It’s SanibelSusan reporting a warm, but cloudy, day-after-Christmas on Sanibel. Periwinkle Way, the bike paths, and shopping centers are busy, but the beach not-so-much. I just checked in with son Dave who is holding an Open House at one of our gulf-front condo listings that has a rare vacancy today, before tenant check-in tomorrow. He has only had a single visitor so far. Appears that everyone is out just having island fun today! I had lunch with a rental company manager who reports that the islands should be close to 100% booked next week, following the turn-overs and new arrivals coming in tomorrow for New Year’s week. Here are a few island-style holiday photos:
What’s Happening in the Office
Since last Friday, The SanibelSusan Team received two terrific new listings, one in Gumbo Limbo and the other in The Sanctuary. Dave and I will hold the new listing at 5743 Baltusrol Court open during a cooperative Open House at The Sanctuary on Tuesday (Dec 30) from 1 to 4 p.m. It offers a great opportunity to see not only our unique new listing, but also many of the other properties currently for sale in The Sanctuary.
Here are two photo collages. The first is 9477 Peaceful Drive in Gumbo Limbo.
Below are photos of 5743 Baltusrol Court in The Sanctuary. The lucky prospective buyer here also will be given the opportunity to purchase the adjacent lot next door.
Our new listings are included below in the report of the Sanibel/Captiva MLS activity posted over the last seven days. First, here are a few year-end and New Year news items. Next Friday, I will be posting the year-end statistics. It’s all good! The market is coming back and it looks to be a productive 2015 on Sanibel and Captiva!
Will Recovery Be Steadier in 2015?
“The housing market this year has been on a roller coaster. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing-home sales are expected to fall short of 2013’s total, and price gains have slowed significantly. However, builder confidence in the new-home market has been on the rise, even as new-home sales have barely budged — at just a 1.8% increase in October compared to a year earlier.
“Economists say the housing market is showing mixed signals because it’s normalizing, leveling off after a much more rapid recovery last year that was unsustainable.
“Forbes.com recently highlighted several 2015 predictions from housing experts:
- Home appreciation will continue to slow. Prices didn’t increase as fast this year, and they are expected to stick to that trend into the new year. “Easing housing inventory levels and the exit of investors from the market are helping to put the brakes on home-price escalation,” Forbes.com reports. “At a deeper level, this change represents a fundamental shift in the market: We’ve moved out of rapid recovery phase and into a new normal.” Gone are the double-digit gains of 2013. Realtor.com® predicts an annual gain in home prices of 4% to 5% next year.
- Buying frenzy becomes more muted. The home-buying process is expected to be less chaotic in the new year, with for-sale inventories easing and credit loosening, which could make it easier for first-time home buyers to enter the market. Investors have also pulled back in many markets. NAR statistics from October show that individual investors purchased 15% of homes, a drop from 19% year-over-year. Also, as more homes come on the market, buyers will have more choices and sellers may face more of the competitive pressure. Housing analysts note that this can help create a more balanced market for everyone: buyers in search of a competitive advantage and sellers who turn around and become buyers themselves.
- Mortgage interest rates will finally be on the rise. The Mortgage Bankers Association still predicts that mortgage rates will increase to 5% by the end of 2015. Freddie Mac expects a 4.5% average in 2015. However, in 2013, economists had predicted mortgage rates to reach 5% by the end of this year. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 4% in recent weeks. But with the end of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, MBA believes that a short-term fund rate hike is more likely by mid-2015, which would then push interest rates up.
- Rent rises will outpace home value growth. Rents likely will continue to keep rising in the new year, and many housing analysts predict that an increase in rental costs in 2015 will outpace annual home-price gains. The rental market will likely remain a “landlord’s market” in 2015, with vacancy rates expected to stay below 5% in the new year, according to NAR forecasts. That should lead to demand pushing rents up even higher and keeping them above inflation, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun notes. Apartment rents are projected to increase 4% in 2014 and 4.1% in 2015. The rise in rents could push more Millennial renters to become home owners. Realtor.com® analysts predict that households headed by Millennials will drive household formations in the new year. Millennials are expected to drive two-thirds of household formations over the next five years, according to realtor.com®’s predictions. “Next year’s addition of 2.75 million jobs and increased household formation will be the two key factors driving first-time buyer sales,” realtor.com® notes.
- Builders shift to building less expensive homes. In the last few years, builders have been building fewer, more expensive homes. But that trend may change in the new year, as more builders look to target less-expensive markets. New-home sales are expected to top the 500,000 mark in 2015, but in order to do that, builders may have to sell less expensive homes, housing analysts note. Earlier this year, representatives from D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest home builder, said they planned to capture more of the entry-level market with its newly launched brand called Express Homes. The properties will be priced between $120,000 and $150,000, and they will be concentrated in Texas, Georgia, and Florida. “We wouldn’t be getting into Express Homes if we didn’t think it was the next segment of the market to recover,” D.R. Horton CEO Donald Tomnitz told CNBC in April.
- Foreclosures fall back to pre-recession levels. Foreclosure filings have been on the decline this year and are expected to continue their descent well into 2015. From January through November, foreclosure filings fell about 172% compared to the same period one year prior, according to RealtyTrac. “Every month so far this year, we’ve been down from a year ago,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. The only uptick has been in foreclosure auctions, which are up 5% in November compared to one year earlier. Foreclosures will likely fall to pre-crisis levels in 2015, Blomquist predicts.”
21 Hot Housing Trends for 2015
“Everyone wants to be hip, and the latest trends in design can help distinguish one home from another. And it’s not all flash; many new home fads are geared to pare maintenance and energy use and deliver information faster. Here’s a look at what’s coming.
“This time of the year, we hear from just about every sector of the economy what’s expected to be popular in the coming year. Foodies with their fingers on the pulse of the restaurant industry and hot TV chefs will tell us to say goodbye to beet-and-goat cheese salad and hello roasted cauliflower, and there’s no end to the gadgets touted as the next big thing.
“In real estate, however, trends typically come slowly, often well after they appear in commercial spaces and fashion. And though they may entice buyers and sellers, remind them that trends are just that—a change in direction that may captivate, go mainstream, then disappear (though some will gain momentum and remain as classics). Which way they’ll go is hard to predict, but here are 21 trends that experts expect to draw great appeal this year:
- Coral shades. A blast of a new color is often the easiest change for sellers to make, offering the biggest bang for their buck. Sherwin-Williams says Coral Reef (#6606) is 2015’s color of the year because it reflects the country’s optimism about the future. “We have a brighter outlook now that we’re out of the recession. But this isn’t a bravado color; it’s more youthful, yet still sophisticated,” says Jackie Jordan, the company’s director of color marketing. She suggests using it outside or on an accent wall. Pair it with crisp white, gray, or similar saturations of lilac, green, and violet.
- Open spaces go mainstream. An open floor plan may feel like old hat, but it’s becoming a wish beyond the young hipster demographic, so you’ll increasingly see this layout in traditional condo buildings and single-family suburban homes in 2015. The reason? After the kitchen became the home’s hub, the next step was to remove all walls for greater togetherness. Design experts at Nurzia Construction Corp. recommend going a step further and adding windows to better meld indoors and outdoors.
- Off-the-shelf plans. Buyers who don’t want to spend time or money for a custom house have another option. House plan companies offer myriad blueprints to modify for site, code, budget, and climate conditions, says James Roche, whose Houseplans.com firm has 40,000 choices. There are lots of companies to consider, but the best bets are ones that are updating layouts for today’s wish lists—open-plan living, multiple master suites, greater energy efficiency, and smaller footprints for downsizers (in fact, Roche says, their plans’ average now is 2,300 square feet, versus 3,500 a few years ago). Many builders will accept these outsiders’ plans, though they may charge to adapt them.
- Freestanding tubs. Freestanding tubs may conjure images of Victorian-era opulence, but the newest iteration from companies like Kohler shows a cool sculptural hand. One caveat: Some may find it hard to climb in and out. These tubs complement other bathroom trends: open wall niches and single wash basins, since two people rarely use the room simultaneously.
- Quartzite. While granite still appeals, quartzite is becoming the new hot contender, thanks to its reputation as a natural stone that’s virtually indestructible. It also more closely resembles the most luxe classic—marble—without the drawbacks of staining easily. Quartzite is moving ahead of last year’s favorite, quartz, which is also tough but is manmade.
- Porcelain floors. If you’re going to go with imitation wood, porcelain will be your 2015 go-to. It’s less expensive and wears as well as or better than the real thing, says architect Stephen Alton. Porcelain can be found in traditional small tiles or long, linear planks. It’s also available in numerous colors and textures, including popular one-color combos with slight variations for a hint of differentiation. Good places to use this material are high-traffic rooms, hallways, and areas exposed to moisture.
- Almost Jetson-ready. Prices have come down for technologies such as web-controlled security cameras and motion sensors for pets. Newer models are also easier to install and operate since many are powered by batteries, rather than requiring an electrician to rewire an entire house, says Bob Cooper at Zonoff, which offers a software platform that allows multiple smart devices to communicate with each other. “You no longer have to worry about different standards,” Cooper says.
- Charging stations. With the size of electronic devices shrinking and the proliferation of Wi-Fi, demand for large desks and separate home office is waning. However, home owners still need a dedicated space for charging devices, and the most popular locations are a corner of a kitchen, entrance from the garage, and the mud room. In some two-story Lexington Homes plans, a niche is set aside on a landing everyone passes by daily.
- Multiple master suites. Having two master bedroom suites, each with its own adjoining bathroom, makes a house work better for multiple generations. Such an arrangement allows grown children and aging parents to move in for long- or short-term stays, but the arrangement also welcomes out-of-town guests, according to Nurzia Construction. When both suites are located on the main level, you hit the jackpot.
- Fireplaces and fire pits. The sight of a flame—real or faux—has universal appeal as a signal of warmth, romance, and togetherness. New versions on the market make this amenity more accessible with more compact design and fewer venting concerns. This year, be on the lookout for the latest iteration on this classic: chic, modern takes on the humble wood stove.
- Wellness systems. Builders are now addressing environmental and health concerns with holistic solutions, such as heat recovery ventilation systems that filter air continuously and use little energy, says real estate developer Gregory Malin of Troon Pacific. Other new ways to improve healthfulness include lighting systems that utilize sunshine, swimming pools that eschew chlorine and salt by featuring a second adjacent pool with plants and gravel that cleanse water, and edible gardens starring ingredients such as curly blue kale.
- Storage. The new buzzword is “specialized storage,” placed right where it’s needed. “Home owners want everything to have its place,” says designer Jennifer Adams. More home owners are increasingly willing to pare the dimensions of a second or third bedroom in order to gain a suitably sized walk-in closet in their master bedroom, Alton says. In a kitchen, it may mean a “super pantry”—a butler’s pantry on steroids with prep space, open storage, secondary appliances, and even a room for wrapping gifts. “It minimizes clutter in the main kitchen,” says architect Fred Wilson of Morgante-Wilson.
- Grander garages. According to Troon Pacific, the new trends here include bringing the driveway’s material into the garage, temperature controls, sleek glass doors, specialized zones for home audiovisual controls, and a big sink or tub to wash pets. For home owners with deeper pockets, car lifts have gone residential so extra autos don’t have to be parked outside.
- Keyless entry. Forget your key (again)? No big deal as builders start to switch to biometric fingerprint door locks with numerical algorithms entered in a database. Some systems permit home owners to track who entered and when, says Malin of Troon Pacific.
- Water conservation. The concerns of drought-ravaged California are spreading nationwide. Home owners can now purchase rainwater harvesting tanks and cisterns, graywater systems, weather-controlled watering stations, permeable pavers, drought-tolerant plants, and no- or low-mow grasses.
- Salon-style walls. Instead of displaying a few distinct pieces on a wall, the “salon style” trend features works from floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall. Think Parisian salon at the turn of the century. HGTV designer Taniya Nayak suggests using a common denominator for cohesiveness, such as the same mat, frame color, or subject matter. Before she hangs works, she spaces them four to five inches apart, starting at the center and at eye level and working outward, then up and down. She uses Frog Tape to test the layout since it doesn’t take paint off walls. Artist Francine Turk also installs works this way, but prefers testing the design on the floor like a big jigsaw puzzle.
- Cool copper. First came pewter; then brass made a comeback. The 2015 “it” metal is copper, which can exude industrial warmth in large swaths or judiciously in a few backsplash tiles, hanging fixture, or pots dangling from a rack. The appeal comes from the popularity of industrial chic, which Restoration Hardware’s iconic style has helped promote, says designer Tom Segal.
- Return to human scale. During the McMansion craze, kitchens got so big they almost required skates to get around. This year we’ll see a return to a more human, comfortable scale, says Mark Cutler, chief designer of design platform nousDecor. In many living or family rooms that will mean just enough space for one conversation grouping, and in kitchens one set of appliances, fewer countertops, and smaller islands.
- Luxury 2.0. Getting the right amount of sleep can improve alertness, mood, and productivity, according to the National Sleep Foundation. With trendsetters such as Arianna Huffington touting the importance of sleep, there’s no doubt this particular health concern will go mainstream this year. And there’s no space better to indulge the desire for quality rest than in a bedroom, says designer Jennifer Adams. “Everyone is realizing the importance of comfort, quality sleep, and taking care of yourself,” she says. To help, Adams suggests stocking up on luxury bedding, a new mattress, comfortable pillows, and calming scents.
- Shades of white kitchens. Despite all the variations in colors and textures for kitchen counters, backsplashes, cabinets, and flooring, the all-white kitchen still gets the brass ring. “Seven out of 10 of our kitchens have some form of white painted cabinetry,” says builder Peter Radzwillas. What’s different now is that all-white does not mean the same white, since variations add depth and visual appeal. White can go from stark white to creamy and beyond to pale blue-gray, says Radzwillas. He also notes that when cabinets are white, home owners can choose bigger, bolder hardware.
- Outdoor living. Interest in spending time outdoors keeps mushrooming, and 2015 will hold a few new options for enhancing the space, including outdoor showers adjacent to pools and hot tubs along with better-equipped roof decks for urban dwellers. Also expect to see improvements in perks for pets, such as private dog runs and wash stations, says landscape architect Jean Garbarini of Damon Farber Associates.
“While it’s fun to be au courant with the latest trends, it’s also wise to put what’s newest in perspective….”
The ‘Naughtiest, Nicest Housing Market’ List
“Researchers have been checking their lists, trying to find out which housing markets have been naughty or nice this year. RealtyTrac analyzed 334 U.S. cities with populations of at least 100,000 to compile lists of the nicest — those markets with some of the lowest crime rates and foreclosures, highest employment, and best school scores — and to fish out those that have been the naughtiest.
“RealtyTrac’s analysis found that in the 10 “nicest” housing markets school scores were nearly twice the national average, crime rates were one-third the national average, and the unemployment rate was at an average of 4.6%. They also found that foreclosures were lowest — 24 foreclosures per 10,000 housing units.
“The 10 cities that made RealtyTrac’s “nicest” list this year are:
- Cary, N.C.
- Fairfax, Va.
- Pearland, Texas
- Irvine, Calif.
- Frisco, Texas
- Sugar Land, Texas
- Richardson, Texas
- Katy, Texas
- College Station, Texas
- Fremont, Calif.
“On the other hand, in the “naughtiest” cities this year, RealtyTrac found that school scores were one-half the national average; crime rates were nearly twice the national average, and the average unemployment rate was 7.8%. Milwaukee, Detroit, and Stockton, Calif., topped RealtyTrac’s list as the “naughtiest” this year.”
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity December 19-26
1 new listing: Sanctuary Golf Villages I #6 2/2.5 $684K.
No price changes.
1 new sale: Sanddollar #C101 2/2 listed for $880K.
2 closed sales: Sealoft Villages #103 2/2 $519K, Sayana #103 2/2 $692.5K.
9 new listings: 320 Palm Lake Dr 2/2 $424K, 982 Main St 3/2.5 $465K, 457 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $475K, 9477 Peaceful Dr 3/2 $499K (our listing), 4546 Buck Key Rd 4/2 $599K, 603 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2 $688.5K, 1990 Sunrise Cir 4/3.5 $1.359M, 5743 Baltusrol Ct 3/3.5 $1.45M (our listing), 1309 Seaspray Ln 5/5 $1.898M.
2 price changes: 2010 Sunrise Cir 5/3 now $1.239M, 2969 Wulfert Rd 6/6/2 now $2.29M.
6 new sales: 1596 Bunting Ln 2/2 listed for $399.9K; 735 Donax St 3/2 listed for $479K; 778 Cardium St 3/3 listed for $499K; 5753 Pine Tree Dr 3/4 listed for $749K; 1671 Hibiscus Dr 4/3 listed for $998,899; 4265 West Gulf Dr listed for $4.395M.
3 closed sales: 701 Durion Ct 3/2 $515K, 3251 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $590K, 1429 Sanderling Cir 3/3.5 $1.525M.
1 new listing: 5321 Punta Caloosa Ct $394.5K.
No price changes.
2 new sales: 2380 Wulfert Rd listed for $199K, 2403 Blue Crab Ct listed for $499K.
No closed sales.
No new listings.
1 price change: Beach Villas #2322 1/1 now $549K.
1 new sale: Marina Villas #903 2/2 listed for $640K.
No closed sales.
3 new listings: 11535 Chapin Ln 3/3 $1.549M, 11523 Wightman Ln 4/4 $2.18M, 11516 Andy Rosse Ln 6/6 $2.449M.
No price changes, 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.