It’s Susan with another Friday update from sunny Sanibel Island. It has been a warm week, with highs every day in the low 90’s and little rain. Unfortunately, that seems to be the weather that makes the algae grow, as it has been a week of a few steps ahead, followed by steps back.
After a reprieve of a several days, it has been discouraging to again see and hear about more dead sea-life washing up on Sanibel’s shores, both on the beach and bayside. The terrible smell even traveled as far as Sanibel Square both yesterday and this morning. (No smell where I live on the east end.)
Thankfully, scientists say that Sanibel’s red tide count is going down. Yesterday, news indicated that it is moving further north. According to some reports, Tropical Storm Gordon pushed the bloom offshore giving us the false hope that it was gone. Once that storm moved away, the red tide came back. Where it goes and how long it will last can be dependent on tides and weather.
The worst conditions yesterday were west of Tarpon Bay Road and out onto Captiva including the area of Sunset Bay and the canals off Dinkins Bayou. It’s so sad that the marine life that washed ashore included dolphins and sea turtles. We are so sad that this is having such devastating effects, we are “so ready” for it to be over. Sanibel and Captiva are not quite ghost-towns, but the beaches have looked that way.
There is another event to benefit “Captains for Clean Water” today (4 to 7 p.m.) at The Dunes.
The weekly activity posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows a couple of news items below. Only one home and one lot sale on Sanibel this week. No sales on Captiva.
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®
Yesterday was the Association’s September Membership Meeting and Caravan. The speaker was Cecil Pendergrass who is Chairman of Lee County’s Board of Commissioners and Commissioner from District 2. He reported that the County budget has just been approved with no increase. At least there is good news on the tax front!
He also updated attendees on what the county is doing regarding water quality. With multiple solutions in the works and none immediate, it’s important that everyone pay special attention to what they can do in their area to help solve the problem. Though much of the cause of the blue/green algae in the Caloosahatchee is from releases from Lake Okeechobee, run-off from areas south of the lake, including Lee County and its cities are contributors too. Not every citizen heeds their local ordinances on fertilizing and watering. (Sanibellians do a good job.) Along the river, for example in some of the older areas of downtown Fort Myers, many homes still pipe their sewage directly into the river. (That’s right, no septic tanks at some homes along McGregor Blvd.)
It’s time for all of us to stay involved and make water quality a top priority.
Interestingly, Cecil also said that in August the airport reported an increase in traffic, while most of the hospitality businesses in Lee County reported losses of millions of dollars. He joked that he didn’t know where all these people went.
He also reminded attendees of government loans available to small businesses who have lost revenue because of the algae problems.
Is anything new being done to combat the problem? The simple answer is “no”, but local governments are working together to get Federal reimbursement for the ongoing clean-up efforts. The City of Sanibel is doing a great clean-up job. Call them to report any dead marine life and they respond quickly.
To encourage more island visitor business, parking fees at all Sanibel beaches have been suspended until Sep 30. Additionally, the county posted yesterday, that motorists who cross the Sanibel Causeway between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. tomorrow Sep 22 and Sun Sep 23 will not have to pay a toll. A donation from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation will cover the costs during those hours as a way of encouraging locals to support Sanibel and Captiva businesses who are feeling economic impacts from the lingering red tide.
Scoop From My Favorite Economist
As reported by NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in the Sep/Oct 2018 issue of Realtor® magazine:
“Recession Talk Heats Up – Concerns about a housing slowdown not supported by the data
“Is a recession looming? It’s an important question because the U.S. economy has been experiencing one of its longest expansions ever. There were two recessions in the 1970’s, two in the 1980’s, one in the 1990’s, and two in the 2000’s. Since 2010, there have been none.
“Every recession has a trigger. In the 1970’s, it was energy price shocks. Could that happen today? Probably not, because the U.S. is now the world’s biggest oil producer. One potential trigger could be an unsustainable rise in borrowing. But the fact is consumer debt has risen only about 5% annually for the last five years. Although that’s fast, it’s not catastrophic. Past recessions were preceded by debt increases of 10% or more. More important, the largest part of household debt is home mortgages and those loan balances total about $10 trillion today, about the same as 10 years ago even though housing values in the aggregate have climbed from $18 trillion to $28 trillion.
“Another trigger could just be psychological. Pessimism leads consumers to spend less. That leads businesses to scale back, reduce investment, and not build that additional factory or office. But the consumer confidence this year is at an index level of 127, the highest reading in more than 20 years (with 100 considered neutral).
“Finally, it could be policy error. Turkey is an example of how a decision – lowering interest rates in the face of rampant inflation – can lead to a crisis.
“Although it’s not clear what could trigger the next recession, it’s a good bet it won’t have anything to do with our industry. The housing market still has room to grow. A total of 6.1 million existing homes plus newly constructed homes will be sold this year. That’s the same level as in 2000, when the market was considered well balanced. Homebuilders are at last responding to pent-up demand by increasing housing starts and creating jobs. For these reasons, the odds of a recession in 2019 are slight. And if we do see a drop in GDP, it will likely be mild – nowhere near the intensity of the recession a decade ago.”
Automated Valuation Models Are Tools, Not Solutions
Another article in this month’s Realtor® magazine caught my eye. Particularly, when it was announced at our Membership Meeting this morning that our Association is in the process of inking agreements with Zillow and other on-line real estate database companies, because most sellers want their listings syndicated. With the onset of the internet, I guess these companies were inevitable. Another way for entrepreneurs to make a buck.
Personally, I’ve never thought that these companies could replace knowledgeable Realtors® in unique areas, but their existence certainly has changed where and how we advertise. Here are some tidbits from the article by John S. Brenan who, since 2003, has been the director of appraisal issues for The Appraisal Foundation.
“When it comes to online home value estimates, the number one caveat for consumers is that these estimates are not a substitute for formal appraisals, comparative market analyses, and the in-depth expertise of real estate professionals.”
“AVM’s are not appraisals…today, in many cases, an automated valuation is suspect if there is a lack of available data or the property isn’t a “cookie cutter.” Many of us have checked our own properties against the finding of an AVM and thought, “Yeah, right.”
“So why aren’t automated models more reliable in more transactions? Because computers don’t buy houses, people do. An AVM does a great job of analyzing tangible features such as a property’s age, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, and lot size. However, a property’s overall appeal is something that has been, at least to date, extremely difficult to quantify. It’s a uniquely human phenomenon; a property’s overall appeal reflects a combination of characteristics. While not everyone has the same preferences, some unusual features will likely face significant market reluctance…. So, unless and until AVM’s can better emulate the human factor, an ethical and competent appraiser remains indispensable.”
As SanibelSusan’s 2-cents worth, The Sanibel & Captiva Association of Realtors® may be working toward syndicating their listings, but please know that it is not because Zillow and their like provide good property valuations. They will get our data, but it is because our sellers want their listings to get the additional advertising these on-line vendors provide. For years, many island Realtors® (included us) have joined a secondary Realtor organization so that we also could post our listings in their Multiple Listing Service to get this extra exposure.
Temporary Closings & Reopenings
- Bleu Rendezvous – closed for vacation, reopening Oct 5.
- Blue Coyote Supper Club (Sanibel) – sold. A new restaurant “Malia” to reopen there Oct 1.
- Bubble Room – closed for repairs beginning Sep 24, reopening Mon Oct 1.
- CIP’s – closed for lunch until Oct, still open for dinner.
- Gramma Dot’s – reopens Sep 27.
- Island Cinema – closed for cleaning & maintenance until Oct 5.
- Noah’s Ark Thrift Shop – accepting donations at their loading dock. Ark to reopen Oct 2 and will be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Oct.
- Sanibel Library – temporarily closed as part of its renovation project, from Fri to Tues, Sep 21 to 25.
- Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts & T2 (Traders 2) – to reopen Oct 2.
- Traditions – reopens Sep 23.
- The Sandbar Steak & Seafood – to reopen Oct 3.
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Sep 14-21, 2018
3 new listings: Mariner Pointe #312 2/2 $599K (our listing), Gulfside Place #221 2/2 $1.295M, Sanibel Surfside #231 3/3.5 $1.495M.
1 price change: Sanctuary Golf Villages I #2-5 2/2.5 now $734.9K.
No new sales.
2 closed sales: Loggerhead Cay #184 2/2 $760K, Island Beach Club #220E 2/2 $832K.
2 new listings: 543 Boulder Dr 3/2 $849K, 2640 Coconut Dr 2/2 $1.45M.
4 price changes: 998 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 now $550K, 1018 Demere Ln 4/2 now $ 699K, 3136 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $899K, 1433 Sanderling Cir 4/3 now $1.155M.
1 new sale: 9211 Dimmick Dr 3/2 listed at $599.9K.
2 closed sales: 5299 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2.5 $470K, 1718 Jewel Box Dr 3/3 $840K.
No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: 1246 Sand Castle Rd listed at $299K.
No closed sales.
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale: Tennis Villas #3236 1/1 $309.5K.
No new listings.
1 price change: 1105 Tallow Tree Ct 3/3 half-duplex now $2.575M.
No new or closed sales.
Nothing to report.
This representation is based in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® 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 the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.
Until next Friday,
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan