From Biking to the Economy to Events & Investment – Sanibel Island Is Top-Notch!

It’s SanibelSusan again reporting that it was another quiet week in the island real estate world. Not as quiet as it likely will get in late August until about mid-October when the island typically is at its lowest occupancy, but quiet just the same. We are thinking forward to the July 4th holiday and hopefully the visitors arriving this weekend and next. Mostly vacationing families are in town now, not many listings are getting shown or new sales reported. But, our phones rang with some unusual requests this week which were reminders that it takes time for real estate news to trickle down to the general public. That news is that island inventory is low, both for sale and for rent.

Before a couple of news items, followed by the action posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Services over the past seven days, here are some photos shared by client friends who know that I am always looking to share pictures of the islands. These first two were taken by Scott Shew and overlook Pine Island Sound. Though snapped just minutes apart, they show what a wonderful light show sunsets bring and how quickly the colors change.


SZ6A9883This next photo came from Susanna and Yves-Pascal Salzedo and was taken during their last visit when they were fishing in Ding Darling. These osprey may have been on the outlook for fish too!

Yves Osprey

Florida’s Sanibel Island Shared-Use Paths

Photo from RailsNTrails 6/15/15

Photo from RailsNTrails 6/15/15

Kudo’s to Sanibel City Manager, Judie Zimomra and all involved for another great posting about the island on June 15. Articles like this only make our area more desirable.

Sanibel’s Shared Use Path System is featured as the “Trail of the Month” on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy site. The article mentions the street where I live too!

“Trail of the Month: June 2015 – “It’s truly part of our transportation network.”

Bike Trail on Middle Gulf Dr

Bike Trail on Middle Gulf Dr

“Sun, sea, and sandy beaches: Florida’s Sanibel Island is a summer sanctuary. Better yet, the island’s extensive shared-use path system—totaling 24 paved miles—provides access to it all: beaches, a wildlife refuge and rehabilitation center, a historical lighthouse and village, a renowned seashell museum, restaurants, shops and just about everything else in this laid-back community on the Gulf Coast. It’s the type of place where nary a building stands taller than a palm tree, and many of the streets are named after types of shells or mariner terms like Anchor Drive and Captains Walk.

“I call it Mayberry by the Sea,” says Tom Sharbaugh of the idyllic City of Sanibel, which encompasses the entire island. “The focus is on the beach; it’s on nature; it’s on riding a bike, so a lot of families come here. And, if you live here, you never have to get in your car. You can cycle every place you want to go.”

Sanibel Bicycle Club marching in the July 4, 2012 parade

Sanibel Bicycle Club marching in the July 4, 2012 parade

“Sharbaugh is an active member of the Sanibel Bicycle Club, which began two decades ago for social and recreational get-togethers and has evolved into an advocacy group for the trail and cycling. Recently, the club launched a well-received educational video to help both tourists and locals bike on the island safely.

““A ton of people come for vacation, and a lot of them live in places that aren’t so cycling friendly,” says Sharbaugh, noting that the peak tourist season typically runs from mid-January to late spring. “So it’s a big attraction for them to come here and rent bikes and get out on the trail. We have grandmas and grandpas and kids of all ages, so there’s a range of skillsets on the trail.”

“Just this year, FamilyFun magazine ranked Sanibel as the number one tourist town for families in the country. But this is no Disney World. Nature takes center stage in this corner of Florida, and the island’s J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge—perhaps second only to its beaches—is a main attraction. The massive refuge, sprawling over 6,400 acres, is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States and offers unparalleled opportunities for viewing wildlife, including alligators, bobcats, river otters, turtles and more than 245 species of birds. The paved pathway leads to its doorstep, and then visitors can bike through the refuge with an on-road route, or opt for a hike or explorations by kayak or canoe.

““We’re an extremely environmentally conscious community,” says Judie Zimomra, Sanibel’s city manager. “Nearly 70% of the island is set aside in perpetuity for environmental conservation.”

Billy's-logo-bikes“Salli Kirkland, who co-owns an island bike shop called Billy’s Rentals with her husband, agrees. “The city wrote up a plan to keep development to a minimum. There are no bright lights here, no neon. We don’t even have traffic lights. You can see the stars at night.” The Kirklands started their bike rental shop just off the bike path 15 years ago, and Salli says business has continued to grow every year. “Because it’s an island, the roads can get congested,” she says. “You can actually get to places faster by bike, and almost every business has bike racks.”

The vision for the island’s pathways dates back to 1972, when four local housewives sought to create a way for their children to get to and from elementary school safely. A lack of sidewalks, coupled with narrow roads with no bike lanes or shoulders, made getting around by bike or foot nearly impossible. Together, Grace Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Sherry Vartdal and Starr Thomas formed the Sanibel Bike Path Committee and fundraised for the development of a new bike path. In 1976, thanks to their efforts, the first 2.5-mile section of the bike path was built along Periwinkle Way, the island’s main street.

sanibelmapbike“Today, biking or walking to school, work or for other errands is safe, convenient and—due to the island’s flatness—very easy. In 2014, the city was designated a bike-friendly community at the Silver Level by the League of American Bicyclists, a feat matched only by three other (much larger) Florida communities.

“Zimomra notes that the city is continually improving and expanding on the network—investing more than $1.1 million into the path system since 2007—making it possible to now get from one end of the 12-mile island to the other entirely by bike. Numerous unpaved spurs also branch off its main paved spine to link to parks and other attractions; a new connection to popular Bowman’s Beach will begin construction this year. “It’s truly part of our transportation network,” says Zimomra.

12 Metros with Fastest-Growing Economies

bloomberg businessweekGood news about Florida on Bloomberg last week and repeated on Tuesday in “DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS”

florida“Florida is emerging as the new leader for economic growth, fueled by baby boomers and retirement communities. Oil towns had dominated in recent years but as the energy boom fades, growth has been tapering off. Instead, Naples, Fla., emerged as the leader on a list of metro areas that are expected to see the most economic growth next year, according to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, prepared by IHS Global Insight. Naples is expected to see its economy grow 4.9% in 2016. Metro areas in Florida made up half of the top 19 economic performers. For example, The Villages, a senior community, ranked third and has been the fastest-growing city by population for two consecutive years.

“Here’s a list of the metros expected to see the most economic growth in 2016:

Naples – Immokalee – Marco Island, Fla.: 4.9%

Sebring, Fla.: 4.8%

The Villages: 4.7%

Cape Coral – Fort Myers, Fla.: 4.5%

Austin-Round Rock, Texas: 4.4%

Raleigh, N.C.: 4.3%

Ocala, Fla.: 4.2%

Fayetteville – Springdale-Rogers: 4.2%

Dallas-Fort Worth – Arlington: 4.1%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.: 4.1%

Laredo, Texas: 4.1%

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.: 4.1%”

Foreign Buyers Spend More on U.S. Real Estate

realtor logoA few more interesting statistics in Realtor®Mag on-line June 18. That “DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS” article says:

Fewer international buyers are flocking to the U.S. to purchase real estate, but those who are, tend to spend more on their home purchases. The total sales dollar volume from international home buyers climbed 13% this year compared to last year – at a time when the total unit sales from international home buyers decreased, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients.

“From April 2014 through March 2015, total international sales were estimated at $104 billion, trumping last year’s $92.2 billion. This represents 8% of the total existing-home sales dollar volume, according to NAR’s report. “In 2014, sales transaction to buyers outside of the U.S. dropped 10%, possibly due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar in relation to international currencies and weakening foreign economies,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “However, the amount of money spent has increased; this means international purchasers in the U.S. have become an upscale group of buyers, spending more money on fewer homes.”

“Last year, five countries alone accounted for 51% of all purchases by international buyers: China, Canada, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom. Buyers from China exceeded all other countries in terms of their appetite for U.S. real estate, purchasing an estimated $28.6 billion worth of U.S. property, according to NAR’s report. Canada buyers followed with $11.2 billion in purchases and then India at $7.9 billion; Mexico with $4.9 billion; and the United Kingdom at $3.8 billion.

“International buyers tended to spend more on their home purchases than the average U.S. home buyer. International buyers spent, on average, $499,600 on their home purchases compared to the overall U.S. average home price of $255,600. Chinese buyers were found to most often spend the most, with an average price of $831,800 on their U.S. home purchases.

“More REALTORS® are reporting working with international clients, up from 28% in 2013 to 35% in 2014. Four states accounted for half of all international sales: Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona, according to NAR’s report.”

Reading this article, reminded me to count up where SanibelSusan’s non-US buyers and sellers are from. I have not really seen much difference through the years, usually having just one or two clients each year that are from outside the country. The latest were from France and Austria, prior to that more frequent buyers (and sellers) were from the United Kingdom and Canada, with occasional business with buyers from Sweden and Switzerland.

Upcoming Events

south seas logoIn an earlier report, the traditional Sanibel July 4th events were listed from the morning parade to the noon scavenger to the fireworks at dusk. Captiva Island has a fun-filled holiday celebration planned too.

fireworks clip artSouth Seas Resort is holding its 7th Annual Hot Dog Eating Competition followed by a Red, White, & “Boom” Party featuring music, children’s activities, and food/beverage options. On Saturday, the Star Spangled Celebration includes a patriotic golf cart parade, live DJ entertainment, “Sunset Shellabration”, and fireworks display. More info at

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

SanCapAssnLogoAlthough we did not have an Association of Realtors® Caravan meeting this week, I was at the Association Office a couple of times for meetings.

On Monday, our local leadership team got an update from Dave Garrison, Florida Realtors® Vice President of Finance, Professional Development, and Internal Operations.

Florida Realtors logoAs background, 2015 marks the 99th anniversary of Florida Realtors® which began in 1916 with 68 real estate brokers from 16 Florida communities gathering in Jacksonville for the first convention. Today Florida Realtors® membership is over 140,000 and growing. Dave said the 2016 budget looks ahead to 150,000+members, probably 160K+ by 2017. Florida Realtors® has 120 paid positions, strong reserves, and a positive outlook for the future. The mission of Florida Realtors® is to advance Florida’s real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues; encouraging, promoting and teaching consistent standards for ethical practice and professionalism; and building on the efforts of local Boards/Associations to provide the information and tools members need to succeed. Florida Realtors is the largest trade association in the state.

Florida Realtors Headquarters, Orlando

Florida Realtors Headquarters, Orlando

The Association headquarters is in Orlando, and the legislative Office of Public Policy is in the heart of Tallahassee.

On Wednesday at the 2015 Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® Nominating Committee meeting, I worked with fellow past presidents on coming up with a slate of candidates for our officer and board of director election later this year.

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity June 19-26



1 new listing: Colonnades #15 1/1 $225K.

3 price changes: Sanibel Moorings #1512 2/2 now $477K, Tarpon Beach #204 2/2 now $745K, Tigua Cay #489 3/3.5 now $2.295M.

2 new sales: Captains Walk #B4 2/2 listed for $315K, Sundial #C301 1/1 listed for $315K.

5 closed sales: Dugger’s Tropical Cottages #2 1/1 $285K, Sanibel Arms #E7 1/1 $320K, Mariner Pointe #121 1/1 $332.5K, Sundial #C207 1/1 $400K, Pointe Santo #C4 1/1 $508K.


3 new listings: 999 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $575K, 501 Lagoon Dr 2/3 $789K, 1537 Sand Castle Rd 4/3 $829K.

1 price change: 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $549K.

6 new sales: 1835 Ardsley Way 2/1 listed for $309K, 9439 Coventry Ct 2/2 listed for $525K, 600 East Rocks Dr 3/2 listed for $535K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 listed for $549K, 963 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed for $599.9K, 1085 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed for $650K.

3 closed sales: 632 Lake Murex Cir 2/2 $435K, 2984 Island Inn Rd 3/2 $587K, 3351 Barra Cir 3/2.5 $750K.


1 new listing: 971 Main St $199K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 4626 Buck Key Rd listed for $188K.

2 closed sales: 9277 Beldling Dr $163K, 2133 Starfish Ln $366K.



1 new listing: Marina Villas #709 2/2 $629K.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #4114 1/2 $255K.


1 new listing: 16167 Captiva Dr 3/3 $1.795M.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: 15009 Binder Dr 4/5.5 $3.525M.


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 general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

waving flagUntil next Friday, we’ll be digging out the July 4th decorations & looking forward to more real estate action & holiday festivities!

Leave a Reply