Wrapping up September 2015 on Sanibel & Captiva Islands


The weather on Sanibel and Captiva Islands improved considerably this week. It is not quite fall temperatures yet, but more of a summer pattern with warm sunny days and occasional late afternoon or evening showers.

Traffic increased a little as winter residents start to come back. Fall maintenance projects continue almost everywhere, while some restaurants/shops are reopening after short reprieves.

Our listings had a few showings this week, with more scheduled this weekend. We also received a new condo listing at Sanibel Arms West. (It is gulf-front, rare for those to become available.)

View from stairs

The local Association of Realtors® had no Realtor Caravan this week, the biweekly summer schedule continues through October. There is a Caravan scheduled next Thursday morning following our Association meeting. From 9 a.m. until noon, we will hold open both Sanibel Moorings #822 and Sanibel Arms West #E2.

A report of the activity posted over the past seven days in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows a few news items below.

Sanibel Approves Budget With No Tax Increase for Residents

Sanibelcityseal logoThe Sanibel City Council put the final stamp to its budget and unanimously approved a rolled-back millage rate for fiscal year 2015-16 at its final budget hearing Tuesday at City Hall. The budget is 8.9% higher than the 2014-15 adopted budget, but is 2.3% less than the final amended budget. The budget runs from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016 and is required by law to be balanced. It was prepared based on a rolled-back millage rate of 1.9139 which also was approved at Tuesday’s final budget meeting.

The millage rate is down 4.3% from last year and down 23.4% over the last decade. The City also reduced its debt during the economic downturn by 44.4%. Congratulations to Sanibel’s outstanding City employees led by City Manager Judie Zimomra and City Council, led by Mayor Kevin Ruane.

Sight-Unseen Offers

Contract%20Doodleblob%20ClipartProspective buyers here often are surprised when I tell them that we sometimes get offers on new listings sight-unseen. When I explain that many future buyers are seasonal visitors who regularly come at only a certain time each year, it starts to make more sense. After all, new listings may come on the market at any time of the year. In some communities and complexes where there are little turn-over, it might mean those buyers need to jump before someone else beats ‘um to it. Most Realtors® know folks just waiting for a certain property in a certain area, which is why the information and photos in the original uploading of each listing are so important.

I read a “Daily Real Estate News” article this week that provided the results of a Redfin survey on SurveyMonkey which said “1 in 5 Buyers Make Offer Without Seeing Home”. Wow, that’s definitely more than I expected. According to their survey, “21% of the homebuyers surveyed said they made an offer on a house without seeing it in person.”

It also said that Milennials were “the age group most likely to make an offer without seeing the house in person first at 30%.” What’s more, it said that “53% of buyers who paid more than $750,000 for their homes made offers without seeing the house first.” All the more reason for us to ensure that our on-line listings are plentiful and professional with lots of detailed information, photos and videos.

Since our Multiple Listing Service requires that listings be posted in the MLS within 24 hours of receipt, teammate Dave takes our initial photos usually within hours of receiving a new listing. Then professional photographer Jim Anderson with JMA Photography follows Dave as soon as his schedule permits. Jim takes more photos, prepares streaming videos, and films aerials (by helicopter or plan) as appropriate. Having lots of photos, sometimes taken on different days, gives us a good variety for marketing and has made the difference in our listings selling “sight unseen”.

Free Admission Tomorrow to Wildlife Drive

Ding Darling signBecause tomorrow, Saturday, Sept 26, is National Public Lands Day, J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge is granting free admission to Wildlife Drive to everyone and there is a special treat for fourth-grade students.

Fourth-graders and their home-school equivalents can check in at the front desk in the Visitor and Education Center and receive a free Every Kid in a Park Pass that is good for free admission to every U.S. National Wildlife Refuge like ‘Ding’ Darling, every U.S. National Park like The Everglades or Yellowstone, national forests and other public lands, from now through August 2016.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Seven federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as non-profit groups in state and local governments pitch in. Locally, ‘Ding’ Darling celebrates the fourth anniversary of its Kick the Bottle initiative to rid the refuge of the disposable plastic bottles that have become a scourge to the environment, as evidenced by the number of them picked up in last weekend’s annual Coastal Cleanup.

ding darling gooseWildlife Drive is open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for free touring. The Visitor and Education Center, which is free, opens its doors at 9 a.m. when fourth grade students can start getting their Every Kid in a Park passes. Fourth graders can take their completed voucher to the Wildlife Drive fee booth for their pass, which also includes free admission year-long for accompanying siblings up to age 15, and up to three accompanying adults.

The Refuge mascot, the Blue Goose, will be bopping about from 1-3 p.m., checking everybody out and posing for pictures.

Changes Coming to Busy Periwinkle Way/Casa Ybel Intersection

Pedestrian-Crossing-Sign-K-6534On Tuesday, Sanibel City Council passed two resolutions for two easements, one on each side of Casa Ybel Road that will create collection areas for pedestrians and bicyclists waiting to cross Periwinkle to Jerry’s Shopping Center.

Made possible by a cooperative agreement between Sanibel and businesses Mango Bay and Bank of the Islands, the plans for the intersection, one of Sanibel’s busiest, are supported by the Sanibel Bicycle Club and Jerry’s Market. Both have worked with the City on the project.

bike riderAs part of the project, the existing crosswalk across Periwinkle on the east side of the intersection will be removed. The crosswalk will be moved to the west side of the intersection. Statistics show that this will reduce congestion and improve safety at the intersection. Foot and bike traffic coming west along the Shared Use Path will wait to cross Casa Ybel in the small holding area to be created at Bank of the Islands. Once across Casa Ybel, the new pull-off area at Mango Bay will serve the same purpose for those waiting to cross Periwinkle on the new crosswalk.

Weather permitting, the work is expected to be completed by the end of November.

The Clam Shack is Open

The Clam ShackI have heard lots of compliments this week from first-time visitors to Sanibel’s newest dining establishment. The Crab Shack opened on Monday in the former location of Greenhouse Grill at 2407 Periwinkle Way.

Serving New England seafood with every meal cooked to order, they are open at 11:30 a.m. & serve both lunch and dinner, plus take-out.

The menu runs the gamut from appetizers of stuffed quahogs and steamers – and clam chowdah and lobster bisque – to sandwiches and dinners with fish, scallops, shrimp, oysters, lobster, and fried clams with bellies! It has not passed the Maine girl test yet, but I hope to try it out soon.

2016 Projections by Realtors’ Chief Economist

NAR gray-logoColleague and friend, Sherri Meadows, 2014 President of Florida Realtors® today is attending a National Association of Realtors® Broker Summit that is just wrapping up in Charlotte, NC.

She posted the following social media message today:

“We cannot relax in the U.S. just because the dollar is strengthening, we are the cleanest shirt in the dirty clothes basket”, said Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist and Sr. VP of Research during his delivery of trends and predictions today at the NAR Broker Summit. Lower gas prices, modest reduction in jobs, weaknesses in China, increased foreign investment, rising rents and lower vacancy rates, inventory shortages and pent up demand for new construction, and credit scoring changes will all have a positive impact on the economic outlook for 2016. Thank you Lawrence for a very entertaining and insightful presentation today!”

Lenders Return to Commercial

realtor logoI read more from NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in the September/October “Realtor®” magazine. His track record on the market is always “spot on”. Good positive economic news in his article which says, in part:

“It took a while, but commercial real estate transactions are finally gaining traction. Realtors® who specialize in commercial deals are reporting a solid 35% increase in transactions over the past 12 months. Recovery time following a recession is typically 18 to 24 months, but his cycle lasted four years. It was a hard punch. Business has bounced back and, fortunately, should remain brisk.

“The improving economy and an improved lending environment are the primary reasons for the gains. A net increase of 12 million jobs from the low point five years ago has boosted demand for office, retail, warehouse, and industrial spaces. That’s helping to push down vacancy rates and push up rents in all sectors.

“But it is the second factor – lending – that is making the biggest difference. In our latest survey of commercial practitioners, 42% said they’re seeing credit easing, while only 20% said they’re seeing stricter conditions. The responses are vastly different from the last few years, when nearly all respondents reported greater difficulties in obtaining credit to get their deals done.

“And yet hurdles remain. A large number of commercial practioners continue to see their cllients’ deals hamstrung by tight credit requirements (albeit less tight than what they previously experienced). Of those whose clients managed to obtain financing, more than half had to put down at least 30%.

“There’s a reason for these challenges. Most practioners are engaged in deals of $1 million or less, and their clients rely mostly on lending from local community banks, not from Wall Street or large financial institutions. Commercial loans don’t carry government backing – regardless of their size. Therefore, lenders proceed with extreme caution.

“That absence of government guarantees is why it took so long for the sector to recover. This is a good reminder of the importance of the FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regarding credit flow as well as the advocacy role of the National Association of Realtors®. Think of how much more quickly the residential sector recovered after the slowdown – thanks to government backing of those federal entities. Yes, commercial lending has faced a slower recovery, but with community lenders not getting back into the sector, it’s a good bet we’ll see continued strengthening.”

Above and beyond the improvement in the economy, how does this commercial market relate to Sanibel and Captiva you might ask? Because our area is so small, some island Realtors® sell both residential and commercial real estate. Our Multiple Listing Service covers both and I got an inquiry just this week about one of the only three commercial listings for sale here today. It has been many years that just that few have been available on the islands. There are none on Captiva.

The three on Sanibel include a retail gift shop on Palm Ridge Road, an office condo in Anchor Pointe plaza on Periwinkle Way, and a free-standing retail building also on Periwinkle. Through the years, I have sold several commercial island properties, including two large hotels/motels. Like most communities, Sanibel’s Land Development Code has specifics regarding commercial property. There is good info on www.mySanibel.com and the Code is on-line at https://www.municode.com/library/fl/sanibel

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity September 18-25

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Blind Pass #F106 2/2 $495K, Lighthouse Pointe #221 3/2 $589K, Sundial East #L402 2/2 $769K, Sanibel Arms West #E2 2/2 $899K (our listing).

1 price change: Sundial West #H411 1/1 now $269.9K.

1 new sale: Blind Pass #G203 2/2 listed at $485K.

1 closed sale: Island Beach Club #F230 2/2 $605K.

HOMES

2 new listings: 1183 Kittiwake Cir 3/2 $749K, 1317 Eagle Run Dr 4/3.5 $1.349M.

1 price change: 1065 Fish Crow Rd 2/2 now $699.9K.

No new sales.

4 closed sales: 497 Lake Murex Cir 4/3 $700K, 546 East Rocks Dr 3/2 $760K, 169 Southwinds Dr 2/2 $745K, 2999 Twin Lakes Ln 4/3.5 $810K.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price change: 5821 Pine Tree Dr now $569K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: 15133 Captiva Dr 3/3 now $3.645M.

1 new sale: Bayside Villas #5310 3/3 listed at $580K.

1 closed sale: Captiva Shores #1A 3/2.5 $1.53M.

HOMES

No new listings: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 now $1.675M.

No price changes, new or 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. 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.)

Sun clip artNext Friday it will be October; until then, here’s hoping your summer weather continues too…

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

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