As The SanibelSusan Team looks forward to an island New Year, I am happy to report that Christmas week weather here has been wonderful. Today’s forecast says there will be warmer-than-usual days and nights until next week at this time.
That means Sanibel temperatures in the mid- to high-70’s to low-80’s during the day, mid- to high-60’s at night. The weather folks also say that by next Friday, there may be a few showers and another cool-front arriving with lower temps (mid-60’s’ days, mid-50’s nights). Even so, SW Florida winter weather is the best!
With outstanding shelling still reported as a result of the storms last week, I think there are more shellers than usual on the beaches too. Long-time neighbors say it’s the best shelling in “50 years”. Wow!
There was no Realtor® Caravan yesterday, but the team has been hosting Open Houses hoping to attract buyers. The first heavy “season” traffic has resulted in cars backed up past the office from about 3 p.m. on every day since Christmas. There typically is an influx of day-trippers after holidays with both bike paths and roadways super busy.
Below are a couple of news items followed by the activity posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service. There were no Sanibel/Captiva new sales this week. Though one condo and one home sale were posted in MLS, both were from earlier contracts.
Best wishes from all of us at The Sanibel Susan Team for a Happy New Year!
Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen Now Open
Restaurant choices on island again expanded recently with the opening of Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen at the former location of Sanibel Steakhouse at 1472 Periwinkle Way (across the street from Bill’s Bikes). The newly-renovated New Orleans-style eatery seats up to 150 people including 18 outdoor seats.
Serving both lunch and dinner, there are Cajun meals for every palate. Part-owner is long-time island restaurateur Larry Thompson known for his other eateries – the Lazy Flamingos, Sunset Grill, and Sanibel Fresh.
Florida Realtors® News: Top Real Estate Stories Of 2018
Posted on-line at FloridaRealtors® on December 21, 2018: “Hurricanes hit, insurance rates rose, team ad rules got an update, and a real estate market marked by rising prices and tight inventory showed the first potential signs of change.
“Michael throws a boat ashore – On Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael slammed Florida’s Panhandle as the eye crossed near Mexico Beach. The category 4 storm was the first to target Northwest Florida and will forever impact future planning for the area – building codes, insurance rates and safety – after residents suddenly realized that their area faces just as much risk from deadly storms as the seemingly more vulnerable Florida cities to the south. The day after the storm, Florida Realtors® Disaster Relief Fund started accepting applications for aid and donations from Realtors throughout the state who wanted to help. A short while later, the national association’s Realtors Relief Fund (RRF) announced $400,000 in housing assistance for storm victims. Realtors, association staff, families and neighbors need so much. Any help you can offer is most appreciated.
“Insurance woes, from flood to AOB – The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) needs a major update but Congress keeps kicking the issue down the road. NFIP is deeply in debt but relied on by homeowners who need or want coverage. 2018 ended up where it started without a long-term solution, even though Realtors had a massive Call for Action before an expiration in September. On the property insurance side, coverage keeps getting more expensive, thanks in part to assignment of benefits (AOB) rules. Change is difficult without action by the Florida Legislature, and the problem could get worse as unscrupulous third parties over-charge for their work and then demand reimbursement from insurance companies, which may then pass increased costs on to their policyholders.
“What’s the word I’m looking for? – For some Florida Realtor teams, a Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) rule update may be the biggest story of 2018. While new team ad rule requirements became official last summer, they give teams a full-year to prepare because, for some, it could mean a new name and major overhaul in every advertisement where it appears. FREC then opened the door to changes in individual ad rules, with a specific eye on the size of licensee names compared to broker names. The discussion will continue in 2019.
“Did you feel that? The market shifted – In the years leading up to 2018, a seller’s market dominated most areas of Florida. During the first half of 2018, a tight supply of for-sale homes frustrated buyers as median prices and interest rates moved higher and higher. As a result, buyers started to drop out, more sellers lowered asking prices, and bidding wars thinned out. By the second half of the year, quickly rising home prices became slowly rising home prices. Will all of this lead to a balanced market of buyers and sellers in 2019? Maybe. And when will the normal real estate cycle shift again to a buyers’ market? Stay tuned.
“The ‘higher mortgage rates’ prediction finally came true – For five years, experts’ end-of-year predictions called for higher mortgage rates in the new year – and for five years they’ve been wrong. But that changed in 2018. While rates continue to hover below 5%, which is still historically low, they ended the year about a full percentage point higher than when the year began. In part that’s because the Federal Reserve boosted interest rates four times in 2018 and plans a couple more next year. The Fed’s interest rate increases immediately raise the cost of adjustable-rate mortgages and indirectly put pressure on fixed-rate loans.
“A tip o’ the hat to the cap – Florida voters passed Amendment 2 in November, which made permanent a 10% cap on non-homestead property assessments each year. Florida Realtors advocated strongly for passage and celebrated the win after 66% of voters agreed. A permanent constitutional cap now gives the state’s small businesses some assurance they wouldn’t be priced out of the market on Jan. 1 of each year simply because property values went up.
“Another cut to the business rent tax – Florida businesses will save $31 million dollars each year thanks to the Florida Legislature, which cut the state’s business rent tax again. The new rent-tax rate on commercial leases drops to 5.7% on Jan. 1, 2019. After the final gavel fell on the 2018 session of the Florida Legislature, Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen said that Realtors knew it was going to be a rough session given the state’s tight finances, but “with the help of our members, we managed to keep the momentum going to further reduce the Business Rent Tax.”
“Does a non-Realtor business model have legs? – iBuyers – Opendoor, Offerpad, etc. – purchase homes directly from owners without an MLS or Realtor. Survey after survey finds that buyers and sellers want a trusted advisor to help them through a stressful transaction, but is there a chance iBuyers could eventually take over a significant share of the real estate market? Realtors find it hard to believe, and the data, so far, isn’t impressive. However, Wall Street is heavily backing these new iBuyers: Opendoor alone had raised $325 million by September, and an ATTOM survey found that institutional investors have shown an increasing interest in iBuyer-owned properties. It remains to be seen if these new models will crash and burn like many tech stocks or if they start to take over the business.
“Blockchain could unblock closings – Blockchain technology is often associated with Bitcoin, but as a tool, it essentially takes a complex, multi-user transaction and makes it safer. Instead of the data sitting on a single server that all participants tap into, it replicates the data on everyone’s computer, making it harder for any single participant to fudge the figures. However, this additional safety and spread of data could also cut the paperwork time to closing in half – or more – if every necessary piece of data becomes instantly available to agents, title companies, lenders, etc. While change always takes time, it could lead to a system where a contract signed on Saturday can close by Thursday.
“Builders can’t catch a break – The nation needs more new homes – but the cost for new construction keeps moving higher. There’s not enough vacant land; impact fees (a development charge by local governments to pay for increased city services) are going up; supplies cost more (in part due to Canadian lumber tariffs); there aren’t enough workers – and if there are, they don’t have the necessary skills. New home construction, once seen as the solution to a tight housing inventory, did not appear in 2018 – and it doesn’t seem to be on the horizon for 2019 either.”
Environmental Groups Sue Feds Over Lake “O” Discharges
Interesting read in this week’s “Island Reporter” (dated December 26, 2018):
“Conservation groups on December 19 filed a notice of intent to sue three federal agencies for failing to assess harm to Florida’s endangered species before approving the ongoing release of polluted waters from Lake Okeechobee.
“The suit naming the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service alleges that the discharges likely help drive the catastrophic red tide algae blooms killing Florida’s coastal wildlife.
“The groups specifically challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to extend the discharges through 2015 from the lake into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers….
“The notices give the agencies 60 days to respond ot the claims submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Calusa Waterkeeper, and Waterkeeper Alliance…
“According to the release, the Corps updated its plan for managing the discharges in 2008 with the goal of lowering the risk of damage to the Herbert Hoover Dam, which retains the lake. The plan was supposed to be reconfigured within three years to incorporate the impacts of structural improvements to the dike and water quality upgrades projected to come form the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
“”The dike repairs are behind schedule, the Everglades plan has not been completed and toxic algae blooms continue to kill countless marine animals,” the Calusa Waterkeeper release states. “Meanwhile the Corps has opted to simply extend the current water-management plan through 2025 without assessing the harm to protected wildlife and water quality.”
Kick Out Clause or Right of First Refusal?
More good info from Florida Realtors®, this article by Meredith Caruso. She is Manager of Member Legal Communications, answering calls Florida Realtors® Legal Hotline and she also keeps the Forms Content Committee on track.
“Legal Hotline calls suggest that there’s some confusion over what Right of First Refusal and Kick Out Clause mean, and they’re often used interchangeably. Some calls start with “I’m looking for a Right of First Refusal rider”. Usually, however, this member is actually lookin for the Kick Out Clause rider but is confused over terminology.
What is Right of First Refusal? How does that differ from the Kick Out Clause rider? Here is what you need to know.
“Right of First Refusal: In general, a Right of First Refusal is an interest granted to a person or entity to purchase property before another third party can do so. A commonly seen example is a property association’s right of first refusal. Normally recorded within the community’s documents, this right allows the property association to purchase a property before another buyer can.
“In this case, the association has the right to review the contract between a seller and a buyer within a certain timeframe (i.e. 10 days) so the association can decide whether or not to exercise its right to purchase. If the association chooses to do so, it then “stands in the shoes” of the buyer in the contract, meaning that the terms of the contract remain the same, pending renegotiation, and the association can’t make the seller change a term, such as the purchase price.
“Another common scenario that might have a Right of First Refusal is in a landlord/tenant relationship. Some tenants might incorporate a Right of First Refusal into their leases, stating that they have the right to buy the home before another buyer does, should the landlord want to sell that property one day. The Florida Supreme Court-approved leases don’t contain such language, so tenants who may want a right of first refusal in this context should consult their attorney for the appropriate language to add to their lease.
“Kick Out Clause: The language in kick-out clauses could vary depending on the contract used, but in the Florida Realtors®/Florida Bar Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase (FR/Bar), the Kick Out Clause language is in a rider.
“Adding Rider X to the Florida Realtors®/Florida Bar contracts clarifies that the seller can continue to show the property and enter into bona fide back-up contracts. Any back-up contract with a third-party is, of course, subject to termination of the primary contract.
“Upon entering into a back-up contract, the seller must share a copy of said contract with the primary contract buyer, though with certain information, like price, redacted.
“This puts the ball in the buyer’s court, and the buyer must make a decision: either place an additional deposit down with the designated escrow agent and, in doing so, waive contingencies for financing and sale of buyer’s property (if any) or don’t place the additional deposit in the timeframe required, thereby terminating the contract. In the case of termination, the buyer would receive any initial deposit back and both parties would be released from further obligations under the contract.
“Once terminated, the seller then notifies that back-up contract buyer that that contract is in primary position.
“When might a seller want to use this rider?
“A common use is when the buyer’s offer contains a contingency for the sale of a property the buyer currently owns. A seller may want to counter the buyer’s offer with this rider added to retain the ability to go with an entirely different contract with a subsequent buyer should they choose.
“In sum, a Right of First Refusal is granted to a party via a separate legal document (i.e. a declaration of association or a lease) to purchase property before another third-party. On the other hand, a Kick Out Clause rider to the Florida Realtors®/Florida Bar contract gives the seller the potential opportunity to proceed with a back-up contract….”
Question About “As Is” Contract
The following question and answer are from the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of “FloridaRealtor®” magazine under “Talk to An Attorney” Advice from the Florida Realtors® Legal Hotline:
“Question: “The buyer and seller executed a Florida Realtors®/Florida Bar “As Is” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase. The buyer submitted a proposed amendment during the Inspection Period, requesting a reduction in the purchase price based on issues revealed during the buyer’s home inspection. The seller is offended by the request and wants to cancel the contract. Does the buyer’s proposed contract amendment give the seller the right to cancel the contract?
“No. After a contract is signed, either side is welcome to propose amendments to the other side. The side receiving the proposed amendment in this case, the seller, is welcome to accept, reject, counter, or even ignore the proposed amendment. If the seller and buyer don’t end up agreeing to this proposed amendment, then the existing contract continues forward on the terms the parties already agreed upon.”
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Dec 21-28, 2018
1 new listing: Kings Crown #309 2/2 $879K.
No price changes.
1 new sale: Clam Shell #E 3/2.5 listed at $949K.
1 closed sale: Sundial #H309 1/1 $447.9K.
4 new listings: 1350 Middle Gulf Dr #2E (Moonshadows) 3/3 half-duplex $895K, 1159 Golden Olive Ct 3/2 $1.495M, 4630 Rue Bayou 4/4.5 $1.595M, 2411 Blue Crab Ct 4/3.5 $2.599M.
5 price changes: 1851 Farm Trl 3/2 now $569.9K, 9465 Coventry Ct 3/2 now $625K, 1747 Jewel Box Dr 3/2 now $989K, 735 Sand Dollar Dr 3/3 now $1.179M, 430 Glory Cir 4/4.5 now $1.345M.
1 new sale: 1438 Causey Ct 3/2 listed at $895K.
4 closed sales: 1236 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 $545K, 4436 Waters Edge Ln 3/3 $675K, 9028 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 $799K, 8991 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 $830K.
1 new listing: 1032 Sand Castle Rd $399,880.
1 price change: 2987 Wulfert Rd now $450K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: 595 Piedmont Rd $190K.
1 new listing: Lands End Village #1602 3/3 $2.3M.
No price changes, new, or closed sales.
HOMES & LOTS
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 week, here’s to the last Friday in 2018!
Happy New Year!
See ya next year!
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan