Sanibel & Captiva July Real Estate Action & Local Scuttlebutt

As another Friday rolls around, The SanibelSusan Team has been checking off items on our off-season “to do” list, wishing we had more buyers in town, marketing for more listings, and enjoying the fine things that a quiet island summer offers. Here is cactus blooming on my street this week, fun to view on the way into work.  

Sharing a Kudo

After a sale, The SanibelSusan Teams sends a feedback form to the buyer or seller we represented hoping to find out why they worked with us, what we did that they liked, and what they wished we had done to provide even better service. SanibelSusan got a chuckle out of one that was returned this week. It was from a condo seller that we have never met, but who listed with us because of our mailings. He said “Good work on selling my property! You listened & communicated. At one point, I asked Susan if we needed to lower the price and she said “no” – very rare for a Realtor®. I was impressed.”

Island Weather

The islands have had no rain since Tuesday, with reports of some African dust in the atmosphere now. It purportedly has no negative effects, but has resulted in some terrific “pink” sunsets the last few nights.

Teammate Lisa was at Sunset Grill on Monday morning when a waterspout was spotted off the beach in the gulf. Here are a couple of pictures she shared. She said it lasted about 15 minutes.

Sanibel Osprey

Most islanders are huge osprey fans, so we were happy this week to receive an email with this up-close photo taken by a new island owner enjoying his first July on Sanibel. Their new family vacation home offers many fabulous photo opportunities. 

The same day as I was driving to meet a pal for lunch at Beachview, I spotted this tree just off Middle Gulf Drive. I originally though it was a group of eagles since they have been known to like the same area, but here is a group of osprey. It’s not often that we see four at once on the same perch.

July Realtor® Membership Meeting

At our monthly Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® membership meeting yesterday, Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann addressed us with an update on the county’s finances. Here is a brief summary of his comments. Overall, county tax values have gone down 45% since their peak in 2007. As a result of this decline in property values, the County ad valor em tax revenues are similarly down or approximately $100M less a year than what they were five years ago. Even with county millage rates held essentially the same since then and with budget cuts, the county has been running upside down to the tune of $30M-$50M/year. This difference has been funded with money invested during the “good years.” Unfortunately, that investment fund is within two years of being depleted ($70M remaining). Property values are expected to increase 2% this year, but obviously, it will take many years to gain back the 45% lost. Though there have been no layoffs, pay for County employees has flat-lined and the number of employees reduced by 150 through attrition. More trimming is needed.

Interestingly, Frank noted that Lee County remains the fastest growing community in Florida and one of the fastest growing in the U.S. He also said that he is often questioned about funds that are spent on the Red Sox and Minnesota Twins stadiums. He clarified that this money comes from tourism dollars (not ad valorem taxes) and that money is required by the state to be spent on things that promote tourism. There has been talk of another professional baseball team moving their spring training here.

Blackstone Group Sells Sundial

An announcement also was made at our meeting yesterday by the manager of John Naumann & Associates, regarding the sale on Monday at Sundial Beach Resort. The general amenities at Sundial previously owned by The Blackstone Group were purchased by CoreState Affiliates who have been offering investor shares. Sundial was purchased by Blackstone some years ago as part of a package deal that included The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, as well as South Seas Plantation on Captiva. This sale did not include Sundial individual condominium units and included only Blackstone’s holdings at Sundial Resort. Viewed as a positive change for the facility, plans for improvement include over $2M in upgrades to the central amenity area and new rental programs, as well as assistance in unit refurbishment. Best of all, it sounds like the resort again will be open to the public! If you remember earlier days when Sundial had a top-notch restaurant overlooking the gulf and a fun poolside tiki bar that visitors could enjoy just by walking in from the beach, it sounds like those days are coming back!

(P.S. From a Realtor®’s perspective, now is a great time to buy a condo at Sundial. It’s gonna get popular again, Sundial’s conference business will re-blossom, and you know what will happen to prices then.)

Good News For Builders

An article posted earlier this week on Florida Realtors® advises that “builder confidence” is up six points. “Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose six points to 35 on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July – the largest one-month gain recorded by the index in nearly a decade. The HMI is now at its highest point since March 2007….“This report adds to the growing acknowledgement that housing – though still in a fragile stage of recovery – is returning to its more traditional role of leading the economy out of recession,” adds NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is particularly encouraging at a time when other parts of the economy have begun to show softness and all the more reason that the challenges constraining housing’s recovery – namely overly tight lending conditions, poor appraisals and the flow of distressed properties onto the market – need to be resolved.”

“…Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for the past 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.”

GFCI Locations

When buyers or sellers have property inspected, a common defect found is that one or more GFCI’s are either not installed or not operating. Sometimes they even say what is a GFCI? From the “National Electrical Code” here is a quick definition and the requirements. These electrical devices save lives – so it is always smart to get yours checked periodically, even if you are not selling your property.

In simple terms, a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle is a device that limits the duration of electrical shocks. As an example, if you were using a metal knife or fork to pull your muffin from a toaster which still is turned on, by touching the toaster inside electrical components, the electrical current now has an extended path to you. If the toaster is plugged into a functioning properly-installed GFCI plug or GFCI breaker-protected receptacle, the GFCI will detect the “leaking” current and disconnect the power as fast as 1/40th of a second. This is less time than it takes for current to damage your body. Without GFCI protection, current is capable of causing heart arrhythmia, eventual stopping of our heart and blood circulation within seconds.

In the U.S., GFCI electrical outlets were first introduced in the early 70’s. They have advanced and became safer through the years. The table below shows various home locations and when the electrical code changed, adding GFCI requirements.

                        1971     1973     1975     1978     1987     1990     1993
Swimming Pool    X          X          X          X          X          X          X         

Exterior                           X          X          X          X          X          X         

Bathroom                                    X          X          X          X          X         

Garage                                                    X          X          X          X         

Basement                                                           X          X          X

Kitchen                                                               X          X          X

Crawl Space                                                                    X         X

Wet Bar                                                                                      X

The 3.8% Tax May Mean You Should Sell in 2012 

Beginning January 1, 2013, a new 3.8% tax on some investment income will take effect. Since this new tax will affect some real estate transactions, it is important to clearly understand the tax and how it could impact you. It is a complicated tax and difficult to predict how it will affect all buyers/sellers, so the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has developed an informational brochure to help bring Realtors® up to speed on this new tax legislation. It was passed by Congress in 2010 with the intent of generating an estimated $210 billion to help fund President Obama’s health care and Medicare overhaul plans. Understand that this tax WILL NOT be imposed on all real estate transactions, a common misconception. Rather, when the legislation becomes effective in 2013, it may impose a 3.8% tax on some (but not all) income from interest, dividends, rents (less expenses) and capital gains (less capital losses). The tax will fall only on individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) above $200K and couples filing a joint return with more than $250K AGI. If you have an interest in how this tax could affect you specifically, be sure to consult your accountant or tax expert. In the meantime, you can view some real estate scenarios and examples in the NAR brochure.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity July 13-20

1 new sale: Sandpiper Beach #105 2/2 listed for $640K.
1 closed sale: Oceans Reach #2D2 2/2 $725K.
No new listings. 
1 price change: 919 Almas Ct 3/2.5 now $1.1M.
2 new sales: 1702 Sand Pebble Way 3/2.5 listed for $399K, 940 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2.5 listed for $499K.
4 closed sales: 1621 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $389K, 585 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $540K, 561 Lake Murex Cir 3/2.5 $560K, 1274 Par View Dr 3/3 $590K.
1 new listing: 3792 Coquina Dr $399K.
No price changes.
No new or closed sales.

Nothing to report.

No new listings, price reductions, or new sales.
1 closed sale: 11512 Andy Rosse Ln 2/2 $850K.

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its 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.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

Happy weekend!

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