It’s Spring-Ahead Weekend on Sanibel Island

Clock aheadIt’s another perfect Friday on Sanibel Island. We are all ready to turn the clocks ahead on Sunday so we can enjoy more of this wonderful weather, later in the evenings.

Here are a few quick news items, followed by the week’s real estate action as reported in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Florida Realtors® Applaud House Passage of Flood Insurance Bill

FLRealtors_newlogoFlorida Realtors® posted the following notice on-line on Wednesday: 

“Realtors across Florida support the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, H.R. 3370, overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. House Tuesday, 306-91.

““This action in Congress will bring the much-needed certainty our real estate market has been missing since Biggert-Waters went into effect, and provide immediate relief to Florida homeowners who were facing financial ruin due to sudden and drastic flood insurance premium increases,” said 2014 Florida Realtors® President Sherri Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in Gainesville, Ocala and the Villages. Meadows added, “While good-intentioned, the Biggert-Waters Act had the effect of stigmatizing properties that are in flood zones. Current property owners, as well as those looking to buy, didn’t know if a new flood map might be adopted next week or next year. This legislation will give property owners in Florida and across the country peace of mind, by ensuring a slow and steady phase-in of risked-based increases.”

“Cyndee Haydon, associate broker with Future Home Realty in Clearwater, noted that the unintended consequences of the Biggert-Waters Act was making Florida locations less attractive to families, retirees and others looking to move here because of the dramatic, soaring cost of flood insurance in many areas. “I’m excited that the legislation addresses the affordability of flood insurance and provides a ‘glide path’ for premium increases of about 15% a year (for those not paying the full rates yet),” Haydon said. “This takes out the fear and the unknown factor.”

“Brandi Gabbard, chair of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors and broker-associate with Smith & Associates in St. Petersburg, said that the House bill allows for homeowners of properties that currently have subsidized policies with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to be “grandfathered in” again. “That’s a huge win for homeowners,” Gabbard said. “We also hope to see more interest from private insurers to offer flood insurance policies. The Pinellas County area has seen good success with Lloyds of London and Homeowners’ Choice Property and Casualty Insurance Company. There are several bills legislators are introducing in Tallahassee to support the private market for flood insurance. Encouraging competition among private insurers will be the long-term, sustainable answer for this issue.”

“Under the U.S. House bill:

Immediate increases in flood insurance premiums up to 10 times the previous cost are eliminated.

Those who already paid such increases receive refunds.

Primary homeowners not already paying full rates could see their annual rate increases average 15% and be capped at 18%.

Second homes and businesses not already paying full rates could receive premium increases of about 25% per year.

Renewal increases are capped at 18% for homes in newly mapped flood zones.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a goal of having annual premiums not exceed 1% of total coverage provided by the policy.”

77th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival is NOW

Photo by Pam Rambo at

Photo by Pam Rambo at

Featuring shells, shell art, crafts and books, juried artistic and scientific exhibits, this annual event at The Sanibel Community House began on Thursday and runs through tomorrow (Saturday).

It unexpectedly got closed down early yesterday when Southwest Florida experienced a brief period of wind and heavy rain, but it is back in business again today.

New Sanibel Cell Tower is Up & Running

waving flagThe City’s new cell phone tower located on utility department lands just off Donax Street now is operational. Verizon built the tower on land leased from the City to boost cell service on the east-end. The tower doubles as a flag pole, with positive comments already received from those driving onto the island and viewing the huge new American flag waving. There are spaces on the tower for other carriers and rumor has it that AT&T is in negotiation for the 2nd tower slot.

News from The Sanctuary Golf Club

The Sanctuary Sign2July08Sheryl Tatum, Director of Membership at The Sanctuary emailed her March newsletter this week. It announced that they have reached their maximum 100 Social Memberships. A Waiting List now has been implemented. Effective March 1, the Social Membership Fee is $15,000. The other membership categories include: Equity Membership $110,000; Introductory Membership $10,000; and Temporary Membership $5,000 for 1 month or $7,500 for 2 months.

Troubled by Tightened Lending Restrictions?

Money tightThat is certainly what I have heard more than once lately from well-qualified buyers, even those only looking to borrow a small percentage of the funds needed to purchase their new property. The following article by Michael Kodsi in the March issue of “FloridaRealtor®” magazine may explain why.

“Don’t be. Here are the facts about the new residential Qualified Mortgage rule and what you can expect.

“For the past few years, securing financing for your customers has been a challenge. Tighter loan restrictions and fewer lending programs have stymied many a real estate purchaser. So it’s understandable that real estate professionals are a little concerned about the new Qualified Mortgage rule that went into effect in January. How will homebuyers be impacted? Will this slow housing sales? Here are the facts to help you understand what a Qualified Mortgage is so you can prepare your customers for the changes. You’ll also know what to expect from lenders.

“Simply put, the new Qualified Mortgage rule – also know as the ability-to-repay rule – is designed to make sure that borrowers can repay their mortgage loans.

“As defined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a Qualified Mortgage is a loan with a term no longer than 30 years, with the points and fees paid by the borrower not exceeding 3% of the total loan amount.  Lenders must also document the borrower’s ability to repay the loan and must confirm a debt-to-income ration of no more than 43%. Lenders may still make any loan they like. However, lenders who go outside the Qualified Mortgage rule lose protection against borrower lawsuits that claim the loan was unfair.

“Will Homebuyers Be Impacted?  The CFPB predicts that most homebuyers won’t be affected by the new rule because many lenders have already tightened their lending criteria. However, you should be prepared for a few changes relating to the mortgage process and be ready to advise your customers that lenders may increase the paperwork required for a home mortgage. Because lenders need to justify their underwriting decisions, many are requiring more documentation from borrowers.

“Some lenders may tighten their underwriting standards so that certain categories, including some lower- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers, may find it more difficult to obtain mortgage financing. Self-employed homebuyers who don’t have a long history of consistent income may have a tougher time getting a mortgage. It’s certainly not impossible, but more paperwork will likely be required.
“Be aware that customers looking to buy more expensive homes will probably be affected because jumbo loans – those over $417,000 – may be more difficult to qualify for.

“The bottom line? Education and preparation will go a long way when working with homebuyers. By starting the mortgage process a little earlier – perhaps even before customers begin searching for a home – you can ease any anxiety they may feel over the new mortgage rules.”

7 Bathroom Remodeling Trends

bathroom-monitor“Home Trends” remodeling adviser Mellisa Tracey posted the following article recently in “REALTOR®” magazine:

“What’s trending in bathroom remodels? Houzz recently released its 2014 Winter Bathroom Trends Study showing the top bathroom remodel preferences of more than 7,500 homeowners in the U.S. and Canada. The report shows that 60% of homeowners are targeting the master bathroom for their bathroom remodels. The two main drivers for their remodels: To upgrade features and fixtures as well as to make space more functional.

“Here are some of the growing trends that emerged from the Houzz report:

“#1 Goodbye, bathtubs. The bathtub is starting to move out of the master bathroom. More than four in ten – 43% – are forgoing a bathtub in the master bathroom, according to the report.

“#2 Frameless glass is “in”. The majority of the homeowners surveyed say they prefer glass shower enclosures and frameless glass. Glass block is “out,” according to the report.

“#3 Let there be lots of light. Adding light was one of the top goals for homeowners with their bathroom remodels, from adding windows to skylights to LED lights in the showerhead.

“#4 Showing showerhead preferences. Rain and multiple showerheads are the clear choice for homeowners under 45, while the 55-plus age group tends to prefer hand showers and sliding bars.

“#5 Seeing white. White cabinets are the top choice in master bathrooms (with medium and dark wood coming in No. 2 and No. 3, respectively). Maple is the most common type of wood used, followed by cherry and oak.

“#6 Silver bling. Silver-tone faucets remain the most popular, with brushed nickel topping the list. Polished chrome is also popular, while brushed bronze came in as the least popular choice for current bathroom remodels.

“#7 Unique powder rooms. The powder room is getting more unique features than other bathrooms. Hardwood floors, wallpaper, pedestal sinks, and furniture-like cabinets are more commonly used in these spaces than in other bathrooms.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Feb 28 – Mar 7, 2014

4 new listings: Sundial #I207 1/1 $324.9K, Island Beach Club #F240 2/2 $599K, Sandpiper Beach #505 2/2 $599K, Villa Sanibel#1G 2/2 $875K.
6 price changes: Sunset South #1B 2/2 now $534K, Loggerhead Cay #583 2/2 now $569K, Sanibel Surfside #133 2/2 now $885K, Pointe Santo #A2 now $898.5K, Pine Cove of Sanibel #302 2/2 now $1.15M, Seascape of Sanibel #104 3/3 now $2.37M.
5 new sales: Sundial #G206 1/1 listed for $299K, Sandpiper Beach #103 2/2 listed for $589K, Kings Crown #313 2/2 listed for $590K, Sundial #O205 2/2 listed for $768K, Sanibel Seaview #B2 3/3 listed for $1.395M.
5 closed sales: Bind Pass #E102 2/2 $365K, Heron at the Sanctuary #2B 3/3 $610K, Island Beach Club #D220 2/2 $762K, Kings Crown #218 3/2 $1.070M, By the Sea #102 2/2 $1.285M.
9 new listings: 3837 Coquina Dr 2/2 $449K, 9455 Calla Ct 3/3 $669K, 4648 Buck Key Rd 3/2 $699K, 732 Durion Ct 3/2 $749K, 1021 Fish Crow Rd 4/3 $775K, 4500 Waters Edge Ln 2/2 $839K, 857 Birdie View Pt 3/2.5 $1.049M, 904 Almas Ct 3/2.5 $1.129M, 749 Pyrula Ave 3/3 $ 1.295M.
8 price changes: 2186 Egret Cir 3/2 now $449K, 581 East Rocks Dr 3/2 now $495K, 9446 Beverly Ln 3/3.5 now $649K, 419 Lighthouse Way 4/3 now $877K, 228 Violet Dr 3/2.5 now $880K, 512 Periwinkle Way 3/3 now $925K, 5115 Joewood Dr 4/3 now $1M, 2981 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 now $ 1.675M.
7 new sales: 1890 Farm Tr 3/2 listed for $449K, 1565 Bunting Ln 3/2 listed for $479K, 450 Leather Fern Pl 3/2 listed for $599K, 601 Sea Oats Dr 3/2 listed for $599K, 923 Pepper Tree Pl 3/2 listed for $729K, 2498 Harbour Ln 4/3 listed for $825K, 1838 Buckthorn Ln 3/2 listed for $1.1M.
6 closed sales: 1809 Bowmans Beach Rd 3/2 435K, 579 Rabbit Rd 3/3 550K, 3205 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $570K, 9474 Balsa Ct 3/3 $860K, 1444 Causey Ct 4/4 $1M, 1664 Hibiscus Dr 3/2 $1.075M.
1 new listing: 1770 Dixie Beach Blvd $729K.
2 price changes: 4626 Buck Key Rd now $188K, 5749 Sanibel Captiva Rd now $399,555.
No new or closed sales.

No new listings.

1 new sale: Marina Villas #708 2/2 listed for $595K.

No closed sales.
1 new listing: 15879 Captiva Dr 3/3 $2.995M.
No price changes.
1 new sale: 15127 Captiva Dr 8/8 listed for $1.595M. 

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. 

Looking for a Sanibel Condo? Here are a few photos of the views & amenities from some of SanibelSusan’s current listings…

Best wishes from Susan & The SanibelSusan Team for another great weekend!

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