Bubil: Michael Saunders discusses the market


Michael Saunders packed nearly her entire sales force, about 475 agents, into the Hyatt Regency Sarasota Thursday for Michael Saunders & Co.’s annual meeting.

Guest speakers Mark Davison and Brian Parsley entertained and educated, speaking about the attributes of great companies and the secrets of great salesmanship.

Afterward, I asked Saunders for her insights into the state of the local realty market, given that the national indicators are a bit stale after two years of steady improvement.

“Every market is local,” said Saunders. “National statistics can’t be applied to our local market. You do have to keep an eye on them, because they are our feeder markets. So what happens there is important.”
• Her outlook for local real estate sales: “We are very positive. We are ahead of last year, and we think our summer and fall are going to be strong, due to the fact things have thawed up north and people can sell. We have buyers coming here and saying, ‘I am not spending another winter there. I am going to buy now. I am not going to wait until next year.’ ”
• Market constraints: “We do have a lack of inventory. The credit level (required by mortgage lenders) is loosening, but the documentation isn’t. Affordability is something we need to keep an eye on. We have shrinking inventory again, and we have seen some increase in price.”
• The luxury-home segment: “The luxury market is beginning to get strong legs under it. I wouldn’t say ‘exploding,’ but it has never exploded.

“We are seeing multiple offers on million-dollar-plus properties, yes. I think you are going to see some very substantial sales in the next two or three months that will prove that our $7 million-plus market is getting very strong legs under it.

“Just look at the new construction in the upper end. You look at the lot price and what is being built on it, and you are getting into the $5- and $7- and $10- and $15-million range.”
• What Jeff Vinik’s $7.75 million purchase of two tear-downs on St. Armands’ North Washington Drive says about the luxury market: “The Vinik deal shows that he knows value and he has the money to provide, for his family and himself, an incredible place to live. It speaks that people with discerning tastes, with money, are choosing to live here. They love it for all the reasons we love it.”
• Does the Vinik deal mean St. Armands waterfront homeowners just got wealthier? “If he wants to buy it, then maybe. I don’t know that it substantially changed the values of every lot on that street. It depends on the buyer, location and motivation, so next-door properties can have very different values.”


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: May 31, 2014
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