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Guest Speakers Included Paul Boomsma, President and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Former CNBC Chief Economist Marci Rossell, Wellness Consultant and Author Anusha Wijeyakumar, and Mountaineer Aron Ralston, Who Inspired the Film, 127 Hours


Local, independent market-leading broker Michael Saunders & Company held its first in-person Annual Sales Meeting since the start of the pandemic on May 12, 2022, themed Together with You. Over 500 agents, managers, division heads and invited guests packed the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Sarasota where they joined in celebrating the past year’s successes while marveling at how far the company has progressed from its modest beginnings over 46 years ago. In its first year, the company sold $11 million in properties. Last year, sales had risen to over $4.79 billion, resulting in the best year ever in the company’s history.


Michael Saunders, Founder & CEO, and Drayton Saunders, President, welcomed their team and congratulated all for their 2021 success and leadership in the three counties they serve – Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte. Highlights included:

* 2021 record-breaking sales of $4.79 billion in sales volume

* Being the 2021 market leader in both residential and commercial sales with commanding market-share in the upper end of the residential market

* Significant partnerships and historic groundbreakings of St. Regis Longboat Key and 400 Central in St. Petersburg and the successful closeout of The Ritz-Carlton Residences at the Quay

* Incredible inbound and outbound referrals through relocation services

* Exceeding $1 million in total contributions to the MSC Foundation since 2011 with every dollar going back into the community


“Across three counties, our Sales Associates and corporate divisions are known as local experts, masters of relationships, skillful negotiators, genuine, real, engaging and trusted advisors,” Michael Saunders said in her opening remarks at the meeting. “Together, we shattered all records in all parts of the company.”


Looking ahead, Drayton Saunders addressed the company’s current and future impact on the housing market, local economy and communities. He encouraged agents to remain focused on goals and opportunities in the market. “Together, you are aligned in the pursuit of excellence – that is no small thing,” Drayton said. “The market for experts who care and want to make a difference for the people they serve will always be in short supply and high demand.”


For 46 years, Michael Saunders & Company has invested back into its agents to build a forward-thinking company meant to serve agents and the regional market through prime office locations across three counties, earning recognition locally, nationally and internationally. The company’s independent ownership and intricate knowledge of its home region has always enabled it to pivot quickly to address fast-changing market conditions, shifting buyer preferences and new lifestyle opportunities, including the recent pandemic-induced surge of buyers flocking to Florida’s Gulf Coast.


Celebrating deep relationships forged over its four decades, surprise guest, Paul Boomsma, President and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (a.k.a, Leading RE) and Luxury Portfolio International, was welcomed on stage for a special fireside chat. Michael Saunders & Company, over the years through these strategic alliances, has cultivated strong national and international brokerage partnerships with the goal of optimizing incoming referrals from around the U.S. and globe. In remarks that celebrated the benefits of national and global connectivity, Boomsma not only reminded the audience of the strength of these two networks with like-minded independent companies over which he presides, but also praised Michael Saunders for her role in helping expand LeadingRE and Luxury Portfolio International® in size and stature and for serving on its board of directors. Today, the network boasts 565 firms in 70 countries and accounts for more than 1.3 million in annual property transactions and over $296 billion in annual closed volume.


Much-anticipated speaker Marci Rossell – former CNBC Chief Economist and co-host of Squawk Box and Chief Economist for LeadingRE, shared her economic outlook. In addressing the local housing market, she described “a return to normal” for the rest of 2022 with a shift back to pre-pandemic appreciation rates. She also addressed low inventory and the need for additional housing units to support strong demand still seen in our local market. Rossell covered national and global issues, including inflation and rising interest rates, and distinctly pointed out that the U.S. housing market is not as vulnerable to these economic factors due to mostly fixed-rate mortgages currently in the U.S. She signaled that this provides stability for the U.S. housing market unlike other countries that may not fare as well with variable interest rates as their norm. Overall, Rossell does not see these economic indicators having a huge impact on the U.S. housing market.   


With the stress of the pandemic as well as the fast-paced frenzied market experienced in the last two years, Michael and Drayton welcomed Anusha Wijeyakumar, Author and Wellness Consultant for Hoag Hospital, one of the top-rated hospitals in the U.S. She led the audience through simple and practical methods for relieving stress and enhancing mindfulness.    


Closing out the meeting was a moving hour-long talk by mountaineer and motivational speaker, Aron Ralston, whose extraordinary story of survival has inspired millions through a best-selling book and the Oscar-nominated film 127 Hours. His survival story from a fall in a narrow gap in Utah’s Blue John Canyon, where he was trapped when a falling boulder pinned his right hand to the canyon wall, captivated the audience. Ralston shared that adversity and “boulders” in life and business can come at us from all directions, and that although they can be a burden, they can also show us life’s greatest gifts – who is important in our lives, what we are truly capable of, and how extraordinary it is to be present and alive.


Powerful. Grateful. Positive. Connected. Inspiring. These were the day’s recurring themes as the company joyfully celebrated its past while resolutely looking forward to the next 40 years of serving buyers and sellers throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast.