Counting Down to Christmas on Sanibel Island

It’s SanibelSusan with another Friday report. Sanibel and Captiva are festive and the roadways, beaches, and bike paths are filling with holiday visitors as the weather has stayed sunny and bright until today.

As I write this some needed rain is said to be bringing a brief cool front which will only last through Sunday when the highs only expected to be in the 70’s.

Back to the low 80’s by Sunday and through next week. Santa better wear his shorts!

Sanibel snowman

A Sanibel snowman – Dec 2015


Below, following some news items, is info on the real estate activity posted this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service. Not many new sales are reported – none on Captiva and just three on Sanibel (two condos and a lot).

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoYesterday was the final Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® monthly breakfast meeting of the year.

DunesEntry2Held at the recently-remodeled clubhouse at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, the meeting included presentation of the Association’s 2015 Honor Society awards. It was rewarding to see several members receive the award for the first time, but sure made me feel old to get it for the 23rd year. Given in recognition of professionalism through education, participation, and service, 25 Sanibel/Captiva Realtors® from our 298 members received the award this year.

ASSOC LogoFourteen Realtor® SCIS (Sanibel-Captiva Islands Specialist) designations also were awarded at the meeting. Many of these were attendees at the class that I taught this summer (on Resorts & Second-Homes). To achieve this designation, members must complete 12-class curriculum requirements during a multi-year period. Since the program began, over 80 island Realtors® have become island specialists. These classes provide education specifically about buying and selling real estate on Sanibel and Captiva.

Upcoming Open Houses at The Sanctuary

sanctuary golf club logoThe Sanctuary Homeowners Association again is allowing open houses in the community once a month this winter, through April. The first one will be Wednesday, January 6, from 1 to 4 p.m. Others also are scheduled on Wednesdays – February 3, March 2, and April 6. These are easy opportunities to see all of the properties for sale in The Sanctuary during a single afternoon. Our listing at 5743 Baltusrol Court will be open – unless it sells first!

What’s Happening at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club

DunesYesterday’s membership meeting was the first opportunity many Realtors® had to visit The Dunes recently-remodeled clubhouse. The buffet breakfast was outstanding too.

The Dunes Club events include tennis and golf clinics, round robins, tournaments and league events, plus such social events as fine and casual dining, trivia nights, dinner with DJs, comedy nights, and other competitive sporting events.

Dunes logoIf you are wondering what the 2016 costs are to belong to the club at The Dunes, here is some information from their handout.

  • Full Club Membership – $7,450 (family) or $4,450 (single)
  • Senior Full Club Membership (over 80) – $3,750 (family) or $2,250 (single)
  • Associate Full Membership (45 & under) – $3,750 (family) or $2,250 (single)
  • 30-Day Golf Membership – Nov 1 to Apr 31 – $1,399 (family) or $899 (single)
  • 30-Day Golf Membership – May 1 to Oct 31 – $499 (family) or $299 (single)
  • Tennis, Sports & Social Membership – $2,525 (family) or $1,875 (single)
  • 30-Day Tennis Membership – Nov 1 to Apr 31 – $399 (family) or $299 (single)
  • 30-Day Tennis Membership – May 1 to Oct 31 – $199 (family) or $99 (single)
  • Sports & Social Membership – $1,325 (family) or $1,025 (single)
  • Social Membership – $650 (family) or $550 (single).

Captiva Landmarks Join National Register of Historic Places

Capitiva-Chapel-Outside-1024x768@2xLast week (as reported in the “Island Sun”), a pair of plaques, honoring two island landmarks – The Captiva School & Captiva Chapel-by-the-Sea and the Historic Captiva Cemetery – were unveiled to the public for the first time, two years after they were officially dedicated as part of the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the National Register of Historic Places website, The Captiva School & Captiva Chapel-by-the-Sea historic district is “significant at the local level under Criterion A in the areas of Exploration/Settlement and Social History”.

The one-room schoolhouse, built in 1901, also served as the primary place of religious worship for the early settlers of Captiva until it was converted into a Methodist mission church in 1921. The Captiva Civic Association, by agreement with the Methodist Church, took over operation of the building in 1947. The Methodist church deeded the property in 1954 to Captiva Chapel-by-the-Sea.

Prior to the entrance of the chapel property, the two-acre historic cemetery – founded in 1897 – includes a number of the early settlers of Captiva. The first interment of the cemetery was the unnamed stillborn daughter of Herbert and Hattie Brainerd, whose daughter, Ann, purchased the parcel in 1900 for a single gold coin. One year later, Ann died from tetanus from stepping on a rusty nail. Hattie Brainerd retained ownership until she deeded it to the Methodist church in 1936.

These landmarks join the ‘Tween Waters Historic District as the island’s representatives on the National Register of Historic Places.

Baby Boomers Blamed for Clog in Housing

baby boomersPosted on line on Dec 7 on “Daily Real Estate News”, here is an interesting take on low inventory.

“Some economists say the baby boomers aren’t selling their homes like previous generations did and not downsizing fast enough, which is leading to shortages of homes for sale and rising prices.

“Baby boomers are “clogging up the whole chain of home sales,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist of Freddie Mac. “They appear to be staying in the family home longer than previous generations, and the imbalance between housing demand and supply continues to boost prices.”

“Baby boomers are big players in real estate. In 2013, people age 55 and older controlled two-thirds of all home equity, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances.

“In previous generations, once the kids have moved out of the house, empty nesters tended to downsize and move to smaller homes or rent apartments. But so far, boomers haven’t made a move.

““Economists say boomers’ slower-than-expected rate of downsizing and selling is playing a contributing role in supply, demand and pricing imbalances in local markets — not creating those imbalances,” The Washington Post reports.

“Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, told The Washington Post that the lingering effects of the housing crisis and the Great Recession may be the reason why more baby boomers are postponing their moves. From 2008 to 2011, home owners of all ages lost lots of equity and many home owners may still be rebuilding equity to allow them to sell and move without having to bring money to closing, Yun says.

“But Fannie Mae’s Patrick Simmons, an economics and strategic research group director, says that the clog in the real estate pipeline from baby boomers not moving will not likely hold for much longer. “Boomers will not inhabit this vast inventory [32 million homes] forever,” he says. Their circumstances will inevitably change with age and they will move, and “their actions will reverberate through the housing market.””

Upcoming Island Events

Today & Tomorrow – Dec 18th & 19thOrchid & Bromeliad Show & Sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Village Shopping Center.

Sunday – Dec 20thSanibel Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., City Hall Grounds (every Sunday thru Apr)

Sanibel LighthouseChristmas Eve – Dec 24th – Annual Christmas Eve Beach Service at Lighthouse Beach at 5 p.m. featuring candle lighting and carol singing, with offering to benefit FISH (Friends in Service Here) and the Salvation Army. (Note: a special bike corral will be set up at the end of the bike path leading to Lighthouse Beach. Vehicle parking available at the Chamber of Commerce with trolley service to the beach.)

Saturday thru Tuesday – Dec 26th thru 29th 21st Annual Holiday Mini-Golf, 18-hole indoor golf course with prizes awarded daily, at the Sanibel Community House, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Real Estate’s Impact From Spending & Tax Deal

Florida Realtors logoPosted on-line yesterday (Dec 17th) by FloridaRealtors®:

“The U.S. House and Senate have come to an agreement on a massive spending and tax bill – the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill – that will be voted on today. Passage is expected, and President Obama said he will sign it.

“A number of provisions – and excluded amendments – touch on Florida real estate interests.

  • Florida families will permanently gain the ability to deduct sales taxes from their federal income taxes under the bill. The benefit applies only to states without an income tax and has applied in recent tax years. However, the temporary benefit becomes permanent when the new bill becomes law.
  • Several business tax breaks will be extended, including one for the purchase of small business equipment. The bill also extends a tax deduction for “bonus” depreciation of business property purchases, along with television and film production.
  • Green energy gets a boost from a tax break extension for energy from renewable sources – solar, wind and geothermal, for example – and biodiesel fuels and electric cars.
  • The bill creates new rules for the visa waiver program. Under the program, citizens of 38 countries can travel freely to the U.S. with only a passport; but after the new bill becomes law, citizens from these countries who have visited terrorist-identified countries such a Syria or Iraq in the past five years will be denied a visa waiver.
  • The EB-5 visa won’t be affected. In early versions of the omnibus bill, lawmakers considered changes to a visa program popular in some areas of Florida – the EB-5. Under the program, foreigners may obtain a U.S. green card if they invest $500,000 in projects that create American jobs. However, the FBI noted some problems with the program. In the end, though, a proposal to change the EB-5 visa was backed out of the bill.
  • The bill creates a new REIT provision. After passage, companies in most cases won’t be allowed to spin off property they own into a real estate investment trust (REIT).
  • More money goes to low-income housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) praised the bill, saying funds still remain “wholly inadequate to meet the housing needs of low-income Americans,” but “the bill does not raid the National Housing Trust Fund … This will allow HUD to implement the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016 with funds from a modest assessment on the annual volume of business of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • The bill prohibits disposition of taxpayer-owned stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for two years. That timeframe will give Congress more time to consider housing finance reform.”

What the Fed’s Decision Means for Housing

Federal Reserve logoGood write-up here from “Daily Real Estate News” yesterday, Dec 17th, regarding the small uptick in interest rates.

“Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has kept a zero-interest rate policy in place. But on Wednesday, in a largely anticipated move, they voted to bring an end to that era and increased its benchmark short-term interest rate by 25 basis points from near zero.

“The Fed made clear that it’s going to issue a gradual tightening cycle over the coming months. That likely means mortgage rates will inch slowly upward, though most economists are predicting that it shouldn’t unnerve the housing recovery.

““The interest rate is still low compared to historical standards,” Kevin Young, an analyst at IBISWorld in Los Angeles, told The New York Times.

“The Fed controls the federal funds rate – also known as the short-term interest rate – that banks use to borrow money. That rate inadvertently ends up being passed on to consumers.

“So what does the Fed’s latest move mean for the housing market?

“Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, says that an uptick in short-term rates shouldn’t have a big effect on those looking to borrow in 2016. With rates going up by such a small amount, the Fed’s move actually could serve as a stimulant to the economy, he says.

“”The raising of short-term rates could be more of a confidence play to the market — it provides a signal that the economy is strengthening, and to the degree that the Federal Reserve is providing [that signal] and the lenders believe that, it may actually provide more lending opportunity for the banks,” Yun says. “As a borrower, even for the short-term borrower, what difference does it really make whether one is borrowing at 0.1% or 0.2%, when the Fed Funds Rate is historically at 3.3% or 3.5%?”’

“Some economists are predicting the Fed to raise short-term rates incrementally about four times by the end of next year.

““But we don’t expect mortgage rates to track the short-term policy rates directly,” writes Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at®. “In fact, we’re likely to see mortgage rates increase by only half or two-thirds as much.” Mortgage rates tend to track trends in long-term bonds.

“According to®’s 2016 forecast, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will likely average 4.65% by the end of next year. Last week, it averaged 3.93%, according to Freddie Mac.

“Still, Smoke says rates will likely be volatile day-to-day and week-to-week in the year ahead as the financial markets try to anticipate the timing of the Fed’s policy changes.

““On the positive side, the massive amount of news coverage on the Fed’s move will finally hit consumers to realize that we are at the end of the low-rate era and that rates are now on the move up,” Smoke writes. “We think this will influence fence-sitting buyers – and, more important, fence-sitting sellers who intend to buy as well – to act before rates get much higher.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity December 11-18



2 new listings: Lighthouse Point #325 2/2 $889K, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 $1.385M.

No price changes.

2 new sales: Sundial West #H411 1/1 listed at $269.9K, Kings Crown #118 3/2 listed at $1.299M.

1 closed sale: Tennisplace #E31 2/1.5 $315K.


2 new listings: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex $559K, 5757 Pine Tree Dr 3/2.5 $899K.

2 price changes: 1211 Periwinkle Way 3/2 now $499K, 557 N Yachtsman Dr 4/3 now $799K.

No new sales.

8 closed sales: 9032 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 $492K, 1774 Bunting Ln 3/2 $525K, 3181 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $550K, 215 Palm Lake Dr 3/2 $579K, 420 East Gulf Dr 3/3 $639K, 6019 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3 $1.1M, 4241 West Gulf Dr 5/4.5 $3.65M, 1220 Morningside Pl 5/5 multi-family $1.024M.


5 new listings: 2356 Wulfert Rd $195K, 1305 Seaspray Ln $752K, 6519 Pine Ave $995K, 6505 Pine Ave $995K, 5340 Punta Caloosa Ct $1.598M.

2 price changes: 5121 SanibelCapiva Rd now $219,555; 2462 Wulfert Rd now $224.9K.

1 new sale: 1820 Farm Trail listed at $229K.

No closed sales.



No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5144 1/2 $299K.


No new listings.

1 price change: 19 Urchin Ct 2/2.5 now $879K.

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. 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.)

Starfish santaUntil next week, when I’ll blog earlier than Friday, Merry almost-Christmas! Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

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