The Weekend Forecast Says Sunny & Mid-70’s on Sanibel Island

It sure is nice to be back on Sanibel this week where the outside temperature is warmer than the inside temperature at that chilly Orlando hotel I visited last week for the Florida REALTORS® Mid-Winter Business Meetings. Kidding aside, the islands had a couple of cool (60-degree) days recently as well as some much-needed rain. Starting tomorrow, just in time for the February arrivals, temperatures are expected to be back into the mid-70’s to low 80’s and the forecast for the immediate future is sunny! Now is a great time to vacation on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and to show and sell property.

SanibelSusan Realty got a nice home listing this week at 1960 Roseate Lane in Sanibel Lakes Estates. Our professional photographer will be filming tomorrow but there are some initial photos are below.

Several of our listings had some solid positive feedback from showings this week. There will be lots more showings tomorrow in those investment rental properties during that brief window when some tenants depart, cleaners do their magic, and other renters arrive.

Following a few news items, below is the action reported in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service over the past seven days. It’s getting busy!

City of Sanibel Designated 4th Safest City in Florida

Sanibelcityseal logoThe following was posted early this week on the City’s website:

“The City of Sanibel has been designated the 4th safest city in Florida.  To determine the ten safest places in Florida, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 2012 crime statistics were evaluated.  The 202 cities in Florida with populations over 5,000 were each evaluated in the study.  The study evaluated crimes in each community in three categories:

  • Property crimes (theft, burglary, motor thefts)
  • Violent crimes (rape, murder, theft)
  • Chance a resident will be a victim of crime.

“The above criteria were weighted with a greater emphasis on violent crime, followed by property crime and then the likelihood a resident would be a crime victim.  Thus, violent crimes account for 50% of the ranking, property crimes account for 30% of the ranking and a resident’s likelihood of being a crime victim accounts for 20% of the ranking.

“To place the study in perspective, 421,192 crimes were committed in 2012, in the 202 cities analyzed.  In 2012, 114 of these crimes occurred within the Sanibel city limits and none were violent crimes.   To view the full announcement click here.

“Upon reviewing the report, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane stated, “By design, the safety of citizens and visitors is our community’s highest priority. While this recognition is appreciated, we are recommitted to remaining a safe town in which to live, work and recreate.”

“Sanibel Chief of Police Bill Tomlinson added, “We are a safe community because our citizen’s care and we work together in partnership with our residents and businesses.  We encourage our community to report suspicious activity and vehicles, and they do. Crime prevention is the major focus of our Department.”

“”Investments by the Sanibel City Council into best available technology, training and equipment support our safety initiatives.  Furthermore, our Police Officers regularly meet with homeowner’s associations and business owners to be certain that everyone understands that suspicious behaviors should be reported, and reported promptly to the Police Department,” stated Sanibel City Manager Judith Zimomra.

“In 2013, the Sanibel Police Department responded to 24,790 calls for service. Any Sanibel organization that would like to schedule a presentation by the Sanibel Police Department should contact Chief Tomlinson at (239) 472-3111.”

What’s on REALTORS®’ Minds

realtor logoThe following was posted on “Daily Real Estate News” this week and echoes the concern that I have heard from local colleagues and at the Florida REALTORS® Mid-Winter Business Meetings:

“Though the market is poised to continue its gains in 2014, a number of issues cited by members of the National Association of REALTORS® have the potential to slow things down, according to a new survey.

The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to …real estate practitioners. The survey routinely asks for expectations regarding home sales, prices, and market conditions… As 2014 begins, REALTORS® noted a number of concerns that they felt could be a drag on the recovery:

  • regulations pertaining to Qualified Mortgage (QM) loans
  • reductions in FHA loan ceiling limits
  • a further increase in mortgage rates
  • slow job growth
  • uncertainties associated with the cost of flood insurance
  • potential impacts from the Affordable Care Act

“NAR’s outlook for the coming year is overwhelmingly positive, but the organization says that the market “is essentially moving sideways—growing at a more tempered pace than was the case last year. Future prices are generally projected to continue to increase, but at a more subdued pace than was previously the case.””

LCEC News – Rate Decrease in 2014

Lcec logoGreat news reported in the “LCEC News” January newsletter: “While many utilities are increasing electric rates, LCEC (Lee County Electric Co-op) is reducing rates in 2014. We have not raised electric rates for five years and we continue to work hard to keep rates competitive. LCEC will decrease the power cost adjustment (PCA) beginning January 1, 2014. Natural gas prices recently reached a historical low, allowing power suppliers with diverse fuel mixes to take advantage of reduced fuel costs. LCEC shares these savings with customers. The LCEC Board of Trustees approved a decrease in the PCA from $17.96 per 1,000kWh to $16.65 per 1,000 kWh.

“Although the cost of materials, labor and purchased power has risen over the past few years, a calculated business strategy has helped LCEC manage operating costs. Process improvements, proactive maintenance, constant budget oversight, the use of technology and the diligence of employees have all contributed to holding the line on LCEC electric rates.”

Citizens Property Insurance Says Clearinghouse Works

Citizens_logoHere is some interesting news on wind insurance. Wednesday, Florida REALTORS® sourced this article to “The Palm Beach Post” (West Palm Beach, FL).

“A new computer clearinghouse launched Monday to steer insurance customers out of state-run Citizens and into private insurers seems to be functioning properly, officials said, and agents reminded consumers it contains only four private carriers so shop around. Citizens officials said they processed 500 requests for information by noon Monday, though the early going includes tests that are not necessarily transactions affecting real customers.

“The launch comes in a rocky few months for government websites, with the federal and the state’s unemployment website having more than a few well-publicized problems. The clearinghouse debut was delayed from Jan 2 to Monday so participating insurers could get better prepared technologically, officials said. The number of carriers initially taking part has gone from four to an expected seven back to four.

““The clearinghouse is functioning successfully, and we are pleased with the preliminary results,” said Steve Bitar, Citizens vice president of consumer and agent services. “We are continuing to monitor clearinghouse activity and expect to have more detailed information available at the Board of Governors meeting Wednesday. The initial response has been very positive.”

“The system is designed to shrink Citizens by making would-be customers ineligible for the state-run company’s coverage if a private insurer is offering coverage priced up to 15% more. During the second quarter of the year, renewing Citizens customers will not be able to stay with the company if a private insurer is offering coverage priced the same or less.

“Brightway Insurance agent Bill Goldman of Jupiter noted the clearinghouse does not necessarily represent all the options a consumer may have, so homeowners may want to shop around on their own. “If you’re put through Citizens’ clearinghouse, you’ll get quotes from just a small subset of companies in the state,” Goldman said.

“Those participating initially include Ark Royal, Florida Peninsula, Safe Harbor and United Property & Casualty, Citizens said. Up to 16 more carriers are expected to join the clearinghouse in March through July, including Heritage Property and Casualty of St. Petersburg.

“Under traditional transfer offers, customers can choose to stay with Citizens, but they will not have that choice if the clearinghouse rules them ineligible. That’s one reason it’s important the clearinghouse works accurately. At least 14,000 transfer letters from a private insurer, First Community, contained erroneously high Citizens renewal premiums this month, The Palm Beach Post reported. Citizens has more than 1 million customers including more than 100,000 in Palm Beach County, meaning it remains the biggest insurer locally and statewide.”

Discover ‘Ding’ App Combines Learning, Technology & Fun

Ding Darling Society logoAs a REALTOR® often glued to their Smart phone, I enjoyed reading this recent post by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society:

“A new smart phone app under development for the Refuge promises to raise the interpretive bar on national wildlife refuges by delivering the first-ever GPS and game-based learning experience to visitors. The Discover “Ding” App combines game play, GPS and social media to create a fun experience that encourages users to observe and analyze what they see, and better understand the Refuge’s wildlife conservation mission. “The Discover ‘Ding’ App will offer the public a fun new way to experience the refuge, further enhancing our effort to integrate new technology and social media into our interpretive programming,” said Paul Tritaik, manager of  “Ding” Darling NWR.
“A collaboration among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Ding” Darling refuge, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) and app developer, Discover Nature Apps (DNA), the Discover “Ding” App is designed to adapt to the public’s expanding reliance on smart devices by creating a positive interactive experience that encourages smart phone users to immerse themselves into their natural surroundings.
“The Discover “Ding” App helps to fulfill a key recommendation of the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Conserving the Future strategic vision, which recommends developing “integrated mechanisms for using web-based and other emerging technologies to store and share data, communicate within the System, and inspire and educate visitors and the public.” “We’re excited to be on the leading edge of what we believe will become a vital tool with which to engage refuge visitors,” said John McCabe, president of DDWS. As the refuge’s volunteer friends group, the society has been instrumental over the years in helping to underwrite innovative visitor outreach strategies and has played a leading role in promoting development of the Discover “Ding” App.
““Smart phones have become central to the lives of a vast majority of Americans – it’s how they learn, play games, and interact with others,” said Discover Nature Apps’ co-founder Sam Serebin. “It’s only natural that we leverage that remarkable functionality to offer an unparalleled interpretive experience at our national wildlife refuges and other public lands,” said Evan Hirsche, DNA’s other co-Founder.
“The Discover “Ding” App will be launched in the late spring of 2014, and will be the first of such for many to follow for national wildlife refuges and national parks throughout the country.”

Update on Flood Insurance Legislation

FLRealtors_newlogoLate yesterday, Florida REALTORS® leadership team got a quick email update from John Sebree, Senior VP of Public Policy, on the progress of flood insurance legislation.  His email said “The US Senate has just passed the Menendez-Isakson bill that would delay rate increases for four years.  The final tally was 67 to 32.  The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives where is it unknown when a vote will take place. Both of our US Senators (in Florida) voted for passage of this bill.”
John’s email also referred to the latest briefing from NAR (National Association of REALTORS® at This article is definitely worth the read.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity January 24-31

5 new listings: Donax Village #9 1/1 $289.9K, Sundial #C301 1/1 $350K, Sundial #H103 2/2 $460K, Compass Point #133 2/2 $1.185M, Sandals #D 4/3 $2.25M.
6 price changes: Kimball Lodge #263 1/1.5 now $374K, Mariner Pointe #732 2/2 now $384.9K, Sundial #I304 1/1 now $389K, Mariner Pointe #1052 2/2 now $435K, Shell Island Beach Club #7A 2/2 now $668.5K, West Shore #3 3/3 now $1.795M.
3 new sales: Sundial #C308 1/1 listed for $339K, Blind Pass #E102 2/2 listed for $395K, Sunset South #14A 2/2 listed for $729K.
1 closed sale: Pointe Santo #C4 1/1 $430K. 
4 new listings: 1960 Roseate Ln 3/2 $449K (our listing), 1555 Bunting Ln 2/2 $449K, 1344 Tahiti Dr 2/1 $479.9K, 6019 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3 $1.595M.
3 price changes: 512 Periwinkle Way 3/3 now $950K, 1001 Kings Crown Dr 3/2.5 now $975K, 4622 Rue Belle Mer 4/2 now $819K.
7 new sales: 972 Fitzhugh St 3/2 listed for $379K, 1809 Bowman’s Beach Rd 3/2 listed for $475K, 1297 Par View Dr 3/2 listed for $769.5M, 1013 Lindgren Blvd 4/3 listed for $799K, 2507 Blind Pass Ct 3/3 listed for $1.049M, 988 Whelk Dr 3/2.5 listed for $1.095M, 1480 Angel Dr 3/3 listed for $1.499M.
8 closed sales: 5111 SanCap Rd 3/2 $249K, 724 Rabbit Rd 2/1 $430K, 4570 Bowen Bayou Rd 2/2 $550K, 2450 Wulfert Rd 3/3 $625K, 562 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $685K, 5742 Pine Tree Dr 4/2 $703K, 6123 Starling Way 3/2.5 $805K, 340 Cowry Ct 5/3.5 $1.039M.
1 new listing: 9066 Mockingbird Dr $410K.
3 price changes: 223 Robinwood Cir now $195K, 761 Donax St now $219K, 690 Birdie View Pt now $384K.
3 new sales: 3351 Saint Kilda Rd listed for $349.555K, 990 Beach Rd listed for $549K, 4318 West Gulf Dr listed for $749K.
No closed sales.
2 new listings: Bayside Villas #5136 1/2 $295K, Ventura Captiva #5B 3/3.5 $1.095M.
No price changes, new or closed sales.
2 new listings: 15127 Captiva Dr 8/8 multi-family $1.695M, 16861 Captiva Dr 5/5.5 $2.149M.
No price changes.
1 new sale: 15017 Binder Dr 3/3.5 listed for $3.899M.
1 closed sale: 1133 Longifolia Ct 3/3 $3.478.5M.
Nothing to report.
This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its 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.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

May your weekend be wonderful – wherever you are… Happy Friday, from SanibelSusan

2-Sale Double-Dip Week Plus a New Great Listing for SanibelSusan

IMG_1732We had a flurry of activity at SanibelSusan Realty this week. There was no Realtor Caravan meeting yesterday, but I (Susan) had two unexpected sales (both my listings – love those) – one by a past client and the other a new customer who called from reading my Friday blog. How about that!

Dunes logoYesterday, we received a terrific new listing in The Dunes. A photo taken from the great room of this house at 1311 Sand Castle Road is shown above. It has peaceful lake views perfect for wildlife watching.

With good feedback from other listings that were shown this week too, our fingers are crossed on a couple of those! Maybe “season” is starting early!? That sure would be nice!

Sancapbank logoSpecial shout-outs to Dan Cronin, Assistant Vice President and Loan Officer, with the Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank and Ron Dehler, Chief Inspector, with Horizon Inspection Service, Inc. for their expert service this week too!Ron Dehler448_FJ_Ron_house

Great to refer business to folks who respond, professionally and quickly!

Mid-September on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Sunset-croppedThe peak day of hurricane season was Tuesday, so hopefully Southwest Florida will wind down through the next two months with less rain and no storms. Though it has been one of the wettest summers in recent history, there has been wonderful weather the last few days. The typical afternoon/evening showers have not made it to the island, though there has been some pretty serious flooding in some areas off-island.

It also was reported on the news that the water releases from Lake Okeechobee will be reduced 60% beginning today because the water level in the lake is down to a more reasonable level. There have been a few inquiries about the water, but mostly locals are fielding visitor questions about what is open and what’s not. With schools back in session, September is usually the islands’ quietest month. Ding Darling Drive remains closed until October 1. The Sanibel Movie Theater is closed all month and many restaurants and shops continue to close for fix-ups and vacations.

Here are a couple of wind insurance news items followed by this week’s action in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Florida Approves Citizens Property Insurance Hikes

Citizens_logoSometimes these news items are not much fun to post. Earlier this week the “Associated Press” posted the following article from Tallahassee:

“Florida customers of the state’s largest property insurance company – including many homeowners who live near the coast – will be paying more in the coming year. State regulators on Monday announced that they had approved an overall statewide rate hike of 6.3% for customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The hike means that the state-created Citizens – which has 1.22 million policyholders – will have raised its rates for four straight years.

“The Office of Insurance Regulation’s hike is slightly smaller than what Citizens officials had requested. The increases would take effect in January and February 2014.

“But the range of hikes varies depending on where homeowners live and what type of policy they have with the insurer. Many policyholders in South Florida as well as coastal counties such as Sarasota, Escambia and Volusia may see a 10% jump in their insurance bills while the rate change will be lower for those who live further inland.

“Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens, maintained that exposure to hurricanes and sinkholes were the “major drivers” behind the need for the rate hikes this year. In a statement, Gilway said he was pleased that regulators “agreed with our overall approach.”

“Citizens would have likely asked for larger increases next year – but state law does not allow Citizens to raise rates on most coverage more than 10% a year. That cap does not apply to sinkhole coverage.

“The final order issued by regulators allows sinkhole rates to go up by 20% in Hernando and Pasco counties and 50% in Hillsborough County.

“Citizens has the power to place a surcharge, also called a “hurricane tax,” on its own policies and on the policies of most insurance policies if it can’t cover its losses following a major storm. That has prompted a push by Gov. Rick Scott and others to force Citizens to improve its finances. Citizens has billions of dollars in surplus now, but a series of a storms, or back-to-back years with major hurricanes, could wipe out the surplus. “The agency’s action will allow Citizens to continue providing quality service to our 1.2 million policyholders while reducing the risk of assessments on all Floridians,” Gilway said in his statement.

Citizens Insures Thousands of Out-of-State Owners

FLRealtors_newlogoContinuing with more news about Citizens, I read this article on FloridaRealtors this morning. It was sourced to “The Miami Herald” yesterday.

“When Citizens Property Insurance sends out its monthly customer bills, only 31% of them go to the same house that is insured. The rest go to other mailboxes in Florida – and around the globe, according to data analyzed by the American Consumer Institute of Citizen Research. More than 19,000 bills go to people who live in Canada, nearly 27,000 go to New Yorkers, almost 12,000 go to folks in New Jersey and hundreds more go to England, Germany and France. From Singapore and China, to South Africa and Luxembourg, Florida’s state-run insurance company is providing subsidized insurance coverage to 22,775 property owners who reside abroad. Another 176,465 policies go to homeowners with primary addresses in other states, the study found.

“At least 1 million of the nearly 1.3 million monthly bills for homeowners policies stay in Florida, but that includes an estimated 500,000 policies that go to addresses different from the property that is insured. As Florida grapples with how to lower the cost of homeowners insurance along its hurricane alley, the out-of-state subsidies are a luxury it cannot afford, said Steve Pociask, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that reviewed Citizens’ billing lists. “It all comes down to affordability,” he said. “People who live here and have their primary homes insured here are teachers, police, service workers and they are being stung by higher prices, while 27,000 people who have their bills sent to New York are getting subsidized insurance. Why do we want to subsidize these folks?”

“The inequities are enough to prompt Sen. David Simmons, the chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to draft legislation to require that out-of-state policyholders whose second homes or vacation are insured by Citizens no longer receive subsidized rates. “It is a real issue,” said Simmons, R-Maitland. “We thoroughly investigated it. The people who have the wind-only policies in the coastal accounts pay comparatively less than people who have personal accounts who are paying close to actuarially sound rates. It’s grossly unfair.”

“Pociask’s findings have also prompted a coalition of business and environmental groups this week to call for legislation to ban property owners whose primary residence is out of state from qualifying for Citizens insurance, which are offered at below-market rates. “It is bad public policy to continue to allow public subsidies for wealthy, out-of-state homeowners, including coastal homeowners who should be paying a fair price to live in a vulnerable area,” said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation and a member the Stronger Safer Florida Coalition, whose goal is to reduce the risk of hurricane losses in the wake of a major storm.

“The study, produced independently by Pociask using data supplied by Citizens, does not distinguish between policyholders who own or rent their property to full-time residents in Florida but receive their bills out of state, and those who live in Florida only part of the year. It’s a controversial suggestion in a state where steady improvements in the real estate market are being driven in part by international buyers.

“For example, in Sunny Isles Beach, development is under way for eight luxury condominiums, most of which are being marketed to foreign and out-of-state investors. Mayor Norman Edelcup predicts the city’s property tax base will double in the next five years because of it. But, he said, access to property insurance is key. “If Citizens were to deny insurance coverage to non-resident owners – in effect creating second class citizens – I would be totally against it,” he said. If those property owners are denied Citizens coverage, and can’t obtain insurance from an alternative carrier, “that would immediately cut those buyers out of the market and that would have a dramatic effect on us,” he said.

“Legislators tried to impose a surcharge on non-homesteaded property once before, in 2006. But the measure, which was adopted by legislators as part of a sweeping insurance reform bill, was repealed the next year in the wake of spiraling insurance costs at the state-run carrier. Under the current system, anyone who obtains a Citizens policy faces the risk of being charged additional assessments if the state runs out of money to cover claims in a massive storm. Floridians who don’t carry Citizens coverage would also face fees to bail out the state carrier, leading some to question the fairness of giving out-of-state residents subsidies if they escape the added costs. “We should not be subsidizing insurance – period – because it distorts risk and it distorts the market,” said Christian Camara, Florida state director of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank. “But we especially should not be subsidizing folks who do not live in Florida and would not be subject to the assessments in a worst-case scenario.”

“Efforts to shrink Citizens and reduce the potential size of those assessments was the focus of a major property reform bill passed last session. Under the plan, Citizens established a clearinghouse to encourage private insurers to take over Citizens plans, limited the maximum Citizens policy from $2 million to $1 million and eliminated subsidizes for new construction in environmentally-sensitive coastal areas.

“But Pociask, who said his organization receives no funding from Florida entities, warns that because of the large number of out-of-state policyholders, the reforms may not do enough to ease the financial burden on Florida residents if a massive storm were to hit. “The whole idea of having that investment from other countries is really good for the state, but, the question is, should somebody else be on the hook for paying for their insurance?” he asked.

“Simmons said he is prepared to find the answer with legislation next session. “Our plan is to address the inherent inequities that exist without denying anybody access to Citizens,” he said. “But we want to make sure the existing Citizens policyholder are not subsidizing other policyholders who are out of state.””
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity from Sep 6-13


3 new listings: Beach Road Villa #103 2/2 $349.5K, Sanibel Moorings #1622 2/2 $439K, Sanibel Arms West #M4 2/2 $450K.
2 price changes: Blind Pass #E206 2/2.5 now $479K, Pointe Santo #B25 2/2 now $749K.
4 new sales: Duggers Tropical Cottages #2 1/1 listed for $249K, Mariner Pointe #1042 2/2 listed for $424K (our listing & sale) (picture of that view above), Sanibel Arms #D1 2/2 listed for $450K, Sunset South #3B 2/2 listed for $595K.
1 closed sale: Sanibel Siesta #210 2/2 $414.5K.
4 new listings: 1039 Beach Rd 2/2 $340.5K; 579 Rabbit Rd 3/3.5 $579,555; 1311 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $749.9K (our listing); 600 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2.5 $1.195M.
2 price changes: 1809 Bowmans Beach Rd 3/2 now $499K, 1342 Junonia St 3/3 now $629K.
4 new sales: 659 Donax St 2/2 listed for $449K (our listing & sale),  470 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 listed for $495K, 4585 Bowen Bayou Rd 4/4 listed for $645K, 200 Robinwood Cir 3/3.5 listed for $1.268M.
3 closed sales: 1520 Centre St 2/2 $319K, 1941 Roseate Ln 3/2 $420K, 1066 Bailey Rd 3/3 $721K (short sale).
No new listings.
1 price change: 4954 Joewood Dr now $399K.
1 new sale: 5439 Osprey Ct listed for $379K.
No closed sales.
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5134 1/2 $257K.
1 new listing: 16249 Captiva Dr 3/3 $2.995M.
1 price change: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 now $1.449M.
No new or closed sales.
Nothing to report.

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its 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.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.


Here’s to sunny weekend weather…on the islands & beyond…

It’s Summertime & The Living’s Easy…on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Sanibel River Estates deeded beach access

It is the end of another pretty quiet week on the islands. We had a few listings shown this week and I was out showing property too. It couldn’t be a better time to look – easy access, great prices, and low interest rates for those looking for financing.

Calls to Action

On Tues, I attended a presentation at our local Association of Realtors® office by our Realtor® state and national political representatives. It was interesting to hear how slow the wheels of motion are moving in both Tallahassee and Washington on the important issues that are affecting the real estate market both locally and throughout the country. I also answered “calls to action” this week on continuing the National Flood Insurance Program and FHA loan limits. Please keep your state representatives aware of your feelings on these important issues too.

Last summer I became Transnational Referral Certified (TRC) and am one of only two island agents to hold that designation. The designation is sponsored by the International Corsortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA) which is a global referral network which recently expanded from 41 to 121 countries, including the United States. ICREA is a group of the world’s leading real estate associations and sets standards for international real estate practice and facilitates worldwide real estate transactions through its website, The website is being revised and recently was posted in new Beta version. Listings will only be entered as Realtors® pay to subscribe. SanibelSusan’s listings will be among the first! As the global version of the national website, is an excellent source of prospective buyers, particularly those looking to Florida for investment. Over the course of the summer as our listings get posted, I will be updating the listing information to include multiple photos and descriptions more in keeping with international buyers. When they are fully up and running, it will be fun to search for property and then have it translated into one of the many languages that will be offered. Here’s hoping this endeavor brings us more international buyers. We have done a fair amount of business with them already this year and look forward to more.

NAR Home Ownership Matters

Our National Association of Realtors® bus promoting home ownership is back on the road this weekend with July stops scheduled in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Previous stops covered most of the western and mid-western states, including at our Realtor® headquarters in Chicago.



What Does It Really Mean When You Hear That Foreclosure Activity Is Down? 

An Associated Press article posted yesterday said that “the number of homes taken back by lenders in the first half of this year fell 30% compared with the same 2010 period, the result of delays in foreclosure processing that threatens to stall a U.S. housing recovery…. The decline reflects lenders taking longer to move against homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. The banks are working through foreclosure documentation problems that first surfaced last fall and an ensuing logjam in some state courts. Lenders also have put off on taking action against delinquent borrowers as U.S. home sales have slowed this year. As the processing delays mount, however, so has the backlog of potential foreclosures – homes that otherwise would have been repossessed by lenders this year. RealtyTrac estimates that 1 million foreclosure-related notices that should have been filed by banks this year will be pushed to next year….The delayed filings buy more time for many borrowers behind in payments to remain in their homes, perhaps giving them time to catch up or simply to stall their inevitable eviction. But it also means any eventual foreclosures will happen next year, extending the shadow of distressed properties that hovers over the market.
““The best-case scenario is we don’t get back to normal levels of foreclosure activity until 2015, which means the housing market recovery gets delayed by at least a year,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “And given delays in the time it’s taking lenders to move a home from default to foreclosure and then sell the property, the housing turnaround could conceivably be pushed out to as late as 2016”, Sharga said. “It could be the new reality is we’re going to have to accept the fact that home prices in most markets aren’t going to budge much for the next several years while this overhang gradually, painfully makes its way into the market and gets purchased,” he said.
“In all, some 1.2 million U.S. homes received a foreclosure-related notice in the first six months of this year, RealtyTrac said…Put another way, one in every 111 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing between January and June. Foreclosures typically sell at a discount to other types of homes, weighing down home values. As a result, housing experts say U.S. home prices are unlikely to recover until the glut of foreclosed homes on the market is cleared out. Lenders have been careful not to unload all of their foreclosures on the market at once, and have financial incentives to continue doing so. But the prospect of more foreclosures hitting the market for years to come makes it difficult to predict when home values will stabilize. And that keeps many would-be homebuyers on the sidelines. Between April and June, it took an average of 318 days for a home to go from the first stage of foreclosure to the point where it was sold at auction or taken back by the lender, RealtyTrac said….The foreclosure process took longest to play out in New York at an average of 966 days, or 2.6 years, during the second quarter. New Jersey was second-slowest at an average of 944 days, RealtyTrac said. Homes were on a relative foreclosure fast-track in Texas, taking an average of 92 days to go through the process, the fastest turnaround time in the nation. Despite slowdown in foreclosure activity, several states continue to have outsized foreclosure rates. Nevada continued to lead the nation, with one in every 21 households receiving a foreclosure notice in the first half of this year. Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rate in the first half of this year are Arizona, California, Utah, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Florida, Colorado and Illinois.”

What’s Happening With Citizens Property Insurance Corp?

A Tallahassee posting yesterday by News Service of Florida said: “Admonishing lawmakers for making a shaky insurance pool even more precarious, the chairman of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. on Wed said the insurer should be allowed to sell off a large chunk of its business to private interests. Citizens Chairman James Malone says the move would reduce exposure and allow it to continue offering coverage to the state’s riskiest property. The change would probably raise rates dramatically for hundreds of thousands of policyholders, but Malone says it must be done because the insurer is expected to have 1.4 million policies under its umbrella before the end of next week. Of those 1.4 million Citizens policies, up to 900,000 are likely uninsurable in the private market because they cover older homes, mobile homes and residences along the coast. Malone estimated that the remaining policies could be marketed to some private entity because they involve billions of dollars in assets and a widely dispersed premium base. He envisioned a return to Citizens’ roots – a true insurer of last resort. “That has a value someplace in this open market,” Malone said. “The state of Florida needs money and (some Citizens policies) could be turned into an asset that had a value that people were willing to purchase in the private sector.” Created as the insurer only for those who couldn’t get policies from private companies, Citizens has gone beyond that role to become the largest property insurer in the state. The insurer continues to charge rates that are actuarially too low, many say. Coupled with carrier insolvencies and private market decisions to reduce books of business, Citizens adds about 1,000 policyholders every day. Because taxpayers back the company, critics say the addition of so many policies leaves the state a major hurricane away from financial fiasco. Florida officials have been trying to depopulate Citizens for years. With premium rates held artificially low by lawmakers, however, the gap between Citizens’ insurance rates and private insurance rates continues to widen. So far, lawmakers have tried to provide financial incentives for private insurers to take Citizens policyholders from the pool.”

Sanibel & Captiva MLS Activity July 8-15

1 new listing: Tennisplace #D23 1/1 $175K (short sale).
4 price changes: Sundial #B301 1/1 now $315K, Sundial #C303 2/2 now $499K, Pelicans Roost #302 2/2 now $830K, Wedgewood #305 3/3.5 now $1.475M.
1 new sale: Sundial #G207 1/1 listed for $245K (short sale).
6 closed sales: Spanish Cay #C1 2/2 $332K (our buyer), Heron at The Sanctuary #1B 2/3.5 $500K, Sandy Bend #2 2/2 $535K, Nutmeg Village #206 2/2 $540K, Sundial #E104 2/2 $686K (foreclosure), Signal Inn #13 4/3 $800K.
2 new listings: 954 Donax St 3/3 $425K, 909 Snowberry Ln 3/3 $2.15M.
4 price changes: 9248 Belding Dr 3/2 now $269K, 317 Palm Lake Dr 3/3 now $645K, 970 Victoria Way 3/3 now $995K, 1052 Whisperwood Way 3/3 now $1.495M.
No new sales.
5 closed sales: 535 Piedmont Rd 3/2 $305K, 1133 Schooner Pl 5/2 duplex $350K, 1528 Angel Dr 3/2 $500K, 1162 Kittiwake Cir 3/3.5 $1.2M, 4443 Waters Edge Ln 3/2.5 $2.1M.
No new listings.
1 price change: 2418 Blue Crab Ct now $164.9K.
No new or closed sales.
No new listings.
1 price change: Beach Homes #15 4/3 now $1.995M.
1 new sale: Sunset Captiva #202 2/2 listed for $789K.
No closed sales.
1 new listing:  15009 Binder Dr 4/5.5 $4.495M.
1 price change:  17061 Captiva Dr 4/3.5 now $1,799,999.
No new or closed sales.
Nothing to report

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its 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.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.