Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sarasota MLS Search on Mobile Devices

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

I just created a stripped down Sarasota MLS search page on my site, designed for easier navigation on a tablet device or a mobile phone, which you can view here:

I also have a mobile app for the iPad, which you can download here:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More News on Shrinking Home Inventory

As a follow up to my blog post yesterday, I received this article from Inman News in my inbox this morning.

The indicators continue to show that demand will put price pressure on home prices nationally.  This is already the case here in the Sarasota area and the state of Florida as well.

If you're serious about getting in the Sarasota real estate market, you can still take advantages of relatively low prices compared to the height of our market back in 2005 and 2006.

This leads me to think about what Zillow and Trulia are telling buyers about prices in local markets.  Read my update on my debunking Zillow page on my website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Florida Housing Shortage Holds True in Sarasota

I know this may come as a shock to many potential Sarasota real estate buyers, especially those from Canada.  Here's the bad news: we are experiencing the beginning of a shortage in real estate listings and available housing.  Read more here about Tampa Bay and the Sarasota area, and here about South Florida and the Miami area.

About a year and a half ago, we had well over 1500 bank owned foreclosure listings for sale in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  As of this writing, there are a total of 521.

I could give a lot of statistics about how many months inventory of homes we have now versus a year ago, but in the real world, working with buyers, the situation is frustrating.  The hot properties are receiving multiple offers, from first time buyers and real estate investors looking to get into the market now.  Cash buyers are beating out those that are getting a mortgage.

We haven't quite experienced the full swing to a seller's market.  Buyers seem hesitant to make a decision right now in the middle to upper price ranges above $250,000.  I'm also hearing buyers say they will go to other markets in search of "better deals", but the situation is the same all over Florida.

With a shortage of inventory and continued strong demand from international buyers and investors, prices will increase.  If you want to get in the market, the time is now.

Appearing on the First Page of Google Search

My real estate website,, has been a popular destination for buyers and sellers of Sarasota real estate for over 10 years.  Unfortunately, because of this I get frequent calls from SEO sales people telling me I could be doing better with Google search results.  They say my site should appear in organic search (the unpaid links) more frequently on the first page of results.

One of these recent calls, combined with an equally recent Google consultation, really distilled the issues facing individual real estate agents trying to promote their websites.

Devoting resources to SEO is a mistake, in my humble opinion.  Google has recently implemented a lot of changes on how it ranks sites (search for "Google Panda update"), and a lot of SEO tactics are no longer effective.  Google's changes favor sites with original content (like that provide the information being searched for.

The first page results on Google for real estate in any local market usually consist of national advertiser sites, such as Trulia, Zillow,, RealtyTrac, and Frontdoor/HGTV.

I believe that because of this, buyers and sellers are now trained to go to page 2, 3, or 4 of Google search results to find local real estate agent websites.  I told this to the Google representative who contacted me for a consultation, and they agreed.  And if you spent a lot of money on SEO to get on the first page, you are lumped in with national advertisers who buyers and sellers are probably skipping over.

My philosophy on CPC (cost per click advertising) on Google follows this same philosophy.  People are skipping the first page results, so paid Adwords links on the first page of Google are also being skipped.

If you are selling a home in the Sarasota area, it's not necessarily important that your agent's website appear on the first page of real estate search results.  If your agent is cross promoting your property for sale using all the available tools, you will get the search traffic and qualified buyers that will result in a quicker sale at a higher price.