Thursday, April 9, 2009

If you blink, you might miss it…

People are very interested in identifying the bottom of markets. Some bottoms are easier than others to predict and/or to realize. Clearly the stock market, with its technical levels tracked second by second is easier to get a handle on than a local real estate market. Typically we don't know that a bottom is formed until it has passed. I know one thing for sure; if you wait for the absolute bottom of our real estate market, you will miss out on an amazing, likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We now find ourselves in a "perfect storm" time to buy! Pricing and selection of quality homes is as good as I can ever remember, and interest rates are at historical lows. These are not factors which will last forever. And don't fool yourself into thinking that everyone is waiting for lower prices or better interest rates. On Longboat Key alone there have been 56 homes sold and closed since January 1st; there are an additional 45 homes pending closing. Couple that with a decreasing inventory….right now only 7% of Longboat Key's available inventory is for sale.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is Your Property Listed or For Sale?


To successfully market and sell a property in today's market we need to follow new rules; the techniques of years past no longer work, so we must adapt to the "new normal" which we find ourselves in. A key factor in selling a property in today's Buyer's market is proper pricing. We can no longer assume that just because a property is listed that it is truly for sale. In fact, in my estimation, many of the properties actively listed on the Multiple Listing Service are not really for sale, given the fact that their pricing is out of today's market range.

Let's look at the Longboat Key market over the past 30 days. Of the 16 properties which went under contract, 11 of them had had a price reduction before selling; that's 70%! The average difference between listing and selling price was 10%, with a high of 18% and a low of 2%.

We know that potential Buyers are out there, given the high number of showings and open house visits. When Buyers visit our listings, they want to see well-priced listings offering good values. That said, Buyers need to heed the numbers to…properly priced listings are selling at an average of 10% from their listing price, not the 20-30% which some media are reporting.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The New Normal

Our real estate market has been searching for a new normal for years. Let me explain. When I began selling real estate on Longboat Key in 1988, the normal market had properties fluctuating in price 3-5%, largely trending upwards. Occasional recessions or slowdowns brought flat to slightly negative turns. In the early 2000s we began to see much higher price increases, two years (04/05) with price increases in excess of 30%! This new market brought an extreme Seller's market with multiple offers and over list price sales. In 2006 we began to see a leveling and then a reduction of prices due to the unsustainabiltiy of such appreciation. We now find ourselves "oversold" with prices reaching back to those of the early 2000's.

So what's the new normal for today? Normal is that we are living in recessionary times. Normal is that we have a higher unemployment level. Normal is record low interest rates, available to consumers who can afford the loans. Normal is good selection of available properties. Normal is a Buyer's market.

The inherent values of Sarasota and Longboat Key have not changed. The weather is still incredible, the waters are clean and beautiful, boating and beaches are unparalleled, and we have shopping and dining all within the cultural capital of Florida.

Today's normal will be unrecognizable in the future. As a Buyer, today's normal is the one I would want to be purchasing in…wouldn't you?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Being a part of the Community

I've written much about how great the Sarasota community is and how wonderful it is to live here. When you live in such a special place, you find yourself looking for a way to give back. I find that people in our community are very generous of both their finances and their time. As people become established in our community, they gravitate to one of the many non-profits in our area, from the hospital to the opera and everything in between.

One of my personal passions is my work with Southeastern Guide Dogs. The school's mission is to create and nurture a partnership between a visually impaired individual and a guide dog, facilitating life's journey with mobility, independence and dignity. My wife Alisa and I have raised four guide dog puppies over the years (we now raise our two little boys); I now serve as a board member of the organization which his located right here in Sarasota. In fact, it's the only guide dog school in the southeast US, with more than 800 active guide dog teams and 70 new teams added annually.

Southeastern Guide Dogs offers many volunteer opportunities including puppy raising, dog walking and puppy cuddling. Further, we are always in need of additional funding for our vast array of programs. If you want to know more about the school, contact me for more information.

I'm proud to be a member of a community in which so many give back to keep our community strong.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Train is Leaving…

Here we are in the beginning of our winter season in Sarasota. We've had our chilly spell in late January, and now the beautiful weather is upon us. Our cultural season is in high gear, with events like Town Hall (with Madeline Albright, Newt Gingrich and Michael Gorbachev), the opening of the Opera and the celebration of the Asolo's 50th year anniversary. Restaurants are full and reservations are a must.

We expect all these things in February. We also expect a busy real estate market, and guess what? It is busy! If you are one of those Buyers on the sidelines, thinking that we are in a stagnant market and gloomy times are ahead of us, you need to know that properties are selling. You need only look at the Sarasota Multiple Listing Service to see that there are currently 37 pending (under contract) properties on Longboat Key, 6 on Bird Key and 6 on Lido Key. In the past week I have sold 4 properties myself!

We live in a relatively small community which offers an exceptional lifestyle. Buyers want to live here and will purchase when they perceive that they are getting a value.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Our City is Great for Kids (and Grandkids)


Our family (Alisa, Jake (4 ½), Max (2 ½ )), loves living in Sarasota. One of the reasons is because there are so many wonderful things to do with children. Since I know many of you have children and/or grandchildren, I thought I'd share some of our favorites:

    The Sarasota Farmers Market (Main and Lemon) – We love starting our weekends with donuts and coffee/hot chocolate at the farmer's market. We also pickup our fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood for the week. Look carefully to find the balloon man who does custom swords and animals for the kids.

    Playgrounds. We have them in all shapes and sizes. Our favorites include Marina Jacks, City Island and Durante parks. We especially like the trails at the latter two.

    Strawberry picking. This time of year we head out to Hunsader Farms for an afternoon of fun picking strawberries.

    Big Cat Habitat and the Lipizzaner Stallions – You won't find this in Naples! Right here in Sarasota we have lions and tigers as well as the World famous Lipizzaner Stallions' winter training.

    Polo – Every Sunday polo is played out east on the Polo fields; tailgating is great family fun.

We also love the Van Wezel kids' programs, gathering sand dollars on sandbars, and kayaking through the Lido Beach mangrove trails, just to name a few. Sarasota is a great place for kids!





Van wezel kids program

Farmers market

Strawberry picking




Monday, February 2, 2009

How’s the market?

Whenever I see people, whether in a profession or social setting, the first thing they ask me (after they ask about our family) is "how is the real estate market?" This is certainly to be expected, given all the attention which the real estate market is being given by the local media.

There are many ways to answer the question, so here are a few:

  1. It is a Buyer's market, and there are Buyers willing to buy. They still love the Sarasota area, and they want a good value when they purchase.
  2. Showings are typical for early season. We usually have many "lookers" in January, which turn into Buyers in February, March and April. We will really understand the strength of the market after these months have passed.
  3. Buyers are looking toward real estate as a tangible asset which they can enjoy. The real estate investor has not been seen for months.
  4. International buyers are largely on the sidelines. Again, we will have to see if they show up during the high season months to make purchases.

Since the proof is in the actual numbers, look below to see how we are doing so far. These numbers are sales which have occurred in the past 30 days, the first of 2009. At this time. Longboat Key is leading the pack!

Longboat Key         12 sales    32 pending sales

Bird Key        2 sales        3 pending sales

Lido Key        3 sales        5 pending sales

Monday, January 26, 2009

Are we living in fear?

They say there are two motivating factors when purchasing large items like real estate, fear and greed. Interestingly, buyers tend to be most interested in buying when we are in a Seller's market (actually being greedy when they should be fearful) and less interested in buying in a Buyer's market (being fearful when they should be taking advantage of the amazing values).

In our local island markets, we are seeing this scenario play out every day. Buyers want to purchase the Sarasota lifestyle which we can offer them, yet hesitant to follow through. Those who do commit to buying are finding good choices, great values and historically low interest rates. They are also getting to start enjoying their life today, rather than waiting and worrying.

As Warren Buffet has said on many occasions, "Be fearful when everyone is greedy and greedy when everyone is fearful."