Great weather, great traffic, a Great White Pelican, and great effort by Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and other Southwest Florida leaders. Read about it all here this week.
Below are a few news items collected by SanibelSusan, followed by the action this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.
Sanibel & Captiva Real Estate
Only two sales were announced at our Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday, but many price reductions. It’s that time of the year. Here’s a summary of Sanibel’s residential inventory today. Sales are chugging along nicely.
CONDOS – No. – Average Price – Average DOM
For Sale – 101 – $745,450 – 242
Under Contract – 29 – $930,824 – 205
Sold/Closed To-date 2016 – 27 – $677,736 – 228
Sold/Closed in 2015 – 160 – $701,088 – 298
Sold/Closed in 2014 – 164 – $650,418 – 286
HOMES – No. – Average Price – Average DOM
For Sale – 157 – $1,373,993 – 225
Under Contract – 39 – $1,026,413 – 163
Sold/Closed To-date 2016 – 23 – $952,727 – 214
Sold/Closed in 2015 – 236 – $912,744 – 255
Sold/Closed in 2014 – 206 – $838,672 – 265
Note: DOM = days on market
Sanibel & Captiva Weather Today
Yes, the weather has been extraordinary – sunny days with mid to high 70-degree temperatures during the day with more of the same expected in the days to come.
The forecast for the next week has daytimes as warm as 81 degrees and evenings as cool as 61 degrees. How perfect is that?
79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival
Yes, it has contributed to traffic delays yesterday and today, but the 79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival is well worth it.
Record crowds are attending the event at The Community House across the street from Sanibel Square and our office. It winds up tomorrow (Sat) from 9 to 4 p.m. If you are on the island be sure to get there before it closes.
Congratulations to our friends who have garnered ribbons. You know who you are.
Great White Pelican Sightings
Our photographer friend, Roberta Schuldenfrei, was beside herself this week after seeing the ‘Ding” Darling refuge’s newest visitor, a Great White Pelican. It was reported that when this pelican appeared on Sunday, it may have been the first North American sighting of this bird which usually is found only in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Word of its arrival spread quickly through the birding community with the refuge reporting record numbers of visitors as a result. Park rangers say that they don’t know why the Great White Pelican is here or where it came from. They say that it has not been banded or clipped which would indicate that it escaped from somewhere. They don’t know where it came from. Maybe it took a vacation – we know lots of snowbirds do that.
The Great White Pelican looks somewhat like the White Pelican that is a common winter resident at the refuge, but it is much larger. It feeds the same way as the White Pelicans and mingles with them. It has been seen at various points along Wildlife Drive at low tide.
The Great White is a bit pinker or rosier than the White Pelicans, according to Wikipedia, and their wing span can be from 7 to almost 12 feet.
Mayors’ Progress on Water Releases
As reported in the “Island Sun” today, “Less than 24 hours after returning from Washington D.C., Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and two of his fellow mayors – Marni Sawicki of Cape Coral and Randy Henderson of Fort Myers – joined three additional Southwest Florida leaders for a 2-hour workshop to discuss the progress they made in the nation’s capital regarding ongoing water issues.
“On Feb 26, Ruane, Sawicki and Henderson were joined by mayors Ben Nelson of Bonita Springs, Anita Cereceda of Fort Myers Beach and Nick Batos of Estero at MacKenzie Hall, Sanibel, where the group – along with Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman – talked about the 19 meetings they had over the course of three days in Washington….
“The trio of Lee County mayors met with Florida’s congressional delegation – including local representative Curt Clawson – as well as Senator Bill Nelson, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.
“We are committed to global solutions across geographic and partisan barriers. We continue to coalesce around long-term solutions that acquire land and move waters from Lake Okeechobee south,” Ruane reported after the 2nd day of meetings in Washington. “All of our meetings have been very productive and interactive. We are meeting in round-table formats with congressional members and their staffs. Our goal is not to just be heard but to obtain commitments to fund long-term solutions.”…
“Statement of the Problem
“The coastal communities of Lee County are once again being devastated by freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee watershed. Damaging high-volume freshwater releases are impacting the ecology of local waters, the quality of life for its citizens, the strength of area businesses, and it continues to have a lasting effect on the local economy.
“According to the mayors, these impacts are occurring as a direct result of inadequate water storage within the Kissimmee, Lake Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee watersheds and the inability to effectively move water south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
“Record rainfall throughout South Florida associated with strong El Nino conditions this winter have resulted in the level of Lake Okeechobee approaching 16.5 feet. To protect the communities that surround Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting high-volume regulatory releases from the lake to the coastal estuaries, with the Caloosahatchee on the west coast and the St. Lucie on the east.
“For nearly a month, weekly average freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee have been more than three times the high-flow harm threshold (9,000 cubic feet per second) and are producing lethal conditions for oysters and other economically important fish species within the estuary. The discharges are also generating a freshwater plume extends throughout Pine Island Sound and into the Gulf of Mexico, blanketing Lee County’s beaches and coastal communities with dark,, nutrient-laden water that is devastating the local tourism-based economy.
“At the workshop, each of the mayors made a pledge to inform their respective council members to ensure that everyone is “on the same page”….
“James Evans, Sanibel’s department of natural resources director, reported that as of Friday morning, Lake Okeechobee stood at 16.36 feet. With the freshwater flows out of the lake, ordered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake level dropped approximately 1.4 feet over the last week. However, 77% of the water coming out of the lake is directed toward the Caloosahatchee.
“Evans also noted that those freshwater releases will harm the upcoming spawning season for several marine species. However, this year’s plume only extends about one mile offshore from Lighthouse Beach towards Fort Myers Beach. The freshwater plume which occurred in the summer of 2013 extended more than 12 miles out into the gulf.
“Our goal is to find every opportunity for land to store water,” said Evans. “We need to be planning 10 years in advance for what happened this year….”
Lake O Releases Being Reduced
Good news on The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website yesterday:
‘The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee beginning this weekend.
“Starting Friday (March 4), the new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary is 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at Moore Haven Lock (S-77) located in the southwest part of the lake. The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary is 1,800 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart. Additional runoff from rain in the St. Lucie basin could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets.
““Lake levels have been falling as a result of water releases, decreased inflows, and drier conditions,” said Jim Jeffords, Jacksonville District Operations Division Chief. “Although the lake is still uncomfortably high for this time of year, our water control plan calls for lower flows based on current conditions. If the lake starts rising again, we may have to increase flows; it all depends on the weather.”
“Today, the lake stage is 15.83 feet, down more than a half foot since it peaked at 16.40 feet on February 8. The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary to balance the competing needs and purposes for water in Lake Okeechobee.
“Additionally, Jacksonville District water managers are updating the formula used to calculate water flows through the spillway gates at the St. Lucie Lock structure. When drier conditions took hold during the latter part of February, water managers noticed an anomaly. In working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), engineers determined that the reported flows through the spillway exceeded actual flows by 1,500-2,500 cfs.
“Our reported flows exceeded what was actually passing through the spillway gates,” said Jeffords. “At our request, the USGS conducted downstream measurements at St. Lucie and we have updated our formulas for computing discharge rates accordingly. We recognize the importance of this information and want to be sure it’s as accurate as possible.”
“For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx. “
Surprising Tax Credits for Homeowners
From Realtor®Mag on-line yesterday. Also on www.energy.gov :
“Homeselfe, a home energy assessment app and web service for homeowners, recently released a list of several significant tax credits available to those who made energy efficiency upgrades to their homes in the 2015 tax year.
““If you upgraded your home in 2015 by adding insulation, one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make, you already know you are saving on your utility bills every month plus you may be eligible for a tax credit on that investment,” said Ameeta Jain, co-founder and spokesperson of Homeselfe.
“The company says homeowners can earn up to $500 on their return by taking into account small upgrades made last year, including:
- Biomass stoves
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
- Advanced main air-circulating fans (tax credit amount of $50)
- Insulation (10% of the cost, up to $500)
- Roofs (metal and asphalt)
- Water heaters (non-solar earns a tax credit of $300)
- Windows, doors and skylights (tax credit amount is 10% of the cost excluding labor)
“Homeselfe includes flowcharts and other information to help homeowners determine whether they qualify for energy-related tax credits. “Not taking advantage of that is throwing away your hard-earned cash. We want to empower families to receive the maximum refund allowed on their tax returns by providing them insight into the energy credits that are available,” says Jain.”
Source: “Do You Qualify for A Home Energy Tax Credit?” Homeselfe (Feb. 10, 2016)
The Power of Pets
As a dog lover and because it was my grand-dog’s birthday this week, I got a kick out of reading this article in Wednesday’s Realtor®Mag. We recently had a home listing go under contract to a condo owner who wanted to move to a home so that she could get a dog. This article describes how times are changing.
“The real estate business traditionally has shown scant love for pets. The conventional wisdom held that sellers should conceal all traces of their dogs or cats—the toys, bowls, beds, even the animals themselves—when prepping a home for sale. But those hardline messages are clearly softening, as pets become a plus in the marketing of homes for sale.
“The reason for the shift has a lot to do with the numbers: Pet power is rising. Currently 65% of households own a pet, up from 56% in 1988. A record-breaking 79 million U.S. households now own a pet, according to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association. Indeed, 83% of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family, according to a Packaged Facts research report.
“For real estate practitioners, addressing that pet love means helping buyers scout for homes that meet the needs of their pets or working with sellers to leverage their home’s pet appeal.
“In fact, pet-friendly agents have found one another—and consumers—on a growing national social platform called the Pet Realty Network. The network, launched in 1997, now boasts about 300 members who pay $30 annually to be included in the directory and can add to its pet-friendly listings.
““I think the days of hiding your pet are over,” says Rhona Sutter, sales associate with Downing Frye Realty Inc. in Naples, Fla., and founder of the network. “You may not want the boisterous Labrador running to the door to greet a home buyer, but quite honestly, a home that is pet-friendly is an advantage for a house nowadays.”
“The pet advantage is notable at every price point. For a $5 million listing in 2013, the Boutique Real Estate Group in Corona Del Mar, Calif., produced a video showing off a luxury 6,300-square-foot, six-bedroom home all from the perspective of a French bulldog named Rocco. The bulldog even wore a custom-made suede collar in the video, inscribed with the property’s URL,49GoldenEagle.com. Raj Qsar, owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, says the idea to star Rocco in the video, which came about after the dog took a liking to his team as they toured the space, helped him secure the listing. “They loved the idea,” he says.
“Joining the pet craze, home builders are touting pet-accommodating floor plans, such as those with pet nooks in mudrooms. Also, luxury condo buildings are marketing amenities to pet-loving households, offering rooftop pet parks and spas (complete with “pawdicures”), dog-bone-shaped swimming pools, pet fitness yoga classes and treadmill sessions, and even “yappy hours” social mixers.
“Coldwell Banker last year launched a national campaign called “home’s best friend,” teaming up with AdoptAPet.com. Its brokerages partnered with shelters and rescue groups to hold events nationwide in an effort to find homes for 20,000 adoptable dogs.”
8 Bad ‘Home Improvement’ Habits
This was posted on “Daily Real Estate News” last Friday.
“Home owners can overdo it when it comes to the upkeep of their home. This Old House recently spotlighted several ways that home owners’ enthusiasm for home ownership may actually harm the house.
- Having light bulbs that are too bright. You want a well-lit home, but exceeding a lamp or light fixture’s recommended wattage can be dangerous, particularly with incandescent or halogen lights, says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories. “Using a bulb with too-high wattage will cause the fixture and its wiring to overheat,” he notes, which could then allow the heat to travel to the wall or erode the insulation on the wires and lead to a house fire. Check the fixtures label to make sure you use the correct wattage.
- Planting trees near driveways or walkways. A line of trees to the house may up its curb appeal but adding young trees near driveways or walkways could be putting your slab at risk. As these trees grow taller, their roots will go outward, potentially pushing up the paving and causing it to buckle or crack. This Old House recommends planting small trees that will remain under 20 feet at maturity and that are at least 10 feet from paved areas. For larger trees, leave at least a 20-foot radius.
- Over scrubbing a sink. Don’t overdo it with abrasive cleaners; they can scratch the sink. “Cleaners with a grit or grain to them will wear away at the finish and dull it,” Kohler‘s Mike Marbuch told This Old House. “That will make the sink more prone to gunk sticking to it—actually making it look dirtier.” Try a liquid cleanser like vinegar or lemon juice on the sink and avoid scrubbing it every day.
- Overdoing it with can lights. Excessive recessed lighting in a home can cause a lot of air leaks. Recessed lighting is known as causing heat-sucking air leaks, especially when the fixtures are unsealed in vaulted ceilings. Airtight recessed lighting fixtures are available that are rated for insulation contact (IC). Also, use as few recessed lights as you can, especially when it comes to adding them to cathedral ceilings or in rooms directly below unconditioned attics.
- Spreading too much mulch outside. “Over-mulching will suffocate plants, confuse their root systems, and prevent water from percolating into the soil,” notes the article at This Old House. “If you’ve mulched so much that tree trunks and flowers’ and shrubs’ lower branches are covered by or dragging in it, you’ve gone overboard.” Have mulch no thicker than 3 inches.
- Using glass cleaner on mirrors. Watch out for store-bought sprays that promise to make your glass sparkle. “A drop of liquid running around the mirror’s edge can cause the reflective backing to lift or craze,” This Old House notes. The black edge can occur from using ammonia- or vinegar-based cleaners. This Old House recommends using warm water and a soft, lint-free cloth to clean mirrors. Or if you do use the sprays, spray it onto a dry cloth first and not directly onto the glass.
- Repainting too much. “Excessive paint is detrimental – especially on an older house, which may have layers of thicker oil-based paint, which becomes brittle with age,” notes This Old House. To avoid thick, cracked, or peeling paint, be sure to carefully power-wash prior to painting, sand areas that need it, and then use 100% acrylic-resin exterior paint.
- Fertilizing too much. Fertilizing too often can spur more weeds to grow. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency warns over-fertilizing can cause “nutrient pollution,” which is when nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from lawn fertilizers and then leads to an overgrowth of algae that can even pollute local waterways. Some lawn experts recommend only fertilizing twice a year, late summer and fall only.”
Source: “19 Ways You’re Killing Your Home With Kindness,” This Old House (February 2016)
Tickets for BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concerts
If you are looking for a little listening pleasure at the end of the month, the time is now to get your tickets for the BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concert. Since the group’s two evening performances have sold out in recent years, this year an afternoon matinee has been added to the schedule.
Celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare, the program includes tunes from Broadway to merry old England with songs from around the world including selections from West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, and a special commissioned piece by composer Gregory Brown.
Tickets are available now at the BIG ARTS Box Office. $10 for adults. Kids and students are free. Performances are in BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall on Mar 29 at 7 p.m., Mar 30 at 2 p.m., and Mar 31 at 7 p.m. SanibelSusan sings with the altos and with the Ensemble too. Hope to see you there!
Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity February 26 – March 4, 2016
4 new listings: Mariner Pointe #733 2/2 $529K, Loggerhead Cay #402 2/2 $595K, Donax Village #14 2/2 $569K, Loggerhead Cay #181 2/2 $725K.
9 price changes: Seashells #38 2/2 now $375K, Mariner Pointe #813 2/2 now $449K, Coquina Beach #4C 2/2 now $499.9K, Blind Pass #B209 2/2 now $539K, Surfside 12 #A2 3/2 now $699K, Sunset South #12C 2/2 now $784K, Sanibel Surfside #117 2/2 now $965K, Sanibel Seaview #A1 3/3 now $1.249M, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 now $1.285M.
4 new sales: Sanibel Arms West #A6 2/2 listed at $539K, Sundial East #O402 2/2 listed at $655K, Snug Harbor #113 2/2 listed at $985K, Wedgewood #306 3/3.5 listed at $1.379M.
4 closed sales: Seashells #33 2/2 $270K (short sale); Mariner Pointe #411 3/2 $519.75K (our listing & sale); Lighthouse Point #113 3/2 $634K; High Tide #B101 2/2.5 $1,750,125.
14 new listings: 748 Marthas Ln 3/2 $509K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 $575K, 5105 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 4/3 $699K, 1052 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 $749K, 1438 Albatross Rd 4/3 $779K, 676 Emeril Ct 3/3 $789K, 1487 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $814K, 1429 Jamaica Dr 3/3 $829K, 9027 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 $839K, 792 Birdie View Pt 3/3.5 $1.119M, 3386 West Gulf Dr 3/3.5 $1.349M, 824 Limpet Dr 3/3 $1.395M, 5771 Baltusrol Ct 3/4 $1.398M.
14 price changes: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $549K; 746 Cardium St 4/2 now $599,998; 1125 Captains Walk St 3/3 now $699.9K; 3850 Coquina Dr 3/3 now $899K; 1314 Par View Dr 4/3 now $945K; 232 Robinwood Cir 4/3 now $1.389M; 4353 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2.5 now $1.479M; 4014 West Gulf Dr 3/2/2 now $1.595M; 1743 Venus Dr 4/3.5 now $1.795M; 1688 Hibiscus Dr 3/4 now $1.849M; 626 Kinzie Island Ct 3/2.5 now $1.899M; 2451 Blind Pass Ct 4/4.5 now $2.299M; 2518 Tropical Way Ct 3/3.5 now $2.395M; 911 Strangler Fig Ln 4/3 now $2.695M.
7 new sales: 3301 Twin Lakes Ln 2/2 listed at $599K, 689 East Rocks Dr 3/3 listed at $759K, 5757 Pine Tree Dr 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 345 East Gulf Dr 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 979 Oyster Ct 2/2 listed at $940K, 1111 Schooner Pl 3/3 listed at $949.5K, 411 Lighthouse Way 4/3 listed at $1.445M.
6 closed sales: 1653 Bunting Ln 3/2.5 $434,716; 450 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $505K; 2079 Wild Lime Dr 3/2 $570K; 1224 Par View Dr 3/3 $905K; 6015 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3.5 $2.05M; 3911 West Gulf Dr 5/5.5 $4.3M.
Nothing to report.
1 new listing: Tennis Villas #3227 1/1 $287K.
3 price changes: Tennis Villas #3111 1/1 now $244K, Bayside Villas #4202 1/2 now $310K, Tennis Villas #3131 2/2 now $410K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: Ventura Captiva #1B 3/3 $1.1M.
No new listings.
2 price changes: 14980 Binder Dr 4/3 now $1.378M, 14860 Mango Ct 5/4 now $2.344M.
1 new sale: 15000 Binder Dr 3/2 listed at $1.049M.
No closed sales.
No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: with contingencies: 16297 Captiva Dr listed at $1.549M.
No new or closed sales.
(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.)