As the new year begins, island roadways and bike paths continue to be busy – a noticeable increase from before Christmas with plenty of holiday visitors here enjoying the warm temperatures and sunshine. Temperatures got up into the mid 80’s on Wednesday, but that is expected to change a little when a mini-cool front arrives tomorrow dropping nighttime temps into the 50’s. After that, sunny but low-70-degree days may be the norm for the foreseeable future.
If you follow Sanibel Shell Seekers on Facebook, you likely have seen that the number and sizes of the shells found since the storms pre-Christmas are phenomenal. Here are a couple of their pix posted there: lightening whelks by Michael Gillmore and sharks eyes by Marci Canty. Aren’t the colors amazing!
Those here, please remember, that “in season”, it’s smart to plan travel around the heavier traffic coming on-island in the morning and off-island late afternoon.
Also, in typical winter fashion, as soon as condo listings are occupied, we get showing requests. It’s always challenging to sell properties that are in rental programs where the property managers do not allow showings during guest stays. That’s when encouraging Realtors® to walk the complex, point out the location/view, and professional photography/colored fliers become more important. Serious buyers understand. This week, we were fortunate when a cooperative owner guest allowed several showings. At another property, where a long-term guest had just arrived, we weren’t as lucky.
Wondering if the islands have any sales action here during the short New Year’s week? The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service activity since last Friday is after a few news items below.
Annual Meetings, Fee Changes, & More
Many Southwest Florida condominium and homeowner associations hold their annual meetings in the winter when more owners are in town. We work hard to keep info about our listings up-to-date. Local Realtors® and our Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® are smart about sharing any new info about planned projects, changes in fees or special assessments, or even talk about upcoming maintenance events.
At yesterday morning’s Realtor® Caravan Meeting, a colleague announced that the City has approved Sandy Bend condominium putting in a swimming pool. Sharing info like this is an important part of making sure that everyone involved in a transaction knows what is happening at the property.
2019 Economic Outlook: Mostly Strong
From December 2018 issue of “Gulfshore Business” magazine:
“Local experts forecast how our key business sectors will fare next year.
“Southwest Florida has been bombarded with a lot of unwanted “color” in 2018 – red tide, blue-green algae, citrus greening. The question for 2019: Will our economy be in the red or in the black?
“”Gulfshore Business” gathered data from economists and industry experts who forecast the health of our local markets for real estate, tourism, agriculture, finance and health care for the new year.
“It looks to shape up like another good year for Florida,” says Jerry Parrish, chief economist and director of research at the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Over the past five years, Florida produced one out of 11 new jobs in the U.S.”
“Parrish says the probability of a recession over the next nine months, barring a “black swan” unexpected event, is very low. “People are moving here, taking jobs, building homes, buying because there’s opportunity,” he says. “I see that continuing for next year. Even if the economy softens a little bit, Florida’s still going to be strong.”
“The Southwest Florida region tends to overheat during boom periods and overcorrect during busts, says Chris Westley, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute and professor of economics at the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University.
“Gross domestic product data show the region’s economic activity bounced back from the 2008 recession in 2014 and remained strong until 2017 (the most recent numbers available). “Then it began to slow down considerably,” Westley says, noting overall GDP for Collier County in 2017 was 1.2%, the first time it dipped below 3% in five years. Lee County was at 1.5%.
“Westley blames the decline on the slow growth of construction. “A lot of that is explained by Hurricane Irma. A lot of construction projects were put on hold,” he says. But construction employment rebounded in September 2018, increasing year over year in Collier County by 27.5% and in Lee County by 20%.
“”As long as the expansion continues, we can expect our region to exceed the state, and the state to exceed the country,” he says. However, Westley says many economists – who weren’t prepared for 2008 – believe a correction will happen in 2020. “If the economy continues to expand through next summer, we will be in the longest expansion in U.S. history. But, it’s been a pretty weak expansion. It’s possible that weak expansions last long. It’s possible we could fall into a recession next year or in 2021. It’s going to turn on a dime.”
“Real Estate and Development
“Randy Thibaut, CEO of Land Solutions in Fort Myers, says we are not in a depression or in a recession. “We think we’re in a market correction and expect that to continue into 2020,” he says.
“He says factors that led to the market crash in 2008 are not happening today, such as runaway speculation and financing, and overbuilding of single-family homes. Although, he says, the potential does exist for overbuilding of assisted living and apartment construction.
“Thibaut says the combination of rising interest rates, prices becoming too expensive for most homebuyers, tariffs increasing the cost of building new homes, and increasing government fees all equate to a softening of the market.
“Interest rates are expected to rise to 5.8 or 6% by 2020. “In and of itself, 6 to 8% interest rates are not a scary thing,” he says. However, for every 1% the interest rate goes up, buyers average $20,000 less in borrowing power. That makes it more difficult for 1st time homebuyers to find affordable homes, with prices already higher in response to increases in labor, materials, concrete and land over the past five years. Now, he says, tack on an expected extra $9,000 per new home because of new tariffs on imported materials.
“Westley says many homebuyers in Southwest Florida have been saving up equity for 30 years and don’t need to take out a mortgage. Parrish says most international buyers are cash buyers as well. “They’re less sensitive to the interest rate, but sensitive to the U.S. dollar,” he says. “As they raise interest rates, the U.S. dollar will get stronger, too.”
“Thibaut says over the next several years, a great deal of building materials and labor will be redirected to northern Florida to assist with rebuilding after this year’s Hurricane Michael. “We’re mostly recovered from Hurricane Irma, but there are still signs of people waiting for roofs to be replaced,” he says. “It’s definitely added greatly to our labor shortage and cost of materials.”
“Despite all of that, Thibaut sees a stable market. “We have a tone of new millennial buyers and a stable stream of baby boomers continuing to make purchases in Southwest Florida,” he says. “They’re just a little more value-conscious than they were before.”
“Parrish says a greater number of people from high-tax states in the Northeast are moving to Florida, and even more are inquiring about housing and business relocation. He says rising interest rates are spurring some buyers to speed up their purchases, not delay them. “People with the means are moving to Florida,” he says. “We are going to see a big population bump.”
Tourism and Hospitality
“John Lai, president and CEO of the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, says 2018 started off with record growth, but there was no playbook to prepare the region for the impact of red tide and blue-green algae.
“He says it led to a disastrous third quarter that was expected to rebound in the fourth quarter. “We were dealt an ecological disaster we weren’t expecting,” Lai says.
“Lee County bed tax collections were down 16.4% in August 2018 over last year. “That equates to $5.66 million,” Lai says. “Collier and Pinellas were both up. (Visitors) checked out and went to one of our competing drive markets.”
Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Islands, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, says red tide exposure in Collier County was limited to the northern beaches. “Most water-related tour companies felt declines in business, but not necessarily the hotels,” he says.
“Wert says 2018’s water quality issue is causing them to take a conservative outlook for 2019, expecting a 2% increase in visits. “We need to reassure people it’s OK to come,” he says.
“Group meeting reservations for the first three months of 2019 are already on pace in Collier County. “It’s a positive outlook,” Wert says. “Meeting planners are booking business, and we’re anticipating the leisure market will still be strong.”
Lai says the first quarter of 2019 in Lee County is expected to meet or exceed early 2018’s pace as well. He is hopeful that 2019’s weather will be helpful because of El Nino, which is expected to bring much wetter and colder weather to the Northeast. “We are seeing that travelers are very forgiving, and memories of disasters both manmade and ecological are staring to shorten,” he says. “We’re optimistic that 2019 will be the year that 2018 was shaping up to be.”
“The focus on Southwest Florida tourism isn’t just on the beaches. Wert says about eight hotels are in various stages of planning for inland Collier County, with two expected to open in 2019 in East Naples near the new Collier County Sports Complex. That facility will open its first phase in December 2019 for amateur sports tournaments. “Sports tourism will continue to grow,” Wert says. “That is driving some of that hotel development.”
“Lai echoes that sentiment, noting three new inland hotels will be opening in Lee County in 2019. “The demand is so strong,” he says, expecting amateur sports tournaments to continue boasting the local economy during the off-season. “Amateur sports have taken a leading role. I expect that to continue to grow in 2019.”
“The international market is also expected to be strong in 2019, despite a strengthening U.S. dollar that makes their travel more expensive. Wert says Canadian visits likely will be down, but strong demand from the U.K. and Germany persists. “A Collier County advantage is that most of our travels are upscale,” he says. “Fluctuations in the exchange rates don’t seem to affect their travel.”
While tourism focuses on out-of-town visitors, hospitality takes into account locals who partake in the area’s shopping, dining and entertainment. “Incomes are growing at near the rate before the last recession,” Parish says. “The outlook for hospitality is stronger than for tourism in general.”…”.
How To Prepare For a Home Inspection
From the November/December 2018 issue of “FloridaRealtor®”
- “If home is empty, leave utilities on and pilot lights lit.
- Make sure electrical sockets, light fixtures, switches, and fans work.
- Confirm smoke and carbon monoxide detectors operate.
- Check that faucets and toilets run properly and don’t leak.
- Clean stove and oven so they won’t smoke and set off alarm when tested.
- Verify doors and windows open and close and all hardware works.
- Clear obstructions around furnace (HVAC equipment), water heaters and attic access.
- Leave keys for outbuildings and exterior electrical boxes.
- Remove brush and debris from exterior inspection points.
- Gather documentation for renovations or repairs that have been made.
- Provide sketch showing location of septic tank and week.
- Remove or crate pets.
- Plan to be away for three hours minimum.
- Consider having home pre-inspected so you can fix problems before the official inspection.”
What Buyers Should Ask After a Home Inspection
I’ve been saving this article from “Realtor®” magazine of October 9, 2018. It seems appropriate now, after the above article.
“After an inspector has finished a home report, buyers may feel overwhelmed by any flaws that might have been found. That’s why it’s important they take the opportunity to learn more so that they can move forward confidently in the transaction.
“A recent article at realtor.com® recommends home buyers ask their inspector clarifying questions like: “I don’t understand this; what does it mean?” or “Is this a major or minor problem?” and “Do I need to call in another expert for a follow-up?”
“Home inspectors are bound to uncover something in a home; no home is perfect. But the majority of the problems they uncover will likely be minor. Have the home inspector clarify which problems fall within the “minor” or “major” categories.
“Keep in mind: “The inspector can’t tell you, ‘Make sure the seller pays for this,’ so be sure you understand what needs to be done,” Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told realtor.com®.
“If the inspector identifies a potentially major problem, consumers will want to follow up whether they should call an additional expert in to investigate further. For example, consumers may need to bring in an electrician to take a closer look at potential electrical issues that were flagged or a roofer if a roofing problem is suspected. Those specialists can then give an idea of the cost to fix it, which the real estate agent can take to the seller to request a concession, if the seller doesn’t want to fix it prior to the sale.
“Also, Lesh says that the list of items a home inspector identifies are issues the new buyer may need to address as soon as they move in. He says it’s like a “to-do list” for those items that did not get repaired by the seller prior to the sale.”
Weather Changes Due to El Nino
Interesting forecast in the Winter 2018 issue of “IWA Pipeline”: “As noted in the fall Pipeline, Southwest Florida is likely to experience an El Nino winter in 2019. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting a 70-75% chance of El Nino conditions this winter. El Nino is predicted to materialize in late December or early January.
“El Nino is a warming of surface water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. That warming changes where the thunderstorms form in the Pacific so that the jet stream goes over Florida instead of north of Florida. An El Nino winter typically means a wetter and lightly cooler winter for Southwest Florida. NOAA is predicting above average rainfall between now and May 2019. Many Sanibel and Captiva residents remember the last El Nino winter in 2015-16 that brought record rainfall and caused our rivers to be inundated with freshwater. Ecological damage with blue-green algae blooms followed. The predictions for this El Nino are not as severe as 2015-16, but the need for landscaping irrigation should be decreased in the upcoming winter months.
“Now is the time to check your rain sensor to make sure it has been installed correctly and that it is working. If you don’t have a rain sensor tied to your irrigation system, by Florida law, you are required to have one installed if you have an automatic irrigation system. Having a properly working rain sensor should save you money during the usually dry winter months if, in fact, we experience an El Nino winter in Southwest Florida.”
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Dec 28, 2018 – Jan 4, 2019
3 new listings: Sundial #I103 1/1 $489K, Loggerhead Cay #562 2/2 $595K, Kings Crown #112 2/2 $699K.
6 price changes: Sundial #G206 1/1 now $464.9K, White Caps South #5 1/1 now $499.9K, Snug Harbor #312 3/2 now $668K, Signal Inn #3 2/1.5 now $695K, Island Beach Club #210B 2/2 now $784.9K, White Sands #13 2/2 now $919K.
3 new sales: Coquina Beach #3C 2/2 listed at $449K, Sundial #G206 1/1 listed at $464.9K, Island Beach Club #320F 2/2 listed at $699K.
2 closed sales: Blind Pass #C201 2/2 $430K, Sundial #T301 2/2 $700K.
9 new listings: 724 Rabbit Rd 2/2 $645K; 678 Durion Ct 3/2 $799K, 257 Daniel Dr 3/2 $815K; 1752 Jewel Box Dr 2/2 $994K; 932 Whelk Dr 3/3 $1.295M; 982 Whelk Dr 3/2.5 $1.325M; 1136 Golden Olive Ct 4/4.5 $2.795M; 550 Lighthouse Way 3/4.5 $2,999,999; 1253 Anhinga Ln 4/4 $3.795M.
5 price changes: 974 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex now $519K, 1018 Demere Ln 4/2 now $674K, 1244 Par View Dr 4/3 now $995K, 1349 Eagle Run Dr 3/2.5 now $1.085M, 742 Sand Dollar Dr 2/3 now $1.089M.
2 new sales: 849 Beach Rd 4/4 duplex listed at $595K, 931 Snowberry Ln 4/4 listed at $1.35M.
No closed sales.
2 new listings: 5321 Punta Caloosa Ct $377,555; 3869 West Gulf Dr $3.895M.
1 price change: 602 Boulder Dr now $439K.
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, enjoy your first weekend in 2019.
(Pix above of view from West Wind’s pool bar, which also serves chow from their Normandie Seaside Café. Open to the public too.)
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan