Friday, January 12, 2024
Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island, FL
Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island, FL
With 1,500 newcomers arriving daily, purchasing real estate now takes an insider. Real estate veteran Todd Warda of Snow2Sand maps it out for the novice.
Gracie Warda for The National Business Post
July 1, 2021
There has been a storm brewing for a while. The hurricane of real estate buyers purchasing property is blowing across the Gulf States.
The United States Census Bureau now confirms that Florida is the top state for domestic migration, with an average of 1,500 newcomers arriving daily.
The “Sunshine State” pretty much stayed open during the reign of Covid-19 with very few restrictions. It was fairly easy to move around once you got there. And, while it was ok to work remotely during the pandemic, many are continuing to do so. There’s no need to move back.
The net result – Americans realized more than ever that this was a place they wanted to be…not just for a week or two on vacation, but for many, months at a time or even permanently.
Besides the beautiful weather, Florida residents don’t pay state income tax, and retirees over age 65 can also qualify for significant tax write-offs if they live there for six months and one day.
The Gulf Coast on the western side of the state is now a target for empty nesters and seniors for a more laid back locale, void of major tourist attractions and herds of college students on vacation breaks. Properties are also less expensive than those in Orlando or Miami.
Michigan residents who are accustomed to the cold winters around the Great Lakes, have often vacationed in Florida over the winter. However, these “Snowbirds” – since the pandemic – are now looking for permanent residency in the state or are looking for investment properties. Todd Warda, a ten-year veteran real estate agent in the Michigan market whose homes sales annually surpass $12M, saw this as a great opportunity to be a dual threat in both markets. After purchasing a condo on The Gulf coast in Venice, Florida, Todd decided that he probably wasn’t the only Michigan resident looking toward the southerly state. So in January he launched Snow2Sand Real Estate – a firm specializing in assisting those looking to purchase property in the Sunshine State.
“I knew the Michigan and Florida connection was huge,” Warda said. “It’s a very interesting market right now because it’s absolutely a seller’s market. The inventory is so low, in fact, it’s lower than it’s ever been in the history of the MLS [Multiple Listing Service]. There are so many buyers, and the interest rates are so low that if you put a home up, you’re almost guaranteed multiple offers.”
How hot is the Gulf Coast market?
On the first of each month, some area community developments in Florida auction off lots for building. Last month, an area development auctioned off 13 lots. They received 237 bids!
Todd Warda and wife
Todd Warda and his wife, Paula in venice, fl
Investment properties in the area have grown by more than 23% in less than a year. Covid-19 is having an impact.
Recently, Redfin CEO, Glenn Kelman, rounded up some anecdotes from this “bizarre” housing market in May.
· 63% of surveyed buyers said they put in a bid without seeing a property in person.

· Sales are closing an average 1.7% above asking price, despite home prices already rising 24% annually.
· Lenders have called employers to confirm buyers have permission to work from home after the pandemic.
And the extremes to which homebuyers are trying to squeeze themselves ahead of others in the process, one would-be homebuyer promised to name her first-born after the seller. (She didn’t get the house.)
These are national figures, which would be higher if just the Florida market were examined.
Warda knows how hard it is to manage one home sale in a state and now is offering to be a specialist in an additional market.
“Real estate is all about relationships for me,” Warda said. “The reason I wanted to start Snow2Sand is because you build a relationship and you work so hard to earn trust from someone. You go through this amazing process with them, maybe selling the biggest investment of their life, and now they’re getting ready to go somewhere else, let’s say Florida, and now we have to pass them off to someone who you don’t know. And you have to go through the whole experience again.”
His vision with Snow2Sand is to create a network of affiliates in places he could not cover alone. Enter Lisa Reo, who has been a licensed realtor with a company in Florida for three years. She focuses on The Gulf Coast of Florida, where she is a local.
“I needed an agent on a deal in the Anna Maria Island area. She responded…and she was able to show the property within two hours after my call. She’s boots on the ground right in the area.”
“First and foremost, I am just very blessed to have met Todd, and to be affiliated with Snow2Sand because it’s just such an awesome concept,” says Reo.
Warda is looking for more agents to be affiliates for his company and already is well on his way, with potential additions in Naples and Key West, Florida. In the future, he’s hoping to expand to other Midwest, East Coast, and Sun Belt states with additional affiliates.
“I would like to find somebody that’s born and raised in the area like Lisa, so they know the area very well,” he said.
To date, Snow2Sand has helped several clients in both Florida and Michigan. Sam and Brandi Gembel, from Hartland, Michigan, were moving from their primary residence in Michigan to a Florida vacation home. Grappling with the unique complexities of each market, they found comfort in working with dual agents.
Todd Warda couple crop2
Sam and Brandi Gembel from Hartland, MI celebrate the close of their Florida vacation property.
“We got the best of both worlds,” they said. “We couldn’t have been happier with the communication, the process, and the outcome of our experience with Todd and Snow2Sand!”
“I try to keep in touch with my closed clients once a month. It’s just birthdays, anniversaries, little things like that. You can reach out to them and say hello,” Warda explains. “I want to be in front of my client because that’s why I love this job. It’s not about selling the house for me, it’s about helping them make good decisions.”
Warda has his eyes focused on the future of the company.
“Snow2Sand will hopefully be in the Midwest states. I’d love to have a Minnesota agent that’s part of Snow2Sand, or a New York agent, because I think that the name and the concept can be so much bigger.”
As the company grows, he gets closer and closer to the commitments he’s set for his business and clients.
“I always like to think of commitments versus goals,” he said. “My number one commitment was to get licensed in Florida, and start Snow2Sand. My next commitment is to help ten families move to Florida this year. That’s a major move. It can be very stressful and chaotic. So, if I can help ten families navigate the Florida real estate storm, it’s a great market with lots of opportunity still available for development, I want to help make that move a little easier.”
Copyright © 2021. The National Business Post. All rights reserved.
Gracie Warda is a writer from Flint, MI. She is presently studying at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Recipient of State and National Scholastic Press awards, she knew early on that she wanted to be a writer. Now residing in Boston, she continues to hone her craft enjoying the outdoor lifestyle of the east coast.