Archives September, 2010


Class Action – Top 10 Back-to-School Tips for Parents

Being well prepared can help make going back to school easier on everyone. Photo courtesy of

The school bell has rung, beckoning children of all ages back to the halls of learning for yet another year of academic enhancement. For parents, getting a new school year off to a good start can help make a significant impact on their child’s confidence, performance and attitude both in the classroom and social situations.

However, the transition from summer break to the first days of school can be a bit difficult for children and parents alike. Establishing routines, adjusting to schedules and putting books over play can affect even the most eager students returning to class. Here are a few friendly tips to help parents ease the transition and promote a successful school experience for their book-bound brood:

1. Review – Your child’s teacher and school will send some important information about your child’s room number, school supply requirements, sign ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms, volunteer opportunities and more. Be sure to go over this information thoroughly to avoid missing out on anything.

2. Routines – Plan to reestablish bedtime and mealtime routines at least a week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking about the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming overtired or overwhelmed by school work and activities. Include pre-bedtime reading and household chores if these were suspended during the summer.

3.  Clear Your Schedule – To the extent possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings and extra projects. You want to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine and overcome the confusion or anxiety that many children experience at the start of a new school year.

4. Work Space – Be sure to designate and clear a place to do homework. Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.

5. Anticipate Accidents – Accidents happen. For younger children, it is important to prepare a change of clothes in advance, and bring it with you on the first day of school for your child’s teacher to keep in the classroom. It is better to be safe than sorry.

6. Contact information – Get e-mail addresses from all your child’s teachers if possible. It is easy for teachers to type a quick note about issues as they arise and keep parents informed with short e-mails. Also, communication can help if you are unsure about any assignments or coursework.

7.  Remain Calm – The first few days back in school can be a little rough. Younger children in particular may experience separation anxiety or shyness initially, but teachers are trained to help them adjust. If you drop them off, try not to linger. Reassure them that you love them and will see them at the end of the day.

8.  Mark Your Calendar – Make a note of all important dates, especially back-to-school nights and days that require parental participation or special events. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations. Arrange for a babysitter now, if necessary.

9. Get involved – Getting involved in your child’s school is something that just about every parent is required to do. It is also a great way to get to know your children’s teachers and school administrators, and meet other parents. If your school has a parent teacher organization (PTO) or something similar, participate. You can also ask your child’s teacher or other school staff for ways you can volunteer and help out around the school.

10. Praise and Encourage – Your child is working hard to get an education. Make sure to praise them when they do well or excel at something. When they have trouble with something, practice with them and provide encouragement. Positive encouragement can go a long way.

“Today’s Real Estate” – What you can get for under $400K

Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran shows The TODAY Show’s Natalie Morales what’s for sale across the country for around $400,000 or less, and what amenities are included in a home within this price range. Sarasota is highlighted as one of the locations in the video.

Click on the video below to see more.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed Tarr Earns the Graduate REALTORS® Institute Designation

Ed Tarr of Michael Saunders & Company’s Lakewood Ranch office has earned the Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation. He joined other top producers by attending a series of classes that cover a variety of subjects including: contract law, professional standards, sales and marketing, finance, and risk reduction.  Agents with the GRI designation are nationally recognized as top performers in the real estate industry, are professionally trained, knowledgeable and dedicated to quality service.

For more information, contact Ed Tarr at 941.266.3322 or by email at

“Showcase of Homes” – 805 Maritime Court

A recent edition of Showcase of Homes chose to feature 805 Maritime Court, a remarkable property located in the Waterlefe neighborhood of Bradenton and listed at $925,000 by Howie and Robyn Drourr of Michael Saunders & Company. Have your boat docked at your home in this boating water and golfing community. This home has 4 bedrooms and beautiful views from the 2nd floor balcony of the golf course and waterways.  Great split floor plan with all the upgrades; large kitchen has granite counter tops, extended wood cabinets and stainless appliances.

Located at 805 Maritime Court, Bradenton, FL 34212. More information can be found at: http://www.michaelsaunders.comM5811360/

The Showcase of Homes //Howie & Robyn Drourr from Ryan Bodie Films on Vimeo.

*The Showcase of Homes is a weekly TV show shown on ABC 7-TV based in Sarasota.

Ask Michael – Giving Back To Our Community

In this Ask Michael Video, Michael Saunders talks about giving back to our community.

“Showcase of Homes” Features Casa Amalfi

A recent edition of Showcase of Homes chose to feature Casa Amalfi, a remarkable property located on Casey Key and listed at $3,495,000 by Deborah Beacham of Michael Saunders & Company. Remodeled in 2008,  this single family home has 5 bedrooms and 7,359 square feet of living space and includes a stone patio overlooking the pool, terraced gardens and Blackburn Bay beyond. Other features include hand-carved paneling in the library and wet bar, and an 18 ft. Hewn stone fireplace.

Casa Amalfi is located at 3206 Casey Key Rd, Nokomis, FL 34275.  More information can be found at: http://www.michaelsaunders.comA3893268/

The Showcase of Homes //Deborah Beacham //Casa Amalfi from Ryan Bodie Films on Vimeo.

*The Showcase of Homes is a weekly tv show shown on ABC 7-TV based in Sarasota.

The Neighborhood Report – Tortoise Estates

Discover a relaxed lifestyle in Tortoise Estates on Siesta Key.

A small subdivision consisting of about 40 home sites, Tortoise Estates enjoys a prized location on the southern end of Siesta Key—the quiet end of the key. Straddling Midnight Pass Road, properties inside the community offer bay front, Gulf front and inland opportunities. The owners here also have private beach access for their personal use. Turtle Beach is a within walking distance, as is a marina, a pub and two restaurants.

Market Activity – Tortoise Estates

There are presently two homes listed for sale in Tortoise Estate. One is on Horizon View Drive, which is the street to the west of Midnight Pass Road and closest to the Gulf of Mexico. This property features Gulf views—although not beachfront—and is listed at $1,595,000. The other home is located on Tree Bay Lane, which is east of Midnight Pass Road, and has an asking price of $1,700,000.

This year two homes have sold in Tortoise Estates. Alix Wexler and Paul Romley were the listing agents on a modest home built in 1992 and located on Midnight Pass Road. This property sold for $499,000. Monica Slater, Michael James and Janice Perry were the Michael Saunders & Company agents who facilitated the sale of a charming, bayfront Sarasota School of Architecture home that closed at $975,000.

Surviving the Headlines

Ominous, hand-wringing headlines greeted the news late last month that July home sales across the U.S “hit the wall” after the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit expired.   These gloomy headlines—which are virtually guaranteed to continue unabated between now and the end of the year—paint a very confusing picture of our local real estate market; which, by all accounts, has been on a solid footing throughout most of 2010.  Yet the slowdown in sales affecting July—the first month of recorded sales since the tax credit expired—is hardly indicative of the housing backslide that many of the accompanying news stories seem all-too-eager to suggest.

Virtually everyone who follows the market—from pundits and prognosticators to reporters and REALTORS®—knew instinctively that a slowdown in sales was inevitable in the wake of the tax credit’s expiration. So why all the shock, anguish and second-guessing about the state of our market’s health now that actual sales have borne out these expectations?   Any effective purchasing incentive—such as the home buyer tax credit or last year’s successful Cash for Clunkers program for car buyers—typically inspires consumers into immediate action who might otherwise have acted more leisurely.  The tax credit essentially allowed us to borrow against future buyers at a time when sales were urgently needed to help stabilize the market.

As expected, sales fell off in the weeks immediately following the tax credit’s cut-off.  It happened after phase one of the credit expired, then again after its extension expired; largely because buyers acted appropriately.  They stepped-up in a sped-up time frame to take advantage of a significant tax credit simultaneous with the lowest home prices of a decade; not to mention the lowest mortgage rates in recorded history.   In the process, they chewed up a sizeable chunk of our bloated housing inventory.

Of course, moving their purchases forward meant that the pool of available buyers for properties after the tax credit would undoubtedly shrink, albeit temporarily.  No surprise there either.  There’s no better evidence that the tax incentive helped stimulate much-needed property sales on a broad scale than the nationwide paucity in closings that occurred immediately after it expired.  Meanwhile, the pool of active buyers is gradually replenishing itself as we approach the first quarter of 2011, which is predicted to experience much healthier unit sales.

So why all the worrisome headlines about the real estate market taking a giant step backwards after such a promising first half of 2010?


Cherokee Park, FL – Neighborhood Video

Cherokee Park has an unmistakable look. Its wide avenues and large homes, some of which date back over seventy years, mark it as a classic American suburb. It would be hard to write the history of Sarasota without a chapter on Cherokee Park. Its residents have been shaping the town for decades.

For a place that began life as a “fishing rancho” back in the late 1800’s, Cherokee Park has come a along way. Its residents have included a Russian prince, a presidential family, captains of industry, the local establishment, and, this being Sarasota, the most beloved clown in the world. The homes this eclectic group built are mostly still here, enlarged and renovated over the years, until today they manage to be nostalgic in feeling but totally up-to-date for contemporary living.


Why Buy Now? – Top 10 Reasons Why Now is a Good Time to Buy That Home

Now is the best time to make the "American Dream" a reality.

For those considering whether or not to purchase a home, there are number of factors indicating that now is a great time to buy. Despite the media chatter declaring real estate a risky endeavor, we are actually experiencing what could be one of the best buyers’ markets in recent history. So, for means of investment or residency, property searchers are taking note and experiencing the advantages of favorable conditions.

Still on the fence about taking the plunge? Here are the top 10 reasons why now is a good time to buy that home:

 1.  Low Interest Rates – Mortgage rates are historically low for conforming loans. With lower rates, a buyer’s financial power is significantly increased. Even half of a percent can make a noticeable difference. For example, on a $200,000 home, half of 1 percent could save the homeowner about $815 a year. Buyers can get more home for the money, which is a perfect scenario for families looking to upsize.

2. Choices, Choices – There is a tremendous selection of properties currently available and more and more buyers are seeing the opportunities that exist. Remember, as more purchasers enter the market, many of the best values will be gobbled up first. This is an opportunity for you to purchase that dream house your family has always relished. You can find it HERE.

3. Rent vs. Buy – Think it may be a better idea to rent instead? When you rent a home, all of the money you pay in rent goes to your landlord to pay their mortgage. It does not allow you to accumulate any type of asset for yourself. However, when you buy a home, the money for the mortgage payment actually goes toward something that is tangible and belongs to you.

4. Negotiation Room – Due to the large number of homes on the market, sellers are far more willing to negotiate in terms of price as well as many other concessions. Some sellers are even willing to pay a portion of the buyer’s closing costs; a real boon to first-time home buyers.

5.  Prices Scraping Bottom – It’s difficult to know whether prices are as low as they’ll go, but the housing market is showing signs of life. This is your opportunity to find the areas best values. For help, check out our Best Opportunities section for the most aggressively priced homes in the area.

6. Tax savings – Renting a home does not provide you with any opportunities to save on your taxes, but owning a home certainly does. The interest you pay on your mortgage payment every month is tax deductible. 

7.  Equity Forthcoming – Sure, prices are scraping bottom right now, which means when prices come back up, you’ll have instant equity. In parts of the country where foreclosures have driven down prices, better times will mean the price of the home you buy will rise rapidly.

8.  More Space – You may very well find that in today’s buyer-friendly market you can afford a larger home for the same—or less—as what you are currently paying every month in rent. If you dream of having a home office, starting a family soon or expanding your family, now could be the best time to get the additional space that you need for the right amount of money.

9.  Move-in Condition –  Homeowners have continued to spend on maintenance and repair, according to the Harvard Joint Center on Housing. Homeowners who have been holding back kept their houses in good shape while they waited. As those houses enter the market, they are in marked contrast to tattered foreclosures.

10.  Home Pride – Home ownership gives you and your family a sense of stability and security. It’s making an investment in your future.

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