Thankfulness Abounds as the Sun Shines Brightly on Sanibel & Captiva Islands


Temps 11-28-14It’s just SanibelSusan at the office today following our chilliest morning of the season yet – 48 degrees F this morning, though it now has warmed up to 64. From the forecast, it looks like this will be our last cold day for a while. Temperatures are expected to get back into the high 70’s/low 80’s before the weekend ends, and continue into next week. We probably will be wearing shorts again by island luminary nights next weekend, December 5 and 6. 

Thanksgiving Day on the island was clear and cool. Lots of families are here vacationing. It’s a great start for the Master Arts & Crafts Fair which began today at The Community House across the street from Sanibel Square. This usually is one of their most attended events of the year, so The SanibelSusan Team is hopeful for some walk-in traffic. 

free_christmas_tree_ipad_wallpaper_s-13The BIG ARTS Community Chorus sings two sets there tomorrow (Saturday) morning and then sings again tomorrow night at the South Seas Plantation tree lighting – all good practice for our Holiday Concert which is Tuesday, December 9 at BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall. Tickets are going fast! 

Below are a couple of real estate news articles followed by the activity posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service over the past seven days.

5 Reasons Housing Markets Are Thankful

realtor logoHere is SanibelSusan’s 2-cents worth on an article posted Wednesday on “Realtor® Magazine” on line:

“The housing market has seen plenty of challenges the last few years, but could brighter days be ahead? Based on recent housing reports, some markets are reporting a rosier picture now than for the first half of the year — and growing optimism heading into next year for a lasting turnaround. 

“Reason for Good Cheer? Here are five market gauges that many in the real estate industry are thankful for this holiday season: 

“1. Mortgage rates are still low. Home buyers can take advantage of borrowing costs that remain near historical lows. Last week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99% nationwide, marking the sixth consecutive week of averages near 4%. In October, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached its lowest average of the year at 3.97%. “If you are planning to buy a home in the next year, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist,…Still, many economists aren’t expecting the rate surge in the new year to be quite as drastic as previously seen. Fannie Mae recently revised its forecast for 2015, expecting low mortgage rates to stick around longer into the year. Fannie Mae now projects rates will average 4.3% next year, a drop of about two-tenths of percentage points from its forecast earlier in the year.” 

Susan says: Most island sales continue to be “cash”, but the consumer confidence generated by the low interest rates definitely helps the market on Sanibel and Captiva. For those buyers looking to finance, the good times continue. The time is right for a real estate loan!

“2. Home sales have been inching up. In many markets, more sales are being reported. Existing-home sales in October were above year-over-year levels for the first time in 12 months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest report. Sales are at their highest annual pace since September 2013.  The job market may be a big contributor behind that increase, says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “This bodes well for solid demand to close out the year and the likelihood of additional months of year-over-year sales increases,” Yun said in a recent statement.” 

On Sanibel and Captiva, home sales also continue to improve. Last year, 197 homes sold on Sanibel. Year-to-date, there have been 187 closings with another 29 Sanibel homes under contract = 216 which is the first time the number of Sanibel homes sold has passed 200 since 2005 when 266 homes sold.

On Captiva, 18 homes sold last year, compared to 23 closed sales to-date there, with another home under contract = 24 home sales or about the same as years 2011 and 2012.

“3. Buyers are getting more choices. Home buyers are finally getting more selection in homes for-sale. Unsold inventory is 5.2% higher than a year ago, representing a 5.1% supply at the current sales pace.  “The growth in housing supply this year will likely prevent the drastic sales slowdown and coinciding spike in home prices we saw last winter due to low inventory,” Yun says. “However, more housing starts are needed to increase supply, meet current demand and keep price growth in check.” New-home construction is gradually picking up in the latter half of the year, also bringing more inventory into many markets. Single-family housing starts rose 4.2% month-over-month in October to 696,000 units, reaching the highest level since November 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau reported. What’s more, the future looks bright that the increase will stick around for the time-being: Building permits — a gauge for future building activity — increased 4.8% in October to an annual rate of 1.08 million units. “The rise in single-family starts is more proof that the economy is firming and consumer confidence is growing,” says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. ‘We expect continued momentum into next year.””

Here on the islands, where build-out is near, we do not have that same increase in inventory and new product. With just 142 Sanibel homes currently for sale (and 44 on Captiva), island Realtors® just hope there is have enough product to sell this winter. Condominium inventory is low too, with just 122 Sanibel condos for sale (37 on Captiva), compared to the 168 Sanibel condos that have sold this year (23 on Captiva). The island market continues to rebound! 

“4. Foreclosures are falling. In October, distressed home sales dropped into the single digits for the third month this year. Distressed sales, which include foreclosures and short sales, fell to 9% in October, compared to 14% a year ago, NAR reports. Foreclosures and short sales typically sell at a discount — 15% or 10% below market value, respectively — and can place downward pressure on overall home prices in an area. The decrease in foreclosures is helping more home values to stabilize in communities. 

Still, while distressed sales are trending downward overall, several pockets across the country are still battling elevated levels, particularly in judicial states like Florida, Maryland, and New York, NAR President Chris Polychron recently said in a statement.”

Thankfully, the islands did not have many foreclosures, but for those Realtors® who sell off-island throughout the other communities in Lee County. They agree.

“5. Home prices are stabilizing. The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $208,300 — 5.5% above October 2013, according to NAR’s latest report. It marks the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. The double-digit gains in prices from last year have mostly faded away. “Many of the fastest-appreciating real estate markets last year have now settled into a more sustainable pattern of single-digit appreciation,” Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, a real estate data provider, said at the end of October. Still, the gains in home prices over the past year have made home owners feel more optimistic about selling. Forty-four percent of about 1,000 home owners surveyed in Fannie Mae’s October 2014 National Housing Survey said now is a good time to sell, marking an all-time survey high.”

Yes, island prices are stabilizing too. The average Sanibel home price has been over $800K since 2011, while condo prices did not really jump until this year. 2014 Sanibel average condo price = $666,072. That average has not been over $600K since 2010. 

On Captiva where the market is smaller, the averages are not as discerning; but even so, the average Captiva home price was $2.8M this year, compared to $2.5M last year, and $1.5M in 2012. Average Captiva condo sale price this year is $646,350, not much different from last year, $659,185.

Luxury Sales Outshine Rest of the Market 

CNBC_Logo_FlatCNBC posted an article last week that was reposted in the “Daily Real News” on Friday. It relates to our island market: 

“Sales of million-dollar homes are soaring: Deals on existing homes priced above $1 million climbed more than 16% in October compared to a year ago, according to National Association of REALTORS® housing data. The increase was bigger than any other price segment. “There is little volatility in the stock market. It is whoppingly higher, so people in the top 10% of wealth are really feeling confident now,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

“Sales are also rebounding for listings in the $750,000 to $1 million range, up 12% year-over-year according to NAR. Meanwhile, sales of homes priced under $100,000 dropped 6% year-over-year in October. The largest growth in luxury markets were mostly centered in Miami; Los Angeles; Riverside, Calif.; and New York. International buyers—particularly those from China, Canada, Europe, Russia, and South America—are continuing to help drive up the U.S. luxury market.

“Other markets that are often considered “affordable” are seeing bigger pockets of luxury taking hold too. For example, in Houston, the median home price has risen above the national average and landed No. 6 on a survey by the real estate brokerage Redfin of markets with the most million-dollar sales, beating out Boston, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. “It’s the new economy of the energy boom and other industries moving inland and taking dollars with them,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin. “Our agents are going crazy in Houston.”” 

Check How Mobile-Friendly Your Website Is

SANSLogoAn article this week in “Daily Real Estate News” says that Google soon will be labeling websites “mobile-friendly”. Naturally, the first thing I did after reading the article was to take the Google on-line test to see how www.SanibelSusan.com fares. The answer is: “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.”

The article says: “The purpose of the new label is to help prevent frustration among mobile searchers, who are growing tired of visiting sites with too-small text, difficult-to-tap links, or sites that have to be scrolled sideways to view all the content. Google started adding the “mobile-friendly” label to its mobile search results last week. To earn the label, Google says a site must meet the following criteria: 

  • Software that is not easily viewed on mobile devices (such as Flash) is avoided. 
  • The text is readable without the visitor having to zoom in.
  • The site automatically sizes the content to fit the screen, so that visitors don’t have to scroll across or zoom to view the page’s contents.
  • Links are far enough apart so visitors can tap them with ease.

“To find out how mobile-friendly your site is, Google offers a Mobile-Friendly Test. You can plug in your URL and you’ll receive a report on how mobile-friendly the page is. The criteria could later be used to determine where your site falls in search results.

““We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience,” Google writes in a statement announcing the new labels. “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”” 

RSPS (Resort and 2nd-Home Property Specialist)

RSPS LogoI got a phone call today with a referral from a fellow RSPS. That is a Realtor® who also holds the Resort & 2nd-Home Property Specialist designation. Though I teach the segment about this same subject during our local Association of Realtors® island designation class series, it has always surprised me that only six local Realtors® (yours truly included) have taken the time to earn this national designation. I know for a fact that many island property owners also own property in other resort areas like the mountains of Aspen, Steamboat Springs, New England’s White Mountains, and the Carolinas; the beaches of Cape Cod and Hawaii, plus the Pacific/Atlantic seaboards, and the Great Lake areas. So, I hope those referrals keep coming, the islands are a great fit for buyers looking to invest in the resort and 2nd-home market. 

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity November 21-28 

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Colonnades #11 1/1 $195K, Island Beach Club #330E 3/2.5 $795K, Sand Pointe #214 2/2 $749K, Somerset #B101 3/2.5 $2.2M (our listing). (Below are a few more photos of this new listing at Somerset at The Reef. The streaming video with showing the fabulous beach/Gulf of Mexico views and waterside enclosed balcony is being prepared later today. It will be posted soon!)

1 price change: Seashells #15 2/2 now $324.9K.

3 new sales: Sundial #J203 1/1 listed for $425K, Sundial #G101 2/2 listed for $445K. Compass Point #101 3/2 listed for $1.169M.

3 closed sales: Ibis at The Sanctuary Ibis #301 2/2 $421K, Nutmeg Village #107 #2/2 $615K, Plantation Village #B321 3/3 $2.075M. 

HOMES

6 new listings: 1712/1714 Sand Pebble Way 4/2 duplex $399K; 999 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/2 $599K; 9032 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 $649,946; 1490 Middle Gulf Dr 3/4.5 $1.859M; 1137 Golden Olive Ct 5/3.5 $2.275M; 1204 Isabel Dr 3/3.5 $4.1M.

4 price changes: 564 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $589K, 1717 Windward Way 3/2 now $649K, 1528 Angel Dr 3/2 now $849K, 1272 Isabel Dr 3/3.5 now $3.895M.

8 new sales: 1644 Bunting Ln 3/3 listed for $495K, 660 Durion Ct 2/2 listed for $549K, 1477 Albatross Rd 4/3 listed for $598.8K, 1207 Par View Dr 3/2 listed for $759K, 1674 Sabal Palm Dr 3/3 listed for $865K, 501 Sea Walk Ct 3/2 listed for $889K, 9448 Cotten Ct 3/2 listed for $898K, 1779 Venus Dr 4/5.5 listed for $3.998M.

2 closed sales: 3990 Coquina Dr 3/2 $570K, 1777 Serenity Ln 5/4.5 $754K.

LOTS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: 776 Birdie View Pt $375K. 

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Bayside Villas #5320 3/3 $650K.

No price changes or new sales.

2 closed sales: Bayside Villas #5230 1/2 $280.5K, Sunset Beach Villas #2218 2/2 $568.5K. 

HOMES

3 new listings: 14981 Binder Dr 3/3 $1.149M, 11500 Chapin Ln 4/4.5 $2.195M, 15009 Binder Dr 4/5.5 $4.295M.

3 price changes: 43 Oster Ct 2/2.5 now $784.9K, 15747 Captiva Dr 6/6.5 now $5.995M, 16428 Captiva Dr 7/8/2 now $9.5M.

1 new sale: 11520 Laika Ln 2/2 listed for $2.75M.

No closed sales.

LOTS

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. 

Our ad in the local “Island Sun” this week including a special thank you to all of our clients, colleagues, and business associates who have contributed toward making it another great year for SanibelSusan Realty Associates. We always are thankful to be living and working on this wonderful island, but especially enjoy thanking those who have helped to make it possible! Best holiday wishes to all! SanibelSusan (Susan Andrews)

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