Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sarasota Short Sale 2012 Statistics

It goes without saying that short sales are a subject of frustration for home buyers, sellers, and the real estate agents that serve them.

One of the most frequent issues I see with buyers is the question of what kind of offer should they make; specifically, can or should a buyer make a low offer on a short sale, hoping to negotiate a better price?

Recently, an article came out about lowball offers and their consequences, which you can read here:

I decided to take this article a step further and research what is actually happening in my real estate service area of Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  Using MLS sold data, I examined the list price to sales price ratio for short sales.  I took this even further by examining this data by price range.  The data includes all short sales (single family homes, condos, etc.) from January 1 to June 30, 2012.

The local data supported the article referenced above.  The sales price was uniformly in a narrow range of 94-98% of the list price, regardless of the price of the property.  You can see the data on the spreadsheet I created in Google Docs here:

Bottom line:  If the list price on a short sale is out of your budget, or not realistic versus comparable sales, move on to another property.  Remember, a short sale is already heavily discounted versus the property's previous sales price at the height of the real estate market.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Focus On: Bird Key

Bird Key real estate has been quite active in 2012.

Year to date, 22 single family homes (all properties on Bird Key are single family) have sold.

Median sales price is $1,145,000, selling at 93% list price to sales price ratio, and closing within 144 days.  So far this year, only one property was a distressed sale.

Bird Key and Bird Key Yacht Club

What's contributing to the activity on Bird Key?  First of all, there's the unmatched value of the location between downtown and St. Armand's Circle, as well as Lido Key beaches.  If you could have a waterfront luxury home with easy access to these areas, would you buy a condo downtown at a similar price point?

Secondly, Bird Key prices are recovering.  In 2009, the median Bird Key sales price was $689,000 with 35 properties sold, 7 of those distressed properties.  In 2010, it was $899,999 with 29 properties sold, 4 of those distressed.

Something interesting to note, which I have mentioned in other Focus On blogs, is that the list price/sales price ratio is much higher than Harbor Acres or Casey Key.  Is it a coincidence that the self-appointed luxury home brokers are not controlling anywhere near a majority of listings on Bird Key in 2012, compared to these other two areas?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 Outperforms Major Sarasota Broker Sites

Google Analytics is a fascinating and highly useful tool for evaluating a website's  performance in the online advertising universe.

I started using Google Adwords over 10 years ago for my real estate website,, and experienced excellent results.  My goal then, as it remains now, is to create a website and online presence that could take on the largest competitors in our area.  A new feature I've been examining on Analytics gives me some extremely positive results to share in this regard.

Google's Auction Insights provides a revealing snapshot of how keywords are performing versus other online advertisers.  I was pleased to find out that my keywords targeting some of the most popular neighborhoods and areas in Sarasota and Manatee Counties garnered a higher share of impressions (people who saw my advertisement) than major brokers.

To me, this proves that a lone real estate agent can successfully take on even the largest competitors online when it comes to marketing properties and attracting buyers.  The web really does even the playing field, when smart content and consumer-focused marketing can win despite the deep pockets of large brokers.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Focus On: Casey Key

Casey Key is arguably the preeminent real estate destination in the Sarasota area.  What makes Casey Key so desirable are the gulf to bay estate-sized lots, private beachfront, and it's off-the-beaten-trail location between Sarasota and Venice.  If you are looking for privacy and exclusivity, Casey Key fits the bill.

Casey Key FL
To date in 2012, just 9 single family homes have sold on Casey Key.  Sold properties were on the market an average of 271 days with a median sales price of exactly $1.7 million.

What jumps out at me from the data, as I outlined in a previous Focus On blog about another luxury neighborhood, Harbor Acres, is the list price to sales price ratio.  This is a very good indicator not only of the strength of the real estate market for a neighborhood, but also a good indicator of the ability of the listing broker to correctly price for the market.

As with Harbor Acres, listings on Casey Key are dominated by our area's "luxury" broker.  This broker has been, in my opinion, overly optimistic in encouraging sellers to list their property, citing the throngs of visitors to Sarasota in season as a bellweather of a recovering real estate market.

I have previously blogged that this assessment is overly simplistic, and that it takes more than highly Photoshopped night imagery of a luxury home with an illuminated pool to sell luxury real estate in this market.  Sales data for Casey Key seems to validate my position.

Year to date, the media list price/sales price ratio for Casey Key is 82%.  This is extremely low compared to the 93-95% LP/SP ratio for most neighborhoods in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  For the "luxury" broker's sold listings on Casey Key, the LP/SP ratio was 81%, 82%, 73%, 85%, 94%, and 77%.  Amongst the other sold listings, their competitor's LP/SP ratio was 79%, 89%, and 89%.

A recovering real estate market, at least on Casey Key, is a tough case to make to a seller if you have to negotiate 18% from list price.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New content on

I've been making some additions to my real estate website,, that buyers interested in purchasing Sarasota real estate will find useful.

It's frustrating enough finding homeowner's property insurance information on insurance websites, so I created a new page addressing the most common concerns in the Sarasota area, which you can read here:  I cover a lot of topics from wind mitigation to flood insurance.

Sarasota FL home buyers will also find my content on the buying process very informative. 

My exclusive Beach Meter, included for the 39 neighborhoods and major areas I profile on, have been enhanced with links to Bing Maps, showing not only the driving time and distance to the nearest beach, but the actual route as well.

Many home buyers may not be aware of what CDD fees are or how they impact your purchase and ownership of a home or condo.  You can read more about them on the CDD Fees page on my site.

With these additions, is THE authoritative Sarasota real estate website when it comes to the most information for prospective home buyers:

Buyer's Page:  Intro to Sarasota real estate
Buying a Foreclosure:  Tips and advice
Buying a Short Sale:  Tips and advice
Best Deals:  Updated regularly in 4 property categories
Buying Process:  What to expect once under contract
Canadian Buyers: Helpful tips and advice
CDD Fee:  What are they, where are they?
Condo FAQ:  Most common condo buying questions
Closing Costs:  Typical buyer and seller closing costs in the Sarasota FL area
Homestead Exemption:  What are the requirements?
Home Inspections: What you need to know
Insurance:  Common homeowner's insurance issues and tips
Investors:  Tips for prospective property investors, common issues
Just Listed/Just Reduced:  Stay on top of the market, updated daily
Neighborhoods:  39 major Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Co. areas profiled, links to listings
Neighborhood Review:  Ratings for 6 important buyer criteria
Service Providers: Title, mortgage, insurance, and home inspection contact info 
What Can I Get:  Color coded area map with price ranges and property type

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Herald Tribune: Early Stage Foreclosures

This morning I read an article from the Sarasota Herald Tribune about early state foreclosures.

Has anyone held an issue of the H/T in their hands lately?  Things must be getting really bad for them.  I think this article is an example why.

To summarize the article, early stage foreclosures (technical term: lis pendens) are up for the second month in Sarasota County.  The source?  RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac is part of what I call the unholy trinity of real estate websites (including Trulia and Zillow) who mislead the real estate buying public by posting lis pendens properties they scrape from public tax data websites as available for sale.  None of these companies are licensed real estate brokers, and none of these properties exist to sell real estate.  They exist to draw a large audience through deceptive marketing, and sell that audience to advertisers.

I'm not sure why the Herald Tribune bothered publishing this article.  They pounded the drum about the strength of our overheated market up until the crash in 2006.  They're wrong now by using this data as a possible signal of a weakening real estate market, like they and so many other media outlets were wrong about the "shadow foreclosure inventory" we heard so much about in 2011.

They did manage to contact one of the over 5,000 licensed real estate agents in Sarasota County, who correctly stated that the banks are being extremely careful not to upset the recovering real estate market by releasing too much supply, which would stifle the price increases we are experiencing right now.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Zillow's "Make Me Move" Feature

As much as I hate to admit, I am a member of Zillow.  No, I don't pay them, as readers here and of my website know all too well.  I use my membership to help the confused consumers asking questions on their website.

Today, someone asked what the "Make Me Move" feature was on Zillow.  Neil, a helpful Zillow employee, replied:  "It's the price that a seller might consider selling the house for".


You can read the thread and my responses here:

Then I was pounced on in the thread by another Zillow Koolaid drinker who said when the seller "claims" their property on Zillow (why does Zillow have it on their site in the first place then if it's not for sale or a seller didn't place it there?), they offer a price they "might" sell it for.  In this particular case, the property had an inaccurate Zestimate and a ridiculously high Make Me Move price.

I'll move out of my house for $750,000.  It's worth about $250,000.  Helpful real estate feature, Zillow.

Focus On: Harbor Acres

Harbor Acres is an upscale neighborhood, west of the Trail, close to downtown Sarasota, Lido Beach, and Siesta Key beaches.  Harbor Acres features a mix of new construction, waterfront homes and original ramblers and split level homes without water frontage.

Harbor Acres, Sarasota FL map courtesy of Bing Maps

The wide range of architecture and waterfront property versus non-waterfront property creates a wide range of prices in Harbor Acres.  As of this writing there are 3 homes in Harbor Acres actively listed for over $5 million.  However, since December 8, 2012, only 4 homes have sold in Harbor Acres, the most expensive being $1.1 million.  This property was at one time originally listed for sale for $1,885,000, a dramatic price reduction of 29%.

See the report here by clicking here.

Some interesting information comes out of this data.   One fact that jumps out is that a couple of brokerages control most of the listings.  The second is that the median list price to sales price ratio is extremely low at 85%.  This means that properties are either over priced when listed, or it's a buyer's market in Harbor Acres.  The average LP/SP ratio for many Sarasota neighborhoods is 93-95%.  Does the fact that so few brokers control the listings (and also represent the buyers in these transactions) attribute to the poor ratio?  It's worth considering.