Sanibel Sunsets, Sea Turtles, & Other Island Real Estate News

SanibelSusan Realty had a flurry of real estate activity this week, which is fairly unusual for this time of the year: a new home sale, a few showings, and two nice closings. It has again been a week of wonderful weather with bright sunny days, perfect for all those outdoor activities. Here are a couple of photos forwarded to me this week by Ellie, my photographer-client-friend, showing that there have been great sunsets this week too!

2013-May-SanibelSunsetEllie 2013-May-SanSunSetEllie2

realtor logoThere were several sales announced yesterday at our Realtor® Caravan meeting, though meeting attendance was light due to the National Association of Realtors® Mid-Year Business Meetings in Washington, DC. Association leadership was in DC and on the Hill yesterday. One of the topics discussed was the upcoming changes in flood insurance rates. Below is a little more about that subject, followed by a couple of other news items, then the activity posted this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Flood Insurance Rates

Heidrick logoI was shocked this week to see a new flood insurance quote for an island property. Realtors® try to stay informed on changes that affect housing and their associated costs, but the price on this quote was beyond any expectations. Coincidentally, Chris Heidrick of Hendrick and Company (, an affiliate member of our local Realtor® Association, wrote an “Island Sun” article that appeared in today’s paper.

fema logoCalled “Flood Insurance Rates to Skyrocket for Older Homes“, in part, it says: “Last July, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12), which provided for a sorely needed five-year re-authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has recently started to release details of other provisions of the Act that will have significant financial impacts on local homeowners, commercial property owners and condominium associations…The most significant section of the Act immediately eliminates rate subsidies on structures built prior to 1979 on Sanibel and 1984 on Captiva, Fort Myers Beach and many parts of mainland Lee County. Rates for these structures have been artificially low since the inception of the NFIP in 1968. Premiums for these policies will increase from a range of $1,200 to $2,400 to at least $3,000 and in many cases to well over $10,000 per year. While the new rates have not yet been released, indications are available. Government and industry leaders all agree on the enormity of the increases.

“Residential, commercial and condominium association policies that were in effect prior to the Act (July 6, 2012) will have the increases phased in over the next several years through annual increases of 20 to 25% per year. However, policies that were purchased on or after July 6, 2012 will require owners to obtain an Elevation Certificate and will be re-rated at the new, higher rate at the first renewal after October 1, 2013. Buyers of older, ground-level homes/buildings should have an Elevation Certificate done by a surveyor now and ask their agent how their premiums may be impacted at the next renewal. Some people may struggle to pay premiums that increase as much as 500% at their next renewal. Owners of all structures in a Special Flood Hazard Area and having a mortgage are required to maintain flood insurance.

“Selling impacted properties may also become more difficult as buyers who require a mortgage may be reluctant to purchase a property that requires at $10,000 per year flood insurance policy. In some cases, the only way to escape the impact of BW12 may be to elevate the building.

“And, as if these increases were not painful enough, there are several other provisions in the law that will further increase flood premiums today and in the future. Any building that has been “substantially improved greater than 30% of its fair market value” will immediately be subject to the new, higher rates. This threshold is lower than the “50% of fair market value” threshold that triggers conformance requirements under FEMA construction guidelines. However, if the improvement elevates the building above Base Flood Elevation, it could result in a decrease in flood insurance premiums.

“Building and community officials should be advising citizens that there are significant credits provided for exceeding FEMA requirements. Often, buildings are constructed to meet FEMA requirements, which are a minimum standard. Exceeding those standards by elevating just one additional foot could decrease flood premiums over 50%.

“Further, the practice of “Grandfathering” will be phased out beginning in late 2014. Grandfathering allows a property owner to continue to pay lower rates after a revision to flood maps indicate an increased hazard for that property, saving some property owners thousands of dollars.

“For owners of properties impacted by BW12 there is one glimmer of hope that has recently surfaced. On May 7, 2013, Sen Mary Landreiu of Louisiana introduced an Amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that would stop premium rate increases for NFIP coverage until FEMA conducts an affordability study and there is adequate time to act on the findings. Homeowners and citizens should contact (Florida) Sen Bill Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio to express their concerns about Biggert-Waters and ask for support of Sen. Landreiu’s Amendment to the Water Resources Development Act.”

Island Turtle Happenings

SCCF photo of loggerhead turtle burying her nest

SCCF photo of loggerhead turtle burying her nest

Saving Sea Turtles Promoted by JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – Thanks to a grant acquired by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, the refuge hopes to educate island visitors about the importance of protecting sea turtles. Several species nest here from May through October, so the grant money will be put to good use by distributing two publications (a handy informational brochure about protecting sea turtles, plus a coloring/games book for children) in many local accommodations and hotel rooms.

Kemps_ridley_sea_turtle_in_water-2CROW Releases Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle – More news on the turtle-front is that CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) recently successfully released a critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle back into the Gulf of Mexico. CROW has already cared for 12 sea turtles this year, having treated 20 in all last year. They stay at the facility an average of 45 days. CROW is the only facility on the Gulf coast between Sarasota and the Florida keys that is licensed to provide medical care to sea turtles. Two of the most common reasons season turtles arrive at CROW are boat strikes and fishing line or net entanglement, so we can all do our part in preventing these occurrences.

Rare daytime hatching. See baby turtle to the right. SCCF photo.

Rare daytime hatching. See baby turtle to the right. SCCF photo.

Sea Turtle Nests – So far the number of turtle nests are lagging the numbers that were identified by mid-May in 2011 and 2012. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Sea Turtle Office has volunteer turtle patrol monitors who watch the beaches, carefully marking nesting areas to ensure that they are not disturbed. As of this morning, seven nests have been identified on Sanibel, four on Captiva (all loggerheads). In 2012 on Sanibel, there were 314 loggerhead turtle nests, one green turtle nest, and 660 false crawls (all loggerheads). (A false crawl is where a turtle attempts to make a nest but is disturbed and instead returns to the Gulf ejecting her eggs.) On Captiva in 2012, there were 117 nests and 170 false crawls (all loggerheads). Hatch success in 2012 was compromised by Tropical Storms Debby and Issac; 99 Sanibel nests and 36 Captiva nests hatched, with over 9,000 hatchlings reaching the Gulf.

Lee County Tourism on the Rise

Lee County LogoToday in the “Island Sun”, it says that Lee County’s lodging industry experienced increases in average occupancy rate and average daily rate for the winter season year-over-year. Revenue per available room increased 9% in March. March also was the busiest month recorded in Southwest Florida International Airport history, with a year-to-date increase in passenger traffic of 7.5% over the same period last year (January through March).

Appraisals Catching Up to Rising Home Values

appraisal clip artAppraisals have been a stumbling block in sales on the islands for the past few years. It is nice to hear that the nationwide trend is changing. An article yesterday in “Daily Real Estate News” sourced a CNNMoney article from Wednesday. The article says:

“In recent months, real estate professionals have had to hold their breath as they waited for an appraisal on a property to come back. Would it be lower than the agreed-upon selling price  — and by how much? 

“Many real estate professionals have blamed a high number of derailed transactions on low-ball appraisals. 

But now the industry is noticing a change in appraised values: Appraisals are getting more in line with the agreed upon selling price, CNNMoney reports. 

“Appraisers are valuing homes at or above their selling prices as home prices nationwide climb and inventories of homes decrease, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. For example, in Wallingford, Wash., real estate pro Michael Ackerman told CNNMoney that he was concerned a transaction would fall apart when a buyer agreed to pay $755,000 for a home since other comparable homes in the area had sold for $690,000.  “Everybody’s jaws dropped” when the appraised value came in at the full, agreed-upon selling price,” says Ackerman.

“In some cases, appraisals are even coming in higher — which was practically unheard of just a few months ago. For example, real estate pro Cara Ameer in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., says with home prices in the area rising 15% over the past year, she was concerned the appraisal on a two-bedroom townhouse wouldn’t reflect the current rise. A buyer offered to pay $5,000 above the $189,000 asking price. The appraisal came in above the selling price, Ameer says.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity May 10-17

1 new listing: Nutmeg Village #105 2/2 $659K.
2 price changes: Sanibel Arms West #I1 2/2 now $424K, Pointe Santo #A2 2/2 now $929K.
4 new sales: Lake Palms #7 2/2.5 listed for $249K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #3-3 2/2.5 listed for $540K, Coquina Beach #2E 2/2 listed for $599K, Cyprina Beach #1 2/2.5 listed for $1.295M.
2 closed sales: Villa Sanibel #2H 2/2 $515K, Gulfside Place #209 2/2 $940K.
2 new listings: 9240 Belding Dr 2/3.5 $475K, 428 Bella Vista Way E 4/4 $2.194M.
4 price changes: 1481 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 now $575K, 776 Conch Ct 3/2 now $699.9K (short sale), 1001 Kings Crown Dr 3/2.5 now $1.099M, 203 Daniel Dr 3/3 now $1.15M.
8 new sales: 1409 Sandpiper Cir 2/2 half-duplex listed for $299K, 1805 Ibis Ln 2/2 listed for $389K, 625 East Rocks Dr 3/2 listed for $499K (our buyer), 1405 Jamaica Dr 3/2.5 listed for $659K, 615 Hideaway Ct 3/2.5 listed for $724.9K, 916 Beach Rd 3/3 listed for $830K.
6 closed sales: 1415 Sandpiper Cir 2/2 half-duplex $307.5K, 1663 Bunting Ln 3/2 $350K (short sale), 2985 Island Inn Rd $399K (our seller), 1605 Bunting Ln 2/2 $574.9K (our buyer), 1053 Seahawk Ln 3/2 $645K, 3441 West Gulf Dr 5/4/2 $4.65M.
2 new listings: 1466 Sand Castle Rd $229K, 1301 Par View Dr $249K.
1 price change: 223 Robinwood Cir now $229K.
1 new sale: 2418 Blue Crab Ct listed for $125K.
No closed sales.
No new listings.
2 price changes: Beach Homes #3 3/2 now $1.629M, Lands End Village #1638 3/3 now $1.85M.
No new sales.
2 closed sales: Marina Villas #802 2/2 $525K, Beach Homes #11 3/3 $2M. 
No new listings.
2 price changes: 15631 5/4.5 now $2.275M, 16838 Captiva Dr 6/7.5 now $4.995M.
1 new sales: 16459 Captiva Dr 8/7.5 listed for $2.99M (short sale).
1 closed sale: 16623 Captiva Dr 9/9 $4.3M.
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.

birthday cakeCheers for another great weekend &

Happy Birthday, to our teammate, Lisa!