We had a flurry of activity at SanibelSusan Realty this week. There was no Realtor Caravan meeting yesterday, but I (Susan) had two unexpected sales (both my listings – love those) – one by a past client and the other a new customer who called from reading my Friday blog. How about that!
Yesterday, we received a terrific new listing in The Dunes. A photo taken from the great room of this house at 1311 Sand Castle Road is shown above. It has peaceful lake views perfect for wildlife watching.
With good feedback from other listings that were shown this week too, our fingers are crossed on a couple of those! Maybe “season” is starting early!? That sure would be nice!
Special shout-outs to Dan Cronin, Assistant Vice President and Loan Officer, with the Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank and Ron Dehler, Chief Inspector, with Horizon Inspection Service, Inc. for their expert service this week too!
Great to refer business to folks who respond, professionally and quickly!
Mid-September on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
The peak day of hurricane season was Tuesday, so hopefully Southwest Florida will wind down through the next two months with less rain and no storms. Though it has been one of the wettest summers in recent history, there has been wonderful weather the last few days. The typical afternoon/evening showers have not made it to the island, though there has been some pretty serious flooding in some areas off-island.
It also was reported on the news that the water releases from Lake Okeechobee will be reduced 60% beginning today because the water level in the lake is down to a more reasonable level. There have been a few inquiries about the water, but mostly locals are fielding visitor questions about what is open and what’s not. With schools back in session, September is usually the islands’ quietest month. Ding Darling Drive remains closed until October 1. The Sanibel Movie Theater is closed all month and many restaurants and shops continue to close for fix-ups and vacations.
Here are a couple of wind insurance news items followed by this week’s action in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.
Florida Approves Citizens Property Insurance Hikes
“Florida customers of the state’s largest property insurance company – including many homeowners who live near the coast – will be paying more in the coming year. State regulators on Monday announced that they had approved an overall statewide rate hike of 6.3% for customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The hike means that the state-created Citizens – which has 1.22 million policyholders – will have raised its rates for four straight years.
“The Office of Insurance Regulation’s hike is slightly smaller than what Citizens officials had requested. The increases would take effect in January and February 2014.
“But the range of hikes varies depending on where homeowners live and what type of policy they have with the insurer. Many policyholders in South Florida as well as coastal counties such as Sarasota, Escambia and Volusia may see a 10% jump in their insurance bills while the rate change will be lower for those who live further inland.
“Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens, maintained that exposure to hurricanes and sinkholes were the “major drivers” behind the need for the rate hikes this year. In a statement, Gilway said he was pleased that regulators “agreed with our overall approach.”
“Citizens would have likely asked for larger increases next year – but state law does not allow Citizens to raise rates on most coverage more than 10% a year. That cap does not apply to sinkhole coverage.
“The final order issued by regulators allows sinkhole rates to go up by 20% in Hernando and Pasco counties and 50% in Hillsborough County.
“Citizens has the power to place a surcharge, also called a “hurricane tax,” on its own policies and on the policies of most insurance policies if it can’t cover its losses following a major storm. That has prompted a push by Gov. Rick Scott and others to force Citizens to improve its finances. Citizens has billions of dollars in surplus now, but a series of a storms, or back-to-back years with major hurricanes, could wipe out the surplus. “The agency’s action will allow Citizens to continue providing quality service to our 1.2 million policyholders while reducing the risk of assessments on all Floridians,” Gilway said in his statement.
Citizens Insures Thousands of Out-of-State Owners
“When Citizens Property Insurance sends out its monthly customer bills, only 31% of them go to the same house that is insured. The rest go to other mailboxes in Florida – and around the globe, according to data analyzed by the American Consumer Institute of Citizen Research. More than 19,000 bills go to people who live in Canada, nearly 27,000 go to New Yorkers, almost 12,000 go to folks in New Jersey and hundreds more go to England, Germany and France. From Singapore and China, to South Africa and Luxembourg, Florida’s state-run insurance company is providing subsidized insurance coverage to 22,775 property owners who reside abroad. Another 176,465 policies go to homeowners with primary addresses in other states, the study found.
“At least 1 million of the nearly 1.3 million monthly bills for homeowners policies stay in Florida, but that includes an estimated 500,000 policies that go to addresses different from the property that is insured. As Florida grapples with how to lower the cost of homeowners insurance along its hurricane alley, the out-of-state subsidies are a luxury it cannot afford, said Steve Pociask, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that reviewed Citizens’ billing lists. “It all comes down to affordability,” he said. “People who live here and have their primary homes insured here are teachers, police, service workers and they are being stung by higher prices, while 27,000 people who have their bills sent to New York are getting subsidized insurance. Why do we want to subsidize these folks?”
“The inequities are enough to prompt Sen. David Simmons, the chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to draft legislation to require that out-of-state policyholders whose second homes or vacation are insured by Citizens no longer receive subsidized rates. “It is a real issue,” said Simmons, R-Maitland. “We thoroughly investigated it. The people who have the wind-only policies in the coastal accounts pay comparatively less than people who have personal accounts who are paying close to actuarially sound rates. It’s grossly unfair.”
“Pociask’s findings have also prompted a coalition of business and environmental groups this week to call for legislation to ban property owners whose primary residence is out of state from qualifying for Citizens insurance, which are offered at below-market rates. “It is bad public policy to continue to allow public subsidies for wealthy, out-of-state homeowners, including coastal homeowners who should be paying a fair price to live in a vulnerable area,” said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation and a member the Stronger Safer Florida Coalition, whose goal is to reduce the risk of hurricane losses in the wake of a major storm.
“The study, produced independently by Pociask using data supplied by Citizens, does not distinguish between policyholders who own or rent their property to full-time residents in Florida but receive their bills out of state, and those who live in Florida only part of the year. It’s a controversial suggestion in a state where steady improvements in the real estate market are being driven in part by international buyers.
“For example, in Sunny Isles Beach, development is under way for eight luxury condominiums, most of which are being marketed to foreign and out-of-state investors. Mayor Norman Edelcup predicts the city’s property tax base will double in the next five years because of it. But, he said, access to property insurance is key. “If Citizens were to deny insurance coverage to non-resident owners – in effect creating second class citizens – I would be totally against it,” he said. If those property owners are denied Citizens coverage, and can’t obtain insurance from an alternative carrier, “that would immediately cut those buyers out of the market and that would have a dramatic effect on us,” he said.
“Legislators tried to impose a surcharge on non-homesteaded property once before, in 2006. But the measure, which was adopted by legislators as part of a sweeping insurance reform bill, was repealed the next year in the wake of spiraling insurance costs at the state-run carrier. Under the current system, anyone who obtains a Citizens policy faces the risk of being charged additional assessments if the state runs out of money to cover claims in a massive storm. Floridians who don’t carry Citizens coverage would also face fees to bail out the state carrier, leading some to question the fairness of giving out-of-state residents subsidies if they escape the added costs. “We should not be subsidizing insurance – period – because it distorts risk and it distorts the market,” said Christian Camara, Florida state director of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank. “But we especially should not be subsidizing folks who do not live in Florida and would not be subject to the assessments in a worst-case scenario.”
“Efforts to shrink Citizens and reduce the potential size of those assessments was the focus of a major property reform bill passed last session. Under the plan, Citizens established a clearinghouse to encourage private insurers to take over Citizens plans, limited the maximum Citizens policy from $2 million to $1 million and eliminated subsidizes for new construction in environmentally-sensitive coastal areas.
“But Pociask, who said his organization receives no funding from Florida entities, warns that because of the large number of out-of-state policyholders, the reforms may not do enough to ease the financial burden on Florida residents if a massive storm were to hit. “The whole idea of having that investment from other countries is really good for the state, but, the question is, should somebody else be on the hook for paying for their insurance?” he asked.
“Simmons said he is prepared to find the answer with legislation next session. “Our plan is to address the inherent inequities that exist without denying anybody access to Citizens,” he said. “But we want to make sure the existing Citizens policyholder are not subsidizing other policyholders who are out of state.””
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity from Sep 6-13
3 new listings: Beach Road Villa #103 2/2 $349.5K, Sanibel Moorings #1622 2/2 $439K, Sanibel Arms West #M4 2/2 $450K.
2 price changes: Blind Pass #E206 2/2.5 now $479K, Pointe Santo #B25 2/2 now $749K.
4 new sales: Duggers Tropical Cottages #2 1/1 listed for $249K, Mariner Pointe #1042 2/2 listed for $424K (our listing & sale) (picture of that view above), Sanibel Arms #D1 2/2 listed for $450K, Sunset South #3B 2/2 listed for $595K.
1 closed sale: Sanibel Siesta #210 2/2 $414.5K.
4 new listings: 1039 Beach Rd 2/2 $340.5K; 579 Rabbit Rd 3/3.5 $579,555; 1311 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $749.9K (our listing); 600 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2.5 $1.195M.
2 price changes: 1809 Bowmans Beach Rd 3/2 now $499K, 1342 Junonia St 3/3 now $629K.
4 new sales: 659 Donax St 2/2 listed for $449K (our listing & sale), 470 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 listed for $495K, 4585 Bowen Bayou Rd 4/4 listed for $645K, 200 Robinwood Cir 3/3.5 listed for $1.268M.
3 closed sales: 1520 Centre St 2/2 $319K, 1941 Roseate Ln 3/2 $420K, 1066 Bailey Rd 3/3 $721K (short sale).
No new listings.
1 price change: 4954 Joewood Dr now $399K.
1 new sale: 5439 Osprey Ct listed for $379K.
No closed sales.
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5134 1/2 $257K.
1 new listing: 16249 Captiva Dr 3/3 $2.995M.
1 price change: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 now $1.449M.
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.
Here’s to sunny weekend weather…on the islands & beyond…