Sanibel Beach Improvement & Pre-Season Scoop


SanibelSusan here reporting another quiet Friday on sunny Sanibel, with the red tide situation at the beaches improving and the islands settling into a more typical pre-season pattern.

Upper Deck

Roof-top view today at our new listing at Pointe Santo C43

Social media is encouraging the public to support local establishments, but it has been disheartening to hear of hotels, shops, and restaurants with little or no business. During my travels this week, I heard of zero occupancy at one West Gulf Drive hotel. The Island Store on Captiva is now closed through September and even Periwinkle Way traffic is limited. From fishing guides, to stores, to real estate, it all has been affected.

I ran into Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra this afternoon and she said that that though beach and waterway clean-ups continue, the need is diminishing, and she may soon be ending her daily reports. (Kudos to her, the Mayor, City Councilors, and the many employees and contractors that have worked so hard and proactively to mitigate the fall-out from the recent area water issues.)

The Sanibel and Captiva real estate sales activity since last Friday follows a couple of news items below.

Florida Realtors® 102nd Convention & 2018 Business Meetings

787F5943-78D3-4D18-83D4-94D153CE1F38The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® had good member participation last week at the state convention, tradeshow, educational sessions, and business meetings. From newbies to old-timers, many remarked that the educational sessions and speakers were the best yet.

Florida Realtors logoOne of my favorite appointments is to serve on the state Professional Development Committee. I have participated many times on their audition panel which evaluates prospective Florida Realtors® instructors looking to become new faculty members or to add additional state/nationally-approved classes to their curriculum. The panels hear a full day of oral presentations at both the January Mid-Winter Business Meetings and these meetings in August.

Each auditionee goes through a pre-screening process (which we handle through evaluations, and phone interviews during the year) and then is assigned to make a 45-minute presentation in front of a panel. Panelists are made up of current faculty members, association education directors, as well as brokers, agents, trainers and leaders from associations across the state. This time, with a record number of applicants (nearly 50), we had 40 panelists divided between five panel rooms running simultaneously all day.

2018 Pro dev CommitteePanel recommendations go forward to the Faculty Subcommittee and then the Professional Development Committee for approval. Congratulations to the 14 new faculty members and the 14 existing faculty members who were approved to add courses to the list of those they are authorized to teach. These classes cover the gamut from those required of new agents, to continuing education, to property management, construction, marketing, contracts, and the classes needed to become a graduate of the Realtor® Institute. Classes continually are added and updated both at the state and national level.

SanibelSusan also serves on the 2018 Program Development Subcommittee, Forms Content Committee (where we make recommendations to the state contracts), Legislative Think Tank, and Resort & Second-Home Specialist Breakout Group. Good progress was made at all the meetings. I got to serve as an education ambassador at several of the education sessions too – a good way for an old dog to pick up a few new tricks!

2018 clean waterAt the meetings, there was emphasis on water quality, rental restrictions, and flood insurance (which thankfully passed the Senate last week).

That National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) legislation had passed the House earlier and allows NFIP to continue renewing or issuing new flood insurance policies for four more months. It does not change NFIP operations, but simply extends the current guidelines to give Congress more time to work on a comprehensive package that deals with the complex issues of affordability with a program that is deeply in debt. Although the program is now extended through November 30, the NFIP is in desperate need of reforms that will make the program solvent and sustainable for the long term. The National Association of Realtors® continues to fight for these reforms.

Please Help Pass Amendment 2 – Vote “Yes”

amendment 2 logoAn important property tax amendment is on the ballot this November that is good for everyone in Florida. The 10% cap on non-homestead property taxes will expire in January unless voters pass Amendment 2. This cap helps sustain Florida’s communities by preventing big tax spikes for businesses and property owners who claim their primary residence elsewhere. Here are some highlights.

  • What is Amendment 2? It makes permanent the existing 10% cap on annual assessment increases for any non-homesteaded property. This affects all rental residential property, all commercial property, all undeveloped land, and residential property not claimed as a primary residence. The 10% cap (which currently expires in January 2019) is the only mechanism today that is protecting 5.6 million Florida properties from rapid tax assessment increases.
  • Amendment 2 requires 60% of the vote to pass. Please vote “yes” (or don’t vote at all).
  • If Amendment 2 fails, 2.2 million properties face an immediate tax increase in 2019 of up to $700 million (This is not money that the jurisdictions already are receiving from other sources. This is new money that will go to them and likely be used to create new or expand existing government programs. It will be difficult to stop or later reverse if this happens.)
  • If Amendment 2 fails, it will have widespread negative impact on business owners, renters, shoppers, jobs, and Florida’s economy.
  • According to Florida TaxWatch (www.FloridaTaxWatch.org), without extending the 10% cap, non-homesteaded residential property could quickly increase as much as 151% while commercial property could jump 85%. These new taxes could exceed $1 Billion and will affect everybody in Florida.

Scientists Unsure Why Red Tide Exists, How to Fix Problem

Here’s an interesting twist on the subject of red tide. It was posted Monday on sarasota herald tribune logoFloridaRealtors® on line. Copyright © 2018 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla., Carlos R. Munoz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

“SARASOTA, Fla. – Aug. 14, 2018 – While U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan discussed an $8 million grant to combat red tide at Mote Marine Laboratory on Monday, a senior Mote scientist just down the hall questioned whether the toxic algae paralyzing Southwest Florida beaches actually might be an important part of the ecosystem.

“Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) sponsored the bipartisan legislation that was signed into law earlier this year. The funding was distributed to NOAA and will be dispersed to southern Florida researchers.

Mote scientists are expected to get a large chunk of the grant money, Buchanan said.

“The money will be used to research possible mitigation efforts, such as a field test of a newly developed method for destroying red tide using ozone, patented by Mote scientists. The device will be field tested in a Boca Grande canal this week. The patented technology was first used to clean water for sea turtles in a 25,000-gallon tank and has been scaled up to process at least 500,000 gallons of canal water.

“Is red tide necessary? Mote scientist Dr. Vincent Lovko, who works with Mote’s Phytoplankton Ecology program, says there isn’t enough research to determine what would happen if red tide was eradicated or suppressed from the Gulf. Researchers must consider three factors when dealing with an aquatic toxin: prevention, control and mitigation, according to Lovko.

“”The control (in Lake Okeechobee) is straightforward,” he said. “You reduce the nutrients, and you reduce those (blue-green) algae blooms.”

“The same can’t be said for the Gulf, where a Karenia brevis bloom currently stretches for 150 miles from Manatee County south to Collier County. Any mitigation system would have to treat 1.5 trillion gallons of water to be effective. “You might not even get it all if you do that,” said Lovko, who pointed out that Mote doesn’t have permission to treat the bloom. “There is no literature to suggest what the ecological function of red tide might be,” Lovko said.

“Single-cell red tide is a protist cell that takes three days to divide. It consumes organic and inorganic nutrients and has flagella that help it move around. The cell is animal-like in nature but photosynthesizes plants and other algae. “They can actually swim; they are capable of movement,” Lovko said. “They can move up and down through the water column (to the sea bed).”

“Similar to a forest fire? One hypothesis suggests that red tide’s destructive nature could be similar to the effects of a forest fire, which cleans out underbrush and is somewhat restorative to a forest ecosystem. But it’s difficult to see what the ecological function of the toxic algae might be.

“There is little information to determine where Karenia brevis ranks on the algal evolutionary scale. There are about 12 known nutrient sources for the harmful algae blooms, which vary based on their location along the southern Florida coastline.

“Even if science can identify a course of action that would destroy red tide, there are fears that the death of the organism could release toxins into the water and cause a large-scale marine animal die-off. A similar incident occurred in Chesapeake Bay, where a nuisance bloom was suppressed with copper sulfate. Toxins released by the dead algal bloom poisoned the water and killed fish.

“Lovko says there is only one way to find out what can be done to mitigate red tides effects – research. “Whether or not trying to control red tide would create a dead zone, probably not, that’s something that happens over a long period of time,” Lovko said. “It’s an interesting thought. All those things we have to consider when we’re messing with the ecosystem. We do it all the time. We cure diseases … We do a lot of things that are otherwise natural but are a bother to us or a danger to us. There’s no reason not to pursue it, but there has to be realistic expectations.””

Trees Now Block My Ocean View. What Can I Do?

Sun sentinelThis subject comes up here often, particularly when Florida vegetation grows like crazy during the summer rainy season in front of gulf-front condos. The below article was posted Monday on Florida Realtors® on line.

“FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Aug. 13, 2018 – Question: I own an oceanfront condo. When I bought it, I had an unobstructed view of the ocean. Palm trees are now causing a 90% view obstruction. Do I have any recourse? – Dorothy

palm tree.jpg“Answer: Questions about views are always complicated and involve many factors. The general rule is that no one is allowed to block your direct view. However, if it can be shown that the trees serve a useful purpose to the community or were pre-planned to grow in front of your unit, you may be stuck with them.

“To see if you have any recourse, you will need to review your condominium documents and the ordinances of your municipality. Many beachfront towns and cities have enacted rules protecting their residents’ ocean views. These palm trees may be a code violation best addressed by your city. If this is not the case where you live, check your condo documents since many oceanfront condominiums have rules regulating their landscaping and protecting their constituents’ views of the beach.

“Typically, view laws are designed to protect people whose property extends all the way to the high-water mark. Condominiums present a particular problem because while you own your unit, your entire community owns the land that reaches to the water. It may be further complicated because the unit owners below you in your building now have a better view than when the trees were shorter that they would want to protect.

“If it turns out that your local government will not be able to assist you, then your best bet would be to appeal to your condo board to come up with a solution that leaves everyone with a better view.

“About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

“Copyright © 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service sancap GO MLS logoActivity August 10-17, 2018

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Spanish Cay #F7 1/1 $269.9K, Lighthouse Point #211 2/2 $649K, Pointe Santo #C43 3/2 $1.295M (our listing, photos below).

3 price changes: Spanish Cay #A7 1/1 now $265K (our listing), Pointe Santo #C34 1/1 now $550K, Island Beach Club #210B 2/2 now $799K.

2 new sales: Breakers West #A4 2/2 listed at $534K, Sundial West #K105 2/2 listed at $897.5K.

5 closed sales: Tennisplace #A34 2/1 $314K, Sanibel Moorings #141 1/1 $415K, Sanibel Moorings #1611 2/2 $480K, Sanibel Siesta #306 2/2 $585K, Sundial N403 2/2 $812.5K.

HOMES

No new listings.

2 price changes: 998 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 now $597K, 784 Limpet Dr 4/3 now $1.875M.

1 new sale: 976 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex listed at $499K.

3 closed sales: 1555 Bunting Ln 2/2 $539.5K, 5430 Osprey Ct 3/3 $595K, 849 Birdie View Pt 4/4.5 $1.61M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 1026 Fish Crow Rd $439K.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: 1036 Bayview Dr $3.55M.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: Bayside Villas #5102 1/2 listed at $369K.

2 closed sales: Beach Villas #2414 2/2 $600K, Marina Villas #803 2/2 $715K.

HOMES

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 38 Sea Hibiscus Ct 3/2 listed at $1.049M.

1 closed sale: 16575 Captiva Dr 4/3.5 $2.45M.

LOTS

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.

Best wishes for a great weekend!weekend clip art

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Sanibel Island Scoop on July 27, 2018


It’s SanibelSusan reporting just another sunny Friday afternoon on Sanibel – also another quiet week in the world of island real estate sales.

Teammate Dave and I checked a few properties this afternoon which took us out to Sanibel’s west end with a stop in Santiva and another near The Green Flash on Captiva. Here are a couple of photos overlooking Roosevelt Channel.

Green Flash 07-27-18 2Green Flash 07-27-18 1

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Our local Association of Realtors® makes good use of summer downtime, which is when our members promote and support several charities and non-profits.

Meals of Hope Pix 2018

Our “Meals of Hope” food packing event on Tuesday raised $7,455 and had 80+ volunteers (including Association staff, Realtors®, affiliates, friends and families) working together to pack over 20,000 meals – in less than three hours. Those meals go to local food banks and pantries which are low on food this time of the year.

Yesterday at our Association’s July membership meeting, colleague Anita Colletti from Naples told the group about “Silent Angels” which is a quiet behind-the-scenes non-profit that began in Florida to help Realtor® families in time of emergency.

guardian1Next month, the Association again will be collecting new twin and crib sheets for “Bedz for Kidz”, a non-profit started in 2001 by Realtor® friend, Cynthia Shafer, who through the course of her advocacy with the local Guardian ad Litem Foundation, recognized the need for beds/bedding when vulnerable children are moved by Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit. Cynthia and her husband often spend their Saturdays delivering beds and bedding to these needy kids. Though their identification is never disclosed, it is humbling to hear her stories of how the kids’ eyes light up when they get their own “stuff”. The Shafers travel our 5-county area and have assembled and provided thousands of beds. I got a message from her yesterday, that they are off to provide another eleven tomorrow. Donations and more sheets, bedding, backpacks, and small suitcases are always welcome.

What’s Happening With The Water

Big “thank yous” again this week go to Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, Councilwoman Holly Smith, and City Director of Natural Resources James Evans who were in DC in back-to-back meetings with members of the Senate, Congress, and others.

07-24-18 Ruane Evans Holly Rooney

L to R: Mayor Ruane, Director Evans, Councilor Smith, & Congressman Rooney (pix from Congressman Rooney’s Facebook page)

 

Mayor Ruane also gave a presentation to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force about the conditions of Southwest Florida waterways. He asked committee members to maintain Lake “O” flows at or below 3,000 cfs for the remainder of the rainy season; accelerate critical CERP projects (the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, C-43 reservoir & Lake “O” Watershed project), and to use maximum operational flexibility to move additional water south. “We are at a critical state right now with regard to the health and safety of our coastal communities, the ecology of our estuaries, our quality of life, and our local economy,” he said.

Solutions to water quality problems are complicated, many, and some long-term. We all must continue to keep the pressure on. You can be sure the Realtors® on Sanibel and Captiva are, another fundraiser with proceeds to benefit water quality efforts at SCCF is scheduled next month.

Lee County Tax Appraiser Posts 2018 Property Values

LeePALogoIt usually is not until mid-August, that Lee County property owners receive the year’s TRIM notices (notices of proposed properties taxes) which are based on their new annual property valuation. The 2018 property values, however, already have been posted on the site. They are dated July 16, 2018.

If you are wondering about the change in a Lee County property value, go to www.leepa.org. Click on Database Search, then click on Property Data Search. Fill in either an owner’s name (last name first) or address, click search and up comes the data page for that parcel. Once you find the property, click on the blue link on the right called “Parcel Details”. Once on the property page, to the left of the photo is a heading called “Current Working Values”. Click on the little “colorful book” icon to the right of the words and up will come “Property Value History” showing by taxable year the assessed values for each year, including taxable values. If you want just the details on the 2018 value, further down on the data page is an expandable menu under “Values (2018 Preliminary)”. Click the plus sign and you will see the details of the 2018 assessment.

If a property owner disagrees with a value, the time to take that up with the county Tax Appraiser is just after the TRIM notice is received in August.

Upcoming Island Events & Closures

From tomorrow, Saturday July 28 to Sunday August 5 – Sanibel Recreation Closed – for annual maintenance projects including resurfacing of the gym floor, replacement of the pool heating and cooling system, and others.

Tuesday, July 31 – 1st Islander Wine Dinner Fundraiser – to benefit The Community House and at The Community House presented by Sanibel Catering Company (Bailey’s and Talbott Vineyards). Tickets at www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net or call 239-472-2155.

Friday, August 10 – Bag Day at Noah’s Ark Thrift Shop. This is their annual end-of-season sale. From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. shoppers can buy a bag for $4 and fill it with as much as they can. Any items that don’t fit in the bag are 80% off. Shoppers can buy as many bags as they want for $4 each. Proceeds go to more than 25 local, regional, and global charities and agencies. From August 10 to September 1, the Ark does not take donations. On October 2, Noah’s Ark reopens for business on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In November, the winter season full schedule resumes – open weekdays and the first Saturday of each month from 9: 30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service sancap GO MLS logoActivity July 20-27, 2018

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Sanibel Arms #A1 2/1 $535K, Island Beach Club #210B 2/2 $825K.

No price changes.

2 new sales: Tennisplace #A34 2/1.5 listed at $329.9K, Seawind #109 2/2.5 listed at $512.5K.

2 closed sales: Sandpiper Beach #506 2/2 $670K, Nutmeg Village #205 2/2 $705K.

HOMES

2 new listings: 2313 Wulfert Rd 4/3 $995K, 4787 Rue Helene 4/3 $997.5K.

4 price changes: 1325 Par View Dr 3/3 now $695K, 3017 Turtle Gait Ln 3/2 now $729K, 3941 Coquina Dr 3/2 now $899K, 2915 Wulfert Rd 5/6.5 now $3.295M.

3 new sales: 9028 Mockingbird Ln 4/3 listed at $799K, 500 Periwinkle Way 3/3 listed at $1.195M, 2029 Periwinkle Way 4/3 listed at $1.69M.

2 closed sales: 1066 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $620K, 223 Daniel Dr 4/3 $825K.

LOTS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Lot 27, Leisure Acres $35K.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Lands End Village #1629 2/2 $1.429M.

No price changes.

2 new sales: Tennis Villas #3129 1/1 listed at $325K, Beach Villas #2614 2/2 listed at $614K.

No closed sales.

HOMES

1 new listing: 11522 Andy Rosse Ln 5/5.5 $2,999,999.

1 price change: 55 Sandpiper Ct 3/2 now $999K.

1 new sale: 11541 Wightman Ln 3/3 listed at $2.05M.

No closed sales.

LOTS

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, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Almost Fathers Day 2018 on Sanibel


It’s Susan reporting just another beautiful Friday on sunny Sanibel Island. After a busy winter/spring, many colleagues are taking vacations – some stay-cations. Their timing couldn’t be better. It is really quiet! Probably contributing to that is all the recent press about the Lake “O” water releases which have resulted in tannin-colored water in the bay which is now wrapping around the lighthouse into the gulf.  Meanwhile, it’s still looking AOK on most of the gulf side.

I had lunch yesterday at West Wind Inn’s Normandie Seaside Cafe and ran into Kim from their Upper Pool Deck Bar. Wednesday, on Facebook, she posted her view from there (photo below). It’s a great spot for lunch or an evening pre-sunset libation. Music some nights too. Their food comes from the Normandie’s kitchen too. Both open to the public and secret gems favored by the Inn’s guests, locals, and maybe you too.

2018-06-13

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Following Sanibel Mayor Ruane’s call-to-action last Friday, demanding that these water releases stop – the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® created an easy way for concerned citizens and island lovers to respond. Using the below link and by just adding your contact info, emails on your behalf (with copy to you) will go to the powers-that-be at the Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, and State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection, with copy to the Governor. Everyone who is concerned, please do it. If you have ever enjoyed the islands or spent a penny here, this should be important to you. It takes only seconds to complete. Thank you! http://sanibelcaptivarealtors.org/cta/

sccf 14K checkAt our Thursday morning Realtor® Caravan Meeting, Association President Dustyn Corace presented a check for $14,000 to Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s (SCCF) Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel. The final tally is in with these monies raised last month at our end-of-season golf outing and auction. The funds are going to SCCF ear-marked for their use in improving local water quality.

What The Conservation Foundation Says

A message from SCCF received midweek has a good summary of what is happening with these water releases:

SCCF logo“It is premature to dump massive quantities of water to the estuaries at the very beginning of the rainy season when no water was being held by or discharged to agricultural areas to share the harm. Instead, agriculture on the east side of the lake and southwest of the lake have been allowed to backflow massive quantities of water into the lake instead of holding their own runoff. Quantities back flowed equal the amount that has been discharged to the estuaries that have also received too much rain. We ask water managers to identify these conditions and start requiring all landowners to manage storm water on their own land, not dump it into the lake, not usurp the entire capacity of publicly funded storm water treatment areas that harm public resources.

“Since the rain began on May 15 the Caloosahatchee estuary has been experiencing increasing levels of harmful flows. The first 2 weeks flows were watershed runoff from Hendry and Glades Counties, with no discharges from Lake Okeechobee. However, the lake discharges that started on June 1st nearly tripled the harmful high flows to the estuary… dumping dark fresh water and suddenly dropping salinities in the estuary all the way to the mouth of the river at Shell Point. The consequence of this sudden, drastic, and prolonged salinity drop has been a massive die off of estuarine clams and oysters at Iona just upstream of Shell Point and is fueling freshwater cyanobacteria, including Microcystis, that is visible beneath the water surface from Beautiful Island by I-75 to Iona Cove.

“This current event is the direct result of managing water selectively to allow agricultural landowners to dump their floodwater into Lake Okeechobee and into publicly funded storm water treatment areas, thus forcing discharges harmful to public resources.

“We need to express our strenuous objection to water managers and elected representatives because these harmful flows are the direct consequence of agricultural discharges that have resulted in harmful flows to the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie, without consideration of the flood consequences on these coastal ecosystems.”

NKY Music Legends Welcomes Danny Morgan

dany morgan logoAs a long-time fan of Sanibel musician Danny Morgan, it was great to read recent news about his latest honor. Here’s some scoop from www.Cincinnati.com on May 24, 2018:

“Northern Kentucky Music Legends (NKY) is an organization that recognizes area musicians, vocalists and music industry people who have made a name for themselves locally and nationally. Jerry Gifford, a musician who is still playing after 50 years with his band Strange Brew, originated the idea of honoring talented Northern Kentucky musicians. So, in 2013 he met with Charlie Coleman, Campbell County commissioner; Jon Long, a longtime musician; and John Mendell, a concert producer. The group contacted The Cincinnati Enquirer to put out a call for Northern Kentucky musicians who would qualify. Criteria include birth in Northern Kentucky or longtime residency, played music for 20 or more years and made a mark in the community…. This year marks the sixth Hall of Fame induction ceremony….the Hall of Fame inductees for 2018 include…:

► Danny Morgan, who played in popular bands before taking off to Nashville and forming The Apple Butter Band with local legend Mickey Foellger (… the now-retired Campbell County juvenile court judge), Joellen Morgan and ex-Bengal Mike Reid. They toured with the Beach Boys and other major acts. These days Morgan plays five nights a week in Sanibel Island, Florida. “Danny Morgan has a keen sense of artistry and not only finding, but nurturing great talent,” said Stan Hertzman, retired music business professional.”

Danny Morgan from Cincinnati paper

Those like me who enjoy the Sanibel music experience often refer to Danny Morgan as our local Jimmy Buffet. We follow his performances, play his CDs, and know the words to many of his songs like “Sanibel Sunset”, “Captiva Moon”, and one of my favs, “Running on the Beach”. In addition to performing at many local special events, weddings, and parties, you usually can catch Danny and often his band, plus guest musicians (including sightings of Livingston Taylor & Pittsburg Mike) at the following locations:

  • Margarita Mondays at Sundial Beach Resort from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday & Thursday Nights at Traders Gulf Coast Grill beginning at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday afternoons 1 to 4 p.m. at Casa Ybel Resort’s Coconuts poolside bar & grill

More about Danny and his offerings at www.DannyMorgan.com

Fun June Happenings at The Community House

If you haven’t yet been to Sanibel’s new Community House, you are missing out. Here are a couple of their events scheduled this month. Call 239-472-2155 or checkout their website at www.SanibelCommunityHouse.net for more info.

  • Adult Demonstration – Quick & Easy Meals using 5 Ingredients by Chef Jarret, June 15, at noon. Prepaid reservations needed.
  • Adult Farm-to-Table Hands-On Cooking Class by Chef Jarred, June 22, Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Produce a delicious meal with ingredients sourced locally. Prepaid reservations needed.
  • Community House Culinary Education CtrHoliday Hog Roast – “Smoke on the Islands” by Chef Jarret, June 30, Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. $15, ice cream sundae bar $5. Also, kids “All American Red, White, & Blue Dessert Content”. Entry forms at the Community House. Judging at 7 p.m. & awards given for best tasting, best presentation, and best theme. Bring a 2nd dessert for their auction to help raise money for the Culinary Education Center. Tickets available at The Community House or Bailey’s.

At SanibelSusan Realty

SanibelSusan Realty from Periwinkle Way

Summer is a good time to get caught up, reflect, plan, and project. Our weekly report of the activity of the action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows my musings below.

Below is some food-for-thought for would-be sellers who are thinking of listing their island real estate. Some of these tips apply to selling anywhere.

How’s The Sanibel/Captiva Real Estate Market? The housing bubble before the recession drove prices up on the islands. Back in that heyday of 2006, the average Sanibel condo sold for close to $900K and the average Sanibel home over $1.1M. On Captiva, the average condo was more than $1.3M and average home over $2.3M. Then, prices took a dive.

housing-bubble-1872350_960_720It has been nearly ten years since the recession and often I am asked if island real estate has recovered. That answer is complicated. Sellers on the islands are faced with more challenges than those in a traditional real estate environment.

Plus, it’s a small island with a big variety of property types and a wide span in price. Depending on the property, it sometimes takes months or years for a property to sell. Other properties, if the demand is right, could sell in hours.

How do you know where a property fits in? That answer is complicated too. First, there are fewer buyers for real estate in resort or 2nd home-type locations. According to the National Association of Realtors® (remember I teach the Resort & 2nd Home Market class to our local Realtors®), these sales account for fewer than one-fifth of all the home/condo sales each year.

These buyers, if they are financing, typically have to put down way more money than those buying a primary home. The lender criteria for buying a property like that is tougher too.

In this area of Florida, the selling season also is somewhat limited because the most prospective buyers are in town from December through April which also can be when properties are occupied or rented. With Sanibel homes having a monthly rental minimum, that can mean showings only on the 1st of the month, or with condos renting weekly, it can mean showings only on Saturdays between late morning and early afternoon when a property is being cleaned and often also when the buyers are coming/going.

With more baby boomers now retired and staying longer, many rentals – including those for sale – may be booked for extended periods, making showings in season even more unlikely. It also bears mentioning that many vacationing would-be-buyers only want to earmark a short time to look at real estate, preferably a day when the sun isn’t out or the weather is less than ideal. They want to buy, they just want to enjoy their vacation too (which is exactly why we encourage buyers to come back this time of the year when it’s easier to view property and they can concentrate on that task). These buyers also may not be in a hurry. They may be willing to wait until their next vacation or even next year, particularly if they don’t find a property that’s “just right” for them.

So, if there is no getting around some of these challenges, what can a seller do to get their island property sold sooner and at a higher price? Here some tips:

house-painter-clipart-paintersBe Ready for The Best First Impression – First impressions are huge, whether the first one is the driveway, the walkway, the entry, the front door, or the foyer. Be sure it is all sparkling clean and trimmed. Pressure washing the exterior and walkways are especially important here where heat and mildew can take a toll. A fresh coat of paint on a front door is an easy fix too. Also, nix and replace any nasty door hardware.

Invest in Upgrades – Think about when you purchased. Were you ready to do your own improvements or did you prefer a property that was move-in-ready? Most island buyers want the latter, so it pays to make a property so perfect that the new owner only needs to bring their suitcase. Nobody wants old and ugly.

If you can afford to do updating before a property goes on the market, do it. That updating could be as easy as going through every drawer and closet, organizing and tossing out old furnishings, or adding fresh paint or replacing old worn carpet. The trick is to make the property look bigger, cleaner, and brighter.cleaning-cloud-vector-illustration_k7551435

If you go as far as renovating kitchen and baths or even in minor redecorating and sprucing up, remember this is an island in Florida where most end-users are here in the winter. Pick a style that’s light bright and happy. That’s what most buyers want. They may say that they don’t need move-in-ready and island décor, but they really do. They sometimes figure that out as they proceed through the viewing process, after seeing the competition.

Four-Point-Inspection-Think About Replacing Big Ticket Items That Could Become Problematic – I know I’ve mentioned it before, but as a reminder, to get insurance today on a property that is over 20 years old, most insurance providers require a 4-point inspection. Insurance companies increasingly have become reluctant to issue policies on older homes. Their concern is that there may be conditions in an older property that could become a liability to them. For example, a home with a roof near the end of its service life may fail while under the policy and the homeowner may file a claim for damage to the home or its contents. A 4-point inspection describes the condition and age of the following four elements:

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, & air conditioning)
  • Electrical wiring & panels
  • Plumbing, connections, & fittings
  • Roof

These may be expensive items and systems to repair or replace before selling, but rest-assured if a property has copper pipes on Sanibel, it will be flagged by a home inspector. (Sanibel’s water, over time can cause pinhole leaks in copper piping.) Federal Pacific electrical panels (which some insurance companies will not insure) are flagged here too. Even with “as is” contracts where seller repairs are not required and most buyers expect a number of minor defects, when a big ticket item comes up, the buyer often asks for a consideration in the form of either a price reduction or a contribution toward the needed repair or replacement.

home-inspection1.jpgGet A Home Inspection & Make Repairs Before Listing – Doing this might preclude the problems mentioned above. Most buyers will overestimate updating and repair costs. So, if they come to look at a property that needs new piping or a new electrical box, they will likely do one of two things. They will come up with their own inaccurate too-high off-the-cuff estimate which they then will deduct from their offer price. Or even worse, they will decide that it is too much money or more than they want to deal with. They then will move on to another property that doesn’t have problems.

realtor logoListen to Professionals – Realtors® are in the business of looking at real estate with a critical eye. They are not emotionally invested in a property like the owner. We try to be sensitive to an owner’s feelings and their decorating style, but they know the inventory and competition, and what is selling. Be prepared to tell your Realtor® the special things you like about your property but also be ready to listen to what they say may need to be done to bring you top dollar. As the island real estate market evolves through the calendar year, understand that your property may be one that appeals most to a winter buyer, so if it doesn’t sell in one “season”, it may take until the next.

Don’t discount summer buyers though. When winter inventory is low, serious buyers return in the summer. Summer also brings more families looking for year-‘round homes, vacationers looking for income-producing short-term rental condos, and Europeans looking for privacy and a good place to invest.

In every real estate market, price and appearance matter. In a seasonal area, like here, those factors can mean the difference between selling quickly or lingering for months. Regardless of the time of the year, it is usually two things that keep properties from selling. Either they are over-priced or they have not been updated and well maintained.

Gone are the days when buyers come into a real estate office with a list of their requirements and a Realtor® tells them what is available that meets their needs. Today’s buyers (close to 95%) do their island property searches online. If a property isn’t perfectly priced and doesn’t look great, it is not going to sell, because these consumers search in only their price range and buy through the pictures they see on the internet. Not only are professional photographs needed, but the property needs to be attractive. Almost every island Realtor® will tell you that they have sold property sight-unseen. I have sold many that way and this year even sold one that I had not seen (though I did look before it closed).

7832303--illustration-of-a-man-being-dragged-under-water-by-his-house-mortgage-which-is-chained-to-his-anke-Does It Make Sense To Take A Loss – Owners who bought at the peak or during the multi-year run-up before it, most likely are dealing with properties that are not worth what they paid. Now as they go to sell, they need to pay for improvements or repairs to get top-dollar, plus they will pay a real estate commission and other closing costs. They are not happy about it. They are losing money, even if they break even on the sales price. During the real estate boom, people wanted to be part of the group that flocked to own a vacation or 2nd home. That is not necessarily the case now. Prices are going up and the market is improving, but not as fast as some want.

That can make it a tough decision for an owner who bought high. Those prospective sellers need to decide whether they want to keep the property for another few years and see if values continue to go up, or instead say they are ready to just get out and potentially take a loss.

Island properties often are bought with discretionary income, so unless a buyer is compelled to do it now, it can become a waiting game. Just as buying an island property can be a life-altering decision, so can selling one.

The SanibelSusan Team tries to make buying and selling real estate easy and stress-free, but as these paragraphs describe, it ain’t always easy.

sancap GO MLS logoSanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity June 8-15, 2018

Sanibel

CONDOS

No new listings.

4 price changes: Blind Pass #E207 2/2.5 now $399K, Seawind #109 2/2.4 now $512.5K, Nutmeg Village #103 2/2 now $795K, By-The-Sea #C102 2/2 now $1.149M.

5 new sales: Loggerhead Cay #314 2/2 listed at $569K, Loggerhead Cay #433 2/2 listed at $594.9K, Sanibel Inn #3522 2/2 listed at $699K, Loggerhead Cay #163 2/2 listed at $779K, Sundial West #E310 2/2 listed at $890K.

5 closed sales: Sundial West #G407 1/1 $435K, Sanibel Moorings #1631 2/2 $570K, Sandalfoot #3C1 2/2 $675K, Tarpon Beach #206 2/2 $780K, Gulfside Place #323 2/2 $1.25M.

HOMES

10 new listings: 976 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex $525K, 4648 Buck Key Rd 3/2 $550K, 1555 Bunting Ln 2/2 $569K, 746 Nerita St 3/2 $749K, 3017 Turtle Gait Ln 3/2 $749K, 632 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $750K, 5267 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 $834.5K, 438 Surf Sound Ct 3/2 $859K, 1304 Eagle Run Dr 3/3 $1.099M, 1433 Sanderling Cir 4/3 $1.16M.

11 price changes: 1717 Atlanta Plaza Dr 2/2 now $440K, 1940 Periwinkle Way 3/2 half-duplex now $459K, 5885 Pine Tree Dr 3/2 now $549K, 396 Lake Murex Blvd 3/2 now $624K, 1478 Albatross Rd 3/2 now $674.9K, 660 Oliva St 3/3 now $849K, 1656 Middle Gulf Dr 3/4 now $924.9K, 1747 Jewel Box Dr 3/2 now $1.099M, 2984 Wulfert Rd 3/3 now $1.5M, 1525 San Carlos Bay Dr 4/2 now $1.595M, 1133 Golden Olive Ct 3/3.5 now $2.448M.

4 new sales: 1126 Schooner Pl 4/2.5 duplex listed at $459K, 1656 Middle Gulf Dr 3/4 listed at $924.9K, 1304 Eagle Run Dr 3/3 listed at $1.099M, 6192 Henderson Rd 4/4 listed at $1.949M.

10 closed sales: 813 Rabbit Rd 2/2 half-duplex $365K, 1283 Par View Dr 2/2 $475K, 752/754 Cardium St 4/2 duplex $520K, 958 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $588K, 2521 Key Lime Pl 3/2 $565K, 753 Cardium St 3/2 $620K, 1806 Ibis Ln 3/2 $650K, 5739 Pine Tree Dr 3/3 $780K, 1995 My Tern Ct 4/2 $1.279M, 411 Bella Vista Way 4/4 half-duplex $1.95M.

LOTS

2 new listings: 5321 Punta Caloosa Ct $335K, 5251 Punta Caloosa Ct $580K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 5340 Punta Caloosa Ct listed at $1.375M.

No closed sales. 

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

2 price changes: Bayside Villas #5102 ½ now $369K, Sunset Captiva #103 2/2/2 now $949K.

1 new sale: Sunset Beach Villas #2214 2/2 listed at $620K.

1 closed sale: Tennis Villas #3216 1/1 $305K.

HOMES

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 15831 Captiva Dr 2/2.5 listed at $4.198M.

No closed sales.

LOTS

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.

fathers-day-clip-art-jTx95RBTE1Until next Friday, here’s hoping your summer weather is as spectacular as on the islands! Best wishes on Sunday to all the Dads, would-be Dads, & Moms covering as Dads!

If you want to buy yours a piece of paradise for Fathers Day, I can help.

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Flamingos, Papayas, Real Estate News, Halloween Events, & More…


"Sailors delight" Wed heading on the island about 7 p.m.

It’s the end of another good week of real estate activity on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Many of our listings had showings and at our Realtor Caravan meeting yesterday several new sales were announced. See the details on those at the bottom of today’s blog. I was out a couple of times showing condos this week too, while our pals in rentals say that their phones were ringing off the hook this morning as a result of the snow flurries in the northeast last night. All good news.

Improvement in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Real Estate Market

The 2012 Sanibel and Captiva residential real estate market is showing improvement. Here is a summary of inventory and sales this year compared to last:

                         SANIBEL CONDOS                               SANIBEL HOMES

                         No.       Avg Price $        Avg DOM          No.       Avg Price $        Avg DOM*

 For sale           228       684,548             444                   212       1,213,506          420

Sale pending      11       380,809              322                     24          922,850          404      

Sold & Closed:

2011 to 10/28   128      611,650               311                   148          842,461          376

2012                 120      608,545               381                   124          775,805          320

                          CAPTIVA CONDOS                               CAPTIVA HOMES

                         No.       Avg Price $        Avg DOM          No.       Avg Price $        Avg DOM*

For sale             60         825,488            502                   62         3,408,369          699

Sale pending       3        602,500            771                     1        1,190,000            46      

Sold & Closed:

2011 to 10/28     22         762,323            486                   19         1,924,095          378

2012                   25         696,159            312                   10         2,258,250          357

* DOM = days on market

These sale prices and numbers of sales are a far cry from the heydays of 2005 and 2006, but it appears to be good solid improvement just the same. Vacant land sales are not doing as well, but as the inventory of homes goes down, lot sales should improve too.

Rare Wild Flamingos Spotted in SW Florida

Flamingo at Bunche Beach

An article in Tuesday’s Fort Myers “News Press” included a photo of a flamingo observed at Bunche Beach near the Sanibel Causeway. It reported that several flamingo sightings last week have Southwest Florida birders abuzz. According to their writer Amy Bennett Williams:

“They may be an unofficial Florida mascot, but wild-born flamingos have all but disappeared from the Sunshine State. Spotting one in these parts is “rarer than rare” says naturalist Vince McGrath, which is why area birders are abuzz about several recent sightings of the graceful creatures in Lee County.

A group of Alva Elementary School fourth-graders on a field trip to Bunche Beach near the Sanibel Causeway last week watched a lone flamingo feeding, preening and resting in the shallows before it took flight. The bird’s feathers had only traces of the characteristic coral pink, which leads McGrath to believe it’s a youngster. Other birders have seen flamingos elsewhere in the region. Nine flew north past Barefoot Beach near Bonita Springs last week, says Gayle Sheets, who volunteers with Lee County Bird Patrol (birdpatrol.org), a group that monitors birds throughout Lee County.

“It’s a common misconception flamingos aren’t native to Florida. Actually, before much of the state was re-plumbed and its wetlands drained, they were common here. “Blame the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers,” McGrath laughed. Occasionally, captive flamingos escape from zoos and tourist attractions, especially after hurricanes. And judging by the behavior of the young Bunche Beach bird, that may be the case, McGrath says. “It let people get pretty close,” he says, “and it didn’t seem too bothered by them.””

Doc Ford’s For Good Food & More

Doc Ford's papaya trees

While out for lunch with a colleague this week, we spotted this papaya plant at one of our favorite island haunts, Doc Ford’s. When we asked their Manager Liz about it, she said that the top leaves of the plant were hiding their sign so they trimmed them off. Now we are  wondering when we will see the restaurant serve their famous fish tacos with their own fruit. This tree is loaded.

 

Papaya tree with full leaves

For those not familiar with these wonderful plants, which love growing here, the picture on the right is a tree with its upper leaves intact. (P.S. Next time you are Doc Ford’s, try their chicken caesar salad which gets my vote as the best on the island. All of the Randy Wayne White books featuring main character Doc Ford are terrific too and easy vacation reads.)

REO Sales Nationally May Not Peak Until 2013

An interesting article by Jon Prior was posted last week on LinkedIn. It includes varied opinions on the status of real estate currently held by lending institutions.

“The sale of properties repossessed through foreclosure may not peak until 2013, keeping home prices from a meaningful recovery for some time, analysts estimated Monday (10/17/2011). Nearly half of the more than 552,000 REO (real estate owned) properties liquidated in the first half of 2011 were held by private banks. In the years ahead, the government – including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac – will begin taking a majority of the activity.

“In 2013, REO sales could reach 1.48 million properties, according to estimates from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts, a 10% increase from projected amount in 2012.  “We do not expect to see anywhere near the downward pressure on home prices that we had back in 2008, since the expected percent changes in liquidation volumes are so much smaller,” BofAML analysts said. “But home prices are starting from a negative point, so the implication is that home prices will continue to decline as the foreclosures transition through the pipeline.”

“Most of the projected increase will come as the government begins to unload its backlog. The government-sponsored enterprises and HUD, analysts estimate, will liquidate roughly 595,000 properties in 2013 alone. Total REO liquidations wouldn’t drop below 1 million until 2015, according to BofAML.

“The Obama administration began work last month developing new strategies for selling this mass of properties, which may involve renting more of them. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is also working on a way to refinance more underwater borrowers to entice them from walking away. “I would essentially rent the house back to those who are living in them now,” said Susan Woodward, an economist with Sand Hill Econometrics. “I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to push 4 million people out of their homes when they’re victims of a slower economy they had nothing to do with.” Other analysts were skeptical of anyone who could predict accurately what the GSEs or Washington would do, especially after the elections in 2012. “Do they really think that the government under any administration would let 500,000 homes hit the market and crash prices all over again, six years after the first crash?” said Scott Sambucci, chief analyst at Altos Research. He said even if unemployment improved by a full percentage point or two — which he said would be a stretch — the market would still struggle to meet such a supply influx. “It would crash the market, so no, it’ll never happen,” Sambucci said.

“Daren Blomquist at RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure filings across the country, said the sale of REO is on track to reach 825,000 by the end of 2011.  “We do expect the REOs to pick back up in 2012 as lenders push through some of the foreclosures delayed by processing and paperwork issues,” Blomquist said, adding the inventory needed to be sold could reach well into the millions.

“If half of the 800,000 mortgages currently somewhere in the foreclosure process and another half of the 1.5 million loans in serious delinquency end up REO, it could mean an additional, 1.15 million properties that would need to be liquidated — not including new foreclosures that enter the process, according to RealtyTrac.  “That’s very possible given continued high unemployment rates and high underwater rates,” Blomquist said. RealtyTrac estimates roughly 27% of all outstanding mortgages are worth more than the underlying property.

“Woodward said refinancing borrowers, in negative equity or not, down to current market rates could result in a total savings for U.S. households at $250 billion annually. When asked if private investors would return to fund the future mortgage market after such a radical change, she said they would. “I think the whole world would see this as a one-time fix. We did similar extreme things during the Great Depression,” Woodward said.

“Investors themselves, though, showed little confidence they would take on such a risk again. In fact, most are trying to keep the government involved in the housing market for the future, to keep risks as low as possible. Otherwise, foreign investors would flee.

“While the estimates on how many REO will be sold in the future are extremely difficult to nail down, the size of the best projections share a common and threatening scale. Analysts said major refinancing schemes or new strategies for liquidating REO on a local level would need to be completed soon to rescue house prices from the still increasing pressure of mounting foreclosures. “The need for policy support would therefore be considered urgent,” the BofAML analysts said.”

(Bank bailouts and government intervention don’t sit well with this old girl. I have always been more in favor of “let the chips fall where they may.” It probably would have been painful at the time, but perhaps not as painful as the politicians fiddling around the edges of these problems and prolonging this economic mess. The following article posted on Monday in the CNBC Real Estate Report by Diana Olick sums it up pretty well.)

Obama Refi Plan is Not Housing Stimulus

“”President Obama is taking action.” At least that’s what the blog on WhiteHouse.gov says today in describing the President’s trip to Las Vegas. “We can’t wait to help homeowners,” it goes. That action consists of revamping an existing government refinance program through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, so-called “underwater” borrowers. There are an estimated 11 million of those nationwide according to CoreLogic. The original program, which started in 2009 and has helped about 900,000 borrowers get lower interest rates, was capped. You couldn’t owe more than 25% more than your home was worth. That cap is now gone, so you can be eligible no matter how underwater you are. Fees have been waived or lowered, banks have been largely let off the hook for reps and warrants on the loans (when they are forced to buy back bad loans), second liens can be transferred and mortgage insurers will move their coverage to the new loan.

“While federal regulators and administration officials were releasing, explaining and selling the plan in Washington this morning, President Obama is making his pitch in a state where 60% of homeowners with a mortgage are underwater on those mortgages. But Las Vegas is also the foreclosure capital of America. 70% of home sales in August were of “distressed” properties, that is foreclosures and short sales. The number of new notices of default also surged in that month, up nearly 58% from July, as lenders ramp up the foreclosure machine again.

“About those numbers: This plan is for current borrowers who want to get a lower monthly payment through a lower mortgage rate. Yes, it’s the first plan that “rewards positive behavior,” says Florida attorney and mortgage expert Shari Olefson, but it doesn’t do anything for the now 6 million plus borrowers who are either behind on their mortgage payments or already in the foreclosure process. It also does nothing about all those foreclosed properties sitting on the books of Fannie, Freddie, the FHA and the big banks that still need to be sold and right now can only be sold at below-market prices. This plan does nothing to stop the bleeding in home prices. Don’t get me wrong, it may make about a million and a half borrowers feel better about making monthly payments on an investment that will never show any return. It may stop some from walking away from their homes and mortgages. “It takes the sting out of it,” one underwater borrower told me today, but it doesn’t change the value of his home.  Unless we fix the negative equity problem, we’re going to refinance all folks into lower rate mortgage, but fast forward a year or so from now and they’re going to sit back at their dining room table and say, look I’m still underwater, and we may see defaults again,” says Olefson.

“Make no mistake, this refi plan is an economic stimulus at best, a political play at worst. It will give some relief to a very limited number of borrowers who may have been on the edge of trouble; it does not stimulate home sales, save delinquent borrowers from foreclosure, stop the bleeding in home prices or rid the market of a suffocating number of distressed properties. If this is the best the administration can do, then housing will continue to struggle for a bad long time. Of course, you could argue that it is not up to the administration to fix a housing market that was crushed by Wall Street greed and a buying public that refused to heed any of the repeated warnings that home prices don’t always go up. Maybe what will ultimately save housing won’t be a housing fix at all.  “What we really need for housing to recover is a) Europe to get its house in order so we don’t precipitate another recession; and b) a jobs package,” says former assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr, who worked on the administration’s housing bailouts.”

Three Mortgage Mistakes You Can Avoid

Another recent article posted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson on Inman News clears a few misconceptions about today’s mortgages. Some good advice here:

“The mortgage market is in a state of tumult these days. Rates are bizarrely low, but many homes are worth much less than the mortgage balances they secure. People are still losing their homes left and right, but millions of mortgage applications of creditworthy borrowers are being rejected every year.

Against this backdrop, it’s really no wonder that would-be buyers and homeowners alike are in a state of confusion about which end is up in the mortgage marketplace. To shed some light into this darkness, here are three very common mortgage mistakes that you might be making as we speak — and some strategies for avoiding or correcting them.

  1. Failing to try to refinance because you’re upside-down. At last count, nearly 11 million Americans were upside-down on their homes — meaning they owe more in mortgage(s) than the home is worth — and that’s about 23% of all American homes. With interest rates having dropped to historic low after historic low, more than 10 million Americans have refinanced their mortgages since 2009. But most homeowners with negative equity feel like they are trapped in their 6, 7 or even 8% interest mortgages, unable to save the hundreds of dollars every month of a mortgage at today’s sub-4% rates, because no lender will refinance them. The fact is, multiple options abound for lowering your interest rate and monthly payment if you’re upside down on your home loan. Banks are increasingly amenable to simply modify existing mortgages to render them less prone to default and foreclosure — especially when the homeowner is trying to recover from a financial hardship like interrupted income due to job loss or illness, and especially with upside-down loans (which are particularly liable to strategic default, without modification). Also, many banks offer refis on mortgages as much as 25% underwater (so long as no payments have been missed) through the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Refinance Program and the less widely adopted Federal Housing Administration Short Refinance Program. Contact your own mortgage bank’s loss mitigation division about a loan modification or a refi under HARP, or reach out to any mortgage broker that offers FHA loans to apply for the Short Refi Program.
  2. Walking into the bank branch to get a mortgage. Not to jump on the anti-bank bandwagon, but unless your bank happens to be a neighborhood credit union or one of the few large banks that ranks highly in customer satisfaction (e.g., USAA), you’ll likely not be satisfied with the speed, customer service or assertiveness of a mortgage banker you meet just walking into the branch. If you work with a mortgage broker or a private mortgage banker you meet by referrals from your circle of friends and relatives, chances are good you’ll get someone who understands that the long-term health of their business depends on you and clients like you getting a deal closed in a timely manner. Specifically, you should request referrals from folks you know who have bought or refinanced homes relatively recently, as the mortgage pros who are still in business and closing deals successfully these days are necessarily skilled at navigating a very tricky and restrictive mortgage market. Also, if you work with a mortgage broker whose company also has its own bank, you get the best of both worlds: a professional who will shop lots of banks’ offerings to find the best options for you, and someone who can coordinate your transaction via a small pool of local, experienced appraisers. Many large banks select appraisers who don’t know the area, which can kill your deal in the long run.
  3. Thinking you’re stuck with it for 30 years. I’ve heard people say they didn’t want to buy a home because they were depressed by the thought of a debt that would last 30 years. I’ve heard others regret that they couldn’t afford the payment on a 15-year mortgage and instead were stuck with a 30-year loan. The fact is, you control when you pay your mortgage off, and it doesn’t take a lottery or inheritance windfall to pay yours off sooner than later. Some people pay half their mortgage payment every two weeks, which results in a full extra payment every year and can pay your mortgage off as much as five years early. Others just pay an extra $100 or so as often as they can, and ask their loan servicer to apply the overage to principal. Some do much more, applying paycheck raises over the years or amounts they once paid to extinguish credit card debt toward their mortgage balances in an effort to pay them off early. The theme is that, as a borrower, you may have much more power than you thought, from exploring little-known options for getting your upside-down mortgage’s payment lowered to being aggressive about paying your home off sooner rather than later. So get clear on your personal goals for your mortgage, get educated about your options and get assertive about making them happen — now.”

Upcoming Events

  • Oct 29, Saturday – 17th Annual Hallo ‘Tween Costume Party is at ‘Tween Waters Inn from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. This adult over-age-21 event is the islands’ most notorious Halloween bash, and traditionally the largest and most famous Halloween party on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, regularly attracting more than 1,000 colorfully costumed guests. The outdoor event is infamous for the scope, size, scariness, outrageousness, raciness, zaniness, variety and creativity of costuming. Tickets are available at the door. This year, the theme is “Twisted Circus” with live music and a $1,000 costume contest with judging at midnight. Every year this party grows and grows, with many planning their costumes months in advance. Another record turn-out is expected. More info on www.tween-waters.com.
  • Nov 5, Saturday – 18th Annual Esperanza Woodring Memorial Cast Net Rodeo at The Bait Box on Sanibel. Cast net throwing lessons and demonstrations begin at 9 a.m. with competitions starting at 10:30 a.m. Children’s registration is FREE and each child receives a prize just for competing. The Bait Box was founded in 1971 by lifelong Sanibel resident Ralph Woodring, son of Esperanza Woodring. Esperanza was born on Cayo Costa in 1901 and spent more than 75 years on the waters around Sanibel as a commercial fisher and as a fishing and shell guide. She was a master at the art of casting a net, rather unusual for a woman at the time. This event in her honor includes a raffle and refreshments with all proceeds benefiting START (Solutions to Avoid Red Tide) which is a grassroots organization and member of the Red Tide Alliance which is comprised of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. The Alliance focuses on the development of programs that monitor, control, and mitigate red tide.  The Cast Net Rodeo is a fun day for the whole family at The Bait Box on Sanibel. For more info on START, go to www.start1.com.

  • Nov 17-20, Thursday thru Saturday, Buck Key Weekend – Part of the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the Buck Key Paddling Trail reopened last winter after Hurricane Charley damage closed it in 2004. Restoration was made possible by a group of avid kayakers from Captiva Island who formed a committee to raise funds for the clearing of the trail. Toward that end, the committee, in partnership with “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge and Captiva Cruises, is planning a weekend of informative and fun events to benefit Buck Key upkeep and preservation. The public is invited to all the festivities. The weekend kicks off with a free “History of Buck Key” presentation at the Captiva Island Yacht Club on Thursday, Nov 17 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with seating on a first-come basis. Friday will feature kayak tours of Buck Key with Captiva Kayaks. On Saturday, Nov 19, Captiva Cruises’ Santiva will have for a historic cruise of Roosevelt Channel and Buck Key, departing from McCarthy’s Marina. The weekend culminates on Sunday, Nov 20, with a private Jazz Brunch Cruise aboard the Lady Chadwick.

Sanibel & Captiva MLS Activity October 21-28

Sanibel
CONDOS
5 new listings: Sanibel Arms #1 2/2 $429K, Sunset South #1C 2/2 $489K, Compass Point #213 2/2 $599K, Sanibel Surfside #126 2/2 $849K, Pointe Santo #E3 2/2 $885K.
8 price changes: Tennisplace #D23 1/1 now $155K (short sale), Lake Palms #9 2/2.5 now $275K (short sale), Sandalfoot #4C2 2/2 now $489K, Sundial #O201 2/2 now $495K, Sandalfoot #4C2 2/2 now $548K, Clam Shell #C 2/2 now $749K, Junonia #202 2/2 now $849K, Wedgewood #305 3/3.5 now $1.349M.
1 new sale: Sundial #E201 2/2 listed for $849K.
4 closed sales: Coquina Beach #3E 2/2 $375K, Pelicans Roost #103 2/2 $525K (short sale), Pointe Santo #C7 2/2 $677K, Loggerhead Cay #174 2/2 $562.5K.

HOMES
5 new listing
: 1537 Sand Castle Rd 4/3 $774K, 568 Lighthouse Way 2/2 $1.5M, 2729 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 $1.595M, 3864 West Gulf Dr 4/5.5 $2.475M, 3517 West Gulf Dr 4/5 $6.5M.
12 price changes: 766 Donax St 2/2 duplex now $299K, 490 Elizabeth Rd 2/2 now $418K, 6101 Castaways Ln 4/2 now $599K (short sale), 927 Limpet Dr 3/3 now $739.9K (foreclosure), 1360 Eagle Run Dr 5/3.5 now $979K (short sale), 2367 Wulfert Rd 4/3.5 now $1.289M, 730 Birdie View Pt 3/2.5 now $1.35M, 5391 Shearwater Dr 3/3.5 now $1.649M, 780 Birdie View Pt 5/4.5 now $2.199M, 654 Kinzie Island Ct 6/4/2 now $2.295M, 5045 Joewood Dr 3/3.5 now $2.295M, 1191 Bird Ln 4/3 now $2.695M (short sale).
6 new sales: 9239 Kincaid Ct 2/2 listed for $249K, 1212 Middle Gulf Dr 2/2 listed for $339K, 3180 Twin Lakes Ln 3/3 listed for $599K, 1204 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/3 half-duplex listed for $749K, 6192 Henderson Rd 3/2 listed for $899K, 1052 Whisperwood Way 3/3 listed for $1.495M.
No closed sales.

LOTS
4 new listings
: 1912 Ibis Ln $249K; 4556 Buck Key Rd $259.9K; 5830 SanCap Rd $389,555; 1837 Buckthorn Ln $495K.
3 price changes: 600 Hideaway Ct now $285K, 5121 SanCap Rd now $299K, 1114 Seagrape Ln now $495K.
No new or closed sales.

Captiva
CONDOS
1 new listing
: Beach Villas #2533 2/2 $850K.
1 price change: Captiva Shores #6B 2/2 now $749K.
No new or closed sales.

HOMES
1 new listing: 17201 Captiva Dr 4/5.5 $4.995M.
4 price changes: 17 Urchin Ct 2/2.5 now $685K, 11516 Andy Rosse Ln 6/6 now $2.395M, 16697 Captiva Dr 2/2 now $2.495M, 16730 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 now $5.25M, 16950 Captiva Dr 2/2 now $10.385M.
No new or closed sales.

LOTS
No new listings.
3 price changes
: 16989 Captiva Dr now $1.2M, 16970 Captiva Dr now $2.995M, 16980 Captiva Dr now $2.995M.
No new or closed sales.

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 transactions. If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

Until next Friday, best wishes from SanibelSusan for a Happy Halloween with lots of treats & no tricks