Little Affect on Sanibel & Captiva Islands from Hurricane Sandy

Sanibel sunset courtesy of Jim Anderson at JMA Photography.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands have seen another week of increased traffic, but little real estate action. Perhaps, there has been too much news about the economy and the election. We have been watching the weather channel too, especially over the last few days. With Hurricane Sandy now far to our east out in the Atlantic, the only effect on Sanibel and Captiva has been a little more breeze. It is bright and sunny here now (Friday afternoon on October 26) with 82 degree temperatures.

Last Biweekly Realtor Caravan

There was a good turn-out at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday with 15 new listings open for member viewing. Whenever we see that many new listings, it is always an indication that it again is time for caravan to revert back to its every-week “season” schedule. Sure enough, that begins next Thursday with an East-End Caravan. Weeks then will rotate until spring, with properties in east and west locations alternating. Since visitors and vacationers alike soon learn that Thursday mornings are when these events occur, it is not unusual for us also to add an occasional open house to the mix. It pays to take advantage of those Thursday morning lookers and Lisa likes to sit those open houses – hopefully to either sell the listing or make contact with new prospective buyers.

Perfect Weather Expected for Halloween Festivities

“Real” fall weather is expected on the islands early next week. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy passing us to the east, on Monday and Tuesday, Sanibel is expected to be sunny with temperatures of only 73-75 degrees tops with lows of 55 degrees. Upcoming Halloween events including:

  • Tomorrow night, 10/27 – Hallo-Tween Costume Contest & Halloween Party – This adult event at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort is Captiva Island’s most notorious Halloween event. Themed this year as a “Twisted Circus,” tickets are available at the door for $18 to anyone over the age of 21, the Twisted Circus Party will start out the night rocking the beach with live music with Deb and the Dynamics. This high-energy live band covers a range of Rock, R&B and Jump Blues, and is known as the ultimate dance-party band. ‘Tween Waters Inn also offers a $1,000 grand prize costume contest, with judging at midnight, along with another $1,000 in prizes for additional costume categories. The outdoor event from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. is infamous for the scope, size, scariness, outrageousness, raciness, zaniness, variety and creativity of costuming.
  • Wednesday, 10/31 (Halloween) – Trunk Or Treat At The Church – At the Sanibel Community Church (1740 Periwinkle Way, next to Jerry’s Market) from 4 to 6 p.m. Families are invited to stop with their children for holiday fun, games, finger foods and lots of treats.
  • Also Wednesday, 10/31 (Halloween) – Fall Family Carnival – Hosted by the Sanibel Community Association, at The Community House from 5 to 7 p.m. with candy, games, prizes and crafts, a dining area serving meals at family-friendly prices and a hay ride (courtesy of Billy’s Bike Shop). Everyone – kids, adults and volunteers – are encouraged to wear costumes. Multiple costume prizes will be awarded. Admission price is a bag of Halloween candy per family. More info at

Early November Happenings on Sanibel

  • Bird Show – Libby is back, so the Periwinkle Park bird show begins again starting November 1. Walk or bike to the aviary at the park to see a show, daily (except Wednesdays & Sundays) at 10 a.m.
  • Sanibel Farmers Market – Reopens for “season” on Sunday, November 4, and will be open every Sunday, except Christmas, until the end of April. Over 30 vendors participate, selling local fruits and vegetables, flowers, honey, seafood, breads, cheeses, soups, pastas, organics, jams, nuts, salsa, & more. It is on the grounds of City Hall, 800 Dunlop Rd, next to the Sanibel Library and BIG Arts. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the market on Facebook.

More Luxury Homebuyers Opt for ARMs

An article posted on Florida Realtors® this week, sources a recent “Wall Street Journal” posting about the new surge of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs).

            “Once blamed as one of the culprits behind the flood of foreclosures in recent years, adjustable-rate mortgages are back and rising in popularity, particularly among luxury homebuyers, The Wall Street Journal reports. ARMs offer super-low interest rates – at least for a certain period – compared to fixed-rate mortgages and are tempting homebuyers once again. ARMs can have a fixed-rate mortgage rate for a certain number of years, such as five or seven years, before they start fluctuating with the market and the monthly mortgage payments start rising.
            “For homebuyers who need a jumbo loan, ARMs are particularly tempting. ARMs make up 30% to 40% of the private jumbo market at Bank of America. They make up about half of all private jumbo loans by NASB Financial. “Lenders say high-net-worth buyers face relatively little risk because they can tap liquid assets to pay off a loan should a sudden spike in rates occur,” according to The Wall Street Journal. As such, high-end buyers are considering ARMs to finance their home purchases and unlocking some savings. For example, the rates could be as low as 2.82% on a jumbo 5/1 ARM, compared to 4.06% on a 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loan, according to, a mortgage information website. “Over the first five years, borrowers with the 5/1 ARM would save nearly $90,900 in interest on a $1.5 million mortgage compared with a fixed-rate jumbo,” The Wall Street Journal notes.”

Strong New Home Sales Brighten Housing Picture

It always puts a smile on my face when a faithful blog reader, e-mails me a real estate article that I may have missed. Here’s good housing summary from an article that was posted on-line this week by “Reuters”. (Thank you, Scott!)

            “New U.S. single-family home sales surged in September to the highest level in nearly 2-1/2 years, further evidence the housing market recovery is gaining steam. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that new home sales increased 5.7% to a seasonally adjusted 389,000-unit annual rate — the fastest pace since April 2010, when sales were boosted by a tax credit for first-time home buyers. Although sales in August were revised down to a 368,000-unit rate from the previously reported 373,000 units, the tenor of the report was relatively strong, with the median price of a new home rising 11.7% from a year ago.

            “The quickened pace in the housing sector is good news for the economy, but it remains one of the few bright spots. “Housing is now a positive for the economy after years of being a drag, but it’s not enough to counteract the slowdown in manufacturing, which was the star,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio.

            “A second report showed only a modest pick-up in factory activity this month amid a darkening cloud of economic uncertainty at home and slower growth abroad. The home sales data was the latest to show the housing market on the mend from its brutal collapse in 2006, which dragged the economy through its worst recession since the Great Depression.

            “Rising sales are pushing down the stock of unsold properties on the market, lifting prices and giving builders more confidence to take on new projects. Demand for housing is being driven by a steady rise in the number of U.S. households, which had declined during the recession as financially strapped Americans moved in with family and friends. Modest job gains, increased job security and record low mortgage rates are encouraging many to seek home ownership.

            “The U.S. Federal Reserve has targeted housing as a channel to boost growth, announcing last month that it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month until the outlook for employment improved substantially. The action helped push already low mortgage rates even lower. However, mortgage rates rose last week, dampening demand for loans to purchase homes during that period.

            “The Fed’s monetary policy committee on Wednesday stuck to its ultra accommodative stance even as it acknowledged that some parts of the economy, including the housing market, were looking a bit better.


            “While the Fed’s stimulus is supporting the consumption side of the economy, concerns about domestic fiscal policy and slowing global demand are hobbling the production side.

            “In a separate report, financial information firm Markit said its U.S. “flash,” or preliminary, Purchasing Managers Index for the manufacturing sector edged up to 51.3 this month from 51.1 in September. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. A modest rise in output helped boost business conditions in the sector, which suffered its weakest quarter in three years during the July-to-September period. But fewer orders from domestic clients and a fifth straight monthly decline in overseas demand for U.S. goods indicated manufacturing was acting as a drag on growth and employment, said Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson. “Purchasing managers report that the key to the ongoing weakness remains uncertainty among customers in export markets, notably Europe and Asia,” he said.

            “The slowdown in factory activity is largely the result of fears that the U.S. Congress might fail to avoid the automatic tax hikes and government spending cuts that will suck about $600 billion out of the economy next year. The housing data, however, showed no signs yet that the so-called fiscal cliff has crossed the radar of ordinary Americans.

            “The inventory of new homes on the market remained near record lows in September, although some economists worry a pick-up in building activity could undercut the market if sales do not rise significantly further.

            “At September’s sales pace it would take 4.5 months to clear the new homes on the market, the fewest since October 2005 and down from 4.7 months in August. Sales last month were up in three of the four regions. They tumbled 37.3% in the Midwest.”

Big Hurdles Pose Challenge to Housing Recovery

On Wednesday, “Daily Real Estate News” online, had a similar spin, sourced from a MSN Real Estate article entitled “Could the Housing Recovery Sputter to a Halt?

            “Home prices are inching up, record-low mortgage rates are creating more urgency with buyers, and foreclosures are falling. But despite the glowing reports, economists are still questioning whether the housing recovery will last.

            “The challenges that persist could make this “one of the longest, most excruciating recoveries in housing history,” MSN Real Estate reports.  “Some of those challenges to the housing recovery: Access to credit still remains very tight, job growth remains weak, and a large number of underwater home owners are still waiting for prices to jump more so they can have equity in their homes once again and then move on. “Real incomes are not growing,” says Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for real-estate analytics firm CoreLogic. “We are at the same level we were in the mid-1990s. [The recovery] is not sustainable until incomes recover.”

            “Also, economic uncertainty could prompt many potential home buyers to remain the sidelines, says Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “Debt-ceiling brinksmanship pushed down consumer sentiment 14.3% last year, the largest amount since the end of the recession, and uncertainty over taxes could throw a wrench into the recovery,” Villacorta told MSN Real Estate.

            “The number of underwater home owners also is constraining inventories of for-sale homes across the country. About 22.3% of homes — or 10.8 million home owners — who have mortgages were underwater or in negative equity at the end of the second quarter, according to CoreLogic. In the next two years, more home owners are projected to gain equity in their homes, which could likely cause inventories to grow. According to CoreLogic, just a 5% increase in annual home prices would likely lead to a “significant” number of underwater home owners obtaining equity in their homes. 

            “Still, some economists are watching the housing recovery closely and cautiously to determine whether it’s sustainable.  “It seems as if we have a long recovery in order, given the slow economic growth and pace of hiring,” says Ingo Winzer, president of Local Market Monitor.

            “Nevertheless, economists say the positive signs in the housing data in recent weeks can’t be ignored. For example, existing-home sales are up 11% in September compared to the same time last year. The median home price is $183,900, 11.3% higher than year-ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Median prices of new homes also rose 11.2% in August, posting the largest one-month increase ever recorded, the Commerce Department reported.”

START To Extend Beach Monitoring Effort On Islands

A recent article in “The Island Sun” offered the following update on island beaches.

            “An enhanced beach-monitoring initiative sponsored and implemented by the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of START, will begin to provide up-to-date info on red tide blooms and other conditions at beaches throughout the islands. The local chapter of START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide), a statewide environmental organization, is collaborating with Mote Marine Lab to enhance its current Beach Conditions Report program for Sanibel and Captiva. This Internet-based reporting network apprises visitors and residents of daily beach conditions, in an effort to minimize potential health impacts and maximize enjoyment of area beaches. Currently, beach conditions at ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva and at Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel are monitored by MOTE-trained observers, and information is uploaded to a website twice daily. START will extend the monitored locations to include Lighthouse Beach, Causeway Islands Park, Bailey Beach, Gulfside City Park, Blind Pass and other frequented beaches across the islands….

            “Nancy McPhee, program manager of new product development for the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, thinks the addition of new reporting locations will prove valuable in further assisting island visitors….

            “Dr. Bruce Neill, president of the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of START (& from Sanibel Sea School), is pleased that his volunteer organization will spearhead the added monitoring efforts. “It is very exciting to be able to sponsor this service for our community,” Neill said. “We are an organization dedicated to coastal conservation through education and outreach. Helping to minimize the impacts that red tide has on our island communities is one of our main goals. We would like to help people avoid sections of our beaches that are most heavily impacted by red tide. “A second, but still very important aspect of this increased beach coverage is that it will help visitors realize that when we have impacts from red tide, it is usually not the entire island that is affected and that there are almost always places they can go to enjoy the ocean.”

            “Cracker Fest, the annual START fundraiser scheduled to take place the evening of Friday, November 2 at The Bait Box on Sanibel, will generate the funding for this expanded network of beach reporting. Local START board members will organize monitoring efforts for the islands, and interested area residents are also invited to volunteer. If you would like to become a beach monitor during red tide outbreaks, contact call 239-472-8585. If you would like to view the Beach Conditions Report, visit and click on the Lee County area of the map. For more info on preserving our coastal waters, visit”

            The Sanibel Sea School blog ( is an excellent way to also stay informed about the island environmental issues too. As an avid ready, SanibelSusan can tell you that, it is not just for kids!

Hurricane Sandy Could Improve Local Red Tide Conditions

For those unaware, the islands have experienced small outbreaks of red tide over the past couple of weeks (which is a normal occurrence, particularly at this time of the year). Sometimes it is here for just a couple of days, occasionally a little longer. Here is the essence of a report posted on NBC2 news just this morning:

            “While Hurricane Sandy threatens the east coast, some researchers say the storm could help reduce red tide on this coast. But that doesn’t mean all of the toxin’s affects will disappear. As Hurricane Sandy hits Southeast Florida, its winds are also kicking up water on the west coast.

            “Research scientist Rick Bartleson says that may be a good thing. He studies water samples from Sanibel Island and for the fifth consecutive day, his tests show low levels of toxic red tide. “While the water is coming down here, the waves are breaking up. And when waves break, that causes turbulence that affects the red tide and can break up cells,” he said. And what cells survive, Bartleson says, the storm will likely push south, slowing down blooms in Pine Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. But even as blooms break up, problems for wildlife could continue – especially for birds. Once they ingest the toxin, it accumulates. In the past two days, rescuers checked more than half a dozen sick birds into CROW Wildlife Hospital and at least one died. “They eat the fish that are feeding on the red tide bloom,” said Jeana Harms, with CROW. Well after researchers detect red tide, wildlife feels its effects. So Harms says she’s prepared for more patients. “We’re at the beginning, so it’s going to be a little while before we really start to see a varied amount of species coming in,” she said. Sandy won’t reverse the toll red tide has already taken on some wildlife, but scientists hope, could slow its growth.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity October 19-26 

8 new listings: Colonnades #12 1/1 $139.9K; Tennisplace #A26 2/1.5 $327,555; Loggerhead Cay #261 2/2 $549K; Pointe Santo #A22 2/2 $789K; Lighthouse Point #323 2/2 $898.5K; Lantana #102 3/3.5 $1.697.5M; Tamarind #B301 2/2 $1.875M; Seascape #104 3/3 $2.7M.
2 price changes: Sanibel Arms #A1 2/2 now $420K, Pointe Santo #E3 2/2 now $849K.
1 new sale: Sanibel Arms West #K3 2/2 listed for $375K (short sale).
1 closed sale: Colonnades #47 1/1 $106.7K (our Seller).

8 new listings: 1693 Bunting Ln 3/2 $745K, 544 Sea Oats Dr 4/4 $899.9K, 786 Conch Ct 3/2 $1.05M, 479 Lagoon Dr 3/3 $1.195M, 1349 Eagle Run Dr 3/2.5 $1.295M, 5423 Osprey Ct 3/2.5 $1.695M, 1272 Isabel Dr 4/4.5 $3.9M, 4067 West Gulf Dr 4/4.5 $4.75M.
6 price changes: 220 Palm Lake Dr 3/3 now $529K, 3344 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $595K, 9203 Dimmick Dr 4/2 now $690K, 1516 Angel Dr 3/2 now $799K, 1314 Isabel Dr 4/3.5 now $2.094M, 3705 West Gulf Dr 5/5/2 now $3.995M.
7 new sales: 1663 Bunting Ln 3/2 listed for $344K (short sale), 3002 Poinciana Dr 3/2 listed for $359K, 6467 Pine Ave 3/3 listed for $495K, 1125 Captains Walk St 2/2 listed for $499.9K, 1755 Jewel Box Dr 3/2 listed for $599K, 1233 Middle Gulf Dr 3/2 listed for $699.9K, 1765 Venus Dr 3/3 listed for $1.15M.
1 closed sale:  1188 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/3 $548K.

No new listings.
3 price changes:  3037 Poinciana Cir now $219,555; 1450 Tahiti Dr now $229,555; 5830 San-Cap Rd now $385,555.
No new or closed sales.


2 new listings:  Venture Captiva #2B 3/3 $849K, Lands End Village #1611 2/2 $1.225M.
1 price change:  Lands End Village #1610 3/3 $1.895M.
1 new sale: Gulf Beach Villas #2116 1/1 listed for $439K.
No closed sales.

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale:  15158 Captiva Dr 5/4 #1.7M (short sale).

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.