Sanibel September Snapshots

Susan here reporting another week of little island traffic-wise though over the weekend near Lighthouse Beach, there were lots of boaters just offshore and plenty of beachgoers. Likewise, the causeway beaches were packed Saturday and Sunday. The pent-up demand to “get out” and enjoy post-summer weather continues here even though September usually is the “quiet” month. During the week, the beaches have been super empty probably also related to the area getting plenty of off-and-on showers.

My friend Kim, a manager at the West Wind Inn, occasionally posts a photo on social media when she’s working their pool bar. When I asked if I could use the one she posted Tues (Sep 14), she said “sure”. Enjoy.

(If you haven’t enjoyed a meal yet there or at the Inn’s Normandie Cafe, be sure and do it. Favored by many locals, as well as the late Willard Scott, many will miss seeing him there. Normadie is open daily from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., and again from 5 to 9 p.m.)

Island Real Estate

At the Sanibel & Captiva Association of Realtors® Caravan meeting yesterday which I attended via Zoom, only one property was open for viewing, no new sales or price reductions were announced, and just one “coming soon” listing was mentioned.

Our weekly report of the action posted with the island Multiple Listing Service follows a couple of news items below. Like the last few weeks, with low inventory, there have not been many sales. I worked both last weekend and will again tomorrow on a home that we hope to post next week as “under contract”. In this “hot market”, sometimes it takes working behind the scenes to create an ideal situation for buyers/sellers. We continue to sleuth for buyers waiting for a particular area or property. We heard from a couple of island owners this week, so some new listings are in the works.

State of the Southwest Florida Real Estate Market

An annual real estate event called Market Trends was held last Thursday at the Caloosa Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers. Attorneys Henderson Franklin were sponsors and posted the following recap of the presentation which focused on the 2021 real estate market in Southwest Florida in three major areas: the residential real estate market, new residential construction, and commercial real estate.

“Continuing the trend from the 2nd half of 2020, both the residential and commercial markets in Southwest Florida sustained their momentum. New homebuyers continue to flock to the region and developers are trying to keep up with demand.

Residential resale market – While we thought the market in 2020 was hot, the resale market in Southwest Florida in 2021 set unprecedented numbers we may never see again. The numbers for existing single-family homes sales continued to rise from 2020 to 2021. Charlotte County saw a 42% increase, Lee County a 44% increase, and Collier County a 65% increase in existing homes sold. The same goes for median sale prices, with Charlotte County seeing a 31% increase, Lee County a 29% increase, and Collier County a 38% increase compared to the previous year.

“With increases in sales and prices, some may begin to fear another market crash. However, the presenters believe we are on track for the market to correct itself rather than seeing a repeat of the previous market crash. The “irrational market” will be replaced by a rational one and we will likely be passing the peak of buyer frenzy that we saw through the height of the pandemic and the early parts of the year.

New construction market – The total number of new building permits for single-family and multi-family in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties has continued to increase. 2020 saw a total of 18,418 residential permits issued. The year-to-date total for residential permits issued in 2021 currently sits at 14,272, with the projected total by year’s end estimated to be 23,400 permits issued. The past 12 months have seen a double-digit percentage increase in new permits in all three counties. Lee County saw an 11% increase, Collier a 22% increase, and Charlotte with an astounding 50% increase.

“As was the case in 2020, individual communities continued to see astounding growth. The top three communities were Ave Maria, Babcock Ranch and Isles of Collier Preserve. To showcase that the residential market continues to grow, look no further than Babcock Ranch, which in 2020 saw 533 new building permits issued to various builders. It currently stands at 691 residential permits issued to various builders in 2021.

“While the big builders like Lennar, DR Horton, and Pulte continue to dominate the market, we have seen a comeback for the small builders, with over 6,000 permits issued to these builders. An interesting new trend taking place in Southwest Florida is the build-for-rent model. This model appears to be aimed at a younger generation looking for homes but wanting more financial flexibility. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues over the coming years.

“While at some stage the market will likely level off, demand in the residential market looks set to continue in 2021 and the foreseeable future in Southwest Florida. As homebuyers continue to move into the region, developers look to continue buying up land and building single-family and multi-family units.

Commercial real estate – While certain sectors continue to be affected by the pandemic, especially with the emergence of the delta variant, the Southwest Florida commercial real estate market as a whole continues to thrive in 2021. Through the height of the lockdown in 2020, commercial sale volume still hit $150 million. Through Q2 of 2021, commercial sales have hit upwards of $560 million, with an astounding 275% increase over 2020. The retail market makes up nearly 50% of the total sales volume in 2021, at approximately $259 million in sales.

“The industrial market has seen an increase in rent and occupancies, with over 2.2 million square feet of industrial space coming into the market. So why such large quantities of space? This increase is due in large part to large-scale distribution centers moving into the region. With e-commerce taking over, fulfillment centers for companies like Uline and Amazon are becoming ever-present in Southwest Florida.

“As we experience a consumer spending rebound, Lee, Charlotte and Collier County all saw increases in rent and occupancy over the last year in the retail market, with goods and services driving the market forward. However, labor shortages due to the pandemic will impact how well this market performs.

“The office market over the last year is stable but an odd one. Rents and occupancies are all up but at times space is economically occupied but physically vacant. This is in large part due to the pandemic and employees working from home, as well as tenants waiting to see how things play out before renewing leases. We have not seen the “great migration” back to the office that we thought. Most new deliveries in the market are now including amenities to try and entice the workforce back into the office. So with these issues, what sector has caused the increase in rent and occupancies? The medical office sector has led the way in this regard. Regional medical groups have taken advantage of the market and have grabbed good land positions in the region.

Take-Away – The Market Trends report this fall showcased how the real estate market in Southwest Florida has continued to thrive thus far in 2021. Both residential and commercial sectors have seen exponential growth. It will be interesting to see how both finish out the year, what their outlook will be heading into 2022, and what impact the pandemic will have on the market going forward.”

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest

Marking its seventh year, the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest begins today and runs through Sept 26. This free 10-day festival – except for a few ticketed events – features singer-songwriters. Today through Sunday (Sept 17) it will be on Captiva, then moves to historic downtown Fort Meyers (Sept 20-23), followed by Fort Myers Beach (Sept 24-26). During the first three days on Captiva, venues include poolside at “Tween Waters, Keylime Bistro, RC Otter’s, Doc Ford’s, Mucky Duck, Sunset Beach (at South Seas), and Green Flash.

The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is the largest in Southwest FL. This year, over 60 singer-songwriters will preform more than 100 shows. For more info, go to

Events Postponed & Temporary Closings

‘Ding’ Darling Day – Due to federal restrictions regarding the coronavirus, the 33rd Annual ‘Ding’ Darling Day at Lakes Park in Fort Myers scheduled on Sunday, Oct 10, has been postponed until spring 2022. Watch for the new date and more details. The ‘Ding’ Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest has been extended to Oct 15. Winners will be announced Nov 15. For more info on that, contact Sierra at 239-472-1100 Ext 4.

Restaurants – Below is an updated list of the island restaurants that are closed temporarily for annual vacations, deep cleans and fix-ups, etc. Lighthouse Cafe & Schnapper’s were added to the list this week.

  • Bleu Rendez-Vous Bistro – closed thru Sep 30, reopens Oct 1.
  • Blue Giraffe at Periwinkle Place – closed thru Sep 20, reopens Sep 21.
  • Blue Giraffe 2 at Beachview Estates – closed thru Sep 20, reopens Sep 21.
  • Island Pizza – closed thru Sep 29, reopens Sep 30.
  • Lighthouse Café – closed thru Sep 23, reopens Sep 24.
  • Mad Hatter – closed thru Sep 30, reopens Oct 1.
  • Over Easy Café – closed thru Sep 23, reopens Sep 24.
  • The Sandbar Steak & Seafood – closed thru Sep 29, reopens Sep 30.
  • Schnapper’s Hots – closed thru Sep 20, reopens Sep 21.
  • Sweet Melissa’s Café – closed thru Sep 20, reopens Sep 21.
  • Traders – closed Sep 11 thru Oct 5, reopens Oct 6.
  • Traders 2 (T2) – closed thru Oct 4, reopens Oct 5.
  • Traditions on the Beach – closed thru Sep 23, reopens Sep 24.

Sanibel Vaccinations

An article in today’s “Island Sun” by Wendy McMullen describes how Sanibel City Council has been walking on a tightrope trying to get City staff vaccinated. It says,

“Now, it’s attempting to sweeten the pill by offering a $500 incentive for all city staff who have a vaccination certificate.

“Florida businesses and governments that require proof of vaccinations face a $5,000 fine. The federal government has required vaccination or weekly testing. Vaccine passports are banned by the state.

“Sanibel City Council got around the various mandates and restrictions by offering a substantial inducement to city staff who voluntarily provide proof of vaccination before Oct 30 of this year. The $500 incentive has been ratified by the Association of Municipal Employees.

“City Manager Judie Zimomra reported that 78 city employees had been fully vaccinated, six had one vaccination, 43 were unvaccinated and 38 did not respond.

“Those figures are much lower than vaccinations among Sanibel residents, which are around 97%, but similar to those in Lee County. Councilmember Dr. Scott Crater said that the number of people vaccinated in Lee County is lower than in the neighboring counties of Charlotte and Collier, and lower than in Broward County on the east coast. Lee County was averaging 10 deaths a day from COVID-19.

“Dr. Crater provided information about the 10 vaccinations that children must have before they attend school and the diseases that have been all but eradicated as a result.

“Planning Commission Chairman Roger Grogman said that employers can require drug tests for safety reasons and COVID presents the same safety issues. “Safety, safety, safety. Not safety for you, but safety for everyone around,” he said, speaking in public comment.

“Applicants for city jobs are required to be tested at the time they are hired but vaccination is not required. Zimomra estimated that it would reduce the pool of applicants by between 25 and 30%.

“A suggestion from Councilmember Mike Miller that unvaccinated city employees get tested weekly was considered impractical. City council decided that it would encourage city staff to get vaccinated, track vaccinations, require K95 or N95 masks for the unvaccinated and reward those that are vaccinated now or who get vaccinated. The decision was unanimous.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity September 10-17, 2021



1 new listing: Sundial #R402 2/2 $1.249M.

No price changes.

3 new sales: Blind Pass #C201 2/2 listed at $590K, Seashells #16 2/2 listed at $599.9K, Mariner Pointe #231 2/2 listed at $674.9K.

7 closed sales: Sanibel Moorings #211 1/1 $525K, Mariner Pointe #323 2/2.5 $533K, Sanibel Inn #3514 2/2 $665K, Sanibel Inn #3513 2/2 $690K, Breakers West #A5 2/2 $725K, Loggerhead Cay #282 $685K, Sundial #E104 2/2 $1.299M.


1 new listing: 700 Birdie View Pt 3/2 $985K.

No price changes.

2 new sales: 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 listed at $695,555; 4771 Tradewinds Dr 3/3 listed at $2.99M.

7 closed sales: 1536 Bunting Ln 3/2 $775K, 1270 Par View Dr 3/2 $859K, 5268 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 $950K, 1319 Par View Dr 3/2.5 $1.15M, 1350 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $1.199M, 743 Durion Ct 3/2 $1.31M, 4949 Joewood Dr 5/5 $4.075M.


1 new listing: 1219 Par View Dr $449K.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: 6141 Starling Way $800K.



No new listings or price changes.

3 new sales: Tennis Villas #3210 1/1 listed at $499,999; Beach Villas #2638 3/3 listed at $1.349M, Captiva Shores #8A 3/2.5 listed at $1.795M.

2 closed sales: Beach Homes #25 3/2 $1.881M, Beach Homes #33 4/3 $3.1M.


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! Happy weekend!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Photo below taken Sep 2018, during our Realtor Continuing Education class on the water. These are the fish houses of North Captiva. September clouds always great!

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