by Tom Bayles

SALES AGENTS FROM MICHAEL Saunders & Co. have been involved in 34 sales in the $2-million-and-up market, setting residential sales records unbeaten as of last Thursday on many of Sarasota County’s keys.

Highest Year-to-Date Waterfront Sale

The biggie was the largest waterfront sale in Sarasota County so far this year, a Lido Shores home that sold for $8.4 million in March. Linda Roe Dickinson, of the firm’s St. Armands office, represented the buyers.

On Longboat Key, Kathy Simonds, of the Longboat Key South office, brought the buyers to the largest residential sale this year at a Gulf-front property on Gulf of Mexico Drive that closed in late April for $6.65 million.

On Siesta Key, Saunders’ agents — Dickinson again along with Kim Ogilvie of the firm’s Main Street office — brought both sides to the biggest sale this year on Sanderling Road for $6.425 million.

On Casey Key, Saunders agents also represented both the buyer and the seller to a Casey Key Road home that sold in March for $4.5 million. Deborah Beacham, of the Longboat Key South office, represented the sellers and Annette and Albert Ayers, of the Palmer Ranch office, brought the buyers to the sale.

On Bird Key, a home on Meadow Lark Drive was sold for $4.2 million in February. Audrey and Jill Singer, of the Longboat Key South office, listed the property.

Another noteworthy sale where agents of Saunders brought both sides to the closing table was the biggest year-to-date sale in the Tower Residence of the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. A penthouse listed by Joan Dickinson and Beth Afflebach was sold to a buyer represented by Afflebach for $3.35 million in early January.

Highest Year-to-Date Sale on Siesta Key

“Sellers of luxury properties this year have been successful whenever they’ve gotten truly realistic, even aggressive, about their selling price,” said Michael Saunders, founder of the firm that bears her name. “Make no mistake about it: Buyers have regained their confidence in the market for luxury properties.”

Single women buy homes more often

More single buyers are entering the housing market — and women are leading the charge.

According to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, single women comprised 21 percent of the home buyers in 2009, while single men accounted for 10 percent.

After noticing this trend, Coldwell Banker Real Estate surveyed nearly 1,000 single homeowners to find out what motivates singles to buy a home and uncover what sets them apart from their married counterparts.

Coldwell Banker’s survey found more than half of the singles opted for homes in suburban settings rather than bachelor or bachelorette pads in urban or rural areas.

They are also being thrifty, with 68 percent buying a home that was below what they could actually afford. Most than half of the singles surveyed said they made the decision to buy last year because it was cheaper then renting a house.

More from the survey:

More single women — 27 percent — said the number of bedrooms was the most desirable feature in a home than did men, at 18 percent.

Singles do not completely shy away from foreclosures or short sales, with 38 percent of the men and 29 percent of women willing to buy a distressed property.

Highest Year-to-Date Sale on Casey Key

Of the 13 percent of single homeowners who own their home jointly with another person, 49 percent made the purchase with their parents.

Fifty-five percent of singles have less than a 30-minute commute to their office, or work from home.

Forty percent live less than 30 minutes from their parents or extended family, often even living in the same subdivision.

Celebs having a tougher time

Former women’s tennis star Steffi Graf has double faulted in her attempts to sell her Miami Beach home, bought in February 2001 for nearly $1.32 million.

Graf listed it in July 2008 for about $3 million, then lowered the price a year later to $2.9 million, then again a few months later to $2.75 million, Zillow.com reports.

Graf married tennis star Andre Agassi in 2001 and together they purchased a Tiburon, Calif., home for $23 million and also lost money on it when it sold in 2007 for $20 million.

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh lowered the price for his New York City penthouse recently from almost $14 million to just under $13 million.

And Scott Baio — known as Chachi, the sidekick to Fonzie in the iconic television series “Happy Days” — has had trouble selling his Encino, Calif., home. Zillow reports Baio recently lowered the price of the 4,403-square-foot mansion from nearly $2.9 million to just under $2.7 million.

Contact Tom Bayles at 361-4885 or tom.bayles@heraldtribune.com

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