The Friday Before Christmas on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

All is well on Sanibel and Captiva Islands with picture-perfect weather all week. However, thanks to a cool front today, temperatures have dropped into the 60’s and it is only expected to be in the 30’s tonight. It is breezy but with bright blue skies. Just that little bit of change excites islanders looking forward to digging out their sweaters for a couple of days each winter. We can put them away quickly though, as it is expected to be back into the high 70’s by Christmas eve and the low 80’s by Christmas day. 

Here are photos of a few island-style Christmas trees. Sanibel and Captiva Islands may be snow-less, but they are festive!

At Timbers Fish Market

At Timbers Fish & Seafood Market on Sanibel

The Sanibel Grill

Entry to The Sanibel Grill on Sanibel, note the water dish

Normandie Seaside Pub, Sanibel

Normandie Seaside Pub, Sanibel

In The Sanctuary Golf Clubhouse, Sanibel

In The Sanctuary Golf Clubhouse, Sanibel

‘Tween Waters Resort on Captiva

At the Mucky Duck Beach on Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva

At the Mucky Duck Beach on Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva

South Seas Resort, Captiva

South Seas Resort, Captiva

Near South Seas Resort entrance on Captiva

Near South Seas Resort entrance on Captiva

Bismark palm on Captiva Drive

Bismark palm on Captiva Drive

Charlie Brown tree on Captiva Drive

Charlie Brown tree on Captiva Drive

At SanibelSusan Realty Associates

At SanibelSusan Realty Associates

SanibelSusan's Charlie Brown tree at home

SanibelSusan’s Charlie Brown tree at home

Sanibel & Captiva Real Estate Action This Week

SANSLogoWe had a few listings shown this week and a fair turn-out at yesterday’s Realtor® caravan. I had a double-dip closing on Tuesday (both listed and sold), then was out showing property too. Dave held an open house at our Sundial listing on Tuesday and Loggerhead Cay today. I have been negotiating on an offer this week that got finalized today, so all-in-all, a productive week for SanibelSusan Realty Associates, even with the holiday distractions.

Polar Bear Plunge Coming Up

Old Polar Bear PlungeAs reported in the “Island Sun”: 

“For those who are on-island for New Year’s, the 13th annual meeting of the Sanibel-Captiva Chapter of the National Polar Bear Club will take place at noon on January 1 at Tarpon Bay Beach. When the club started in 2000, just 29 people showed up to brave taking a dip in the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, more than 350 bears took the plunge. The meeting begins with the singing of the traditional Polar Bear anthem by the Cubbies (1st-timers), Juveniles (1-time previous dippers) and seasoned Adult bears (those who took the plunge in previous years). The bears then enter the Gulf waters backwards, facing the huge crowd of supporters, on-lookers, tourists, and Mice (those who wished they had the courage to join in). Following the traditional Polar Bear group huddle/hug (a body-warming activity), participants will have an opportunity to sip from the giant Polar Bear champagne glass, have their picture taken in the infamous shell pith helmet, and engage in story-telling about their heroic experience with fellow Polar Bears from around the world. Everyone is welcome to attend the Polar Bear plunge, now considered an island tradition (which costs nothing to participate).”

A Few Energy-Saving Tips

Green-Energy-TipsThere were some timely reminders in the Lee County Electric Coop newsletter this month. You can conduct your own energy survey through their website at These tips and tricks may be helpful too:

  • “Keep the oven door closed. When you have to “sneak a peek” at the turkey or cookies, turn the oven light on and look through the window.
  • Cook with glass or ceramic pans. They heat faster, and you can set the temperature 25 degrees lower.
  • Use crock pots, microwave, and toaster ovens, when possible. They all use less energy than the oven.
  • Gently remind guests to turn off lights and fans when they leave a room. Remember, fans do not actually cool your home they only circulate the air, making you feel cooler.
  • Switch holiday lights to LED and set on a timer to reduce the amount of time you use them.”
  • “Washers – only run full loads; wash in cold water whenever possible; unplug or use circuit breaker to shut off power to washer when not in use; if possible, move washer close to your water heater to help retain heated water in pipes; always rinse in cold water, it has not effect on the cleaning of clothes; adjust waters levels to laundry load size on your washer, if possible; invest in an energy-saving washer.”

15-Year Mortgages Gain Popularity With Buyers

wall street journalAs follow-up to a “Wall Street Journal” article earlier in the week, “Daily Real Estate News” posted the following yesterday:

“Record-low rates are driving more borrowers to seek shorter term mortgages. Freddie Mac reports that nearly 16% of the fixed-rate mortgages that lenders sold to the agency during the 3rd quarter were comprised of 15-year mortgages. That’s up from nearly 10% a year ago. The data excludes mortgages for refinancing. For refinancing, 15-year mortgages accounted for nearly a third of loans during the first seven months of this year, according to CoreLogic. “The 30-year mortgage became the standard in lending because its lower monthly payments made real estate affordable to more Americans,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “While the 30-year remains king, the gap between the two loans’ popularity is shrinking.”

“Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages have recently averaged 2.81% — compared to 5.85% in mid-December 2007, according to, a mortgage information Web site. Some refinancers are finding that by switching from a 30-year to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage they are able to not only get big savings on the life of their mortgage but also even slightly lower monthly payments. Traditionally, refinancing into a shorter-term mortgage meant paying a heftier monthly payment. But with mortgage rates so low, some home owners are finding the monthly payment isn’t increasing and may actually be less by shortening the terms of their mortgage.”

Captiva 2013-2014 Re-nourishment Project

CaptivaThe Captiva Erosion Prevention District announced recently that it is accepting bids for its 2013-2014 re-nourishment project. This project consists of placing approximately 877,000 cubic yards of beach fill along six miles of shoreline and rehabilitation of existing dunes from Redfish Pass to Blind Pass and also a portion of northern Sanibel. The work will start between June 1 and September 1 and be completed by December 31, 2013. For more info, go to

Agents Prepare Homebuyers to Compete

FLRealtors_newlogoThe islands have not yet seen the swing from buyers’ market to sellers’ market, but the following article posted this week on FloridaRealtors® was a good read nonetheless. My Realtor® friends in Miami already are seeing multiple offers. Here’s hoping our area is next:

“House buyers in a growing number of areas are finding something they haven’t seen in years when house-hunting: Competition. With housing affordability high and mortgage rates low, homebuyers are ready to cash in – but they’re finding a lot of others are as well. Bidding wars are becoming more common, particularly as the inventory of for-sale homes remains constrained across the country.

““Buyers have to change their attitude about the way the market is,” says Carol Hooks, a real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Alexandria, Va. “Many still think it’s OK to make a low offer and ask for closing-cost assistance, but they really need to come up with a good, realistic offer….

“Real estate professionals are helping to prepare their buyers for the increased competition. For example, they’re encouraging buyers to go through the mortgage-approval process and secure financing before they look for a home, armed with more than just a lender’s prequalification letter. Eldad Moraru with Long & Foster Real Estate in Bethesda, Md., says it’s important for buyers to find a lender who will be able to provide them with an approval letter within an hour of finding the home they want to purchase. The new letter should include the address of the property and the exact amount they plan to offer so they can attach it to the offer.

“Homebuyers also need to have their earnest money deposit and down-payment ready to go, Moraru says. “A lot of buyers will have some money in stocks to sell and some money in a checking account and will tell me they need a few days to get it together,” he said. “You need to have that money consolidated and accessible in one account before you find a house.” As competition heats up, buyers need to prepare to think fast.

“If (the buyer) moves fast enough, (they) can have a home inspection before (they) make an offer, and then waive the home-inspection contingency,” Moraru says about being competitive in some multiple bid situations if you know when the seller is going to be reviewing all offers.

“Some agents compare today’s competitive housing market to the process of dating. “You need to win on both looks and personality,” says Phil Bolin, a broker with RE/MAX Allegiance in Alexandria, Va. “The personality part is the fundamental issue of financing and down-payment, but the looks part doesn’t cost you anything. It can be as simple as making sure there are no mistakes in your contract. If there are mistakes or missing items in your offer, you don’t look like a serious buyer.””

Sanibel & Captiva Island Multiple Listing Service Activity December 14-21

1 new listing: Sundial #K108 3/2 $1.1M.
No price changes.
2 new sales: Blind Pass #A105 listed for $395K, Compass Point #141 3/2 listed for $899K (our listing).
1 closed sale: Sanibel Arms West #M7 2/2 $398K (our listing & sale).

6 new listings: 1401 Sandpiper Cir 3/2.5 half-duplex $419K, 2079 Wild Lime Dr 3/2 $525K, 395 Old Trail Rd 4/3 $599K, 617 East Rocks Dr 3/2 $625.9K, 1339 Par View Dr 3/2 $680K, 512 Periwinkle Way 3/3 $1.075M.
8 price changes: 4629 Brainard Bayou Rd 3/2 now $539K, 5296 Umbrella Pool Rd 4/4 now $549.9K, 1441 Causey Ct 3/2 now $725K, 3840 West Gulf Dr 3/2.5 now $739K, 2540 Coconut Dr 4/3.5 now $740K, 2729 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 now $1.298M, 4717 Rue Belle Mer 3/3 now $1.895M (short sale), 505 Kinzie Island Ct 5/4.5 now $2.195M.
4 new sales: 1807 Serenity Ln 3/2 listed for $574K, 549 East Rocks Dr 3/2.5 listed for $795K, 1314 Isabel Dr 4/3.5 listed for $2.094M, 4689 Rue Belle Mer 3/2 listed for $2.295M.
5 closed sales: 1000 Greenwood Ct 3/2.5 half-duplex $322K, 760 Birdie View Pt 4/3.5 $769K (short sale), 1824 Woodring Rd 4/4 $1.025M, 6211 Starling Way 4/4.5 $1.95M, 1145 Bird Ln 5/5 $4.275M.

1 new listing: 644 Sea Oats Dr $315K.
3 price changes: 5121 SanCap Rd now $249K, 6006 White Heron Ln now $749K, 837 Limpet Dr now $885K (our listing).
1 new sale: 659 Anchor Dr $448.5K.
No new sales.

No new listings.
1 price change: Gulf Beach Villas #2004 2/2 now $659K.
2 new sales: Marina Villas #801 2/2 listed for $552K, Sunset Beach Villas #2228 2/2 listed for $600K.
No closed sales.

1 new listing: 11532 Wightman Ln 2/2 $1.475M.
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.

Merry Christmas!