Over the last week on the islands we have had a little up-and-down weather, a few chilly evenings but mostly beautiful bright sunny days with lots of bikers, beach-goers, and families enjoying nature and the holidays.
Here are a couple of news events, followed by the week’s Multiple Listing Service activity on Sanibel and Captiva.
Realtor® Membership Meeting
Yesterday, at the December Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® breakfast meeting, Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra, Planning Director Jim Jordan, and Police Chief Bill Tomlinson updated us on recent happenings at City Hall and around the island. Manager Zimomra spent the day before snow-bound at the Cleveland airport, so we were happy that she made it back home safely.
As part of continued cooperative efforts between our local organization and City leadership, Manager Zimomra and Director Jordan encouraged Realtor® input in the ongoing Planning Department review of the updating and redevelopment process for island commercial properties. Manager Zimomra and Chief Tomlison likewise asked for our help in spreading the word on island safety, mainly to encourage visitors and vacationers to lock their accommodations, particularly sliders, when they are away. Open doors particularly with purses and wallets in sight are invitations for trouble, even on this quiet island.
Top Real Estate Stories of 2012
This week, Florida Realtors® posted on-line a summary slide show of how the real estate industry here changed in 2012. Here is a list of the top industry stories, a recap of the most significant news stories that impacted Florida real estate brokers and agents.
- “Real Estate Rebound – In a year-over-year comparison, single-family sales grew 25.3% and prices increased 9%, according to Florida Realtors® economists. The big Realtor® complaint now is low inventory and continued banking and lending hassels. Schwab says real estate will be the key driver of a 2013 rebound.
- “There’s No Place Like Home. Got One? The big Realtor® complaint now? Low inventory. Sensing a rebound, buyers jumped into the market only to face competition from investors. At the same time, many owners put off a sale, waiting for even higher prices. New construction – almost nonexistent since the recession – kicked into gear.
- “For Lease, Navidad – Real estate investors tried a new tactic. Instead of buying buildings, they bought single-family homes one by one and, on paper, turned a multi-location group of homes into a single investment. They signed up renters, paid a property manager and turned an almost immediate profit.
- “How Low Will They Go? Mortgage interest rates hit record lows in 2012, bottoming out at 3.31% for a 30-year fixed rate – and still hovering at that range at year’s end. Some buyers with dynamic credit scores found great deals. Others couldn’t score a great home due to tight lending and competition from cash-laded investors.
- “Let’s Get Fiscal – A threat overshadowed the 2nd half of 2012 – a presidential election followed by possible economic pandemonium if Congress failed to stop a fiscal cliff on Dec 31. Fear of the unknown caused businesses to postpone investments, homeowners to avoid buying, and a nationwide wait-and-see attitude.
- “I’ll Make This Short – Buyers loved bank-owned properties (REO’s) just a year ago, but in 2012, banks cut back on REO’s and started to favor short sales that net them more money. In Realty Trac’s latest quarterly report, a full 65% of homes in some stage of the foreclosure process sold through a short sale instead.
- “Don’t Deduct the Deduction – The U.S. supports homeownership through a mortgage interest tax deduction (MID). But some now question the fed’s role and say renting isn’t such a bad option. As part of a deal to cut the deficit, will lawmakers nix the MID altogether? Cap the amount? Either option could trim buyer demand in 2013.
- “A Billion Here, A Billion There – Five large U.S. banks accused of unfair foreclosure tactics settled a court case to the tune of $26 billion. The money helped some underwater homeowners lower monthly payments, and it reimbursed some ex-owners who went through foreclosure. The banks say they’ve changed those practices.
- “Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad – Florida voters passed three property tax amendments in November, easing the burden for spouses of veterans and first-responders, out-of-state veterans and, with local approval, low-income adults 65 or older. Unfortunately, the Florida Realtors®-backed Amendment 4 failed to get the 60% approval need for passage.
- “Help for Howeowners Literally Underwater – Congress finally passed a long-term fund flood insurance law extending the program to 2017, following a lengthy, years-long series of short-term extensions. The national flood program faces financial challenges however, and it now has stricter requirements for coverage.
- “Less is More – In an effort to become financially sound, Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. reduced coverage and increased premiums. Still, these policies are less expensive than the private market. In 2013, Citizens will struggle to again become the state’s insurer of last resort.
- “Global Shift – International buyers love Florida’s sunshine, lifestyle and want a piece of the action. However, some global economies have been hit harder than others. In 2012, buyers from Brazil, Venezuela and Canada ramped up purchases. But European buyers, hit harder by a downturn, cut back on buying Florida homes.
- “Sizing Up Appraisals – NAR (National Association of Realtors®) survey: 65% of Realtors had no contract problems due to a home appraisal over the previous three months, but 35% did. NAR and appraisers note many problems result from lender demands and the use of out-of-area valuators (often via AMC’s (Appraisal Management Companies)) without local expertise or full access to local data.” (This again was a big problem on Sanibel/Captiva in 2012. Another reason why island Realtors® recommend working with a local lender.)
New Year Traditions
Thanks to a few reminders in the “Island Sun” and Googling, here is some info on the upcoming holiday traditions:
- What to Eat – Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. In Germany, marzipan pigs are traditional Christmas and New Year’s gifts that symbolize success.
- What to Do – Put a silver coin in your pocket before midnight on New Year’s eve to increase your chances of prosperity. An Irish tradition is to bang on doors and walls with a Christmas bread to chase away bad luck and invite good spirits. Bread is used to ensure plentiful food comes to the household. The Chinese use firecrackers to welcome the New Year and chase away evil spirits. In Iran, they bang pots and pans.
- Your First Visitor – 1st-footing is an ancient European New Year’s custom that continues into the present in many areas. The first person to enter a home after midnight on the 1st day of the year should be a male, preferably with dark hair. Blondes may have been associated with Vikings – visitors who never brought good luck. The 1st-footer should carry a gift, such as a coin for prosperity, bread for food, salt for flavor, or whiskey to represent good cheer. The 1st-footer can be a resident of the house, but must not be inside during the hour leading up to midnight. No fair stepping outside and coming back in again!
- What to Sing – Nearly every English-speaking New Year’s Eve celebration includes singing “Auld Lang Syne” which literally means “the good old days”.
- To Kiss or to Toast? – Kiss those dearest to you at midnight not only to share the celebration, but to ensure that those ties continue through the next 12 months. A champagne toast at midnight is the most honored New Year’s tradition. It can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
- New Year’s Resolutions – This tradition dates back to the early Babylonians where their most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. This year, we hope many resolve to buy an island property in 2013.
New Year’s Happenings on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
- New Year’s Eve at Sanibel Recreation Center – 8 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. is family-friendly, alcohol & tobacco-free, with food, games, raffles, adult bingo, silent auction, DJ, dancing, magician, juggler, ventriloquist, & midnight balloon drop. www.mysanibel.com
- Annual New Year’s Eve Gala at Traditions on the Beach beginning at 7 p.m. www.traditionsonthebeach.com
- The Modulators at The Crow’s Nest at ‘Tween Waters Inn on New Year’s Eve.
- 13th Annual Polar Bear Plunge – at noon on New Year’s Day at Tarpon Bay Beach. Free and fun. Go to watch or wear your bathing suit and make history.
Big Houses Making a Comeback
An article in “Daily Real Estate News” just before Christmas sourced CNBC as saying:
“Home owners desire bigger spaces again, following five years of downsizing trends.
Average sizes of newly built homes increased 3.7% last year over 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That marked the first increase since 2007. And builders are reporting higher demand for larger homes this year.
“A recent survey by PulteGroup showed that 84% of home owners between the ages of 18-59 have no intentions of downsizing, even among Baby Boomers. “There appears to be a renewed sense of optimism in housing,” says Deborah Meyer, PulteGroup’s chief marketing officer. “Homebuyers, regardless of their stage of life, still want and need larger homes. Consistent with our consumer research, the survey results show that today’s buyers are equally focused on more efficient use of the spaces within their homes.”
“The need for more space may be coming from the growing number of people living under one roof, as multi-generations move in together.
“A recent survey by the American Institute of Architects shows a higher demand for multi-generational housing. The survey also showed more home owners upsizing their current homes. Fifty-eight percent of architects reported higher interest in additions and remodels, which is up from 35% one year ago. Kitchen and baths topped the list.
“While the desire for larger homes bodes well for home builders, “they may also add optimism to the upper end of the market, and all those so-called “McMansions”—generally considered in the 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot range—many of which lost significant value during the housing crash,” reports CNBC’s Diana Olick.”
Sanibel & Captiva Island Multiple Listing Service Activity December 21-28
2 new listings: Sundial #H110 1/1 $215K, Captains Walk #E5 2/2 $224.5K.
2 price changes: Blind Pass #D205 2/2 now $300K, Pointe Santo #C4 now $479.9K.
5 new sales: Colonnades #9 1/1 listed for $129K, Tennisplace #A34 2/1 listed for $239.9K, Sanibel Moorings #341 2/2 listed for $420K, Lighthouse Point #318 3/2 listed for $449K, Wedgewood #303 3/3.5 listed for $1.198M.
1 closed sale: Duggers Tropical Cottages #6 1/1 $235K.
4 new listings: 3316 Saint Kilda Rd 2/1 $449K, 1053 Seahawk Ln 2/2 $689K, 1694 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/2 $1.195M, 1175 Bird Ln 4/3.5 $2.995M.
6 price changes: 4629 Brainard Bayou Rd 3/2 now $499K, 9203 Dimmick Dr 4/2 now $649K, 1350 Middle Gulf Dr #1E (Moonshadows) 3/3 half-duplex now $669K, 2540 Coconut Dr 4/3.5 now $740K, 4496 Waters Edge Ln 3/2 now $825K, 2984 Wulfert Rd 4/3 now $2.4M.
2 new sales: 6457 Pine Ave 3/2 listed for $429K, 1693 Bunting Ln 3/2 listed for $745K.
3 closed sales: 199 Daniel Dr 3/2 $337.5K., 1001 Lindgren Blvd 2/2 $600K, 3239 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $745K.
No new listings.
1 price change: 1847 Farm Trl now $224K (our listing).
1 new sale: 6006 White Heron Ln listed for $749K.
2 closed sales: 9042 Mockingbird Dr $289,375; 1035 Bayview Dr $3.55M.
1 new listing: Sunset Beach Villas #2222 1/1 $529K.
No price changes, new or closed sales.
2 new listings: 15160 Captiva Dr 6/6.5 $2.299M, 15017 Binder Dr 3/4.5 $3.75M.
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.
Happy New Year!