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Sarasota real estate firm promotes new office, AI at annual meeting

Michael Saunders spoke to 420-plus agents in attendance at the annual meeting of Michael Saunders & Co. at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.
Michael Saunders spoke to 420-plus agents in attendance at the annual meeting of Michael Saunders & Co. at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Growth and artificial intelligence were among the topics covered at the recent annual meeting for Sarasota real estate agency Michael Saunders & Co.

First, founder and CEO Michael Saunders addressed concerns about the National Association of Realtors settlement earlier this year that could change regulations around commissions.

“Nothing has happened that will change the essence of who we are as a company or the value we provide,” Saunders said, according to a statement the company released recapping the annual meeting.

In its 48 years, Michael Saunders & Co. has gone through “the internet revolution, shifts in demographics and consumer preferences, a major recession and a global pandemic,” Saunders said at the May 16 annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. “As a company, we met each challenge head-on, adapted to the changes, and, as a result, Michael Saunders & Company became stronger.” 

Whatever changes may occur as a result of the National Association of Realtors settlement, Saunders said her company will remain the same at its core. “We are a full-service company that provides exceptional services,” Saunders said. “This has been who we are, and that will not change as we go forward.”

In fact, the company is growing.

Michael Saunders & Co. has 16 full-service offices around the region, from Boca Grande to Holmes Beach, and it will be adding a new office to Wellen Park. 

The new branch will open in 2025, according to President Drayton Saunders. An exact location in Wellen Park was not immediately available. 

Another new development addressed at the annual meeting was the use of artificial intelligence in the real estate industry.

Chief Marketing Officer Chantè Blough and Vice President of Business Development Chip Murphy presented ways AI can help Realtors elevate their business. For example, they can use AI-generated email templates, get help with listing descriptions and video editing or practice handling objections from buyers and homeowners by interfacing with AI programs.

While AI can assist agents in the sales process, Blough and Murphy emphasized the human element is fundamental in real estate.

"Our industry thrives on personal connections, a deep understanding of client needs, and the nuanced art of negotiation — qualities that are inherently human," Blough said.

Speaker Marci Rossell, former CNBC chief economist, added that humans would not be replaced with AI, but humans using AI will likely replace people who do not embrace the new technology. Her message was in line with the other speakers in its optimism, as she shared that AI would simplify tasks, making them easier and cheaper to complete.

Said Rossell: “The implementation of artificial intelligence is lifting productivity, which will ultimately lift the standard of living.”



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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