Michael’s Web

It was extremely gratifying—to say the least—to learn that Michael Saunders & Company took home two of the top individual honors at this year’s Leading Real Estate Companies of the World conference, held two weeks ago in Scottsdale, AZ.  Company founder and CEO, Michael Saunders—along with the company’s Director of Relocation and Referral Services, Joan Erni—were recipients of the 2009 Chairman’s Service Award, in recognition of the many important contributions each has made to the Chicago-based organization.  Leading Real Estate Companies of the World is a worldwide real estate network comprised of nearly 700 of the best-known local and regional real estate firms in the U.S.—with more than 5,500 offices and 170,000 sales associates in the United States—and 38 countries abroad.   From hundreds of worthy and potential honorees representing hundreds of the world’s best firms, only five people were thus honored this year.  Two of them were from Michael Saunders & Company.

But the night was still young. Before it would wrap-up, the company would return to the podium several more times to claim additional awards, each related in one way or another to how we market properties for our clients.  While we are certainly honored to have won each of these prestigious accolades, by far the award that makes the most difference to our clients and customers is the one labeled:  Best Web Site.

In real estate’s new world order, upwards of 84% of buyers launch, facilitate and otherwise refine their search for properties by making frequent use of the Internet. There—unshackled from the limitations of the print media—they can pour over many more photos of any given property, compare more of its pertinent details with similarly-priced properties; and quite often enjoy a complete virtual tour.  In short, the Internet vastly improves their ability to make wise, well-informed and quick decisions.  That’s why it is of utmost importance to make sure the company you select to sell your home can demonstrate a mastery of the Web that is second to no other in your market area.

It’s generally understood that no one—not even the pundits—will know exactly when a bottom has formed on the region’s real estate market until months after it already has.  But with inventory now reduced by 28 percent, closed sales up by 12 percent and pending sales up 56 percent—year over year—all leading indicators of a market in recovery are pointing in the right direction.  Further evidence that activity in the market is percolating vigorously can be seen by examining the latest statistics involving michaelsaunders.com.

Comparing the first quarter of 2009 with the last quarter of 2008, overall visits to the site are up 58 percent; and the number of first-time visitors is up an amazing 42 percent. Not surprising, really, given today’s buyer-friendly home prices, historically low interest rates and the fact that so many out-of-state and international buyers let their fingers do the walking across a keyboard before visiting us in person.

Recent refinements to michaelsaunders.com now enable you to move quickly from the home page to those areas of greatest relevance to you.  From the home page, you can use the “Quick Search” to instantly locate all properties that fall into your desired price range, browse the newest listings from the past 30 days; or plan an efficient open house tour using our advanced mapping tool.

By far, the most popular section of michaelsaunders.com  is also one of its newer ones.  The Best Opportunities and Bank Owned section became an overnight sensation when it debuted a year ago, with more than 225,487 property showings in its first 12 months.  By responding to changing times in the marketplace, it immediately struck a chord with buyers hoping to save huge chunks of time by previewing only those properties with proven low prices.  By visiting Best Opportunities, you can find properties in your preferred price range and be completely confident they’re among the best values in today’s market.  To qualify for inclusion, each property must be aggressively priced below its current appraised value, below a very recent CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) or be among the lowest priced properties in its competitive set.

The popularity of Best Opportunities continues on its upward trajectory.  Online showings of properties featured in the section increased by 38 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009; further proof that buyers are casting indecision aside to seriously scour the market for actionable values.

In the first quarter of 2009, Best Opportunities had 195 listings in its strictly-controlled inventory of the company’s most aggressively priced properties. 60 of them were sold, for a listed/sold ratio of 30.7 percent.   Compare this to the overall Sarasota-Manatee MLS conversion rate of 19.6 percent for all properties—regardless of price—listed and sold during the same period.  Best Opportunities performs at a rate 156 percent higher than the overall MLS because the properties must be priced aggressively.  Frequent visitors to the site know this and are more apt to take action quickly when the right opportunity comes along.  Plus, the site now offers weekly email updates that notify you immediately whenever a newly-listed property satisfies your pricing parameters.

With the best-priced properties in the best locations being scooped-up at an ever-quickening pace, be sure to check out michaelsaunders.com and Best Opportunities to see the homes that buyers are scooping-up in your price range.  If you’re like most, you’ll be astounded at how much home you can buy, dollar-for-dollar, before prices level and the curve begins to favor sellers again.

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