Why This Banker Is Bullish on Sarasota


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, October 22nd, 2016 – Stonegate Bank is one financial institution which sure has a positive outlook on the Southwest Florida economy, particularly the region’s property sector in general and Sarasota homes for sale in particular. This Pompano Beach-based bank is spending $36.5 million to acquire Insignia Bank in Sarasota, its second bank purchase in the county within a two-year span.

David Seleski, Stonegate Bank CEO, sees Southwest Florida as one of Florida’s higher growth markets, noting the economic potential of the region’s continuously growing population. Economic prospects from Naples to Tampa are better because real estate values on the west coast haven’t risen as much as the gains in the east coast of Florida, Seleski said.

Biggest Fish in the Pond

Why This Banker Is Bullish on Sarasota

Completion of the Stonegate’s Insignia purchase, which is expected in the 2017 first quarter, will create Sarasota’s largest community bank with a $412 million market share. Insignia, founded in 2006, has assets estimated at $248 million. In addition to its two offices in Sarasota, Insignia operates loan production offices in St. Petersburg and Bradenton.

After Insignia’s sale, bank founder and president/CEO, Charles Brown, will remain as CEO for Stonegate Bank’s locations in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties. Brown said that the sale will allow continuing state presence and leveraging some of the infrastructure of the bank he founded and grew partly from the fortunes of Sarasota real estate for sale.

Stonegate Bank, whose stocks are listed on the NASDAQ, holds a diversified loan portfolio across regions and assets ranging from business loans to residential homes and owner-occupied commercial properties. It first established presence in Sarasota with its acquisition of Florida Shores Bank-Southwest in Venice in 2014. Stonegate recently gained national attention with its beachheads doing business in Cuba.

Region’s Home Loans Up

The wisdom of Stonegate’s Insignia purchase is reaffirmed by recent strong indications that the market for homes for sale in Sarasota and Manatee has normalized and has grown healthier. A report from real estate data cruncher ATTOM (formerly RealtyTrac) noted that home buyers in the region contracted 3,362 purchase loans during the 2016 second quarter. This loan takeout was 2 percent higher than a year earlier and 40 percent over the first quarter.

The increasing number of buyers resorting to bank loans is also reflected in the sustained decline in cash transactions of Manatee and Sarasota homes for sale since last year. For August, cash deals in single family homes for sale dropped 21.7 percent in Sarasota and by 18.5 percent in Manatee.

Household Incomes Are Rising

Why This Banker Is Bullish on Sarasota

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this September should further make Stonegate happy with its Insignia purchase. The agency’s figures showed that 2015 median household income in the North Port‒Sarasota‒Bradenton region rose to $53,698 from $52,077 in 2014.

Breaking it down, the 2015 median income in Sarasota was estimated at $56,286, up from $52,109 the previous year. The median income estimate for Manatee in 2015 was $50,835, which was lower than the $52,031 in 2014 but within the margin of error.

As encouraging, the region’s unemployment rate is trending lower, with joblessness hitting an eight-year low early this year. The education and health care sectors are experiencing the highest growth in employment creation, a factor that must have weighed in too on Stonegate’s bullish outlook for the region and its rosy view on Sarasota homes for sale.