The Sarasota Association of Realtors® was first incorporated in 1923, the same year King Tut's tomb was discovered in Egypt, and the year Calvin Coolidge assumed the presidency following the death of President Warren Harding. It was also the year one of Sarasota's original land developers, Col. John Gillespie, died of a heart attack while playing golf on a warm September day in Sarasota. Gillespie, from Edinburgh, Scotland, created the first golf course in the nation in 1905 in Sarasota, and was a pioneer in land development during a time when only 3,000 "home folks" resided in the city.
SAR started off relatively small, but has grown to a medium-sized real estate association with a Realtor® membership of over 3,200 and total membership that now stands at approximately 3,500. The history of the early days of SAR is tied in large part to the Florida land boom that started in 1924, but saw a crash three years later, in what some saw as a precursor to the Great Depression of 1929.
Sarasota became a cultural crossroads when John and Mable Ringling established roots here, and their cultural influence continues to flavor the community. They bequeathed a major museum and its outstanding art collection to the community, including enormous oil paintings by John Paul Rubens and another 600-plus artistic masterpieces.
The state of Florida has added the exquisite Asolo Theatre and a circus museum to house the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey objects. There are almost four times as many performing artists here than in any other part of the state.
In 1924, the city of Sarasota voted to expand its boundaries from 25 square miles up to 69 square miles, contributing to the real estate boom. In 1926, three years after SAR was formed, the Ca' d' Zan was built on the bayfront by John Ringling at the exorbitant price (in those times) of $1.5 million. His home would be only the first of many multi-million dollar mansions to sprout up along the local waterways and help ensure real estate remained a vital component of our local economy.
The Sarasota MLS was formed in 1957 and has progressed to being a critical tool used by members to better serve their customers and clients. In addition, the association web site has become a valuable resource for our members, and is constantly updated to reflect the leading edge of the digital revolution.