Friday, December 31, 2010

Take a Video Tour of Village Walk at Palmer Ranch

Here's a link to the video tour:

Village Walk is a very popular neighborhood in Palmer Ranch.  It seems to have weathered the real estate market better than most neighborhoods and communities in Sarasota, and watching the tour, you'll see why.

If you'd like to see MLS listings for available homes in Village Walk, and it's sister community, The Isles of Sarasota, please visit my website.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Real Estate Video Tours

I've been researching how Realtors are using video to educate consumers and showcase their listings, and I've learned quite a bit.  One of the better examples I've found is actually a Realtor from Canada, and you can see his website here:

I don't plan on showing my mug as much as the O'Neill videos, but I do believe I can improve on what local Realtors are currently providing.  For example, I was visiting a local competitor's site and clicked a link to see University Park video, and found the majority of it was devoted to shopping and Lakewood Ranch.  Another local Realtor is posting "HD video", with no narration, and it basically looks like static pictures.

I made my first foray into putting together an informative, concise, and accurate representation of what a home buyer would actually see, and ask about, in my latest video tour upload to my YouTube channel, sarasotahomes.  There you can see a video tour of the popular Turtle Rock, a gated community in Palmer Ranch in Sarasota, FL.   As with most things tech, I'll get better at shooting and editing the video with future entries for popular Sarasota neighborhoods.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New content on

I've been hard at work continuing to develop unique content on my real estate website,

I've recently added some very compelling sales data from 2007-2010 for the areas that correspond to my Neighborhoods Maps in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  I show number of units sold, average sales price, average price per square foot, and more.  This should be very useful to home buyers who are evaluating price trends in our real estate market.  Home sellers should also find the data helpful in determining what their homes may be worth.

Google Analytics shows there are a lot of searches being performed for new homes.  To accommodate those buyers looking for a new home deal, I have created an interactive Google map of new home communities with links to the builder websites, color-coded based on starting price.

Combine this new content with my unique interactive Golf Map, complete with a search page for golf course community homes for sale, and you'll see that is an important resource for your Sarasota real estate needs.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Debunking Zillow

I've always been a little bit of a hater of Zillow.  Deep down I always felt they presented data with a point of view against Realtors and home owners.  Again, this is my opinion.  You can agree or disagree.

I was playing around their site recently to see if they had anything of value I could incorporate on my own website.  I checked out their Widgets and and started looking at their Median List Price widget.

It's my opinion that list prices have little to do with actual real estate values, and even less of a use in determining price trending in a particular area or neighborhood.  Let's face it, you can list a property for any price you'd like, but the actual sales price determines real estate values.  I do use list price data to gauge price negotiability and softness in demand, by comparing list price to sales price ratios, when working with buyers. 

So, as I was evaluating their widget, I checked out the neighborhoods they listed, and tested Lido Key.  What?  List prices trending down 29%?  Is demand that soft?  Were the Realtors so far off the mark?  Turns, out, this is hardly the case.

I invite you to go to my website and visit my analysis of Zillow in this particular case.  The actual data from our MLS shows that sold values from Nov 2009-10 are down approximately 9% versus Nov 2008-09.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  No matter your circumstances, you have something to be thankful for.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Websites and Technology

With so many cookie-cutter real estate websites out there, I thought I'd toot my own horn about mine,

There are a plethora of companies that provide website templates for Realtors, and a great majority employ them.  Out of a desire to save money and provide something unique, I designed and created my website myself.

I actually had to look outside the real estate arena for inspiration.  For example, the "leading" luxury real estate broker here provides an Open House page, but they include only their own in-house listings, and they don't provide a clickable map.  On my Open House page, I provide a list of ALL open houses in my service area, as well as an interactive Google map.

I also created a Just Listed page.  The cookie cutter sites and the big box brokers don't have this feature.

I've also jumped into the realm of mobile real estate.  I provide an iPhone/iPad app to search listings.  I've posted QR codes on my mobile page, where you can snap the code with your mobile phone camera to go directly to the app, or to my website URL.  I don't see this offered among many, if any, of my competitors.

If you're looking to sell your property, my technology edge will put your home in front of more buyers.  If you are buying real estate, the technology I use will keep you in easy, convenient contact and make sure you get timely information in a competitive market.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transaction Fees: To Pay or Not to Pay?

I was recently asked by a client if I charged a transaction fee.  At Sandals Realty, we do not charge a transaction fee to buyers or sellers. 

A transaction fee is an add-on, instituted by the major franchise brokerages like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Re/Max, and the like, as an additional revenue stream in the face of shrinking profit margins and increasing costs in a challenging real estate market.

Transaction fees only go to the bottom line of the real estate company. They do not serve a purpose to the customer or to the real estate agent. In my opinion, transaction fees are junk fees. They are like "processing fees" at a car dealer, or on a mortgage.   If you were shopping for a car, you would ask about any fees the dealer charged and could possibly eliminate before your purchase.  Same thing with real estate.

As a real estate consumer, you should NOT be asked to pay this fee by your Realtor, although a good many try, using the line that "it's worth it to pay for excellent service".  What usually happens is that Realtors eat this transaction fee by paying it to the real estate company out of their commission, but if they still insist that you pay, find another Realtor to assist you. 

2010 Hurricane Predictions: Wrong Again

One of the things I'll be taking aim at here in my blog is how the media and politics affects the business of real estate.  One example of this is how, in the wake of Katrina and the global warming/climate change farce, the major weather prognoticators have over-hyped the threat of hurricanes.

In an uncertain economic environment, the over-hyped threat of natural disasters is another issue that needlessly damages the real estate market in FL.

The fact is that yes, Florida is susceptible to hurricanes, but Sarasota is even less susceptible to hurricanes than the rest of the state.   We have to go back 50 years to find a hurricane with a direct hit on Sarasota, Hurricane Donna in 1960, with 80 mph sustained winds, just barely a Category 1 hurricane: .  Hurricane Charley, in 2004, hit the eastern part of Sarasota county, which primarily is home to fruit orchards and cattle operations.

Here's a well-researched Reuters blog on how badly wrong hurricane predictions have been for the past few years.

Contrast the hype over hurricanes versus tornadoes.  Florida isn't hyped in the media for tornadoes because we aren't in Tornado Alley.  However, while Florida ranks #1 for the number of tornadoes, we do not show up in the top 10 states in tornado deaths or number of killer tornadoes: 

So potential FL real estate buyers, take the media hype over hurricanes with a grain of salt.  It's too beautiful here to worry about it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Listed in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte

See the fresh listings for single family homes in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  Check out my "Just Listed" page for 91 new property listings.

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for visiting.  I'll be using my blog to tell you about real estate opportunities and news in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  I also like to take aim at "conventional wisdom", so I'll be covering topics that affect real estate, such as the economy, politics, even weather.

You can also visit my real estate website,, where I have accumulated a wealth of local real estate information and insight.