What’s Happening on Sanibel & at SanibelSusan Realty Associates


All continues to be well on Sanibel and Captiva with fabulous weather, lots of fun-filled activities, heavy traffic, and good solid real estate action. Next week is spring break for the Lee County Schools so the islands may even be busier. Here are the upcoming permitted special events posted today on mySanibel.com.

  • Sat – 3/15 is the Sanibel Antiques Show at The Community House, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., also Sun 3/16, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sun – 3/16 – Sanibel Farmers’ Market at City Hall Grounds, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sun – 3/16 – Norm Zeigler’s Fly Shop Shrimp Boil, (Norm is the tenant at the other end of our building in Sanibel Square), noon to 2 p.m.
  • Mon – 3/17 – IrishFest at Bailey’s Center 2 to 5 p.m. (BIG ARTS Chorus kicks things off at 2 p.m.)
  • Mon – 3/17 – St Patty’s Day Celebration at Doc Fords Rum Bar & Grille, 5 to 10 p.m.

Below is a cool vehicle that was parked behind our office yesterday!RedCar03-13-14

Island Real Estate Action

Dave held open houses two days this week, Elise has been juggling showing appointments with tenants and Realtors®, and I was out showing property again yesterday. We had a nice smooth condo closing on Wed and another will occur later today.

Probably the best news of the week is in the item that follows about the flood insurance vote yesterday in the Senate. After that are a couple of other real estate items, followed by the activity posted this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Senate Passes Flood Insurance With House Amendments

DC capitol bldgAs posted this morning on Realtor.org: Yesterday, “the United States Senate voted 72-22 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370). The Senate acted quickly to pass the bill as amended by the House to avoid the need for a conference committee to reconcile any differences. The new bill further reins in and holds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accountable for the Biggert-Waters implementation issues.

“As passed, the bill repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. The bill limits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law when it arrives at the White House. NAR (National Association of Realtors®) had urged a swift vote in the Senate.”

SanibelSusan’s Scoop on Island Real Estate

Lighthouse1Now that the islands are a full two-plus months into “season”, it is interesting to hear today’s prospective buyers say that they are surprised that Sanibel and Captiva real estate has rebounded so quickly. Some think they may have missed out.

2013 was a good year of continued progress toward a more balanced market. The islands did not have the same big spike in property values seen in some parts of the country but solid recovery has been obvious since the end of 2012. Continuing through today, the numbers of sales are up, while inventory has declined considerably.

In considering consumer profiles, cash sales continue to be king, yet another indication that buyers see the investment value in island real estate.

Here is an updated summary of the Sanibel sales statistics compared to last year and the heydays of 2006. Notice how volume is up, prices are on the upswing. DOM (days-on-market) of the sold listings have improved too, mostly showing the new listings priced-right are what are selling.

Sanibel                   CONDOS                    HOMES                          LOTS

                                 #  / Avg $ / DOM         # / Avg $ / DOM              # / Avg $ / DOM

For Sale                   153 / $718,734 / 375   200 / $1,341,749 / 292   91 / $676,677 / 785

Closings pending:    40 / $708,712 282       36 / $1,055,178 / 266     6 / $706,667 / 578

Sold & closed in 

  2014 thru 3/14        18 / $658,881 / 228     43 / $797,709 / 266        4 / $386,139 / 420

  2013                       161 / $573,557 / 326   197 / $910,321 / 287       26/ $416,503 / 475

  2006                       143 / $866,972 / 147   156 / $1,143,682 / 186    18 / $523,917 / 158 

(Note:  “For Sale” & “Closings Pending” prices are asking prices.)

New Garden Trends in 2014

still_life_object_garden_236902The following article by Barbara Ballinger from the February on-line issue of “Realtor®Mag” has some good points whether you are a year-’round islander or a northern friend dreaming of the upcoming spring gardening seasons. From a real estate standpoint, “a backyard oasis for low-maintenance entertaining and calming tranquility is sure to catch buyers’ eyes.”

“While winter still casts its chill, blankets snow, and layers ice in many parts of the country, landscape experts are busy studying garden catalogs, nursery websites, and interior design trends that can work outdoors. Improving a home’s landscaping offers a win-win-win: greater enjoyment, increased home values, and enhanced curb appeal that may help attract buyers.

“To gain the biggest bang for their dollars, home owners should understand their site’s topography, orientation, climate, and economy, as well as their own budget. What’s popular in one city experiencing growth may not appeal where the economy is stagnant, says landscape architect Stephen Wlodarczyk of Botanical Decorators in Olney, Md.

“Here are popular trends reported from around the country and tips you can pass on to your clients:

Low maintenance. Busy home owners want to enjoy yards that don’t require a lot of time and effort to maintain. This trend is translating into more low-maintenance, carefree choices for outdoor spaces, such materials for decks, patios, and columns that don’t require repainting or replacing, furnishings that can be left outdoors throughout the year and won’t fade, and plant materials that don’t have to be constantly watered, fertilized, or pruned. This, in turn, is leading to greater use of perennials instead of annuals in gardens, since annuals require yearly replacement. To compensate for the color advantage of annuals, landscape specialists suggest that color come from accessories such as pillows, placemats, and dishes.

Wildflowers, too, are less labor-intensive than cottage and cutting garden choices, and also less pricey.

Simpler in design and care, yet still pleasing, are gardens that incorporate five to seven varieties of flowers rather than dozens, says Daniel Richards, general manager of design at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, N.Y. “You can go with one big bank of roses in one color rather than 20 different kinds in multiple colors,” he says. Container gardens also pare down maintenance, and pots can winter indoors. But the downside is that they need to be watered more frequently since water in smaller containers will evaporate faster than it will in the ground. Although water features remain popular, these, too, are beginning to reflect the desire for less intense care. More home owners install pools with salt water to decrease the need for chlorination, and some go with natural pools where rocks and plantings cleanse water. Still others opt for small fountains for the soothing sight and sound of trickling water. And if they want a more lavish water wall or cascade, they ask for water to be recirculated for conservation, says Chris Cipriano, owner of Cipriano Landscape Design in Mahway, N.J. The size of pipes can also reduce evaporation, with oversized designs slowing the velocity and loss, he adds. When it comes to grass, “Grassology’s” grass-like product requires less water and feeding since its roots go deeper than ordinary grass to find water and nutrients instead of depending on traditional methods. The “grass” also doesn’t grow as high, so less mowing is needed.

Entertaining outdoors. Today’s home owners want an outdoor entertainment space, so more are adding patios, decks, or terraces large enough to accommodate comfortable seating; often the finished result resembles an indoor room. The furnishings selected for outdoor entertainment areas are also sturdier — sometimes indistinguishable in quality and look from what home owners use indoors — and upholstery is more fade-resistant. Bells and whistles make outdoor living even more pleasurable, whether it’s surround sound, weatherproof TVs, or well-equipped kitchens. While some home owners still find a good grill sufficient, especially if their indoor kitchen is close by, others are ramping up their cooking zones with appliances specifically designed for outdoor use — sinks, refrigerators, beer taps, pizza ovens, and rotisseries. Storage and countertops are also more frost-proof. To shade those who lounge or dine, pergolas continue to flourish, matched stylistically to a home’s design or favorite vacation paradise — perhaps Tuscany or the South Seas. To shade better, many are planted with flowering vines.

For those who aren’t as focused on saving dollars, water features are ever more lavish and resort-like. Vanishing-edge pools, where water seems to spill over indefinitely, are increasing popular, says Cipriano. “Home owners want to feel they’re going to their own five-star hotel,” he says.

Sustainably savvy. Native vegetation choices have caught on in landscaping because they don’t require frequent watering or as much feeding, fertilizing, and pruning, and these plants know how to survive in their region. They also offer the plus of attracting more native wild life, bees, butterflies, and bugs. Green gardening also means less lawn for many, and more hardscape that’s permeable such as gravel or brick, so water can seep through and be reused. But be sure home owners understand that all hardscape isn’t the goal either, since some greenness is key to a home looking residential and inviting, says Sacramento, Calif., landscape designer Michael Glassman, whose state has experienced a terrible drought. If home owners insist on lawn and plants, they should consider going with a choices that can be left more natural to resemble a meadow or prairie, or they might consider synthetic turf, which now looks much more realistic. Many home owners are also planting vegetable and herb beds to grow more of their own food, which inspired Elizabeth Robinson Edwards and her husband Williams recently to launch their Edwards Yards business to help home owners learn how to amend poor soil and grow food sustainably.

Drip irrigation systems help conserve water better than sprays, which often throw into the air haphazardly, says Jim Drzewiecki of Ginkgo Leaf Studio in Cedarburg, Wisc. For home owners eager to lower water use, they should consider installing rain barrels and other collection methods. More home owners also want to incorporate local, recycled, and renewable materials, such as stone quarried nearby and reclaimed lumber, says landscape designer Laurie Van Zandt, whose firm, The Ardent Gardener is based in Huntsville, Utah.

Extended use. Better lighting and warmth are key for extending backyard enjoyment into the night and for a greater part of the year (even in colder climates). For illumination, LEDs are replacing halogen bulbs because of their greater energy efficiency, particularly as their prices come down. These lights are being used not just for eating and sitting, but also to accent specimen trees, garden furnishings, and artwork. Richards says make sure the lighting effect is visible while concealing the source of the light. Adding a fire pit or fireplace also encourages home owners to use their outdoors as the weather becomes nippier. Fire pits are a more affordable option, but if home owners are planning to stay in their home for a long time, a permanent outdoor fireplace can bring many years of beauty and enjoyment. Before home owners install either, they should know their community’s regulations regarding having a fire outdoors and how far the structure must be from the house. A fire bowl offers a less intense flame, but still provides the effect, and several can be placed around the perimeter of a terrace or by a pool, says Glassman. For those homeowners who prefer going barefoot, he also suggests radiant heat installed under wood boards, in the same manner as indoors kitchens and bathrooms.

All the senses. Attracting bees, birds, and other animals can add pleasant outdoor sounds. And an array of smells from plants, flowers, and herbs also can enhance home owners’ pleasure, says Van Zandt, but try not to have too many that may overpower one another. Bolder colors outdoors rank high on wish lists, as they do inside, from periwinkle blue to zesty orange, but know that classic white and blue rarely loses its cachet. The Perennial Plant Association named Panicum virgatum, “Northwind,” the 2014 plant of the year with its vertical ornamental grass with blue green foliage forming a clump 4 to 5′ high and 2 to 3′ wide, Wlodarczyk says.

More personalized curb appeal. A front yard can become more appealing through a host of features beyond a lawn and decorative walk, says Van Zandt. Suggest to home owners they use textured plantings, different height materials, some variation in color throughout the year, a piece of garden art or interesting furniture such as an antique bench, maybe a small water feature, and even a painted wall that coordinates with their home’s façade and architectural elements.

“And whatever choices home owners consider, advise them to keep costs to no more than 5 to 10% of their home’s value, so they don’t over improve.

59 Metros Back to Normal

houses-clipartfree-christian-clip-art--image-of-a-house-a-home---cropped-image-xoshp3lsHere’s some positive info from Sunday’s “Daily Real Estate News”:

“Out of 350 metros evaluated across the country, 59 housing markets have returned to or have exceeded their last normal level of economic and housing activity, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index.

“Overall, markets nationwide are running at about 87% of their normal economic and housing activity. The index evaluates metro areas to see if they’re approaching or exceeding their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity. The index factors in average single-family permits, home prices, and employment levels for the past 12 months and then compares that to the market’s historical levels.

Topping the list of major metros on the Leading Markets Index is Baton Rouge, LA, which is performing 41% better than its last normal market level. Other top performing markets are Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, TX, and Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, PA. All of those markets are experiencing economic and housing activity that exceeds their previous norms.

“Looking at the smaller metros, Odessa, TX, and Midland, TX, have seen economic and housing activity double when compared to activity prior to the recession. Other smaller metros that are also performing strong: Casper, WY; Bismarck, ND; and Grand Forks, ND.

“”The strong energy sector is at the forefront of the recovery and centered in many small and mid-sized markets in Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota and Wyoming,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “In fact, these four states account for eight of the top 10 markets on the LMI and 45% of the markets that are at or above normal.””

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity March 7-14, 2014

5 new listings: Beach Road Villas #102 2/2 $349K, Sundial #F207 1/1 $349K, Sanibel Arms West #J3 2/2 $525K, Lighthouse Point #130 2/2 $530K, Sanibel Surfside #211 2/2 $839K.
4 price changes: Donax Village #9 1/1 now $249.9K, Sundial #D207 1/1 now $264.9K, Loggerhead Cay #453 2/2 now $519K, Seascape #104 3/3 now $2.345M.
7 new sales: Sundial #H107 1/1 listed for $299K, Sundial #G305 1/1 listed for $339K, Mariner Pointe #1091 2/2 listed for $399K, Sundial #G401 2/2 listed for $459K, Sandpiper Beach #505 2/2 listed for $599K (short sale), Lighthouse Point #324 3/2 listed for $679.9K, Janthina #1A 3/2 listed for $1.1M.
3 closed sales: Sundial #C308 1/1 $285K, Seawind #A109 2/2.5 $375K, Mariner Pointe #812 2/2 $440K (our listing).
5 new listings: 1048 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 $795K, 2552 Harbour Ln 3/2 $895K, 6010 White Heron Ln 3/2.5 $959K, 927 Kings Crown Dr 3/3.5 $1.595M, 5075 Joewood Dr 3/4.5 $3.89M.
9 price changes: 1526 Bunting Ln 2/2 now $399.9K, 1481 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 now $529K, 1121 Skiff Pl 3/2 now $545K, 421 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 now $549K, 1526 Bunting Ln 5/3 now $553K, 5690 Pine Tree Dr 3/2 now $799.9K, 261 Ferry Landing Dr 2/2 now $998.5K, 1500 Angel Dr 3/2 now $1.195M, 1206 Bay Dr 4/4.5 now $3.395M.
1 new sale: 660 Anchor Dr 4/4 listed for $1.2M (short sale).
2 closed sales: 5284 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 $470K, 2529 Harbour Ln 3/3 $675K.
No new listings.
1 price change: 2324 Starfish Ln now $499K.
1 new sale: 761 Donax St listed for $219K.
2 closed sales: 3037 Poinciana Cir $195K, 4318 West Gulf Dr $635K.

3 new listings: Sunset Beach Villas #2217 1/1 $510K, Beach Villas #2628 2/2 $629K, Beach Homes #1 3/2 $2.195M.
No price changes, new or closed sales.
3 new listings: 11490 Old Lodge Ln 3/3.5 $1.349M, 1 Sunset Captiva Ln 2/2.5 2.495M, 15361 Captiva Dr 5/4 $2.595M.
1 price change: 11411 Old Lodge Ln 4/2 now $959K.
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. 

Hat_ShamrocksBest weekend wishes & here’s to good luck to everyone on Monday during the wearin’ of the green!