trends in the Southwest Florida real estate market—as reported by TRENDGRAPHIX—continue to show encouraging signs of a market in recovery. Year-over-year inventories of existing homes for sale are down by nearly a fifth to a quarter across all three counties of Southwest Florida; while both closed and pending sales in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties remain steady and dramatic.

*Data courtesy of Trendgraphix

Market In Review: The Wells Fargo ViewSM

Consumer Protection Act of 2009
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives approved – by a vote of 223 to 202 – the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, otherwise known as H.R. 4173. This bill proposes sweeping reforms that have the potential to profoundly impact how financial companies operate and what consumers can be offered in terms of products and services.

A culmination of many months of work, the authors of the bill sought a way to protect consumers and the economy through stronger controls. While many agree that the legislation does introduce new means to achieve these goals, concern remains about the unintended consequences this bill may produce.

In its Dec. 17, 2009 public statement, the American Bankers Association said it “supports broad reform of the banking regulatory system and has expressed this view in testimony before Congress; (this includes)…the formation of a council charged with overseeing systemic risk, creation of a mechanism for the orderly resolution of systemically important non-banks, and ending too-big-to-fail. Although some improvements were made (in the bill), ABA remains opposed to this legislation as passed by the House.”

The Senate is expected to propose comparable reform legislation with some significant changes.

Financial Services Oversight

Currently, H.R. 4173 covers a comprehensive number of issues including the creation of an interagency Financial Services Oversight Council that would identify and regulate financial institutions that pose systemic risks to the country.

The bill supports heightened oversight and regulation for financial institutions and a process to dissolve firms that fail. This includes publicly identifying and subjecting financial companies to stricter standards if it is determined that the company’s performance or mix of activities could pose a threat to the financial stability of the economy. The council would be responsible for imposing a special assessment on financial companies that fail to pay for any shortfall in TARP that would add to the national debt.


Special Teams

There’s nothing like a major upset in a riveting Super Bowl to remind us how important teamwork, preparation, focus and the right attitude are.  After all, strip away the hype and hoopla.   Skip the big-name entertainment, talking heads, pre-game interviews and trash-talking press conferences; and the Super Bowl ultimately drills down to which team shows up with enough heart to win.  For doing just that, and winning it’s first-ever championship, we congratulate the New Orleans Saints along with every faithful fan from the “Who Dat Nation.”

The business of selling your home in today’s real estate market is one of life’s biggest Super Bowl events, requiring as much teamwork, preparation and focus as pro football’s premier match-up; but with no fumbles, interceptions or penalties allowed.  When you list your property with the team from Michael Saunders & Company, your quest for the ideal outcome is actually heightened through the combined efforts of several special teams within a team.  Their common goal?  To sell your home as quickly, efficiently—and as uneventfully—as possible; for as much as today’s market will allow.

Sending in our special teams on your behalf begins with the preparation of a thorough Competitive Market Analysis (or CMA).  A timely and well-documented CMA shows exactly how your home stacks up against its competition; and how it must be priced to become an instant must-see for buyers in its competitive set.  If necessary, the special team from MSC Style can step-in to make sure your home looks and shows to maximum advantage through a number of recommendations proven to help a home sell faster.

Once ready for the market, the special teams from MSC Marketing and MSC Technology swing into action to make sure your home is properly showcased and presented to as many potential buyers as possible.  Now that nine out of ten buyers start their property searches on the Internet the logical first step, of course, is to upload your property’s complete listing information onto, by far the # 1 trafficked web site in Southwest Florida.   No other company in Southwest Florida has invested more time, money or talent into making sure that ours is at once the easiest to access, easiest to use and most information-packed real estate Web site in the region, if not the country.

If you opt—as many of today’s sellers do—to price your home aggressively below competitive properties, it becomes immediately eligible to appear in the Best Opportunities section of  Because Best Opportunities is routinely visited and re-visited by today’s most value-conscious buyers, its featured listings average well over 500 showings per property.  Moreover, since debuting last May, 41% of the 812 listings that have appeared in the section have sold.

Additionally, your property listing is uplinked to more than 2,000 other local, regional, national and international web sites for additional exposure to buyers everywhere.

On the local front, with more than 550 agents working from 16 strategically-located sales offices, the ground team at Michael Saunders & Company is uniquely capable of capturing buyers wherever they happen to show-up first.  Many of these agents will preview your property during the company’s weekly caravan of new properties.  Here they actually visit the home in person to assess its potential compatibility with the housing needs of their extensive databases of buyers.

On a much broader scale, our worldwide brokerage affiliations—strategic alliances formed over nearly four decades and strengthened by Michael Saunders’ continuous top-level involvement with each—are another way we make sure your home is systematically exposed to the most potential buyers.  These affiliations include Christie’s Great Estates, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio, EREN—The European Real Estate Network, and Mayfair International Realty.

It goes without saying that each offer received on your home is formally presented to you; then skillfully negotiated until one is accepted and a contract approved by both parties.  During this critical phase of the sale, two more special teams are prepared to go to work for you.   MSC Mortgage smoothes the way to a closed sale by pre-qualifying buyers for the safest and best loan products available on the market today.  Meanwhile, the team from MSC Title makes sure that all title issues are carefully researched and examined to assure free and clear title to the property.  If your immediate needs are best served through the “short sale” process, our MSC Short Sale Division puts a team of experienced short sale negotiators in your corner.

Our market has at long last experienced months of positive and sustained buyer activity.   If your 2010 game plan includes selling your home, invite an agent from Michael Saunders & Company to explain how listing it with the # 1 real estate team in Southwest Florida will put a new owner inside faster than you can say “Who dat?”

Romance on the Gulf Coast – Top 10 Valentine’s Day Ideas

This year, make Valentine's Day special for the one you love.

As the day of love and adoration approaches, many find themselves without a plan to express their feelings to the object of their affection. While we do encourage our readers to articulate and share their heartfelt sentiments throughout the year, Valentine’s Day presents itself as a must for those who prefer to maintain a relationship with the very person they endear. As such, it becomes your duty to make each February 14 a small celebration of love for those dear to you.

Beyond the heart-shaped boxes, mounds of candy and arrangements of flowers, there is a world of romance out there just waiting for you to enjoy. This Valentine’s Day, dust off your romantic ambition and do something extraordinary for that special somebody in your heart. Here are the top 10 Valentine’s Day ideas from your friends at (more…)

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