Superb Sanibel Springtime

SanibelSusan reporting that another week has flown by with a few rumblings about the additional visitors here because of Lee County Schools on break.

For the most part those folks enjoyed wonderful breezy sunny weather. A cool front that arrived yesterday briefly turned sunshine to clouds, but more spectacular weather is expected over the weekend.

It’s a gorgeous Friday afternoon with highs forecast to only be in the low to mid 70’s until Monday when temperatures again reach into the 80’s. Springtime in Florida is superb.

Real Estate Scoop

At SanibelSusan Realty, another listing is under contract and a few more action items accomplished for upcoming closings.

At the local Association of Realtors® monthly breakfast meeting yesterday, there were no new listings or price reductions announced and no properties open for Caravan viewing. This is the fourth week in a row without any listings to see.

The article below is a good summation of the market in Southwest Florida. If you are thinking of selling, it is to your benefit to list now, before the annual snowbirds start heading home. If you are a buyer, don’t think that waiting for the market to normalize will happen anytime soon.

See below the news for the action reported in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service since last Friday.

The Pulse of Southwest Florida Real Estate

I received an email this week from local attorneys Henderson Franklin who sponsored the 2022 Market Trends event which took place on March 16 with speakers Randy and Justin Thibault from Land Solutions, Inc. and Denny Grimes from Keller Williams Realty. Here are some tidbits from that article with a recap of 2022 Market Trends by Alessandro Secino:

“The presentation discussed the current conditions of the real estate market in Southwest Florida and provided a future forecast about what the market may look like in the coming year. The presentation also focused on the primary areas of the real estate sector: residential development, resale properties, and the commercial market.

“Overall, the end of 2021 was a continuation of the rapid growth that comprised 2020 and 2021, as waves of new residents and businesses enter the market. All sectors of the market are currently seeing growth, but nowhere is this more evident than with residential development and resale, as low inventory coupled with high demand has prompted dramatic price increases across the three counties of Lee, Collier and Charlotte. The ultimate question, however, will be whether this will continue or will the market begin to decline as prices continue to creep up higher.

Residential Development – In 2021, Southwest Florida saw a 47% increase in new single-family residential permits issued amongst the three counties, with Lee County seeing the highest increase of 59%. Total residential permits increased 39% percent to approximately 25,000 permits. These percentage increases, while dramatic, still pale in comparison to the number of permits issued in 2005, which numbered around 44,000 permits prior to the crash in 2008. Similarly, multi-family residential permits increased by 19% over the last year.

“These numbers illustrate that low resale inventory is driving up the prices, leading buyers to seek new construction and rental properties. Presently, the current inventory of resale properties cannot match the demand of new homebuyers entering the market, leading to homes rising in value by as much as 77% in some areas over the last year.

“As a result, new buyers who cannot find already built homes or are priced out of the market are now turning to rental properties until inventory becomes available or prices soften. The same is true for sellers who took advantage of increased home values are renting until prices come back down.

“With resale inventory so low, it begs the question of where is all this new development going? Most of the new development is taking place inland from the coastal communities. The two leading developments in terms of total permits issued are Ave Maria and Babcock Ranch, which account for a combined 1400 new permits in 2021.

“In many respects, the theme for 2021 was rising prices. This is especially true for the real estate market in Southwest Florida. These dramatic price increases led to shifting behaviors from buyers and sellers, but until either supply increases or demand lessens, prices are going to continue to rise.

Resale Market – The resale market in Southwest Florida is what presenter Danny Grimes calls “the greatest market of all time,” and for a good reason. 2021 saw a record number of homes sales in Lee County with over 19,000 homes sold, an increase of 16% over the previous year.

“In addition, home prices have similarly increased; from January 2020-January 2022 in Charlotte County, median sales prices increased by 50% from $240,000 to $360,000. The areas within Southwest Florida are also areas with the best location such as Captiva, Boca Grande, and in the Park Shore Drive/ 5th Avenue area in Naples.

“While the market in Southwest Florida is seeing unprecedented numbers of sales, there are not enough properties to meet the demand of buyers. Currently, inventory levels are down between 20 and 30% amongst the three counties, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as high inventory and high prices are conditions that may lead to a bubble and subsequent crash. If there is a true downside to the current market, it is that there are no properties in Southwest Florida under $100,000. Even vacant properties in Lehigh Acres, an area considered most affordable within the region, have seen a 90% increase in vacant land values.

“Almost every person involved in the real estate industry in Southwest Florida is trying to determine when will this market will begin to decline again? There is no predictable answer to this question, however we will begin to see the signs of this when properties are going up for sale and not being purchased or sitting on the market for longer periods of time.

Commercial Property – Commercial sales volume over the last year has nearly doubled, with an over 87% increase, which surprisingly enough is mostly attributable to retail sales. In 2020, investors were fleeing retail assets with COVID shifting commerce electronically, however 2021 saw current retail properties shifting from retail spaces selling goods, to a more service-based retail user such as car washes, gas stations, and convenience stores. With these new users, we are seeing existing retail spaces being revitalized by new companies such as Sprouts who are acquiring properties within existing shopping centers.

“Despite the increase in retail, industrial properties are also in high demand despite only accounting for 19% of the 87% increase in sales volume. Rental rates for industrial properties are up almost 10% in the last year along with increases in construction of industrial spaces.

“Finally, office spaces (much like retail) saw investors moving away from those assets due to the work-from-home shift COVID brought on. However, office space properties accounted for 26% of the overall growth in sales volume over the last year. Presenter Justin Thibault likened this increase in office space sales going from a pandemic to an endemic stage, where workers are heading back to the office in more hybrid models. In a sense we are learning to live with more hybrid work models, and office space properties are increasing as a result.

Overall, the commercial market — which was perhaps on the shakiest footing as a result of COVID — has begun to rebound and grow. As we see larger companies like Amazon move into the area, the demands for commercial properties should also increase. Charlotte County may very well be the beneficiary of this new investment as there is room to build industrial properties within proximity to the airport in Punta Gorda.

Take-Away – The Market Trends report focused largely on current market conditions, which is not surprising considering the increases in growth throughout all sectors of the Southwest Florida real estate market. With that said, it is difficult to ascertain what the future may hold, as it appears the current growth is not showing signs of slowing down. As we enter a post-COVID economy and already experiencing rising inflation and global turmoil, it will be interesting to see if we begin to see a slowdown in the real estate market here in Southwest Florida.”

Will Ukraine War Impact Florida Real Estate?

Posted March 15 on FloridaRealtors and sourced to 2022 Media Group, by Derek Gilliam.

“On the one hand, Fla. is the No. 1 state for Russian RE investing – 29% of all U.S. purchases. On the other, Russian buyers make up only 0.8% of all foreign purchases.

“NAPLES, Fla. – Over the past six years, Russian buyers of U.S. real estate have preferred the sunny coasts of Florida over property in any other state in the nation. Wealthy Russians have reportedly bought so many luxury condo properties in the north Miami city of Sunny Isles Beach that some have termed it “Little Moscow.” “They love to be here, and they like to spend their money and enjoy their life,” Lana Bell, a South Florida real estate agent told

“But it’s not just the wealthy Russian elites seeking Florida sunshine. Across the state from Warm Mineral Springs in North Port all the way up to small town of Steinhatchee near the Panhandle, Russians and Eastern Europeans have established communities, according to population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

“Over the past six years, 29% of Russian real estate transactions in the United States occurred in Florida, the most in the nation, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). But even as countries across the world impose sanctions on Russia for invading and waging a brutal war against its neighbor Ukraine, the impact to U.S. home or property prices is not expected to be meaningful, even without any Russian purchases of Florida real estate.

““Russia has little direct impact on the U.S. real estate market as it accounted for less than 1% (0.8%) of all foreign buyers who purchased U.S. residential property from April 2015 through March 2021, according to data from NAR’s survey of foreign buyer transactions of its members,” covering about 5,000 respondents, the report said. Any effect from the loss of Russian purchases would tend to be at the high end, as the NAR’s report notes that Russian buyers buy more luxury properties than the average Florida buyer.

“Still, with the transition of the pandemic to a different phase, the loss of Russian buyers could be offset by the resumption of purchases by people from other countries, as well as within the U.S. Craig Cerreta, the managing broker for Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Sarasota office, said the pandemic caused a near shutdown of foreign buyers, but that the segment has been bouncing back in recent months.

“During the COVID pandemic, real estate prices have drastically increased in Florida as migration brought new residents to the state, with people retiring early or enjoying the ability to work remotely.

Tight supply – Historically, Cerreta said, Canadians, followed by residents of the United Kingdom, have accounted for the majority of international real estate transactions in the Sarasota market. “There is no question that they (Russian purchasers) are small” locally, he said. “But they are typically high-end buyers.”

“The NAR data says that the average Russian real estate transaction was about $650,000. The average for all international buyers was about $480,000. But, with the demand seen for Florida properties, combined with historically low number of properties for sale, any loss of Russian purchases are being more than made up from demand from other buyers, Cerreta said. Cerreta recently sold a home he owned in the Sarasota area. During the open house, more than 170 people viewed the residence and 21 people made an offer. Three of the offers came from people in California, something that surprised the longtime real estate agent, as Californians have historically not been a large market for the west coast of Florida.

“Any loss of demand from Russian buyers for luxury properties or other property types won’t be felt in the Sarasota market, he said. In February, 72% of all real estate sales in the Sarasota market closed at or above the list price compared to 43% at or above list price in February 2021, Cerreta said. “There’s not enough inventory to meet demand,” he said of the Sarasota market.

“Sergei Sokolov, a Realtor with Sarasota’s Michael Saunders & Co., was born in Ukraine but moved to the United States when he was 5 years old. The now-47-year-old real estate professional, fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, said Russian speakers often want a Realtor who speaks their language. The first house he sold in Sarasota in 2004 was to a Russian speaker, and he does about three or four transactions a year. Sokolov specializes in entry level homes typically in the $350,000 to $400,000 price range, with the majority of his Russian-speaking buyers already living in the U.S. or Canada and unlikely to be impacted by the Russian-Ukrainian war. “I don’t expect there to be much of an impact on my business,” he said. “There’s just a lot more demand than there is supply.”

Varied buyers – The next closest U.S. state for Russian buyers was Georgia with 16% of all Russian purchases of U.S. real estate, roughly 13 percentage points behind Florida. New York (13%), California (8%) and Illinois (5%) rounded out the top five states for total transactions from Russian buyers. The NAR report said that even in Florida, purchases of real estate made by Russians accounted for just 0.2% of the Sunshine State’s real estate transactions from July 2020 to June 2021. Those numbers may be skewed as the pandemic caused many governments to restrict travel to other countries.

“A 2020 profile on international residential transactions in Florida conducted by the NAR with Florida Realtors, the largest trade organization in the state, concluded that foreign buyers accounted for $15.6 billion in real estate transactions from August 2019 to July 2020 – about 11% of the state’s sales. The total transaction volume for Florida real estate in that time period was $137 billion dollars.

“However, in that report that largely accounted for sales just prior to the pandemic, Russia did not rank among the top 15 counties for any Florida metro besides Miami. The Miami metro market, the largest in Florida, had just 2% of home sales go to Russian buyers.

“The largest group of foreign buyers by transaction volume came from Latin America and the Caribbean with about 37% of the total value of homes purchased by international citizens. Canadian buyers had the most transactions at 21% followed by Brazil (7%), Argentina (6%), Venezuela (5%), Columbia (5%) and the United Kingdom (5%).

“The metro area of Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach had the lion’s share of foreign buyers with 47.3% of all purchases. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro accounted for 11%; Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford had 9.7%, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton had 6.9% and Cape Coral-Fort Myers came in at 4.7%.

Larger economic issues – While Russians account for a tiny fraction of all real estate purchases in Florida, the real impact of the conflict may be felt at the gas pump as international buyers cut ties with Russian energy. President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil earlier this week.

“Chris Jones, president of Florida Economic Advisors and a University of South Florida faculty member at USF in the economics department, agreed with the real estate experts that the reduction in demand from Russian buyers for U.S. real estate won’t shift home prices in Florida. However, the impact of rising gas prices could be dangerous for the U.S. economy, he said. He anticipates that gas prices will increase at least another 50 cents before the end of May, with peak price per gallon of gasoline surpassing $5 per gallon this year. As people pay more at the pump, they have less money to spend on goods and services that drive the economy, which he believes will lead to a decrease in the nation’s economic output. He said he fears that the American economy could be headed toward “stagflation” because of the rising gas prices. Stagflation happens when an economy has rising inflation at the same time as slowing economic output. “We’re already halfway there,” he said, pointing to rising inflation.

“Rising gas prices will also have an impact by raising prices on nearly all goods and services which could then cause fewer people to be able to afford to purchase residential property. Less demand, caused largely by rising gas prices, would then impact Florida’s real estate market.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity March 18-25, 2022



1 new listing: Pine Cove #201 3/2 $1.899M.

2 price changes: Island Beach Club #210C 2/2 now $1.395M, Junonia #301 4/2 now $2.4M.

2 new sales: Shell Island Beach Club #5C 2/2 listed at $1.279M, Lighthouse Point #227 3/2 listed at $1.395M (our listing).


7 closed sales: Sundial #I402 1/1 $650K, Sandalfoot #5B1 1/1 $759K, Loggerhead Cay #242 2/2 $765K, Lighthouse Point #112 3/2 $830K, Sanibel Inn #1E 2/2 $850K, Loggerhead Cay #584 2/2 $875K, Sand Pointe #218 2/2 $1.1M.


6 new listings: 4577 Brainard Bayou Rd 3/2 $749K, 1600 Sabal Sands Rd 3/2 $1.2M, 1190 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $1.35M, 9405 Beverly Ln 3/2 $1.485M, 1311 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $1.495M, 6176 Henderson Rd 4/3 $2.995M.

No price changes.

5 new sales: 5307 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/3 listed at $968.5K, 661 Anchor Dr 3/2 listed at $1.295M, 1243 Sand Castle Rd 4/4 listed at $1.745M, 1543 San Carlos Bay Dr 4/4 listed at $2.499M, 2451 Blind Pass Ct 4/4.5 listed at $2.895M.

4 closed sales: 1230 Anhinga Ln 4/2 duplex $699K, 5289 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 $945K, 402 Tiree Cir 3/2 $1.15M, 645 Oliva St 3/3 $1.301M.


No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

2 closed sales: 2829 Wulfert Rd $320K, 1340 Eagle Run Dr $515K.



No new listings.

1 price change: Marina Villas #709 2/2 now $1.145M.

3 new sales: Tennis Villas #3128 1/1 listed at $549K, Beach Villas #2635 3/3 listed at $1.6M, Lands End Village #1628 3/4 listed at $3.5M.

No closed sales.


No new listings or price changes.

2 new sales: 16280 Captiva Dr 6/6 listed at $8.9M, 15867 Captiva Dr 7/6 listed at $11.7M.

3 closed sales: 30 Urchin Ct 3/2 $1.253M, 57 Sandpiper Ct 2/2 $1.325M, 16611 Captiva Dr 6/6 $7.1M.


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.

Though Sanibel’s spring weather is superb, the islands need rain. Fingers crossed that we get some soon!

Until next Friday, Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan