The “rain rain” went away…it’s a gorgeous sunny Friday on Sanibel Island

rainFinally after a weeklong run of rain, it is bright and sunny on Sanibel and Captiva today. We are so spoiled with routinely good weather (even in the summer) that multiple days of off-and-on showers are rare. Some of these summer storms were doozies too with heavy sideways driving rain. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and swales are overflowing with many areas in northern Lee County reporting sheet-flow flooding. They say it could get worse before it all dries out.

Luckily, here on the islands where the water-table is already high, standing water usually disappears in a few days. With this additional freshwater added to the already over saturated run-off from Lake “O”, I took a few gulf and bay photos earlier today. Maybe it’s because of the dilution, but the gulf waters look great and the bay waters are losing some of their brown tinge.

Gulf beach in front of Island Beach Club 09/27/13

Gulf beach in front of Island Beach Club 09/27/13

Looking from Mariner Pointe over the canal to the Sanibel Marina 09/27/13

At the end of Bailey Rd looking into San Carlos Bay 09/27/13

At the end of Bailey Rd looking into San Carlos Bay 09/27/13

Here are a few news items followed by the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service activity over the past seven days. Next week when October arrives, I bet we see the first of the snowbirds back on the islands.

Flood Insurance Rate Hike Imminent

fema logo Everyone is probably sick of me talking about the upcoming flood insurance changes, but the below article from Wednesday’s “Daily Real Estate News” and “Reuters” is a good summary of where things stand on this issue today. Before that, here is some encouraging news.

As 2013 Chairman of the local Realtor® Association’s Professional Development Committee, I was approached this week by one of our members who prior to her real estate career worked for many years as a Land Use Planner in Collier County (just south of us). She also is associated with an engineering company in Estero that specializes in revisions to FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (which establish flood insurance premiums). Through some preliminary research, she has identified a few areas on Sanibel that may be candidates for zone changes (out of the “V” zone). So in hopes of initiating relief for some island owners, she is investigating these areas further and we have arranged for her and this firm to come to the Association in late October. They will present examples of their findings and describe how the zone change process works including typical timeframe and cost. There are no promises, but through this presentation, island Realtors® may be better prepared to help their clients on this important issue. Meanwhile, here’s the “Daily Real Estate News” article:

“More than 1 million home owners living in older houses along the coastlines and riverbanks of the United States are preparing for federal flood insurance rate hikes effective Oct. 1 under a law passed in the wake of devastating storms. Congress passed the law in an effort to balance a $24 billion deficit in the National Flood Insurance Program, which had growing losses from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 and earlier disasters. The rate increase is designed to make property owners pay for the true risk of living in high flood hazard areas, including coastal areas of Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Louisiana, and inland states prone to river flooding.  Members of Congress from high-risk flood states want to delay the higher rates so they can gather more information on the impact on property owners, but with next Tuesday’s deadline, time is running out.

“The act requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to phase out insurance subsidies enjoyed for decades by owners of homes that were built in high-risk flood zones before the creation of the original federal flood insurance rate maps and building standards, which in most communities occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The act comes on top of a nationwide remapping of flood zones, which in some coastal areas has moved some properties into newly widened hazard zones, exposing them to rate increases.  More than 80% of the 5.6 million properties nationwide covered by the $1.12 trillion program already comply with existing standards and would not see any change in their policies, at least for the time being, FEMA director Craig Fugate told a hearing of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Sept. 18. He acknowledged that the rates of those homeowners in compliance could go up, too, if new maps reveal higher flood risks.”

The Other Important Topic Today – Water Quality

250px-TallahasseeOldNewCapitals3Local Realtors® continue to work hard on local water quality issues too. On Tuesday, Realtor® Association Board member Shane Spring was in Tallahassee along with Sanibel’s Mayor Ruane. They attended committee meetings and met with state representatives behind-the-scenes to discuss what the effects of run-off from Lake Okeechobee are doing to island businesses. Flood insurance was very much on their agenda too. 

Capitol Bldg DCNext week, several more island Realtors®, City officials, local scientists, educators, and concerned citizens will travel to Washington to also push on the Hill for reform on these same subjects. Enacting changes to mediate any damage (current or future) caused by water coming from Lake “O” and the fight for more equitable flood insurance costs are key subjects on the minds of everyone interested in protecting islanders’ personal property rights. Love it when Realtors® roll up their sleeves and put their negotiating skills to the test! Please continue to contact your congressmen about these important issues too.

If you have already received a new flood insurance bill or quote and it illustrates how drastically your costs are increasing would you please share it with me? The Realtors® fighting for you need examples to show congressmen. The more ammunition the better! These costs could be going up as much as 25% a year for the next several years, so we all need to ACT NOW!

8 States With Biggest Foreclosure Drops

USATodayLOGOLast week “Daily Real Estate News” sourced a “USA Today” article about homes going into foreclosure. It said “The number of home owners entering the foreclosure process dropped below pre-recession levels in August, according to RealtyTrac. In some states, the declines were even more pronounced. Financial site 24/7 Wall St reviewed the states with at least 500 foreclosure starts as of August 2013 to identify which had the largest declines in the last year:

  • “Illinois – Change in foreclosure starts: -66.2%
  • Arizona – Change in foreclosure starts: -64.9%
  • Washington – Change in foreclosure starts: -64.9%
  • Florida – Change in foreclosure starts: -64.6%
  • California – Change in foreclosure starts: -57.5%
  • North Carolina – Change in foreclosure starts: -56%
  • Michigan – Change in foreclosure starts: -55%
  • Tennessee – Change in foreclosure starts: -51%”

Let’s hope that trend continues.

Sanctuary Golf Club Scoop

The Sanctuary golfIn September’s “Sanctuary Sound”, The Sanctuary Golf Club newsletter, their Director of Membership, Sheryl Tatum, reported that because of the changes to their Equity Membership to this summer, the Club now has 20 new members. Four of these 20 new members are Social Members which leaves only two Social Memberships available for season (as the cap for Social Members is 100).  It is likely that they will have a “wait list” for those Social Memberships soon. Their fees to join are: Equity Membership $110K, Introductory Membership $10K, Temporary Membership $5K/month (up to 2 months), and Social Membership $12K.

Move-Up Buyers Return

housing wire logoSanibelSusan Realty always targets potential move-up buyers through our post card mailings, so it was good news to read this. Posted last week in “Daily Real Estate News”, the article is sourced to “HousingWire” and says:

“As home equity levels improve, the move-up buyer is back on the market. More move-up buyers are selling their current properties to replace them with pricier homes, according to the latest report from FNC, a real estate data firm.  The move-up buyers are coming with larger down payments on new homes as recent improvements in home equity levels have allowed them to move. 

“”An important sign of a healthy and sustainable recovery is increased housing turnover driven by trade-up buying, which is more or less discretionary spending,” says Yanling Mayer, FNC’s director of research. “These buyers are typically more responsive to market conditions and financial incentives.” Rising mortgage rates are driving the higher demand because move-up buyers want to take advantage before mortgage rates rise up any more, brokers say.

“Plus, more move-up buyers are in a better position to move. Forty percent of all home owners now have at least 20% or more of equity in their homes now, according to RealtyTrac data. Also, 8.3 million additional home owners are expected to have at least 20% equity within the next 15 months if home prices continue to appreciate at the same pace, says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. Blomquist adds that if 5% of these home owners decide to sell their homes, that would amount to an additional 415,000 homes for sale in the coming months.”

Younger Buyers to Dominate Luxury Market

realtor logoI was surprised to see this heading on a Daily Real Estate News posting this week. It says: “A new survey by Coldwell Banker Previews International and the Luxury Institute finds that wealthy younger buyers are driving the luxury real estate market, and they are willing to pay more than similar wealthy buyers age 55 and older.

“The survey looked at Americans age 21 or older with a minimum gross annual household income of $250,000. It found that 43% of younger wealthy consumers are considering purchasing residential property in the next 12 months, compared to 21% of those aged 55 and older. These younger, wealthy buyers spent an average of $2.1 million on their most recent purchase of residential property, approximately twice the average amount spent by older and similarly wealthy buyers….So what are these younger buyers looking for? The survey found they are significantly more likely than wealthy buyers age 55 and older to want homes with amenities such as a pool, outdoor kitchen, home gym, home theater, wine cellar, and four or more garages. They are also more than twice as likely to value green or LEED-certified properties….For most luxury buyers, location is the most important factor when considering the purchase of residential property. And though they may travel internationally, only 6% of wealthy homeowners surveyed own residential property located outside the U.S.

September is REALTOR® Safety Month

safety-thumbCoinciding with Realtor® Safety Month, this week SanibelSusan teammate Elise attended a 3-hour continuing education class at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association office. She shared her hand-outs which cover three topics: social media safety tools; safety tips for open houses, listing appointments, and vacant properties; and protecting you and your clients from identify theft.

Here are a few additional owner-related safety tips recently offered by California’s Silicon Valley association in the “San Jose Mercury News”:

  • “Make sure all doors to the outside of a home are metal or solid hardwood and have good, sturdy locks. 
  • Sliding glass doors should be secured with commercially available bars or locks. 
  • Make sure all windows — especially those at ground level — have good locks, and use them. 
  • Lighting is important, so be sure all porches and other possible entrances are well illuminated. Motion-sensing lights are an especially good option for outdoor lights.
  • Keep any bushes or trees that hide doors or windows trimmed.
  • Keep a tight rein on trash. Those homeowners who recently bought big-ticket items, such as a new entertainment system, should not put the empty boxes out by the curb. It can attract the attention of would-be thieves. A better idea is to cut the boxes down and stuff them in trash bags.”

To Renovate or Rebuild?

EcoBrokerOriginalCertifiedLogo150pWith all the recent island discussions about remodeling old structures and build-back, this recent article that was contributed to REALTOR®Mag Blogs was interesting. It was submitted by Blu Homes. As a Certified Eco-Broker®, “green” features always catch my eye.

“The housing stock is getting older in many parts of the country, and more home owners are facing the need to make drastic upgrades. In some cases, home owners are facing an even bigger decision, such as whether to tear down and rebuild a new home. The following infographic ( from Blu Homes, a builder of prefab green homes, provides information to help home owners reach a cost-effective decision on whether to renovate or rebuild, including even how to recycle your old home and ways to incorporate green features too.

Upcoming Events at Sundial Beach Resort

sundial-logoAfter a successful Sanibel Summerfest promotion, Sundial Resort recently announced the events planned as part of their Fall Festival:

  • Saturdays noon to 4 p.m. – All you can eat BBQ beach buffets at Turtles Beach & Pool Bar.
  • Oct 12 & 13 – Columbus will land on the beach to party with guests and natives.
  • Nov 1 – “Thriller Halloween” costume party and fundraiser for F.I.S.H. (Friends In Service Here).
  • Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day – buffets at Waterview (restaurant).
  • New Year’s Eve Gala – featuring The Danny Morgan Band. (Danny also will perform every Friday and Saturday in the Sea Breeze Cafe (from 7-10 p.m.) Other island performers play at Turtles Beach & Pool Bar every Friday and Saturday from 1-4 p.m.)

November Fun at The Bait Box

  • bait_box_new_logoNov 8th  – 5th Annual Cracker Fest. This evening of island camaraderie includes dancing under the starts to the music of Uproot Hootenanny, and good food – all in laid-back cracker-style! This celebration of Florida’s cultural legacy benefits START (Solutions to Avoid Red, Inc.) and includes a live auction and raffles. Attendance is limited so make your reservations early.
  • Nov 9 – 20th Annual Esperanza Woodring Memorial Cast Net Rodeo. In the morning & also to benefit START. This event includes cast net lessons and demonstrations, plus competition by children. Registration is free and each child receives a prize just for competing.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity from September 20-27

No new listings.
3 price changes: Beach Road Villas #106 2/2 now $299.9K, Beach Road Villas #103 2/2 now $374.5K, Loggerhead Cay #331 2/2 now $484.9K.
2 new sales: Sundial #I101 1/1 listed for $349.9K (our listing), Lighthouse Point #125 2/2 listed for $539,935.
No closed sales.

3 new listings: 778 Cardium St 3/3 $545K, 4992 Joewood Dr 3/3.5 $1.459M, 1800 Woodring Rd 2/2 $1.995M.
2 price changes: 1644 Atlanta Plaza Dr 2/2 now $459.5K, 1225 Junonia St 3/2 now $679K.
2 new sales: 1809 Farm Trl 3/2 listed for $499K, 2695 Wulfert Rd 4/4/2 now $1.345M.
1 closed sale: 984 Greenwood Ct 3/2.5 half-duplex $359K.

No new listings.
1 price change: 3037 Poinciana Cir now $215,555.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: 2512 Wulfert Rd $231.5K.
No new listings or price changes.
2 new sales: Gulf Beach Villas #2008 2/2 listed for $649K, Captiva Bay Villas #A 3/3.5 listed for $1.995M.
No closed sales.
No new listings.
1 price change: 11541 Wightman Ln 3/3 now $1.495M.
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 just one more photo before I say, “happy weekend”. This one shows some of the activity going on at the future location of Bennett’s Fresh Roast on Periwinkle Way which is scheduled to open in November. Meanwhile the remodeling continues, their new drives are in, and a zillion plants/trees were being put in today. It already is looking terrific!


Happy weekend to all & let it be sunny wherever you are!