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Date of Issue: February 08, 2007

Island real estate ready to boom - if prices drop

Property sales on Anna Maria Island could be poised for a spectacular winter season if the results of an informal survey of Island real estate offices done by Mike Norman Realty in Holmes Beach are put into effect.

More than 90 percent of the agents surveyed agreed that while Island real estate asking prices might be too high - some say between 20 to 25 percent - if sellers drop their prices accordingly, it may spark sales activity. In other words, the Island could easily be headed to a buyer's market.

Several agents said they've already discussed a lower asking price with their sellers and many have agreed. One agent noted that as soon as the asking price on a canalfront property he listed dropped significantly, a "near riot" of offers were received and the property quickly sold.

Other agents said that while Gulffront property always sells over time, other sellers in the market should understand that the boom years of 2004-05 are over and it's time to take a realistic approach to property values.

Another agent noted that investors are back in the Island real estate game and looking for good values.

One agent said it's a matter of educating the selling public to regenerate sales on the Island.

"We need to advise our listers what the realistic listing price would be, based on recent values," said the agent in the survey.

Quite a number of owners have put property on the market at an inflated price "just to see if they get an offer," said another agent surveyed.

"I advise my clients that if they aren't serious about selling, don't list their property. For the serious seller, I try to give them a realistic figure," he said.

A good piece of advice for a seller is that if the property has been on the market for more than six months without an offer, the seller should reduce the price to "get in the game" or remove the property from the market.

"I'm really encouraged by the survey," said Norman. "If sellers drop their asking price to a realistic figure, I think we're going to see a big turnaround. We've already seen one property get flooded with offers when the asking price was reduced. It's just a question of having a realistic asking price."

And that's not to say that everyone won't come away happy with a sale when an asking price drops.

Norman noted that the buyer who bought Island real estate in 2004 can still expect a considerable return on that investment today if the list price is reasonable.

One agent, however, cautioned that the property tax issue also needs to be addressed to boost real estate sales.

The Florida Legislature is expected to discuss all issues of taxation and insurance in Florida and attempt to find solutions to the recent large increases in insurance premiums and non-homesteaded properties, particularly along Florida's coast.

An Island group known as Citizens Against Runaway Taxation and headed by Holmes Beach resident Don Schroder has enlisted the aid of state Rep. Bill Galvano and state Sen. Mike Bennett to present the Island's tax problems at the upcoming legislative session.

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