Sanibel-Captiva Art League’s Annual Clothesline Sale is Sunday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Community House across from our office. It is free and known for its original and often heavily discounted art. Nearly 30 artists are expected to participate.
Norm Zeigler’s Snook & Spring Fest is also Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. featuring music, raffle prizes, & a traditional Cajun “shrimp boil”. This event is right here in Sanibel Square, should make for a busy day.
BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concert is Thursday night, March 24, at 7 p.m. Usually a sell-out, a few tickets remain. We have a nice variety of songs on the program this year, but the featured performance will be after intermission when we present the best of “Oklahoma”. Should be a hoot to see how quickly 80+ singers can change from their formal black/white attire into western wear.
Sanibel School Seahorse Festival is next Saturday, March 26 from 4 to 9 p.m. It being an evening event is new. Held on school grounds, funds raised during the festival go toward technology and software for classrooms. Activities will include live band, games, bounce houses, obstacle course, silent auction, food and drinks.
CROW’s 8th Annual Walk on the Wild Side is Friday, April 1, with pre-registration requested. This event includes a 4.1-mile walk through the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge with CROW staff and volunteers.
Shift in Housing Policy
United Press International reported yesterday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday the government should “at a deliberate pace” back away from housing market support. In prepared remarks for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, Geithner said policies that shaped financial decisions for decades should be reversed. “Our goal is not for every American to become a homeowner,” he said. “We are committed to a system in which the private market – not American taxpayers – bears the burden for losses” in the housing market, he said.
Taxpayers have been supporting two government-sponsored enterprises, the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., which guarantee mortgage loans and sets the pace on appropriate lending practices. Geithner, however, said regulators dropped the ball. “Taxpayers (were left) responsible for much of the risk incurred by a poorly supervised housing finance market,” he said, adding, “These were avoidable mistakes.” He said, “I want to emphasize that it is very important that we wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a careful and deliberate pace.”
Pointedly, although the government took over the two mortgage giants in September 2008, their role in the mortgage market has increased, as lending has become tighter. “In the wake of the financial crisis, private capital has not sufficiently returned to the mortgage market, leaving Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association) to insure or guarantee more than nine out of every 10 new mortgages,” Geithner said.
Tax Time for Homeowners
In the same vein, Florida Realtors® also posted the following article yesterday “Owning a home offers myriad benefits throughout the year, but some of the financial advantages of homeownership are most apparent at tax time,” said National Association of Realtors® (NAR) President Ron Phipps. “As many of today’s hard-working American families are feeling a financial squeeze, the tax benefits that can come from owning a home can be a welcome relief.”
A number of tax deductions and credits are still available for homeowners; these include deductions – with specific limits – for mortgage interest and capital gains on home sales, and credits for certain energy-efficient home improvements. Even with these benefits, homeowners pay 80-90 percent of all U.S. federal income taxes.
“It’s been suggested that many of today’s tax incentives for homeownership primarily benefit wealthy individuals, but that’s simply not true,” said Phipps. “As today’s public debate continues about what homeownership means for families, communities and the nation’s economy, there’s no question that for many, owning a home is still the best way to begin building wealth.”
Ninety-one percent of homeowners who claim the mortgage interest deduction earn less than $200,000 a year, and the ability to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage can mean significant savings at tax time. For example, a family who bought a home in 2010 with a $200,000, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, assuming an interest rate of 4.5 percent, could save nearly $3,500 in federal taxes when they file this year.
“Realtors see the very real positive impact of homeownership every day with our clients,” said Phipps. “Recent proposals to reduce or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction and remove government support of the housing finance market could have disastrous consequences for the economy, not to mention making it harder or nearly impossible for millions of families to own their own homes. We believe America must continue to invest in homeownership, for the future of our families and our nation.”
For homeowner tax season tips, visit www.HouseLogic.com . NAR’s HouseLogic is a free source of information that helps homeowners maintain and enhance the value of their homes, and engage in issues that affect their local communities.
Number of Island Sales
Last week, we posted a summary chart showing average sale prices on both Sanibel and Captiva over the past few years. Here is the companion graph showing average number of sales each year. So as not to skew the chart, 2011 sales are not included. They have however, continued in the same trend as the graph shows.
Unfortunately, this week not many sales were announced at our monthly Realtor® Membership Meeting. The islands are busy, yet most of the visitors this week are families on spring breaks just having fun. The next few weeks are similarly booked while schools are on vacation, with a huge visitor turn-over expected tomorrow.