Sanibel & Captiva Real Estate News, Plus the “Tomato Thief”

It’s SusanSusan, reporting a wonderful week of summer-like weather on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Easy traffic too, though a few families are in town for spring break.

The SanibelSusan Team got two new listings this week: a 2-bedroom condominium at Island Beach Club with a nice view to the beach and rental income, plus a double-lot parcel in Belle Meade suitable for building a single-family home.

Island Beach Club walkway

Island Beach Club walkway

At the gulf in front of Island Beach Club

I was out showing condos yesterday and saw vacationers at many complexes, though several on-site managers said that most of their winter-visiting owners have gone home or are heading out soon. As a local, that means the restaurants will again be easy to visit without a wait! When I stopped at Subway yesterday on my way back to the office, early afternoon, I was the only customer; while last week at the same time, the line was out the door and winding into the parking lot! Like most other business owners, they report a productive “high season”, but are enjoying a mini-reprieve. Things will pick up for them again in the summer.

Before I get into some real estate news followed by the activity posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Service over the last seven days, here is a cute photo. Teammates and son and daughter-in-law, David & Lisa, recently have been enjoying vegetables from their backyard garden. This photo shows one of their local critters also snacking. Dave emailed the photo last weekend and called it “Tomato Thief”. We don’t have those on the islands!


April Association of Realtors Membership Meeting

FLRealtors_newlogoSeveral big closings occurred over the last few days and quite a few new sales also were announced at our local Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® April Membership Meeting yesterday. Also at that meeting were the annual presentations for Florida Association of Realtors® Honor Society. Sanibel and Captiva have just five Realtors® who earned that distinction this year. This was the 14th year for me!

emptyhouseThe educational presentation at the meeting was provided by some of our business partners in the building industry, including Jeff Carroll with Tradewinds Custom Homes, Art Monahan with Seacoast Cottage Company, and Mike Valiquette of Sand Castle Construction. Jeff provided building code updates including the impact of recent flood zone changes. Art spoke on new construction and the “tear down”, how we should know the numbers; while Mike, who also is Chairman of the Sanibel Planning Commission, discussed Sanibel Commercial Redevelopment and Town Center code changes as they relate to property values and island comfort. All good stuff! Our local Realtors® are so appreciative of our affiliate members supporting us with their knowledge and sharing spirit!

Sanibel & Captiva Real Estate Sales Statistics

Below is an inventory update including the new sales and closings posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service this week.  A couple of high home sales, both on West Gulf Drive, for $3M and $5M, plus a condo closing at LaPlaya for $1.39M and a unit at Sedgemoor under contract (asking price $2.45M), all good indications of improvement in the market, swing the Sanibel average prices up a little.

                                    Condos                         Homes                          Lots

SANIBEL                     No.       Avg $ Price        No.       Avg $ Price      No.       Avg $ Price

For sale                       174       721,636            189       1,297,503         90       523,655

Closings pending        29         549,117            51         805,704            3          382,333

Closed 1/1 to 4/19/13 42         536,652            66         1,018,441          6          664,792

Closed in 2012           151       551,244            183       823,598             33         487,687

Closed in 2011            142      591,861            179       826,130             19         363,739


For sale                       52        832,523            54         3,753,611          8          4,287,375

Closings pending        6          751,750            3          851,000 0          N/A

Closed 1/1 to 4/19/13  8          563,500            7          3,737,143          1          650,000

Closed in 2012            35         836,129           26         1,536,019          3          1,221,667

Closed in 2011            24         737,754           22         1,782,059          1          485,000

Did You See The Parade?

SanibelIonaFireDistricts-04-18-13The island was atwitter yesterday when there was a salute by the Sanibel and Iona Fire Districts to a wounded veteran being transported across the Sanibel Causeway en route to the islands.

Fire trucks with their ladders extended up were connected at the top with a huge American flag creating a canopy for the vehicle to cross under as it came across the bridges.



Five Ways Sellers Can Prepare for a Home Inspection

PrintPosted on Wednesday by “Daily Real Estate News”, this article was sourced to RISMedia, on April 16, 2013. A SanibelSusan client had an inspection recently where the attic was inaccessible. I sure wish the Seller had seen this article before the inspection.

“David R. Leopold, owner of Pillar to Post Home Inspection in Fairfield County, Conn., says home sellers and their real estate professionals have an important role in preparing for a home inspection to help ensure it goes smoothly. Leopold offers up some of the following tips in a recent article in RISMedia, including:

1. Don’t hide what isn’t working: If an appliance isn’t working, leave a note that indicates what isn’t working and how you’re getting it fixed. Don’t try to conceal defects because it can make the inspector start to view you as dishonest and wonder what else you’re hiding. 

2. Make things accessible: Ensure the locations of the attic and crawl space are identified and easy to access. Don’t make a home inspector move your belongings in order to gain access. 

3. Check the light bulbs: If a light bulb isn’t working, the inspector will need to determine if the fixture is inoperable. Save them time by making sure all the light bulbs in the home operate, including those in the crawl space, attic, and furnace rooms.

4. Note septic systems: If you have a septic system in the yard, be sure to leave a sketch that includes the location of it. It’ll avoid home inspectors, buyers, and real estate professionals having to conduct prolonged searches for it, Leopold says.

5. Keep appliances clear: Don’t leave dirty laundry in the washing machine or dryer because the inspector will need to test the appliances, and he doesn’t want to have to pull out dirty clothes in front of everybody, Leopold says. “Also, make sure your oven and stove top are clear and clean, so we can easily test them without setting off the smoke alarm,” he adds.”

Six Key Considerations When Applying for a Mortgage

AssociatedPressLogo-largeOn Monday, Florida Realtors® reposted on-line an Associated Press article that is worth a read if you missed it and will be applying for a mortgage.

“For most would-be homebuyers, making a run at homeownership is going to mean getting approved for a home loan. It’s a process that, at best, can be stressful and confusing. Borrowers can be better prepared by taking steps to study their options and learn what to expect from a lender. “It’s surprising to me that people tend to spend more time in pre-purchase research for a car than they do for a home mortgage,” says Chris George, president of home mortgage lender CMG Financial. Keeping up to date on changes in the mortgage market is necessary, because the government, which essentially backs 90% of new home mortgages, keeps tweaking the guidelines for the loans it will guarantee. Just this week, the Federal Housing Administration put into effect several new mortgage rules, including one that raises the cost of mortgage insurance for borrowers who take on FHA-backed loans, among other changes.

“Here are six tips for improving the chances that the mortgage math will add up in your favor:

1. Build a strong credit score – One of the main factors that lenders look at to determine a borrower’s creditworthiness is, aptly, their credit score. Bad borrower behavior, like late credit card or other loan payments, having a foreclosure or bankruptcy in one’s credit report and carrying high balances will weigh down your credit score. Most banks sell the home loans that they make to government-owned mortgage companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To do that, those lenders must adhere to certain lending criteria. Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will accept FICO scores below 600, but expect to pay a significantly higher interest rate the lower your score. A stellar score ranges from 760 to 850 and can give you greater negotiating power over the terms of the mortgage and ultimately, the total cost of the loan. One way to mitigate the impact of a low score: Make a higher down payment, George says. If your credit is less-than-stellar, make sure you give yourself time to rack up good credit history well before you attempt to apply for a home loan. This starts by checking your credit. Consumers are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can get copies at

2. Know your loan options – Apart from increasing the chances of qualifying for a loan, making a down payment of at least 20% of the sales price or appraised value of the home will spare you from having to pay private mortgage insurance. If you can’t afford that, you might qualify for financing on an FHA-backed loan. Those loans allow borrowers to make a down payment of as little as 3.5% of the purchase price. That’s great if you’re a first-time buyer and haven’t saved up for a bigger down payment. But to protect itself from potential loan defaults, the FHA requires lenders to charge extra fees to cover monthly mortgage insurance payments. Until this week, the FHA had dropped the mortgage insurance requirement for homeowners with 30-year loans who made payments for five years and managed to bring their loan-to-value ratio to 78%. Now, borrowers with a loan-to-value ratio between 78 and 90% will be able to stop making mortgage insurance payments after 11 years. But those borrowers who still have a loan-to-value ratio greater than 90% will be required to pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. “No matter how much of your loan you pay down, you’ll always have to pay that insurance premium, and that’s pretty significant change,” says Rick Sharga, senior vice president at mortgage lender and servicer Carrington Mortgage Holdings. Another change that went into effect: The FHA is requiring that borrowers put down at least 5% on home loans of $625,000 or more. That’s up from 3.5%, but actually less than the 10% down that most lenders require.

3. Consider making a larger down payment – Given the prospect of not being able to get out of paying private mortgage insurance, some experts say borrowers who can afford to put down more than 3.5% on a home should consider getting a loan that’s not backed by the FHA, sometimes known as a conforming loan.
Such a loan typically only requires that the borrower make a 5% down payment. Although that means you still would have to pay private mortgage insurance, at least you’re not locked in, notes Jack Guttentag, Wharton School professor of finance emeritus and founder of, which offers advice and online calculators for weighing different mortgage scenarios. That mortgage insurance can be cancelled automatically when the loan-to-value hits 78%. “You’re generally better off getting a conforming loan,” Guttentag says.

4. Keep an eye on fees – In addition to a down payment, you’ll also have to set money aside for closing costs, which can run into the hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars. Lenders charge all manner of fees, some of which are negotiable, while others are not. They are required to itemize all fees required to close the deal, so review them carefully. Your bank could charge you to cover items such as credit reports, appraisals, documentation and administrative costs. The total expense will vary depending on where you live and your particular situation. Also, if you end up with mortgage insurance, that could cost $100 or more a month, depending on the type of loan.

5. Wait for a good deal – Rising home prices and warnings, usually trumpeted by lenders, that interest rates will soon rise can create a sense of urgency to purchase a home. But if your finances and credit score are not solid enough to enable you to qualify for a loan at an affordable rate, it’s best to not rush into buying. To boost your chances of getting a good deal on a home loan, Guttentag recommends having a credit score of 740 or better, making a down payment of 20%.

6. Comparison shop – It’s prudent to get a feel for what different mortgage lenders will offer. After all, getting a home loan is not unlike getting financing for a car. There is some room for negotiation, says George. He suggests borrowers approach lenders and state what kind of loan term and interest rate they want, and how much of a down payment they’re willing to make. Borrowers also should ask what can be done to accomplish this with the least amount of points, or fees that can be charged based on a percent of the loan amount. As leverage, it’s best to have quotes from competing lenders, which can be obtained on several websites. They may be enough to sway the lender to match more favorable terms offered by the competition.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity April 12-19

5 new listings: Sanctuary Golf Villages I #2 2/2.5 $455K, Island Beach Club #310F 2/2 $474K (our listing), Mariner Pointe #842 2/2 $510K, Oceans Reach #1B4 1/1 $649K, Tarpon Beach #205 2/2 $675K.

5 price changes: Spanish Cay #F6 1/1 now $295K, Sanibel Arms West #I1 2/2 now $430K, Mariner Pointe #1052 2/2 now $439K, Pointe Santo #A22 now $759K, Somerset #D102 3/2.5 now $999K.
7 new sales: Captains Walk #E5 2/2 listed for $226K, Lake Palms #10 2/2.5 listed for $259K (short sale), Seashells #10 2/2 listed for $310K, Ibis at The Santuary #A202 2/2 listed for $384.9K, Sundial #G104 2/2 $447K, Loggerhead Cay #432 2/2 listed for $459K, Somerset #105 3/3.5 listed for $2.425M.
6 closed sales: Blind Pass #C110 2/2 $367.5K, Sundial #J207 2/2 $480K, Sundial #Q301 2/2 $565K, Surfside 12 #A1 3/2 $635K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #6-3 3/3 $665K, La Playa #3B 3/2 $1.39M.

4 new listings: 625 East Rocks Dr 3/2 $519K, 4515 Bowen Bayou Rd 3/2 $569K, 4458 Waters Edge Ln 3/2 $799K, 575 Kinzie Island Ct 3/3 $1.495M.
10 price changes
: 1787 Serenity Ln 3/2 now $579K; 1744 Bunting Ln 3/2 now $599K; 617 East Rocks Dr 3/2 now $599.9K; 450 Leather Fern Pl 3/2 now $639K; 3968 Coquina Dr 3/2 now $699K; 1213 Par View Dr 3/2.5 now $849K; 385 Old Trail Rd 3/2.5 now $899K; 9007 Mockingbird Dr 3/3 now $1.075M; 2507 Blind Pass Ct 4/3 now $1,090,555; 2984 Wulfert Rd 5/5.5 now $2.257M.
6 new sales: 3316 Saint Kilda Rd 2/1 listed for $410K, 1667 Sabal Sands Rd 3/3 listed for $469K, 707 Cardium St 3/2.5 listed for $599K, 1163 Seagrape Ln 4/4 listed for $749.9K, 6009 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3 listed for $836K, 786 Conch Ct 3/2 listed for $995K.
9 closed sales: 1271 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $550K, 9203 Dimmick Dr 3/3 $605K, 1230 Par View Dr 3/2.5 $657.5K, 941 Cormorant Cir 4/2 $695K, 4996 Joewood Dr 3/3 $668K, 284 Ferry Landing Dr 3/2.5 $860K, 1141 Paper Fig Ct 3/3.5 $1.375M, 3507 West Gulf Dr 3/2 $3M, 2517 West Gulf Dr 4/5.5 $5M. 

1 new listing: Lots 30/31 Dimmick Dr $199.9K (our listing).
2 price changes: 6141 Starling Way now $449,555; 4318 West Gulf Dr now $989K.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 5044 Joewood Dr $450K.



1 new listing: Bayside Villas #5102 1/2 $299.9K.
No price changes or new sales.
1 closed sale: Marina Villas #701 2/2 $475K (short sale).

No new listings.
1 price change: 15631 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 now $2.375M.
No 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.

CROW logoDon’t forget all the wonderful island events scheduled this weekend & posted in last week’s blog (just scroll down). Dave will be golfing in the CROW Classic benefit tournament tomorrow while SanibelSusan mans the fort!

Happy weekend to all – The SanibelSusan Team – Susan, Dave, Elise, & Lisa