Activity is picking up albeit slowly on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Early snowbirds are arriving and getting their nests ready for “season”.
Many of the temporarily-closed restaurants have reopened, this week it was Traders Cafe and Store. It has a new look inside and out, and has tweaked their menu too.
There also are some newbie establishments open for business. For example, a new restaurant called The Sangria Grill opened a few weeks ago at 2430 Periwinkle Way. It is touted to have an eclectic mix of international cuisine in addition to homemade sangria. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.
Real estate activity pretty much matched island traffic this week – hit or miss. We had just a couple of showings; however, the good news is that we got a condo offer from prospective buyers who viewed that unit several weeks ago. Goes to show that no matter how often you follow-up, an offer can be unexpected – but appreciated just the same. That sale will keep SanibelSusan’s at-least-a-sale-a-week roll continuing. With appointments made this week for showings with prospective buyers later in the month, plus listing presentations, we can tell that “season” is just around the corner. Hooray!
Our Thursday Realtor® meeting had light attendance, with some colleagues instead in Washington attending congressional subcommittee meetings on water quality and flood insurance. If you are interested in viewing an event that two Florida Representatives hosted in DC for state officials and constituents to discuss what can be done about the Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases, here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJRyp_af07s (You may recognize Jim Hall, local Managing Broker of VIP, and on the board of The Ding Darling Wildlife Society. I think he got a chuckle when I texted, after spotting him in the audience.)
Teammates Lisa and Dave held our new listing at Pointe Santo open for the Thursday morning caravan, but only had a few Realtor® lookers. Usually these open houses attract some from the general public too, i.e. locals who know about our Thursday Caravans or vacation renters. But, none came yesterday, mostly likely because October is an off-month for island visitors.
While chatting yesterday after the meeting with David Arter with Private Client Insurance Services, he got a phone “alert” message from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. advising that the state is currently under storm restrictions, meaning that no policies may be bound. That is the result of Tropical Storm Karen. Florida has had pretty easy going this year during hurricane season, so we all hope this storm fizzles out quickly and moves on, so that business may go back to usual. These alerts often affect areas that do not receive much but rain from a storm, so we always suggest that new buyers make arrangements to bind their insurance early. If buyers had a sale closing today, but had not yet arranged for wind coverage, they could be out of luck with the closing delayed until the restriction is lifted. That can get complicated if financing is involved, so always bind early in Florida, particularly in the summer/fall. It is always better to be safe!
Old Dog Learns New Tricks
Last weekend was very quiet in the office, so after clearing my desk and calling prospective buyers hoping to spark interest in some listings and talking to several fellow Realtors® about earlier showings, I decided to finish up the class work needed for my national RSPS (Resort and Second Home Property Specialist) certification. You may remember that I wrote and teach the class segment on this same subject for our local Sanibel and Captiva Islands Specialist Designation. I also have been appointed to the Florida Realtors® Resort and Second-Home Specialists Forum for the last two years, and was just reappointed for 2014.
Still, I had not completed all of the requirements needed personally for this national designation. Launched in 2006, the RSPS class work is time-consuming which may be why there are only ~1,700 certified RSPS members nationally (just five on Sanibel/Captiva). The networking and referral opportunities are worth the effort, however, as many affluent consumers own more than one vacation property. I often have worked with buyers who also own second homes or resort-type property in other areas, like in ski country, on boating/fishing lakes/rivers, golf communities, etc.
So, this old dog has learned a few new tricks. I have finished the last 6-hour class (I completed the others last summer/fall), watched three required webinars, and passed the required exams. Have submitted my application and expect that more alphabet soup will follow my name soon. It’s really all good and should result in more buyer referrals!
The Good News
After all of the negative political news this week, I thought it was a good time to put out the word on some positive news. An article in the September/October 2013 “REALTOR®” magazine by NAR (National Association of Realtors®) President Gary Thomas was titled “Big Wins in a Tough Climate”. It says:
“We’re working through some of the toughest threats in our business right now, and it will be years before we have real clarity on many of the federal issues we’re dealing with. But your association has chalked up an array of impressive victories that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Our success this year has been thanks in no small measure to the power you show every time you write a letter to your members of Congress or meet your representative or senator in person, whether at home or in Washington.
“Let’s look at our latest victory: the qualified residential mortgage rule, which regulators released in late August. The rule largely tracks the qualified mortgage rule that regulators released last year. Both rules set parameters that lenders must follow to have their loans considered qualified. “Qualified” in the case of QRM (Qualified Residential Mortgages) means lenders don’t have to hold back 5% of the loan amount in capital reserves; in the case of QM (Qualified Mortgages), it means the loan is eligible for purchase or guarantee by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These standards seem like a simple matter. But had the rules not gone our way, they would have had enormous implications on the availability of affordable, long-term financing for your customers.
“The QRM rule, which applies to loans that are packaged into securities and sold on the secondary market to investors, adopts the reasonable QM approach that NAR sought. That represents a huge victory; the original proposed rule included a minimum down payment requirement, which could have been catastrophic for affordable mortgage availability. Although banking regulators left open the door for more feedback on the minimum down payment approach, that approach is unexpected to gain currency.
“Between the QM and QRM rules, we had another victory: the Basel III capital accords, which are international bank capital standards. Originally, the Basel III standards were going to impose what amounts to a surcharge on banks that make residential mortgage loans by requiring them to hold extra capital in reserve for those loans. But NAR and other organizations, including consumer groups, worked hard to show how problematic this approach would be, and when the U.S. version of the accords was released in July, the surcharge was taken out.
“In the months ahead, reforms of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA will be debated, and we can expect to have some tough fights. Likewise, the mortgage interest deduction remains a target for lawmakers pursing tax reform… It’s your involvement – all of us working together…that brings legislative and regulatory success for our industry.”
What Wealthy Buyers Want
What caught my eye in this article from CNBC last weekend was confirmation of what island buyers have been saying for many years – “We want open floor plans!” Republished on Monday in “Daily Real Estate News”, the article says:
“Wealthy home buyers rank open floor plans, smart technologies, and pools as top amenities in their home purchases. Coldwell Banker Previews International and the Luxury Institute recently surveyed home buyers who make more than $250,000 a year to find out what amenities they desire most in homes.
Here are their top-ranked amenities, according to the survey:
• “An open floor plan was cited by 39% as the No. 1 preferred amenity
• Fully automated/wired home system, which could encompass high-speed cable and integrated music systems, computerized lighting, and home monitoring systems
• Outdoor kitchen
• Home theater
“On the other hand, wealthy home buyers ranked the following amenities as “less important”: wine cellar, guest house, safe room, separate catering kitchen, tennis court, and staff quarters (which came in last on the list). The average home purchase for this wealthy segment of buyers was estimated at $1.6 million.”
2014 Sanibel Beach Parking Permits
It’s that time of the year again. Sanibel residents and property owners may purchase their 2014 Sanibel Beach Parking Permits starting on Monday, October 14 at the Recreation Center, every day, during operating hours. Permits are valid through November 30, 2014. Permit fees are:
• A – Resident property owner permit – $12 (resident &/or Sanibel ad valorem taxpayer property owner) (To qualify for an “A” permit, needed are: a valid registration for each vehicle and a state-issued identification card or driver’s license showing a Sanibel address or proof of Sanibel property ownership.)
• B – Non-resident permit – $90 (non-resident/non-Sanibel ad valorem taxpayer property owner)
• C – Restricted permit – $90 (resident & non-resident)
• A/C – Resident permit – $102
• B/C – Non-resident permit – $180
• Decal transfer or reissue fee – $3 (residential & restricted)
Wondering which lots require which permits?
• Lighthouse beach & fishing pier lots: A or B permits, or general parking at $2/hour.
• Boat ramp lot: C permit or general parking at $2/hour.
• Gulfside City Park (Algiers Beach): C permit at $2/hour.
• Trost Parking lot (for Tarpon Bay Beach): A or B permits, or general parking at $2/hour.
• Bowman’s Beach parking lot: A or B permits, or Lee County parking permit, or general parking at $2/hour.
• Blind Pass Beach parking lot: A or B permits, or general parking at $2/hour.
• Turner Beach parking lot: Lee County parking permit or general parking at $2/hour.
• West Gulf Dr, Buttonwood Ln, Seagrape Ln, East Gulf Dr at Colony Beach, Bay Dr, A permits only.
• Fulgur St, Donax St, Nerita St, Beach Rd, Bailey Rd, Dixie Beach, Sanctuary Overlook, A or B permits.
Sanibel Building Permit Fees Further Reduced
As reported in the “Island Sun” today, “After reducing building permit fees by 25% in April, the Sanibel City Council made a further 25% cut on Tuesday. The multiplier for all building department fees is now reduced from 3/4 of a % of total cost to 1/2 of a % of total cost.”
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity from September 27-October 4
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
2 closed sales: Sanddollar #C301 2/2 $967.5K, Plantation Village #212 3/2 $978K.
5 new listings: 9263 Kincaid Ct 3/2.5 $449K, 710 Pyrula Ave 2/2 $628K, 4677 Rue Bayou 3/3 $645K, 2667 Coconut Dr 3/3 $949K, 1277 Par View Dr 4/3.5 $995K.
3 price changes: 1073 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $549K, 2449 Harbour Ln 2/2 now $878K, 2543 Tropical Way 3/2.5 now $1.1M.
No new sales.
6 closed sales: 1021 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 $400K (short sale), 9240 Belding Dr 3/2.5 $450K, 776 Conch Ct 3/2 $625K (short sale), 1566 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $650K, 1234 Middle Gulf Dr 3/2 $760K, 488 Lighthouse Way $2M.
No new listings.
1 price change: 1898 Woodring Rd now $2.495M.
1 new sale: 3761 Coquina Dr listed for $350K.
No closed sales.
1 new listing: Marina Villas #708 2/2 $595K.
1 price change: Bayside Villas #5144 1/2 now $299.9K.
No new or closed sales.
No new listings.
4 price changes: 11521 Laika Ln 3/3 now $1.345M, 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 now $1.395K, 11522 Andy Rosse Ln 5/4.5 now $2.45M, 16682 Captiva Dr 10/12.5 now $11.9M.
1 new sale: 11516 Andy Rosse Ln 6/6 listed for $1.799M.
No 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.)
Though expecting rain from Tropical Storm Karen, so far Sanibel has not seen a drop today. Here’s hoping the nice weather continues through the weekend here & wherever you are.
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan