Questions for a pro: Sarasota agent Cheryl Loeffler


As an agent with Premier Sotheby's International Realty, specializing in luxury waterfront property, Cheryl Loeffler has had a stellar year.

She ranks No. 1 in residential sales in Sarasota. In April, she recorded the highest condominium unit transaction in county history, a $6.75 million sale in L'Ambiance on Longboat Key. In May, she followed that up with a $4.75 million sale of a home on Longboat.

Correspondent Chris Angermann talked to her at her office on Central Avenue about the high-end real estate market.

Q:To what do you attribute your recent success?

A:I feel very fortunate that we were able to maintain our positioning during the difficult times. You have to position your business just as you position real estate.

We stayed fully staffed and managed to keep a certain level of our advertising and promotional activities, which was very helpful when the market started to rise again. And I had fabulous pieces of real estate and a great team to work with. The L'Ambiance condo had been beautifully optimized — it was like a fine Rothko painting. The people who ended up purchasing it "got" what it was all about.

All of the properties sold very quickly because the buyers didn't want to lose the opportunity. In the luxury market, everybody wants to make sure that they're getting a good deal. They look for future profitability, so they're not going to overpay; but they will pay for value.

As Realtors, our "value-added" is knowledge and service.

Buyers approach us because of our expertise. Being able to point out the most positive aspects of how a home meets their search criteria is essential. They like to have our input to make sure they're making the right decision, and of course, that involves trust and knowledge.

You have to show them that you know what's going on in the market. You can't just say, "Wait a minute; let me go to my computer" — you have to have the information at your fingertips. If they come here and say, "I only want to buy on north Longboat," and they have dinner with people who tell them, "Well, surely you've looked at Casey Key," then you have to know that market, too.

Q:How are condo sales different from homes?

A:You have to know how the buildings work — the restrictions, the rental policies, the amenities.

If a buyer doesn't play tennis, it might not be important that the condo has tennis courts. Some people are avid swimmers, so there has to be a large pool with a swimming lane.

We try to include these things in all of our listings, so we can talk about the square footage, the bedrooms, the floor plans, the building environment, and the rules and regulations.

There is no reason to waste somebody's time showing them a place in a complex that doesn't allow pets, if they've got a big dog. Pets are becoming very important. More and more people want to bring them along, even when it's a vacation place. For them, pets are members of their family.

Q:What should buyers know about sellers?

A:High-end sellers realize that we're in a rising market, so in many cases, they will price their property at the upper end of the range of value. Then, they will accept an offer that is, perhaps, what they would have listed it for a year and half ago.

It's all about the positioning. They also want the buyers to appreciate what they've done with their property.

If an offer comes in that the sellers don't consider within their range of value and with the proper terms and conditions, they just won't respond to it. That's not a great negotiating position for buyers, so they really have to pay attention to what the market will bear, if they're serious about the property.

Q:What about new construction?

A:In the heydays, the building crane was the city bird of Sarasota and Longboat Key, but we haven't had much new construction in the high-end market for about five years. It's coming back, though, and people are very excited about it.

We have a lot of activity right now — people are still looking for quality and uniqueness — and it's great that new products are being added to the mix.

And it's not just custom homes being built, but also custom-designed interiors for condos. Home-purchase decisions are influenced by the opportunity to add value by renovating or expanding, especially in the high-end restoration market.

People buy properties and try to optimize the flow, take out walls and raise ceilings, where possible. It's rather well known that when renovating kitchens and baths, you can usually get back every penny you put in.

Last modified: June 7, 2013
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