The islands have had terrific weather again this week with no rain, just sunny days with bright blue skies. A former client stopped in this morning saying that when he went to the beach earlier it was nearly as busy as it is in the winter. We told him that it may slow down a bit next week, after local schools begin.
Last Friday, another client who owns a small Sanibel resort, also stopped in. She said that her facility has been busy much of the summer and now mostly with European visitors. She noted that one day all of her rooms were taken with German tourists – none who even knew one another. She mentioned some foreign guidebooks left behind starred Sanibel as a “must see” stop for visitors coming to Florida – probably more positive results from the national news about Sanibel being such a great vacation destination.
Here are a couple of other news items, followed by the week’s report of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service action.
New Plantings at Lighthouse Beach Park
If you remember the photos posted after Tropical Storm Debby passed near Sanibel earlier this summer, you can appreciate that the City has completed planting a large group of green buttonwood trees along the access roadway to the lighthouse, intended to mitigate erosion during abnormally high tides and storm surges. Once established, the root structures of these trees will help to hold the sand in place and minimize damage from future events. Sanibel’s Director of Natural Resources, James Evans, is quoted saying “It was clear from the areas where erosion did not occur that the existing green buttonwoods and mangroves did a good job of protecting the shoreline.” In addition to these trees at Lighthouse Beach Park, the City is also putting in beach dune plantings at Bowman’s Beach Park, Tarpon Bay Beach, and Gulfside Park – funded by the Tourist Development Council Beach and Shoreline Program. (The photos above and below were taken this afternoon. Dave said that both parking lots were full at the Lighthouse – another busy Sanibel beach day – wooohooo!)
Lee County Commission Votes Against Tax Hike
As reported in the Fort Myers NewsPress.com, on Tuesday “Lee County commission voted to keep property tax rates at their current level for the upcoming fiscal year. In a 4-1 vote, commissioners agreed to set taxes at a maximum rate of 4.15% next year – the same they’ve been since fiscal year 2007-08, according to the clerk’s office. The rate can be lowered during budget hearings in September but not increased….”
FHFA Says Fannie, Freddie Will Not Reduce Mortgage Balances
“The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Tuesday that after several months of mounting pressure from the Obama administrator and lawmakers that the mortgage giants it regulates, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will not lower the mortgage principal of underwater home owners. Its decision quickly drew criticism. The FHFA insists that through its own analysis it has concluded that reducing the mortgage principal of struggling home owners will not help prevent foreclosures nor save tax-payers money in bailout money to the GSEs. The Obama administration says it disagrees with the FHFA’s decision. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was quick to argue that a reduction of struggling borrowers’ loan balances by the FHFA could save taxpayers up to $1 billion. “I do not believe it is the best decision for the country,” Geithner wrote to the FHFA shortly after it announced its decision. “You have the power to help more struggling home owners and help heal the remaining damage from the housing crisis.”
“The government had committed to helping to cover some of the costs to implementing such a program if the FHFA would permit mortgage principal reductions to move forward. Yet, Edward DeMarco, the FHFA’s acting director, says that the FHFA has concluded after months of consideration that “the anticipated benefits do not outweigh the costs and risks” with mortgage principal reductions, and that the agency stands by its original decision to not permit it. DeMarco says that only about 74,000 to 248,000 home owners would be eligible for the principal reductions, but developing and implementing such a program would prove costly. Plus, about 11 million Americans are underwater on their mortgages so the program would only be able to help a small share. DeMarco also said he was concerned reducing the mortgage principal on some home owners’ mortgages would prompt other borrowers to fall behind on their payments so that they could receive similar treatment.” (Source: “Fannie, Freddie Regulator Says No to Reducing Principal,” CNNMoney (July 31, 2012) and “Agency Bars Fannie and Freddie From Reducing Principal,” The Associated Press (July 31, 2012))
More Sanibel Bike Path Work
Take care when biking in that area for the next 45 days.
Housing Market Lifts Off From the ‘Bottom’
Another “Daily Real Estate News” article, posted “Recent housing indexes have shown single-family home prices are on the rise, providing more evidence that the “bottom” of the market is already behind. “We’re wiping out just about all of the decline,” Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, told NBC.com about recent housing data showing home prices inching up. “It indicates the market has turned the corner on the pricing side.” Some recent housing indexes suggest that the “bottom” of the market was reached in January 2012. Since that time, housing prices have been picking up in many housing markets. But “the turnaround in home prices was unexpected,” says Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight. “The conventional wisdom in February, following that landmark agreement [of the $26 billion mortgage settlement with the nation’s five largest banks], was that we would see a surge in foreclosures of some size that would lead to lower home prices. This surge never materialized and home prices have turned.”
“Newport points to several signs of a housing market on the mend. For one, housing starts are up, after reaching a low in the fourth quarter of 2011. Also, he says the FHFA monthly House Price Index shows a 3.7% increase in May year-over-year, which he notes is higher than inflation and “means that real housing wealth, a consumer spending driver, was also up.” The increase in home prices is also leading to a fewer number of home owners who are underwater on their mortgages, owing more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth. The number of underwater home owners fell from 12.1 million at the end of 2011 to 11.4 million at the end of the first quarter this year, according to CoreLogic data. (Source: “Evidence Mounts that Home Prices Hit Bottom Last Winter,” NBC News (July 31, 2012))
New Fire Station Coming to Captiva
A recent article posted locally by Captiva Fire Chief Rich Dickerson, advises that after 33 years of service, the Captiva Fire Station is being retired. Completed in 1980 when the department had just four full-time paid staff, the facility now lacks the space needed to accommodate today’s staff of 11, plus volunteers. Planning for a new station began in 2008 and is targeted for completion in late 2013/early 2014. Not only will the new station be configured to accommodate today’s needs, it will be built to withstand a major hurricane, and designed to service as the main headquarters for a Disaster Unified Command team.
NAR Emailing 82 Million Americans
A posting today on Florida Realtors® announced that “The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) started an email campaign last week. NAR says it will contact 82 million Americans – 75 million homeowners and 7 million renters – and explain actions in Washington that, if passed, would make homeownership less desirable.
“The email has two goals. It first attempts to educate consumers about the value of homeownership. It then positions NAR as a consumers’ ally in any fight to keep federal benefits for housing, such as the mortgage interest deduction (MID) on federal income taxes. The MID has been mentioned in some government circles as one of the benefits that could be negated or cut back as the U.S. works to lower the federal deficit.
“If an email recipient wants more information, he or she will be referred to HouseLogic, NAR’s consumer-facing website. NAR says a second and third set of emails may also be sent to consumers in the coming months if Congress takes any actions that would reduce federal support for homeownership.
“NAR has posted more information about the email campaign, including a list of FAQs, on its website.”
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity July 27 – August 3
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.