One of the more prominent realty firms on the Gulf Coast, Sarasota-based Michael Saunders & Co., will attack the residential real-estate market with a “think big” strategy. The firm recently hired a new director for its expanded rental division, part of a $750,000 investment in rental real estate. It plans to hire at least nine full-time rental agents in the coming months and up to six more people for inside office jobs.
“We felt strongly this was the best long-term decision,” Saunders said. “Our consumers demanded it. And our agents demanded it.”
The division will work with both property owners and tenants. It will also work with short-term, long-term, seasonal and annual rentals.
Michael Saunders & Co., founded in 1976, previously ran a rental division that marketed and managed more than 800 units in Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Saunders sold that division eight years ago to focus on the then-burgeoning housing boom.
The firm maintained a few rental-focused contracts after it sold the division, though, including two Longboat Key resorts. Saunders sought to get back into rentals full-time over the past year, when several trends showed the demand, along with clients and agents who saw the need.
One of her first moves was to hire Jayci Grana, a rental properties executive from Orlando, to run the division. Grana is incoming president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers, an industry-lobbying group.
Grana says one key to the rental unit is that the brokers will be paid a salary, with a commission on top. Most other firms take a commission-first approach. The rental division also has an improved website, says Grana.
Grana says in many local markets the rental dynamic is slated toward more demand, less supply. So she expects an onslaught of business.
“A lot of people are renters by choice,” says Grana. “There are a lot of tenants out there.”