At one point, Brian Loebker thought he would never walk again.
The Atlanta native joined the Marines in 2002 after high school, but before he was slated to deploy, Loebker shattered a vertebra in his back in an auto accident. The crash left him paralyzed.
Loebker fought his way through recovery, ultimately launching a career in real estate and joining Michael Saunders & Co. In just a handful of years, he’s already made a name for himself.
Loebker has been involved in the highest-priced sale on Casey Key since 2009, the highest-priced sale in Laurel Oak Country Club since 2008 and the top sale in Castel Del Mare Bayfront condominiums since 2005. His sales volume has grown each year.
He took some time to answer questions for the Herald-Tribune on where he sees the market going.
Q: What have you seen in the market this summer?
A: “This summer maintained the pace normally seen only in high season through all price points, all the way through August. September slowed to what was expected but, again, by mid-October buyer activity picked back up far above expectations. October also showed strong activity from sellers with probing questions in preparation for a possible sale in season 2016.”
Q: What are your expectations for season? Do you think we will see enough of an increase in listings to meet possible demand?
A: “We are already seeing seller activity and interest picking up in preparation for season. I expect inventory to increase to a more balanced market (considered six months of inventory) and provide the increased number of buyers a wider selection of options than seen in the past few seasons. While I do expect the amount of active buyers to outnumber our sellers, it will be a much healthier balance, in my opinion.”
Q: Who holds the edge right now, buyers or sellers?
A: “I have found this particular question quite interesting throughout this year. While inventory has been suppressed, with more buyers than sellers, the active buyers have shown little tolerance for overpriced properties. Our active buyers are more educated than ever, and this shows in their patience while awaiting the perfect property that is also priced correctly. They are ready to act at a moment’s notice, but not willing to settle for something they don’t love, or overpay for something they do love.”
Q: I know you’re based on Siesta Key, and although you have clients across the region, you do much of your work on the island. How has the market on Siesta fared compared with other popular areas, such as Longboat Key or Lakewood Ranch?
A: “Siesta has shown incredible activity throughout the summer and even into the fall. The normal high season of January through April has absolutely shown now to continue all the way into June and July. Our international buyers from the United Kingdom and Germany have been active all the way into October on Siesta and are representing much more of the buyer activity than years past. Compared to other areas of Sarasota, Siesta definitely led the way into the recovery, thanks to the international exposure of our beach rankings. While Siesta is always in the top choices for our buyers, I have seen a remarkable interest in the downtown area as well, with even some Siesta property owners now considering downtown as their new home.”
Q: Is there anything you think could hurt the future of the luxury market here? What keeps you up at night?
A: “The Sarasota luxury market is healthier now than it has been in years. With more and more luxury buyers discovering, and now choosing, Sarasota over Naples I do not foresee any major slowing in our luxury market. If there were anything that I could see impacting luxury sellers in the near future, it would be the current luxury buyers interest leaning toward newer construction. Today’s luxury buyers are showing less interest in older, semi-dated homes, and in fact leaning toward tearing down the older structures to construct the dream home of their choice.”
Q: Much has been made about the demand from baby boomers and how they are driving our market. Is this a trend you are seeing play out? Are more younger families starting to enter the market yet?
A: “The forecasted trends for baby boomers is playing out exactly as predicted. The differences in generations from boomers to their parents is dramatic, with the boomers’ driving influence being on lifestyle and worth. Baby boomers are certainly representing the majority of our business this year and it’s appearing this will continue throughout the next several years. While younger families are also extremely active, both in moving up to larger homes as well as beginning to add investment properties to their portfolios, the baby boomers simply outnumber Gen X’ers and Y’ers dramatically.”