Bright Friday With Real Estate News on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It is a bright Friday on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Son Dave and SanibelSusan are manning the office today, while Elise and Lisa are enjoying an extra day off. The islands are fairly busy. Most accommodations were filled by Wednesday, but we have not had a lot of showing requests, or at least not yet. Perhaps too many outside events are being enjoyed in the bright sunny weather (highs in the mid-70’s).

Here are some post-holiday news items followed by the week’s report of Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service activity.

Thanksgiving – Looking Back & Looking Ahead

As I reminisce about the wonderful meal that Dave and Lisa prepared yesterday and how thankful we all were to enjoy their home full of family and friends with doors wide open to the great Florida weather, I cannot help but think about others not as lucky. We all know folks struggling with illness and the devastating effects of disasters like Hurricane Sandy, while the media is overwrought with unsettling news from the Fiscal Cliff and worldwide economic issues, to fighting in the Middle East, not to mention what has happened with the Twinkie.

Makes me think about how all of these events will affect real estate business in Florida. Many colleagues similarly have blogged about how trends are influenced by world as well as local events. Here is my 2-cents worth.

  • Safer, Stronger, More Energy-Efficient Homes – Storm protected homes have always been in demand on barrier islands, but with climate changes and recent weather patterns, buyers now have an even more critical eye toward the strength of properties. Lessons learned from hurricanes both here and afar make prospective owners particularly interested in piling and concrete-block construction, impact/hurricane windows and doors, Wind Mitigation Reports, elevations, environmental zones, and insurance costs. For decades, Sanibel was in the forefront with its Land Development Code and tough building requirements. Today’s purchasers, particularly those that have looked elsewhere in Florida, appreciate the results of the Sanibel Plan, including the resultant flood insurance discounts. Today’s buyers also ask about self-sufficiency features, like generators and solar.
  • New Construction – As resale prices have crept up on remodeling and replacement costs, the last few months have seen a surge in island lot sales and new construction. More buyers are deciding to build exactly what they want, rather than update an existing property. The islands may be close to build-out, but there are good single-family home sites available.
  • Move to Urban Areas or the Opposite Approach – Get Out of Dodge – You probably remember me mentioning a few months ago that a new trend is to move back into more highly developed areas, to cities where public services like roads, hospitals, shopping, and schools may be better and cost less. Then, from Sandy, we have seen areas where infrastructures have been lost causing problems like rationing and looting. Metropolitan areas mostly likely will get better prepared for Mother Nature, but prospective homeowners will continue to look for sites that are better able to withstand future storms and other natural disasters. Here, we have noticed that many buyers also are looking for the family home or vacation retreat in a more rural area. Give them a small town where the ambience is laid-back, the life-style is easy, and the environment is key, and they are happier.
  • Togetherness – Nothing brings families and friends closer than a common problem or disaster.  With technology and the working population able to spend more time away from their primary residence, we had already seen higher interest in family and friends buying into the same community or condo complex. Now more are exploring family-compound-type properties and offerings with shared amenities too.
  • More Cost Conscious – It seems that now more than ever there is a greater tendency to examine the total long-term cost of a property including insurance, maintenance, utilities, and travel. Knowing the stability of those costs is important too. Key buying events are to have a prospective home or condo professionally inspected and to get insurance estimates.
  • The Wait and See Approach – It probably is just a sign of the times, but some prospective purchasers say they are going to put off buying and wait and see what happens with the economy; this is as opposed to the other trend which is to capitalize on someone else’s indecision. Some clients are sitting on their cash while others recognize opportunity and buy on bad news. Fiscal Cliff reports may be forcing some to move more quickly to downsize and economize. Baby Boomers are going to retire; Sandy just may move more of them to Florida sooner than previously expected.

So what is the direction to all of these trends? There is not just a single answer. Everyone has their own real estate wants and needs. Though we cannot ignore life events and natural disasters, they are not all encompassing. The good news for owners and investors is that here in Southwest Florida, the weather is terrific, the infrastructure is in good shape, banks are lending at low interest rates, and the Sanibel/Captiva life-style is easy!

Sundial Beach and Golf Resort

On a side note, Dave and I had lunch at Sundial Resort on Tuesday. The resort has reopened some of its general amenity dining areas to the public. If you go there yourself, be sure and check out the lobby, where artist renderings of the upcoming renovations are posted. When complete, this central amenity area will have big open balconies on the beach side of the conference and dining/party facilities on the 2nd and 3rd levels. The views should be magnificent and great for pelican watching too!

Yesterday, I chatted with Lisa’s brother who works at the resort and he said that some remodeling projects already are underway. (I noticed that the lobby-level convenience store is closed.) He said construction will continue right through the busy months of high season this winter. That’s unusual, but probably a sign that the new general owners are anxious to get the resort “looking great” again.

Sundial has had a bit of a rebound with sales this year, particularly since the new owners took over in July (22 units sold year-to-date, compared to 15 in all of 2011). Once renovations are done, this complex may again become our bellwether for Sanibel condo sales. In the meantime, there still are several excellent buys at the complex – a terrific time to buy-in!

Florida’s Housing Market Continues Positive Trends in October 2012

As posted on-line at Florida Realtors® on Monday:

            “Pending sales, closed sales and median prices rose, while the inventory of homes and condos for sale dropped in Florida’s housing market in October, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. “With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we have a lot to be thankful for here in Florida,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “The state’s latest unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, the lowest in nearly four years – and combined with the momentum of the housing market, it clearly shows that Florida is on a positive path and has been for months. Pending sales, closed sales and prices are trending up.”
            “Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 17,779 in October, up 25.3% compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed by not yet completed or closed – of existing single-family homes last month rose 56.7% over the previous October. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in October was $145,000, up 9% from a year ago.
            “According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in September 2012 was $184,300, up 11.4% from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in September was $345,000; in Massachusetts, it was $294,900; in Maryland, it was $244,357; and in New York, it was $225,000. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.
            “Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes-condos, a total of 8,252 units sold statewide last month, up 16.4% compared to October 2011. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhome-condos in October increased 47.1% compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $107,000, up 20.2% over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in September 2012 was $181,000.
            “The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months’ supply in October; inventory for townhome-condo properties was also at a 5.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply symbolically represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.
            ““Once again, everything that should be going up in the market is going up, and everything that should be going down is going down,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “As impressive as the year-over-year gains for October are, far more impressive are year-to-date gains of 2012 over 2011. They indicate the depth and resilience of this recovery.”
            “The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.38% in October 2012, down from the 4.07% averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Real Estate Scoop

Here are the island sales statistics as of today, comparing 2012 to 2011, and showing current inventory and median (or midpoint) prices.

                                    Condos                         Homes                       Lots                                  

                        Year     #          Median Price     #         Median Price     #          Median Price


For Sale:           Now      178      $549,000           194       $895,000           87         $370,000

Sales pending:   Now      12        $357,000           22         $497,000           2          $239,000

Sold/Closed*:    2012     139       $529,000           165       $599,000           30         $299,900

                        2011     132       $589,500           159       $692,000           17         $295,000


For Sale:           Now      55         $600,000           39         $2,500,000        7          $1,749,000

Sales pending:   Now      2           $634,950           2          $3,125,000        0          N/A

Sold/Closed*:    2012      33         $635,000           25         $1,549,000        3          $869,000

                        2011      23         $595,000           20         $1,497,500        1          $485,000

 * Sales from January 1 to November 23.

Our local Association of Realtors® had no weekly caravan meeting this week. Dave opened Compass Point on both Monday and Tuesday (before a holiday check-in) trying to catch some prospective condo buyers. His only lookers were a couple of complex owners checking out the decorating and some vacationers who may purchase in a few more years. I opened a listing on Tuesday for an island resident looking to purchase, and we had another showing today; but otherwise activity was light. There probably was too much shopping and cooking and beaching and golfing and fishing and boating, competing with real estate this week.

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service activity November 16-23

4 new listings: Sandpebble #1F 2/2 $349.9K, Sundial #H308 1/1 $395K, Sandpiper Beach #106 2/2 $649K, Sayana #103 2/2 $799K.
2 price changes: Sanibel Arms #H4 2/2 now $479K, St.Croix #3 2/2.5 now $849K.
2 new sales: Seashells #6 2/2 listed for $335K, Sanibel Arms #A5 2/1 listed for $379K.
1 closed sale:  Sandpiper Beach #303 2/2 $555K.

3 new listings: 928 Pepper Tree Place 2/2 $659K, 4496 Waters Edge Ln 3/2 $849K, 940 Victoria Way 3/3 $1.1M.
2 price changes: 2166 Egret Cir 3/2 now $499,555; 1266 Isabel Dr 3/3 now $2.285M.
5 new sales: 960/964 Palm St 3/3 listed for $374.9K (short sale), 1599 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex listed for $425K, 1001 Lindgren Blvd 2/2 listed for $614K, 862 Beach Rd 3/2 listed for $939K, 6211 Starling Way 4/4.5 listed for $2.295M.
3 closed sales: 471 Las Tiendas 3/2 $530K, 848 Limpet Dr 3/2.5 $1.045M, 1765 Venus Dr 3/3 $1.06M.

No new listings.
2 price changes:
 5307 Umbrella Pool Rd now $399K (our listing), 1898 Woodring Rd now $2.99M. 
1 new sale: 9042 Mockingbird Dr listed for $329K.
1 closed sale: Bay Dr $185K.


2 new listings: Captiva Shores #3B 3/2.5 $778K, Lands End Village #1638 3/3 $1.95M.
No price changes.
1 new sale: Sunset Beach Villas #2336 2/2 listed for $749.9K.
No closed sales.

1 new listing: 11515 Laika Ln 4/4.5 $2.395M.
1 price change: 15891 Captiva Dr 5/4 now $2.949M.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: 15361 Captiva Dr 5/4 $1.6M (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.