It’s a Tropical October on Sanibel & Captiva!

It has been another beautiful sunny Friday on Sanibel after a few cloudy rainy days earlier in the week – from more tropical waves passing through SW Florida. Those were a reminder that hurricane season runs through the end of November, though this time of the year sunny afternoons start outnumbering the rainy ones. (Photos here taken yesterday by JMA Photography for our new listing at Mariner Pointe #411, ground-level bayview 3 bedroom.)

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® continues to be physically closed for group gatherings, but at our monthly Zoom membership meeting yesterday, we heard insurance updates from two affiliate members: David Arter with Private Client Insurance Services and Chris Heidrick with Heidrick & Co. Insurance & Risk Management Services. I took a few notes, though some of the news was not the best.

Chris Heidrick in discussing flood insurance reminded that all properties located in AE or VE flood zones that get a mortgage will need flood insurance as a loan requirement. The coverage must be enough for either replacement cost, $250K, or the amount of the loan. Regarding condominium master flood insurance policies, he said associations may buy a master policy that also covers the individual units (up to a maximum of $250K/unit). These do not cover contents. However, many (most) associations do not buy this additional coverage or up to the $250K/unit allowed, so buyers getting a loan need to be prepared to pay for supplemental or enough coverage to satisfy their loan.

In 2014, occupancy also became a factor in the cost of flood insurance. Grandfathering does not apply to occupancy, but basically a property that is owner occupied and not rented at all will pay a lower flood premium.

Properties build pre-FIRM (or before there were area Flood Insurance Rate Maps) may see increases as much as 25%. Pre-FIRM on Sanibel is property constructed before April 1975, before October 1984 on Captiva. With many flood insurance policies assumable, Realtors® were advised to get the insurance carrier and policy information from a seller when a property is listed.

Area flood maps also are in the process of being changed. The new preliminary maps show many VE areas (those with highest premiums) changing to AE (also a velocity zone, but less expensive as rated with less chance of flooding). This map change process takes time with the new maps likely not resulting in rate reductions for a year or two. (You can view these maps and look up your property at Be sure and check, you may be surprised to see that a property is, or will soon be, eligible for a reduction.

Further regarding flood insurance, Chris advised that beginning in October 2021, properties will no longer be rated based on flood map or flood zone, but rather on a system called “Risk Rating 2”. This system rates a property based on its risk factors like type of construction/structure, actual elevation, proximity to water, etc. Flood maps will still be needed but will not determine the premium amount.

David said that up until about 2018, insurance providers were looser with their underwriting requirements. As an example, prior to that time, a shingle roof that was 15 years old was acceptable, sometimes even those 18 years old, provided they had three years of life left.

Today, with so many storm payouts since then, often because of lawsuits from 3rd party insurance assignees, and Florida paying for the brunt of the claims, a single roof that is less than 10 years old now may be required. Premiums are increasing from 5% to as much as 30-40% (yikes).

Underwriting requirements are tighter with the best rates for properties built in 2014 or newer. For older properties, David’s advice is to mitigate them. Replace the roof, get opening protection (impact glass, shutters, on every opening), and ensure your roof has hurricane clips with three nails. (There are even local companies that specialize in this third nail.)

For new listings, Realtors® were advised to get the Wind Mitigation Report (in addition to the Elevation Certificate). Quizzed on what roof is best, David’s answer was “metal”, provide it meets 2001 building code.

David acknowledged that Florida Realtors® using RPAC dollars was instrumental in the recent reform on Assignment of Benefits, but more change is needed. Those legislative actions take time, with continued torte reform action needed.

RPAC Update – With a few weeks remaining in 2020, even with the many obstacles this year, the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® already has raised over 400% of their RPAC goal. Always looking to get 100% participation from our members, there may be another push to get more contributors. Including from our RPAC Auction last week, over $22K has been raised this year – all to go toward preserving and protecting real estate and property rights. Congratulations to the two successful bidders that won SanibelSusan’s lobster dinners.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Real Estate Statistics

As we work through the last quarter of the year, it is interesting to see how the market had rebound from those COVID weeks/months of lockdown. The benefits of island living are now more appreciated than ever. The below data as of today, proves it. Shown are the number and average price of the properties for sale now, those under contract, and those that have already sold and closed this year. Also shown are the statistics 2019 (in total) and the island often-referenced most recent “peak” year or 2006.

Condos Homes Lots All Residential
# Avg Price # Avg Price # Avg Price # Avg Price
For Sale 98 764,405 82 1,882,465 53 848,512 233 1,177,245
Under Contract 38 933,834 53 964,097 11 406,686 102 892,709
Sold 2020 thru 10/23 128 719,381 219 956,023 14 628,419 361 859,411
Sold in 2019 127 694,392 211 949,790 15 372,200 353 833,361
Sold in 2006 143 866,972 156 1,143,682 18 523,917 317 983,665
For Sale 24 1,517,500 32 4,129,281 3 4,580,000 59 3,089,779
Under Contract 13 558,607 7 2,390,285 1 5,899,000 21 1,423,471
Sold 2020 thru 10/23 29 891,070 18 2,945,666 2 1,925,000 49 1,688,021
Sold in 2019 29 1,037,077 17 2,737,503 1 1,375,000 47 1,659,315
Sold in 2006 21 1,362,476 10 2,307,375 4 2,218,750 34 1,737,669

Note: Avg Price – shown in italics above for the properties “Available” & “Under Contract” – is average asking price.

The representation is based on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® Multiple Listing Service. Neither the author nor the Association guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy.

The statistics show that more property has already sold (and closed) on the islands that in all of last year, with inventory low today, particularly for Sanibel homes. With homes, the entry-level and mid-range ones are moving best, while with Sanibel condos, it is the larger more residential variety that are the top sellers.

With last quarter usually when island sales pick up, it will be interesting to see what the next few weeks bring, particularly after the election which often creates a hiccup while voters are distracted. Seems the many distractions this year, including the pandemic have served to make island real estate more desirable. Fingers crossed that the investment variety with rental bookings start moving next, those usually follow residential sales.

City of Sanibel – Emergency Declaration, COVID-19

Again, this week, Sanibel’s Mayor extended the declared state of emergency due to COVID-19 until October 27, 2020, unless further extended. (Per State Statute, the maximum duration for a Mayoral Declaration of Emergency is seven days and thus must be updated weekly as the emergency exists.) Additionally, the City face covering mandate was reaffirmed and remains in effect through the period.

Per the Florida Department of Health, Sanibel’s total accumulative number of COVID-19 cases since March 26 is 60. (There were just 50 cases during the initial six months, but there have been ten since the first of this month. Please stay vigilant – continue social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, and avoid group gatherings.)

Help the Gopher Tortoises

The City of Sanibel Department of Natural Resources encourages participation in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) tortoise conservation efforts. FWC launched a new interactive web application that functions on any device and records sightings. Click here to learn more and report a sighting.

Sanibel has a sizeable population of gopher tortoises and is listed as a threatened species and is protected by both state and local laws. Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida. They did deep burrows for shelter, forage on low-growing plants, and share their burrows with more than 350 other species (therefore, referred to as a keystone” species) Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land cleaning or development takes place, and property owners must obtain permits from the FWC before capturing and relocating tortoises.

The gopher tortoise is one of five North American tortoise species and is the only tortoise naturally found east of the Mississippi River. Its range includes from southeastern Louisiana east to southern South Carolina, and south to Florida, where they are found in all Florida counties.

It is a moderate-sized terrestrial turtle, averaging 9-11” in length when fully grown, though can reach up to 15”. It is identifiable by its stumpy elephantine hind feet and flattened shovel-like forelimbs covered in thick scales. Hatchlings (less than a year old) and juvenile tortoises tend to be yellow-orange and brown in color, but the bright color fades with age. The shell of an adult gopher tortoise generally is tan, brown, or gray.

They can live 40-60 years in the wild, though captive tortoises may live 90+years. The breeding season occurs between March and October. Females typically lay one clutch of 5-9 ping-pong ball-sized eggs per year with eggs deposited between May and July. They nest in open sunny locations frequently with a soft mound of sand at the entrance of their burrow (called a burrow apron). Egg incubation lasts 80-110 days with hatchlings emerging between August and November.

The life of a gopher tortoise revolves around its burrow where they spend 80% of their time. Burrows average 15’ long and 6.5’ deep, though have been documented reaching up to 40’ long and 10’ deep. The burrows help to regulate their body temperature, offer shelter from predators, and serve as refuge for other species including burrowing owls, Florida mice, indigo snakes, rabbits, gopher frogs, and more.

If you see a tortoise crossing a busy road, FWC grants permission to move it across the road in the same direction it was headed if it is safe for you to do so. Do not move the tortoise to another location or put it in a cage as this constitutes illegal possession.

To protect the community gopher tortoises and their habit, Sanibel property owners can:

  • Plant native vegetation for them to feed on.
  • Maintain open areas by trimming back woody vegetation that can “shade out” gopher tortoise burrows.
  • Leave existing gopher tortoise burrows undisturbed.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity October 16-23, 2020



5 new listings: Sanibel Arms #C5 2/2 $499K, Signal Inn #10 1/1 $529K, Sanibel Arms West #K7 2/2 $562.5K, Sundial #G204 2/2 $749K, Sundial #O405 2/2 $1.25M.

3 price changes: Seawind #A108 2/2.5 now $527K, Sandpiper Beach #205 2/2 now $815K, Pelicans Roost #106 2/2 now $959K.

6 new sales: Sanibel Arms #B1 1/1 listed at $419K, Sundial #F205 1/1 listed at $419K, Loggerhead Cay #332 2/2 listed at $549K, Somerset #A101 3/2.5 listed at $1.7M, Sanibel Sunset #201 3/2 listed at $2.195M, High Tide #B302 3/2 listed at $2.295M.

No closed sales.


2 new listings: 915 Fitzhugh St 4/2.5 $945K, 685 Sea Oats Dr 3/2 $1.1425M.

4 price changes: 1684 Bunting Ln 2/2 now $519,555; 2001/2003 Mitzi Ln 6/6 duplex now $899K; 9426 Sage Ct 3/3 now $1.039M; 5439 Osprey Ct 4/3 now $1.769M.

8 new sales: 1001 East Gulf Dr 2/2 listed at $639K, 731 Durion Ct 3/2 listed at $737K, 543 Boulder Dr 3/2 listed at $799K, 1860 Ibis Ln 5/3 listed at $895K, 770 Elinor Way 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 549 East Rocks Dr 3/2.5 listed at $1.095M, 2957 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 listed at $1.525M, 1133 Golden Olive Ct 3/3.5 listed at $2.269M.

7 closed sales: 1797 Serenity Ln 2/2 $430K, 5151 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 2/2 $447K, 915 Main St 2/1 $450K, 1031 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $695K, 1671 Hibiscus Dr 5/3 $1.05M, 676 Gopher Walk Way 4/5 $1.4445M, 2323 Starfish Ln 4/4 $2.415M.


1 new listing: 2933 Wulfert Rd $359K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 5627 Baltusrol Ct listed at $289K.

1 closed sale: 9226 Kincaid Ct $122K.



1 new listing: Sunset Beach Villas #2314 2/2 $779K.

1 price change: Lands End Village #1634 3/3 now $2.345M.

2 new sales: Bayside Villas #5136 1/2 listed at $399K, Beach Villas #2525 2/2 listed at $760K.

3 closed sales: Bayside Villas #5110 1/2 $350K, Bayside Villas #5304 3/3 $639K, Captiva Shores #C6 2/2 $1M.


No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 11515 Gore Ln 5/4.5 listed at $2.395M.

No closed sales.


No new listings, price changes, new or closed sales.

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.

Below is our ad from today’s “Island Sun”.

Until next Friday, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan