September on Sanibel & More

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It’s Friday and the end of another very quiet week on Sanibel. We had our local (Sanibel & Captiva Islands) Realtor Caravan Meeting yesterday. First one in a month for those of us who attended the Florida REALTORS® Annual Convention & Trade Show two weeks ago. Property announcements included just three sales, lotsa price reductions, and the beginning of more new listings for “season”. Pretty typical action for this time of the year.

Most offices report that they now are playing the “waiting for the phone to ring” game. Always happens after schools start and before it gets chilly up north. Some say, two hours without a call and they are closing up for the day. If we said that, we’d have had short workdays this week. Dave & Elise are almost done our annual 8000+record database update so will be ready to do some serious marketing next week. I’m still toiling over our new website. Should be ready to go in another week or so.

Other than the occasionally afternoon shower, September is one of the quietest and most beautiful months on Sanibel and Captiva. Quite a few more restaurants closed this week for their annual spruce-ups and vacations, but still enough to keep diners satisfied. This year the vegetation is especially tropical, the beaches are wide and beautiful, and the wildlife in abundance. Most of the turtle nests have hatched, with terrific stories “baby” stories making the rounds. Here’s a photo that a client sent me from her beach walk on West Gulf Dr. Kristie Anders of The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundations reports that it’s a rare sighting of a “green sea turtle” nest.

Here are a couple of news items, followed by our island MLS action this week:


Midweek the National Association of REALTORS® Research staff posted that according to recently released CoreLogic data, 11M, or 23%, of all residential properties with mortgages were in negative equity at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2010, down from 11.2M & 24% from the 1st quarter of 2010.  Foreclosures, rather than significant price appreciation, were the primary driver in the change in negative equity. An additional 2.4M borrowers had less than 5% equity. Together, negative equity & near-negative equity mortgages accounted for nearly 28% of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide. Negative equity remains concentrated in five states: Nevada, which had the highest percentage negative equity with 68% of all of its mortgaged properties underwater, followed by Arizona (50%), Florida (46%), Michigan (38%) & California (33%). The biggest declines in negative equity were concentrated in the hardest hit states. Nevada experienced an 11.8% point decline in negative equity share, followed by California (-1.3), Florida (-1.3), & Arizona (-1.3). The good news is, about 2/3 of all states experienced a decline in negative equity share. Since peaking in the 4th quarter of 2009, the number of borrowers in a negative equity position has declined by about 350K.


There was a good article in “USA Today” this week about home remodeling being on the rise. Owners having trouble selling in this sluggish real estate market want to give their property as much buyer appeal as they can afford. Others are deciding that if they can’t move, they may as well make the most of the house they could be calling home for a long time. After a year of decline in remodeling, the number of homeowners saying they plan to remodel in the next 12 months increased from last year, according to, a website that provides remodeling options & conducts surveys. In tough economic times, it is important to make smart decisions. Here’s what the article said to consider before beginning:

1) The biggest bang for your buck – Before coming up with a plan, consider how long you will own the property. If you plan keep it for only a few years, you may not be able to recoup the cost of a major renovation. Short-term owners should consider simple cosmetics like refinishing floors, painting, & updating fixtures & lighting. For five years or longer, then a kitchen or bathroom renovation provides the best return on the investment. (From a resale standpoint & your Realtor’s perspective, on the islands, after view & location, kitchens & bathrooms are what sell.) In general terms, renovating should bring a property up to the value of nearby comparables. “But you don’t want to over-improve it & have the most expensive home on the block,” says Ben Woolsey, Director of Marketing & Consumer Research at “A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t try to improve the value of your home more than 25% of its current value.”

2) Financing the project – Before renovating, estimate cost & decide how to pay for it. Borrowing is not the only way to finance a remodeling job. If the project is inexpensive, tapping into savings is the easiest way to go, particularly for those who would ordinarily use a home equity loan & their equity has diminished.

3) Are you covered? Before beginning, make sure contractors & subcontractors have adequate insurance coverage. Ask if they have workers’ compensation to covers lost wages & pay for medical & rehabilitation if workers are hurt on the job. If not, an injured worker could sue the property owner. If adding an extra room, remember to increase home insurance coverage. Do not wait until the renovation is completed to contact your insurance agent. If the addition is damaged or destroyed before coverage is increased, you may be responsible for the cost of repairing or rebuilding it. Homeowners also should visit, where the Institute for Business & Home Safety provides info about state building codes & standards. It is where homeowners can find out how to be sure contractors make their homes hurricane-resistant.

4) Ways to save money – Kitchens & bathroom are the most popular renovation projects. But don’t overlook less-visible improvements that may cut the costs of owning a house. Updating old plumbing & electrical wiring & disaster proofing a roof may lower your insurance premiums. Owners of older homes can reduce energy bills by adding insulation & installing new windows. Federal & state tax credits for certain improvements – such as energy-efficient central air conditioning, heating or water heaters, or appliances – can lower costs even more.


Here’s the Sanibel activity posted in our Multiple Listing Service since last Friday:


1 new listings:  Blind Pass #A105 2/2 $399K.

4 price changes:  Mariner Pointe #1012 2/2 now $349K (our listing), Sundial #I203 1/1 now $495K, Sealoft Village #108 2/2 now $549.5K, Sedgemoor #201 3/3.5 now $2.495M (our listing).

2 new sales:  Tennisplace #D32 1/1 listed for $175K (short sale), Compass Point #143 2/2 listed for $995K.

1 closed sale:  Sanibel Arms West #J8 2/2 $385K.


No new listings.

6 price changes:  9312 Kincaid Ct 3/2 now $329K (short sale); 1754 Windward Way 2/2 now $524,999; 810 Elinor Way 3/2 now $544.9K; 1278 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 now $699K (short sale); 722 Sand Dollar Dr 3/3 now $1.359M; 600 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2.5 now $1.389M.  

No new or closed sales.


No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale:  3762 Coquina Dr listed for $299K.

1 closed sale:  535/541 Whitehall Rd for $115K (short sales).


Wondering how the Sanibel Island condo market this year compares to years past? Here’s my handy summary of the activity over the last ten plus years. Note the prices are averages, but do illustrate how our market is rebounding, though at the pace of that little turtle shown above. Plenty of terrific choices if you are a prospective buyer. For you home, lot, & Captiva buyers, I’ll post those stats tomorrow.

SANIBEL CONDO SALES STATS (updated 9/10/2010)

No. Avg $ Price Avg DOM
For sale* 224 769,164 429
Closings pending* 11 562,636 449
Sold & Closed:
2010 to 9/10 92 591,346 389
2009 87 670,489 338
2008 95 731,648 307
2007 86 791,163 195
2006 143 866,972 147
2005 232 758,507 182
2004 206 641,338 240
2003 187 645,450 245
2002 200 661,799 186
2001 151 593,693 161
2000 190 555,689 114
1999 202 461,374 121

* Prices of property for sale & under contract are asking prices.

DOM = Days on market

This representation is based on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service. Neither the author nor the Association guarantees or is any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

Prepared by Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan, SanibelSusan Realty Associates, 239-472-HOME (4663) & 888-606-0603,