It’s Luminary Weekend on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It’s another sunny Florida Friday with the islands gearing up for Sanibel Luminary tonight and Captiva Luminary tomorrow night. (Notice the snow falling on the blog. That’s all the snow we will see on the islands this year!)

Office Wreath

Thanks to Kris & Bruce, our welcome wreath is from Maine! Smells soooo good.

Office Tree

We’re all decked out at SanibelSusan Realty

SanibelSusan Realty had a fair number of listings shown this week, though it seems that the few vacationers here are more into holiday events and retail shopping. Many have visited the Olde Sanibel Shops, home to some of our favorite local stores plus the Over Easy Cafe!

In chatting with colleagues in the accommodations business, it seems that there still are plenty of vacancies for both Christmas and New Years weeks. Bookings were up this week, however. It sounds like again this year, many are making their plans last-minute.

Here are a couple real estate news items, followed by a report of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service activity this week.

Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Earn Top National Rankings

Photo by Jim Anderson, JMA Photography

Photo by Jim Anderson, JMA Photography

The beaches of Sanibel Island and Fort Myers recently placed in the top of two national rankings.

Sanibel earned its place in a top 10 ranking when it recently made the “USA Today” list of ten great places for families to escape the snow. “USA Today” detailed why Sanibel made the list: “You’ll get a beach vacation, but so much more at this Gulf Coast island near Fort Myers. The island’s location makes it one of the best places to find seashells in the country,” said Kara Williams, a founder of blog “Who wouldn’t love shelling on the beach and wading in the mellow, mellow waters? Biking’s easy on the flat island, and so is kayaking at J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge.”

TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, named Fort Myers as one of the top ten favorite locales and honored the area with the 2012 Travelers’ Choice Destinations on the Rise award. This award recognizes destinations that have seen the greatest increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest, year-over-year. According to the TripAdvisor website, Fort Myers has something for everyone: “Most visitors go to Fort Myers for the deep-sea fishing, the golf courses and the famous white-sand beaches and islands that line the Gulf Coast. Attractions include the winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as well as nearby Naples and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. For wildlife spotting, try Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve – TripAdvisor travelers love taking photos along the boardwalk trail.”

Cheaper Homes Coming on Strong

Though I am not a big fan of Zillow since their info is often old or late, here is an article posted online at Florida Realtors this week sourced the following “USA Today” article:    


CoreLogic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Lower-priced homes, which fell the most in price during the housing bust, are showing more zip as the housing market strengthens. In the 12 months through October, the nation’s least-expensive homes have seen prices rise 10%, vs. 7.6% for the most-expensive homes, market researcher CoreLogic says. “The lower you go, the better the performance,” says Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist.
“Other real estate research points to strengthening at the low end, too. Zillow’s 3rd-quarter data show the least-expensive homes up 1.7% in value from the 2nd quarter vs. 1.8% for the most-expensive homes. The gap between the two used to be wider. Zillow’s 1st-quarter 2011 data show the least-expensive homes down 2% from the prior quarter vs. a 1% drop for the most-expensive homes. “The bottom tier, which has been persistently weak, has now pulled even with the top tier,” says Stan Humphries, Zillow economist.
“Year-over-year, its data show the highest-priced homes were up 3.7% in October vs. 2.4% for the lowest-priced homes. Zillow breaks the market into three price buckets based on local prices. In high-priced San Francisco, a bottom-tier home for Zillow is under $338,950. In Phoenix, a bottom-tier home is under $99,650.
“CoreLogic separates the market into four price groups based on local medians. The two middle tiers were up more than 8% for the year through October, it says.
“Evidence that prices are rising at similar rates in all tiers suggests that a nascent housing recovery is “broad based in a lot of markets,” says Patrick Newport, IHS Global Insight economist.
“New strength in the market’s low end has multiple drivers, including:
            “Investors. They buy cheaper homes because they’re better moneymakers as rentals, Fleming says. Phoenix is a hot investor market where rentals account for almost a third of sales, says economist and real estate consultant Elliott Pollack. The under-$150,000 market now has just a two-month supply of homes for sale vs. a 12-month supply for homes above $1 million, Pollack says. Bottom-tier homes in Phoenix posted a 24% year-over-year gain in price in October, vs. a 17% rise for top-tier homes, Zillow says.
            “Fewer distressed sales. Distressed homes peaked at 33% of home sales in January 2009 but fell to 20% of sales in September, CoreLogic says. Fewer distressed sales may affect prices more at the low end of the market because higher-income households have more financial means to avoid a distressed sale, Humphries says.”

How Rising Home Prices May Stall the Housing Recovery

Before getting too excited about the statistics reported in the article above, it is good to consider the article below that came from CNBC.

            “Home prices have been rising steadily for the past several months, but some fear the rapid increase could actually start hurting the housing recovery. The reason is that the rise in prices is mainly due to investors, mostly large hedge funds, that have been swooping into the most distressed markets and inhaling properties as fast as their plentiful cash will allow. They are turning those properties into rentals, and getting anywhere from 8 to 12% returns on their investments, thanks to still hot demand. The trouble is, as home prices rise, those returns shrink.

            “Today’s housing recovery, much like the recent crash, is like no other. While home prices fell nationally for the first time in history, they are recovering locally at drastically different paces. Some markets are still in the red, while others are surging forward with double-digit gains. Those that are seeing the biggest jumps are largely the markets that saw the deepest losses. Witness Phoenix home prices up over 20% from a year ago on the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. The huge influx of investors there shrunk inventories and created bidding wars, hence the price gains.

            “But even outside those hot markets, this national housing recovery is dependent on investors, who are largely all-cash buyers. The mortgage market is still too restrictive to support the kind of bulk-buying that needs to occur, and many potential buyers either lack the credit scores or the confidence to jump in. Another 14 million borrowers still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, according to Zillow, and are therefore unable to move.

            “Five million properties are either in the foreclosure process or their owners are delinquent on their mortgages. That means foreclosures will remain elevated for the foreseeable future, and investors will be necessary to absorb them. Another concern is that home prices are rising faster than income, which could push potential owner-occupants away just as they were starting to dip their toes in again.

            “The risk of sales dropping as investors leave is obviously higher in the markets that saw the biggest drop in home prices during the crash, again, like Phoenix. Other markets, such as Chicago, Atlanta, and even parts of Florida, where prices are still weak and distress is still a large share of the market, are still seeing improved sales, as investors shift their sights and cash to more yield-worthy ground.”

Where Does the Sanibel/Captiva Real Estate Market Stand?

Photo of the Lighthouse on Sanibel Island from...

In relating our market to the articles above, it is interesting to see that though the total number of Sanibel condo sales is up slightly over last year (+7%), the average condo sale price is down by the same percentage (-7%). The similar scenario is true for Sanibel homes. Compared to 2011, 2012 total home sales are up slightly (+2%), while the average home sale price is down by the same percentage (-2%). Sanibel lots are a different story. Compared to last year, the total number of Sanibel lots sold is up 67%. That’s good healthy improvement. Average Sanibel lot prices are up slightly too (+5%), but this sampling is small.

On Captiva, there is more of a variance. The number of condo sales is up 43% over last year and the average sale price is also up (+14%). More Captiva homes have sold this year too, with the number of home sales up (+19%) over last year. The average Captiva home price, however, is down (-16%). With few vacant parcels left on Captiva, there are not many lots sales. There have been more this year than last, one compared to three; but not enough to compare prices.

If inventory remains low, there should be an eventual upward shift in prices. But, as the report below shows, this is the time of the year for new listings to come on the market and for serious sellers to reevaluate their asking prices if they want to ensure sales this winter.

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity November 30 – December 7

9 new listings: Sandalfoot #3B2 1/1 $499K, Sundial #R202 2/2 $649.9K, Pointe Santo #B44 2/2 $699K, Gulf Beach #205 2/2 $725K, Sanddollar #A104 2/2 $889K, Surfside 12 #B4 3/2 $899K, White Pelican #111 2/2 $899.9K, La Playa #3B 3/2 $1.45M, Sedgemoor #101 3/3.5 $2.349M.
8 price changes: Sundial #C201 1/1 now $239K (short sale), Casa Blanca #6 1/1 now $269.9K, Cottage Colony West #101 now $425K (short sale), Sundial #I103 1/1 now $469K, Sundial #G401 2/2 now $489K, Nutmeg Village #106 2/2 now $629K, Pelicans Roost #206 2/2 now $799K, Sundial #E108 2/2 now $850K.
4 new sales: Seashells #15 2/2 listed for $279K (short sale), Captains Walk #A8 2/2 listed for $350K, Lighthouse Point #230 2/2 listed for $495K, Sandpiper Beach #106 2/2 listed for $649K.
3 closed sales: Pelicans Roost #104 2/2 $605K, Sundial #O205 2/2 $642K, Pointe Santo #A21 2/2 $695K.

12 new listings: 1639 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $429K, 2011 Mitzi Ln 2/1.5 $449K, 1060 White Ibis Dr 3/2 $549.9K, 1807 Serenity Ln 3/2 $574K, 747 Martha’s Ln 3/2 $579K, 1032 Lindgren Blvd 3/2.5 $615K, 4585 Bowen Bayou Rd 4/4 $677K, 3840 West Gulf Dr 3/2.5 $789K, 1566 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $795K, 1130 Seagrape Ln 4/3 $1.195M, 2514 Blind Pass Ct 4/3/2 $1.3985M, 1323 Seaspray Ln 4/4.5 $2.348M.
9 price changes: 966 Fitzhugh St 2/1 now $325K, 967 Beach Rd 2/2 half-duplex now $498K, 1809 Bowmans Beach Rd 3/2 now $499K, 1245 Anhinga Ln 3/2 now $499K, 429 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 now $559.9K, 4960 Joewood Dr 4/3 now $759K, 4207 Gulf Pines Dr 4/4.5 now $998K, 2118 Starfish Ln 4/5 now $1.899M, 3441 West Gulf Dr 5/4/2 now $4.9995M.
2 new sales: 1350 Tahiti Dr 3/2 listed for $629K, 963 Kings Crown Dr 3/3 listed for $795K.
3 closed sales: 862 Beach Rd 3/2 $840K, 1191 Bird Ln 4/3 $1.74M (short sale), 3705 West Gulf Dr 5/5/2 $3.625M.

1 new listing: 5749 SanCap Rd $379,555.
No price changes, new or closed sales.

Nothing to report.

1 new listing: 16183 Captiva Dr 4/3.5 $3.995M.
No price changes, new or closed sales.

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.