A Different First Weekend In December on the Islands (2020)

As Periwinkle Way sparkles at night, it sure is evident that the island December mood is festive even if social gatherings are discouraged and events tempered. We will miss Sanibel’s traditional Luminary tonight and tomorrow on Captiva but appreciate the extra decorating effort that makes an evening drive through the islands so special. Instead of the usual nighttime Luminary events, there are additional offerings and sales at many retail shops all week, from today through December 11.

I again took a quick spin this afternoon down to the lighthouse where the decorations are up, though the sky a little dismal from the next cool front that is arriving this afternoon (my photo below). That’s the 2nd cool front this week. The locals are so excited to wear long sleeves again! (It’s 73 degrees F now, but expected not to get out of the 60’s next Tues/Wed/Thurs.)

Here at SanibelSusan Realty, our listings have had more showings, more action items were completed for upcoming closings, and the team is working on an island-wide holiday mailing. The week’s postings in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service follow a couple of news items below.

Good News on the Waterfront

Hooray! Yesterday, the City issued a press release that says: “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District will start reducing outflows from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries, starting Saturday, December 5. USACE will reduce releases from Lake Okeechobee gradually to allow time for the ecosystems of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries to adjust.

“Beginning December 5, USACE will begin the transition to dry season operations on Lake Okeechobee by implementing a 7-day release with a reduced average target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary of 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at the Moore Haven Lock & Dam (S-77). At the same time, the Corps will implement a multi-week release pattern for the St. Lucie Estuary, starting with a 5-day pause to allow for recovery of estuary health, followed by a 7-day average release of 1,500 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart….”

Sanibel – City Council, Shell Harbor, & COVID-19

City Council – At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, former councilor Jerry Muench was selected to fill the 3-month interim seat vacated by former Mayor Kevin Ruane when he ran (successfully) for County Commissioner. This seat and two others will be filled officially during the upcoming March election.

Also, at this meeting, councilors selected their new Mayor and Vice Mayor. Congratulations go respectively to Mick Denham and Holly Smith. Following those installations, Mayor Denham extended the island declared state of emergency due to COVID-19. Now it goes until December 8, 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.)  The City face covering mandate remains in effect through the period.

Shell Harbor – Posted on the City’s website today: “Beginning Monday December 7th, the City of Sanibel will commence dredging of the entrance channel to the Shell Harbor Subdivision. The channel will remain open for use during dredging; however, there may be short periods of time when boat traffic will need to be stopped. Boaters are advised to be alert and aware of the construction operations taking place.  Weather permitting, the project is expected to continue for approximately three weeks. Please PROCEED SLOWLY and CAUTIOUSLY through the area when dredging operations are underway. Contact the Community Services Department at 239-472-6397 if you have any questions regarding the Shell Harbor dredging project.”

COVID-19 – From Florida Department of Health, Sanibel’s total accumulative number of COVID-19 cases since March 26 is 90.

Weeks-ending 3/29 through 11/29 – 36 weeks = 83 cases.

Cases since last Friday – 7 days = 7 cases.

Please stay vigilant – continue social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, and avoid group gatherings.

Chapel by The Sea’s Christmas Eve Service

Chapel by the Sea’s Christmas Eve service has been canceled, but their lights are up and will be burning each evening until January 10, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Always a popular spot for holiday photos, viewers are advised that masks are mandatory and social distancing (6’ apart) required.

Mortgage Rates Drop to 2020’s 14th Record Low: 2.71%

If you get an offer that has bank financing, stand by for a delay. With interest rates low, lenders are busy. Loan commitments are taking longer than usual, and many closings are occurring late. Below is an article by The Associated Press, posted yesterday on FloridaRealtors.org:

“It’s only a slight drop from last week’s 2.72%, but it’s enough to break another record. One year ago, the rate for a 30-year mortgage loan averaged 3.68%.

“WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. long-term mortgage rates edged lower this week, reaching record lows for the 14th time this year against the backdrop of the pandemic-ravaged economy.

“Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan slipped to 2.71% from 2.72% last week. By contrast, the benchmark rate stood at 3.68% a year ago. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loan declined to 2.26% from 2.28%.

“Home loan rates have trended downward through most of this year, bolstering demand from would-be homebuyers or people looking to refinance existing mortgages. But as Freddie Mac noted, home sales have stalled as the lack of available homes for purchase continues to stifle house hunters.

“Home prices have risen significantly in the past year as supply remains near historically low levels. In the latest sign that the economy and job market remain under stress from the resurgent viral outbreak, the government reported Thursday that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a still-high 712,000.”

‘Tis the Season for Predictions: Realtor.com Is First

Also posted this week on FloridaRealtors.org is the following article by Kerry Smith:

“Economists predict a 5.7% U.S. price increase and 7% growth in sales, but a closer look at 9 Fla. metros finds varying predictions. They range from a projected 1.5% sales growth (4.3% price) in Cape Coral-Fort Myers to 11.6% sales growth (4.7% price) along the Space Coast.

“ORLANDO, Fla. – What will the real estate market look like in 2021? In December, national economists start rolling out their predictions, with the first, realtor.com, publishing their expectations first.

Amid COVID-19 uncertainty, 2021 will be a robust sellers’ market for U.S. buyers as home prices hit new highs (+5.7%) and buyer competition remains strong, according to the realtor.com’s 2021 housing forecast. Their economist expects inventory to make a slow yet steady comeback, providing buyers with some relief. However, increasing interest rates and prices will make affordability a challenge throughout the year.

““The 2021 housing market will be much more ‘normal’ than the wild swings we saw in 2020,” says realtor.com Chief Economist, Danielle Hale. “Buyers may finally have a better selection of homes to choose from later in the year but will face a renewed challenge of affordability as prices stay high and mortgage rates rise. With less cash and no home equity, millennial and Gen Z first-time buyers will be impacted the most by rising home prices and interest rates. While waiting until the fall or winter months of 2021 may mean more home options to choose from, buyers who can find a home to buy earlier in the year will likely see lower prices and mortgage rates.”

“Many of realtor.com’s predictions, however, assume the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control within the first half of the year. Realtor.com’s 2021 housing market forecast

·        Mortgage Rates – Up to 3.4% by year end

·        Existing Home Median Price Appreciation – +5.7%

·        Existing Home Sales – +7.0%

·        Single-Family Home Housing Starts – Up 9%

·        Homeownership Rate – 65.9%

Realtor.com also provides a breakdown of predictions by metro area, and it varies for the nine Florida metro areas included – from a projected 1.5% sales growth (4.3% price growth) in Cape Coral-Fort Myers to 11.6% sales growth (4.7% price growth) in the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area. 2021 predictions for Florida markets

·        Cape Coral-Fort Myers: 1.5% growth in sales, 4.3% increase in prices

·        Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach: 5.4% growth in sales, 6.3% increase in prices

·        Jacksonville: 9.4% growth in sales, 5.0% increase in prices

·        Lakeland-Winter Haven: 5.1% growth in sales, 4.9% increase in prices

·        Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach: 3.7% growth in sales, 7.1% increase in prices

·        North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton: 10.3% growth in sales, 6.6% increase in prices

·        Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford: 10.1% growth in sales, 5.8% increase in prices

·        Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville: 11.6% growth in sales, 4.7% increase in prices

·        Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater: 8.7% growth in sales, 7.5% increase in prices

“What 2021 will be like for buyers? Buyers will find some relief in 2021 as more homes hit the market, but many will struggle with affordability as home prices continue to rise. Mortgage rates will slowly rise toward 3.4% and no longer offset prices as much. The time it takes to sell a home will slow from the late 2020’s frenzy, the economists predict, but fast sales will remain in many parts of the country. It will also be more challenging than 2020 for first-time homebuyers.

“What will 2021 be like for sellers? Sellers will still hold the upper hand throughout 2021. Home prices won’t grow as fast as they did in 2020, but steady increases will continue to push them to new highs. Sellers who list can expect their home to sell relatively quickly in 2021. Many sellers who are also buyers should have their next home lined up before listing.

“Forecast 2021 housing trends: Millennials will continue to drive the market while Gen-Z become market players. Older millennials will likely be trade-up buyers while the larger, younger segment of the generation age into their key home buying years. The oldest members of Gen-Z will turn 24 in 2021 and their impact on the market will only continue to grow from here.

“Affordability will become a growing obstacle. Buyers in 2020 received a huge boost when mortgage rates pushed to new lows, but a lack of inventory and strong demand drove prices up, erasing most of that boost. Buyers will need to act with a sense of urgency if they want to lock in a low rate before home prices increase even more in 2021.

“Inventory will begin the slow road toward recovery. A lack of for-sale homes has plagued the U.S. housing market for the last five years. The problem intensified in 2020, in large part due to an estimated shortfall of nearly 4 million newly constructed homes heading into the year, as well as sellers pulling back due to COVID-19. The number of homes for sale is expected to slowly rebound in 2021, but the road to recovery will be long because the market has to make up for multiple years of declines. While additional homes will hit the market in 2021, it won’t be enough to tip the scales in favor of buyers.

“Suburbs will shine if remote work stays around. As COVID-19 lockdowns gripped many of the nation’s largest cities, it sparked intense buyer interest in suburban homes, further exaggerating a trend that had been slowly emerging over the last couple of years. The big question is what demand will look like once a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. If companies require workers to return to the office, demand may wane. Conversely, if companies commit long-term to remote work, demand for these homes could see an additional boost in 2021.

“Wildcards that could shake things up in 2021:

“COVID-19: The deck is stacked with wildcards for 2021. The most impactful will be the U.S.’s ability to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as distribute a vaccine. Additional lockdowns and quarantines could put a dent in housing inventory and sales, slowing the market and putting increased pressure on buyers. Conversely, if a vaccine is rolled out quickly, it could lead to better than expected sales and a strong increase for home prices and inventory.

“Double dip recession: The possibility of a double dip recession is still in play for 2021. As the U.S. continues in a K-shape recovery, a gap is widening between those with and without jobs, as well as industries recovering well versus those seeing a continued lack of business. In the short term, this could lead to less consumer spending. In the long term, this could impact the U.S. housing market as “would-be” buyers disappear from the market, cooling demand and driving down home prices. The current question is how long the K-shape can diverge before the impact begins to cascade into the broader economy and other previously less-affected sectors such as housing.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity November 27-December 4, 2020



2 new listings: Loggerhead Cay #261 2/2 $719K, Pointe Santo #D35 2/2 $795K.

2 price changes: Heron at The Sanctuary II #2B 3/3.5 now $749.9K, Sanibel Surfside #124 2/2 now $1.05M.

4 new sales: Sundial #D305 1/1 listed at $519.9K, Coquina Beach #1D 2/2 listed at $549K, Oceans Reach #4D1 2/2 listed at $859K, Sundial #L205 3/2 listed at $1.395M.

8 closed sales: Spanish Cay #F6 1/1 $280K, Sanibel Arms #B7 1/1 $342.5K, Blind Pass #B111 2/2 $420K, Seashells #26 2/2 $425K, Ibis at The Sanctuary #202 2/2 $476.5K, Loggerhead Cay #212 2/2 $560K, Sanibel Arms West #K6 2/2 $569K, Wedgewood #102 3/3.5 $2.425M.


4 new listings: 1030 Kings Crown Dr 2/2 $879.9K, 3827 Coquina Dr 3/2 $1.075M, 735 Sand Dollar Dr 3/3 $1.249M, 837 Sand Dollar Dr 3/3.5 $2.095M.

3 price changes: 315 East Gulf Dr #212 3/2 half-duplex now $559K, 753 Nerita St 3/2 now $579K, 9441 Peaceful Dr 3/3.5 now $1.395M.

14 new sales: 1667 Atlanta Plaza Dr 2/1.5 listed at $425K; 1027 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 listed at $499K; 1001 East Gulf Dr 2/2 listed at $639K; 721 Durion Ct 3/3 listed at $649.9K; 1850 Farm Trl 3/2 listed at $699K; 705 Rabbit Rd 3/3 listed at $699K; 1610 Sabal Sands 3/2 listed at $714.9K; 9421 Moonlight Dr 3/2 listed at $775K; 3751 Coquina Dr 3/2 listed at $839K; 5835 Pine Tree Dr 3/2 listed at $844.5K; 1430 Sanderling Cir 4/3.5 listed at $870K; 1203 Kittiwake Cir 3/3 listed at $997,898; 1259 Par View Dr 3/4 listed at $1.175M; 2564 Wulfert Rd 4/5.5 listed at $1.929M.

5 closed sales: 1357 Jamaica Dr 2/3 duplex $540K, 3926 Coquina Dr 3/2 $755K, 4345 Gulf Pines Dr 4/4 $775K, 3351 Barra Cir 3/2.5 $1.165M, 1152 Buttonwood Ln 3/3.5 $1.6M.


1 new listing: 9436 Beverly Ln $235K.

1 price change: 3354 Barra Cir now $365K.

1 new sale: 0 Bunting Ln listed at $229,555.

2 closed sales: 2279 Wulfert Rd $295K, 2142 Starfish Ln $400K.



No new listings.

1 price change: Captiva Shores #7B 3/2.5 now $1.399M.

3 new sales: Tennis Villas #3212 1/1 listed at $320K, Sunset Beach Villas #2334 3/3 listed at $950K, Gulf Beach Villas #2028 listed at $1.085M.

1 closed sale: Gulf Beach Villas #2012 2/2 $765K.


No new listings.

1 price change: 15138 Wiles Dr 6/5.5 now $6.195M.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 16611 Captiva Dr 6/6.5 $4.75M.


No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: 11525 Murmond Ln $700K.

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, enjoy the holiday decor! Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan


Leave a Reply