October, One of the Best Months to be on the Islands

Sam Bailey

Tomorrow morning in front of the old Bailey Store at the Sanibel Historical Museum, a memorial service will be held in celebration of the life of Sam Bailey, who passed away last week.  Islanders forever will be grateful for the kind deeds of this fine man. This photo of Sam was taken as he came by our office in the July 4th Parade this year.

Happenings on Sanibel This Week

 I am back in the office after a relaxing Caribbean cruise. Seems I didn’t miss much being away for a few days. This week saw the return of my first snowbird neighbor and the office received several calls (actually five) about listing property. An inquiry a day (about selling) is not unusual at this time of the year, but telling prospective sellers that their property is not worth what they paid for it (during the peak) is not my favorite part of this job. Here is some better real estate news, followed by the Sanibel Multiple Listing Service action this week.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Sales Stats at the 3/4-Year Mark

Below is a comparison of island sales January thru September this year, compared to 2009. Though Sanibel has more condo and lot sales this year, average sale prices are not up-ticking yet. It’s still a great time to buy and a struggle to sell.

Sanibel Condos:

97 sold in 2010 at average sale price of $575,452 in 392 days.

64 sold in 2009 at average sale price of $676,531 in 319 days.

Sanibel Homes:

102 sold in 2010 at average sale price of $754,845 in 313 days.

111 sold in 2009 at average sale price of $774,220 in 266 days.

Sanibel Lots:

19 sold in 2010 at average sale price of $347,368 in 436 days.

7 sold in 2009 at average sale price of $356,429 in 362 days.

Captiva Condos:

17 sold in 2010 at average sale price of $644,082 in 285 days.

17 sold in 2009 at average sale price of $826,324 in 318 days.

Captiva Homes:

6 sold in 2010 at average sale price of $1,911,250 in 463 days.

14 sold in 2009 at average sale price of $2,417,643 in 203 days.

Captiva Lots:

2 sold in 2010 at average sale price of $2,850,000 in 284 days.

3 sold in 2009 at average sale price of $2,241,667 in 630 days.

President’s Message, REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach

Here’s an excerpt from her October newsletter: “Wow! The recession ended in June 2009 and the latest surveys find that most homeowners are content with their purchase. When I read these headlines this week, I wondered if I’d woken up in 2012. The recovery is taking a little longer to reach us in Southwest Florida. But let’s face it, oil didn’t land on our beaches, hurricanes have passed by and the hot steamy weather has given way to cool breezes so that we can get back to enjoying the outside activities that really are the reason most of us choose to live here…For 18 consecutive months, association members have managed to sell over 1,000 properties a month…Our market is still heavily influenced by bank-owned properties – approximately 70 percent of all properties sold in August were either a foreclosure or a short sale….”

What if Amendment 4 Passes?

Among the items appearing on the November Florida Ballot is Amendment 4, formerly known as the Hometown Democracy Amendment, a highly contentious change to Florida’s Constitution that will require voter approval for all amendments to local comprehensive land use plans. While hotly debated across the state, Hometown Democracy is not a new topic.

A comprehensive plan is a long-range master plan that every local jurisdiction across the State is required to adopt and maintain over time. This plan dictates all aspects of the community, including but not limited to coastal management, utility provisions, traffic circulation, schools, healthcare facilities, intergovernmental coordination procedures and land use over a 20-30 year timeframe. Currently, any change to this plan requires a minimum of three public hearings to inform the citizenry of proposed changes and allow them to provide input to the elected commission or city council.

Amendment 4 will require any change to local Comprehensive Plans to undergo final approval through voter referendum rather than via elected representatives. Opponents of the amendment are concerned with the considerable effect this amendment could have on the economy as well as local government ability to effectively make decisions for the constituents. A key concern by the opponents of this sweeping amendment is that the majority of the general public may not be able to process the amount of data involved in considering these amendments.

Alexis Crespo, AICP, writes in that per the Florida Chamber of Commerce, an economic survey prepared by the Washington Economics Group indicated that approval of Amendment 4 could cost the state approximately 250,000 jobs across several industries and reduce Florida’s economic output by $34 billion annually. Unfortunately, understanding growth management law and the politics behind each land planning decision is not as simple as checking a box “yes” or “no”.

Also Hometown Democracy provides the perfect platform for “no growthers” to potentially shut down development in their jurisdictions. If passed, Florida would be the first state to pass such a law, which could evolve into a significant burden on voters to research each referendum in order to make a qualified voting decision. The sheer volume of amendments on each ballot may be more than the average voter is willing to weigh in on.

Since Amendment 4 affects all amendments, both large and small, current estimates indicate that if Hometown Democracy goes into effect, voters could see between 200 and 300 referanda annually, probably at a staggering cost to taxpayers. Consultants, developers, construction professionals, and REALTORS® like me, are passing this information forward.

From RealEstateEconomyWatch.com, Steve Cook

A new FHA program launched allows homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages to refinance at today’s record low rates, take at least 10 percent off their principal, and get a new FHA loan that will leave them positive equity in their home. FHA estimates some three to four million homeowners could take advantage of the program, called FHA Short Refinance, which would dramatically stabilize housing markets, reduce delinquencies and foreclosures, and make it possible for many “move up” owners to sell and buy a new home that better fits their needs. However, lenders must voluntarily agree to write off 10 percent of the unpaid principal in order to bring a borrower’s combined loan-to-value ration to no greater than 115 percent.

Real estate and mortgage professionals around the country fear that the principal reduction, which is also required in modifications under the Treasury’s Housing Affordable Modification Program (known as HAMP) to be a potential roadblock. In some markets, where prices are still far below the peak in 2006, homeowners who bought at that time today are far below the 97.5 percent loan to value ratio the new program requires. In addition to getting the lender to eat 10 percent or more of the principal, the program also requires:

  • The homeowner must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal to or greater than 500.

  • The homeowner must owe more on his/her mortgage than their home is worth.

  • The homeowner must be current on his/her existing mortgage.

  • The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence.

Americans Cautiously Optimistic About Housing

RealTrends reports that Fannie Mae’s latest national housing survey finds that most Americans believe the housing market has reached bottom, but they are more cautious about owning a home. Respondents to the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey believe that home prices will hold steady (47 percent) or increase (31 percent) over the next year.  Seventy percent of Americans think it is a good time to buy a house, compared with 64 percent in a similar survey conducted in January 2010.

The Economy: The New Abnormal

Here’s a good one from Bloomberg Businessweek: “Americans are broke and depressed – and also buying $3 lattes and iPhones. Welcome to the schizophrenic economy. Last year, the economy moved into a phase that was declared the “new normal”, a realignment in which the U.S. consumer, no longer a hungry monster, became cautious and subdued. However, current circumstances might be better described as the new abnormal, in which no one knows anything, and optimism about the economic future ebbs and flows constantly. This uncertainty has given rise to a nation of consumers who splurge on high-end discretionary items yet switch from brand-name toothpaste and shampoo to generic brands.

Companies like Apple, whose net income jumped 94 percent in its last quarter, and Starbucks, which is enjoying a 61 percent increase in operating income over the same time frame, are thriving.  Mercedes-Benz is having a record sales year, and Lexus and BMW are also up. In a recent survey, American Express found that 51 percent of consumers have fallen behind on their annual savings plan, in part because they were either making impulse purchases or simply spending beyond their means. While market rallies seem to embolden consumers, market dips seem to loosen purse strings, as well, according to Dan Arierly, Duke University professor and author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. “When people are freaked out by market gyrations”, Arierly says, “they see the advantage of shopping over putting their money into an investment that might tank – with purchases, at least they’ll have something to show for it.””

10 Reasons to Buy Real Estate Now

Here’s the abbreviated list, thanks to the “Wall Street Journal”. Please pass the word.

  1. You can get a good deal.

  2. Mortgages are cheap.

  3. You’ll save on taxes.

  4. It’ll be yours.

  5. You’ll get a better home.

  6. It offers some inflation protection.

  7. It’s risk capital.

  8. It’s forced savings.

  9. There is a lot to choose from.

  10. Sooner or later, the market will clear.


Sanibel MLS Activity from Sep 24 to Oct 1, 2010


3 new listings: Tennisplace #A31 2/1 $265K, Sundial #J201 1/1 $549K, Mariner Pointe #131 3/3 $649K.

5 price changes: Sanibel Siesta #209 2/2 now $299K, Blind Pass #B102 2/2 now $499K, Pointe Santo #B33 2/2 $699K, Seascape #302 3/3 now $895K, Wedgewood #303 3/3.5 now $1.595M.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: Colonnades #49 1/1 $190K.


8 new listings: 1629 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $419K, 1105 Skiff Pl 3/2 $489K, 1043 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $599K, 5297 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2 $639K, 486 Surf Sound Ct 3/3.5 $795K, 947 Lindgren Blvd 3/2 $874.9K, 2311 Starfish Ln 4/3 $1.049M, 3517 West Gulf Dr 4/5 $9.995M.

12 price changes: 1663 Bunting Ln 3/2 now $399K, 1613 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex now $424K, 446 Lagoon Dr 2/2 duplex now $425K (short sale), 1291 Par View Dr 3/2 now $575K, 1824 Farm Trail 3/2 now $585K, 994 Whelk Dr 2/2 now $599.9K (foreclosure), 271 Robinwood Cir 4/2.5 now $729K (short sale), 246 Christofer Ct 4/2.5 now $885K, 1658 Sabal Palm Dr 2/2 now $950K, 1360 Eagle Run Dr 5/3.5 now $1.1M (short sale), 882 Beach Rd 4/3 now $1.299M, 3577 West Gulf Dr 3/3.5 now $3.325M.

3 new sales: 766 Donax St 2/2 duplex listed for $325K, 1487 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 listed for $475K (short sale), 978 Oyster Ct 4/3 listed for $1.077.7M.

1 closed sale:  557 East Rocks Dr 4/3 $518K.


3 new listings: 255 Hurricane Ln $229K, 9042 Mockingbird Dr $399K, 861 Birdie View Pt $425K.

1 price change: 437 Lake Murex Cir now $299.9K.

No new or closed sales.

(This representation is based on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service.  Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in 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.)