Another Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Another Friday already is here, seems like the weeks are flying by. It has been one with chilly weather – night temperatures sometimes into the 40’s (degrees F) and rarely out of the 60’s during the day. As we hear of folks up north struggling with snow and frigid weather, we are thankful that even when island temperatures are low, our daytime skies remain sunny and bright. Makes me smile whenever the sky is blue! For locals, it also is a nice change to wear long sleeves, sweaters, and jackets. Bike paths, of course, still are full of riders and joggers in shorts and tee-shirts, and visitors making the most of their tropical vacations.

I took a ride out to South Seas Resort on Captiva this afternoon. Temperature had reached 70 degrees when I left Sanibel about 1 p.m. There didn’t seem to be a lot of visitors at the resort, but the ones I did see were enjoying the day. Redfish Pass was busy with boats and fishermen with clear skies and gulf/bay waters a vivid Caribbean blue. With my sunroof open, I heard birds chirping & kiddos giggling. By the time, I turned around, heading back to my Sanibel office, the temperature was up to 74 degrees F. Gotta love winter on a tropical island in SW Florida.

The weekly reports of the activity posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service follows a couple of news items below.

It’s a Sellers’ Market

With only a month on the books, the Sanibel/Captiva real estate market started with a bang. As inventory disappears, Realtor® colleagues, like us, are worried about what we will sell once inventory is gone. We are out beating the bushes looking for listings. If someone you know is thinking of selling, please refer them to The SanibelSusan Team.

Below is a snapshot of the islands’ statistics today (2/5/2021 from the Sanibel & Captiva Islands MLS), followed by a rundown of inventory of most popular property types. Due to the pandemic, those are mostly residential.

 

SANIBEL

CONDOS HOMES LOTS
# Avg Price $ DOM # Avg Price $ DOM # Avg Price $ DOM
Available 78 816,674 172 64 2,398,092 156 39 814,427 461
Under contract 45 805,193 140 58 1,091,601 165 21 751,926 443
Sold 2021 to-date 16 654,931 170 30 1,667,923 122 6 647,333 581
Sold 2020 192 733,876 174 288 951,487 162 23 606,233 393
Sold 2019 127 694,392 152 211 949,790 166 15 372,200 684

 

 

CAPTIVA

CONDOS HOMES LOTS
# Avg Price $ DOM # Avg Price $ DOM # Avg Price $ DOM
Available   16 1,776,906 247   28 3,508,035 252   3 5,131,666 458
Under contract 11 770,772 253 10 4,700,599 205 0 N/A N/A
Sold 2021 to-date 4 1,446,250 47 6 2,432,950 334 0 N/A N/A
Sold 2020 47 821,713 134 27 2,923,148 315 4 2,537,500 248
Sold 2019 29 1,037,077 315 17 2,727,503 300 1 1,375,000 0

Homes on gulf: 15 for sale, seven on Captiva, eight on Sanibel. In last six months, ten sold (five on each island), average sale price $4,340,433.

Homes on bay: 10 for sale, five on each island. In last six months, six sold (two on Captiva, four on Sanibel), average sale price $3,328,750.

Homes with docks:        35 for sale, nine on Captiva, 26 on Sanibel. In last six months, 42 sold (seven on Captiva, 35 on Sanibel), average sale price $1,540,898.

Homes near-beach:       34 sale, 14 on Captiva, 20 on Sanibel. In last six months, 80 sold (eight on Captiva, 72 on Sanibel), average sale price $913,146.

Residential condos:       17 for sale, eight on Captiva, nine on Sanibel. In last six months, 26 sold (two on Captiva, 24 on Sanibel), average sale price $1,286,874.

Sanibel – COVID-19

The City declared State of Emergency, issued in response to COVID-19, has been extended by Mayor Mick Denham until February 9, 2021, unless further extended. Per State Statute, the maximum duration for a Mayoral Declaration of Emergency is seven (7) days and thus must be updated weekly as long as the emergency conditions are present.

Additionally, the City of Sanibel face covering mandate is reaffirmed to be consistent with the Governor’s Order 20-244 and shall remain in force and effect through the duration of the 7-day state of local emergency. Social distancing encouraged and group gatherings are to be avoided.

From Florida Department of Health, Sanibel’s total accumulative number of COVID-19 cases since March 26 through February 2 is 210 cases. This is the number of cases for zip code residents. It does not include Captiva and the many workers and visitors that come and go. MORE THAN HALF OF THESE CASES WERE IN THE LAST TWO MONTHS. January was the highest with 69 cases. December had 50. PLEASE CONTINUE TO STAY VIGILANT.

Flood Insurance – When to Assume

Good article in today’s “Island Sun” by Angela Larson Roehl, with Rosier Insurance on Sanibel (info@rosierinsurance.com):

“The National Flood Insurance Program currently allows its flood policies to be assumed by new property owners if the current owner grants permission. The reason for a buyer to assume a seller’s flood insurance policy is to retain the current rated flood zone and void being rated from a higher rated flood zone. However, a buyer may choose to assume a flood policy in order to avoid the mandatory 30-day wait for flood insurance if there is not a lender requirement.

“The other reason a buyer may want to assume a flood policy is to avoid having a new flood elevation certificate done on the property should a flood elevation certificate not be available for a new flood policy to be rated.

“If a seller allows their flood insurance to be assumed, then they understand that any unearned premium they would have received via a refund will be paid to them by the buyer. Usually, the title company handling the closing will arrange the collection from the buyer.

“The flood policy being assumed keeps the original effective and expiration date.”

“Ding” Darling Starts Free Seasonal Tours

This week’s ““Ding” on the Wing” by the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Society says “The Refuge has received the greenlight on offering socially distanced tours of 10 people or less. There’s no set schedule, so monitor the Eventbrite page to see what staff and volunteers are currently offering and to sign up for tours such as Birding the Refuge car caravan tour, Bailey Tract Tour, Bike Tour, and Beach Walk. Please bring your own binoculars and scopes. The next tour is a Beach Walk at Perry Tract/Gulfside City Park on Sunday, February 7, starting at 9 a.m.

Come on Down! Florida Attracts Retirees & Many More

This article was posted on-line Wed on FloridaRealtors®: By Erica Plemmons, economist & Director of Housing Statistics

“ORLANDO, Fla. – Americans from the Northeast and Midwest continued to go south and west in 2020, excluding an exodus from California where residents moved to less expensive neighboring states. Typically, Florida advertises its warmer climate, lack of state income tax and job opportunities. But other Southern states have some, if not all, of those qualities too.

“So, what draws movers to the Sunshine State? The United Van Lines 2020 Movers Study allows us to analyze who relocated to Florida, their reason for moving, and how Florida’s appeal compares to its peers. From an income standpoint, the study finds over two-thirds of movers to Florida answered that they earn over $100,000 per year, with 41.5% earning more than $150,000. Southern states (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas) show a similar trend.

“Likewise, outbound movers tend to indicate higher incomes. This finding likely comes from selection bias. Think about it: Not all relocators can afford to use moving services, or maybe they prefer to do-it-themselves. With that in mind, we can’t reliably infer flocks of wealth are entering or leaving states based on the income breakouts provided in the study.

“Of movers to Florida, 39% indicate retirement as their reason for moving. The state is the second highest for retirement (as a percentage) following Delaware, and South Carolina attracts a similar percentage of retirees to its state. But the other southern states diverge, with the main appeal of Texas, Tennessee and Georgia being job opportunities. North Carolina and Alabama fall somewhere in between; more people indicate relocating for a job, but a share is also moving for retirement.

“In the United Van Lines moving analysis, most movement between states is tied to jobs. But since retirees account for many of the moves, just 23% of new Floridians cite “a job” as their reason for coming to the Sunshine State, though that doesn’t mean Florida lacks employment opportunities. Texas surpassed Florida in both percentage and volume of inbound shipments from jobs in 2020. The rest of its southern peers have a larger percent of movement from jobs, yet only North Carolina and Georgia have a similar volume, with Tennessee trailing slightly.

“Florida also attracts people for lifestyle (21%) and family (17%). The age range of movers reflects what we would expect based on the reasons for changing location. Nearly 70% of those relocating to Florida are older than 55; 37% are 65 or older.

“The highest proportion of retirees moving out is from the northeastern states, like New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and New York, as well as some Midwest areas.

“Allied Van Lines gives a peek at its migration trends between cities. These relocation trends aren’t limited to retirees. Coming into Florida, there’s movement from New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta….”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity January 29-February 5, 2021

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Sundial #J102 1/1 $499K, Loggerhead Cay #223 2/2 $594.5K, Lighthouse Point #221 2/2 $719K, Loggerhead Cay #523 2/2 $945K.

5 price changes: Sandalfoot #3C1 2/2 now $639.9K; Sunset South #10C 2/2 now $710K; Island Beach Club #210A 2/2 now $739K; Sanibel Arms West #D2 2/2 now $924,999; Pointe Santo #C3 3/2 now $1,099,999.

12 new sales: Spanish Cay #F2 1/1 listed at $325K, Casa Blanca #8 2/1 listed at $349K, Sundial #G406 1/1 listed at $519K, Mariner Pointe #732 2/2 listed at $559K, Sandpebble #2B 2/2 listed at $575K, Heron at The Sanctuary #2B 3/3.5 listed at $749.9K, Sandpiper Beach #303 2/2 listed at $825K, Kings Crown #104 2/2 listed at $999K (our listing), Sundial #P402 2/2 listed at $1.189M, Island Beach Club #230D 2/2 listed at $1.335M, Island Beach Club #220D 2/2 listed at $1.34M, Kings Crown #302 2/2 listed at $1.499M.

1 closed sale: Sanibel Surfside #124 2/2 $970K.

HOMES

5 new listings: 1657 Sabal Sands Rd 3/2 $805K, 3570 Bunny Ln 3/3 $869K, 1312 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $979K, 542 N. Yachtsman Dr 3/2 $1.229M, 9445 Beverly Ln 4/3 $1.495M.

6 price changes: 9254 Kincaid Ct 2/2 now $491.5K, 2441 Shop Rd 4/3.5 now $954K, 3910 Coquina Dr 6/4 now $1.75M, 775 Conch Ct 4/3 now $1.895M, 1680 Hibiscus Dr 3/3.5 now $1.975M, 6111 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 5/4/3 now $18.395M.

11 new sales: 9254 Kincaid Ct 2/2 listed at $491.5K, 3040 West Gulf Dr 3/2 listed at $679K, 223 Southwinds Dr 3/2 listed at $719K, 1430 Sanderling Cir 4/3.5 listed at $799K, 4202 Old Banyan Way 3/2 listed at $899.5K, 2313 Wulfert Rd 4/3 listed at $1.099M, 709 Pyrula Ave 3/3 listed at $1.125M, 3019 Poinciana Cir 5/3.5 listed at $1.195M, 1133 Buttonwood Ln 3/2.5 listed at $1.395M, 2479 Harbour Ln 4/3 listed at $1.795M, 4166 Dingman Dr 4/4 listed at $2.2M.

7 closed sales: 660 Oliva St 3/3 $805K; 5835 Pine Tree Dr 3/2 $834.5K; 1743 Venus Dr 4/3.5 $1.556M; 5771 Baltusrol Ct 3/4 $1,700,197; 5391 Shearwater Dr 3/3.5 $1.725M; 677 Anchor Dr 5/5.5 $1.895M; 1069 Bird Ln 4/3.5 $4.25M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 2310 Wulfert Rd $299K.

No price changes.

5 new sales: 2515 Wulfert Rd listed at $239.5K, 1313 Par View Dr listed at $324.9K, 2933 Wulfert Rd listed at $349K, 1292 Par View Dr listed at $349.9K, 1837 Buckthorn Ln listed at $499K.

2 closed sales: 2307 Wulfert Rd $160K, 2319 Wulfert Rd $160K.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings or price changes.

3 new sales: Bayside Villas #4116 1/2 listed at $380K, Bayside Villas #4124 1/2 listed at $410K, Lands End #1637 2/2 listed at $1.495M.

2 closed sales: Tennis Villas #3125 1/1 $345K, Beach Homes #2 3/2 $1.7M.

HOMES

1 new listing: 11541 Laika Ln 4/4 $2.15M.

No price changes or new sales.

2 closed sales: 11431 Dickey Ln 3/2 $1.111M, 1119 Schefflera Ct 4/3.5 $5.8M.

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.

Below is our ad from today’s “Island Sun”. First another photo taken today of a peek at the marina at South Seas Resort. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Until next Friday, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Friday After the 4th on Sunny Sanibel

SanibelSusan is happy to report that it has been another week of wonderful weather on the islands. The occasional summer shower has been at night, with the beaches and bike paths busy during the days with visitors and vacationers “out and about”.

The July 4th parade on Monday morning was well attended and once again a fabulous example of Sanibel’s small town camaraderie. Big thank you goes out to all those participating and watching, especially the members of the Cypress Lake High School Marching Band who made their first appearance. I posted more pictures on my personal Facebook page plus a video clip of the band passing my office.

The only complaints since Monday: it is hot – has been in the low 90’s most afternoons – and the negative press about the algae on the east coast has caused some confusion about the water here. More about that in the following news articles. After the news is the activity posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service since last Friday.

Know Your Rights Before Opening Your TRIM Notice

henderson-franklinThis article was posted on line June 16, 2016 by the local law firm of Henderson Franklin in their post “The Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate”. It mentions some important upcoming deadlines for local Lee County property owners wanting to appeal their property classification or assessment. It says:

“As a property owner in Florida, you have a right to appeal the property appraiser’s assessment of your property’s value, a denial of your application for an exemption (homestead, veterans, or senior citizen), a portability denial, and a denial of our application for property classification such as agricultural or historic….

“Typically, once a taxpayer decides to bring a challenge based on any of the above-mentioned grounds, a request for an informal conference will be made with the County’s property appraiser to discuss the value or to discuss the denial of an application for a property exemption or classification. Following an informal conference, in the event that the issues cannot be favorably settled, taxpayers (or their representatives) can file a petition with the local Value Adjustment Board (VAB). Alternatively, Florida law allows taxpayers to bring such challenges in circuit court.

Appeals to the Value Adjust Board (VAB) – Each VAB is comprised of five members, with two members from the board of county commissioners, one member from the school board, and two citizen members. Many counties in Southwest Florida (such as Lee County) have appointed a special magistrate to conduct hearings and recommend decisions to the VAB. Special magistrates are trained neutral arbiters who are oftentimes local licensed appraisers.

Deadlines for Filing a Petition – Under Florida law, the deadlines for filing a petition are explained in detail. For appeals of the property appraiser’s assessment of your property, a petition must be filed within 25 days after the property appraiser mails the notice of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM Notice), which is typically in mid-August. The filing deadline can be found on the TRIM notice itself. Moreover, petitions appealing the portability of your ad valorem taxes must be filed with 25 days after the property appraiser mails your TRIM notice.

“For appeals of an exemption or classification of your property, a petition must be filed with 30 days after the property appraiser mails the denial notice, which the property appraiser must mail before July 1st. Once the petition has been filed, the taxpayer will receive a notice with the date, time, and location of the hearing at least 25 days before the hearing date. An exchange of evidence will occur thereafter, whereby the taxpayer must give the property appraiser a list and summary of evidence that will be presented at the hearing. Likewise, if a written request is made to the property appraiser by the taxpayer, the property appraiser is required to provide a list and summary of the County’s evidence that will be presented at least seven days before the hearing.

“As a reminder, it is important to note that even though a petition may have been filed with the VAB, the petition must be denied if the taxpayer has not paid his or her non ad valorem assessments and ad valorem taxes before they become delinquent.

Take Away – Each year, the local property appraiser establishes the value of your property as of January 1st. Since TRIM notices will soon be delivered to property owners around Southwest Florida, it is important to know your rights and the procedures for pursuing an appeal to your local VAB….”

Sea Turtle Nest Hatches on Sanibel

Turtle hatching 07-01-16As reported this week in the “Santiva Chronicle”: “The first loggerhead sea turtle to hatch on Sanibel was Thursday, July 1. Visible along with the small tracks is the mesh SCCF places over nests to protect them from coyotes. Photo by Carol Strange

“Last year was a year to remember for sea turtles on Sanibel and Captiva. Turtles set a record for nests in a season. A year later, 2016 is on pace to do even better.

“In its weekly report issued Friday, July 1, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation said 486 loggerhead sea turtle nests have been found, recorded and staked off by the cadre of volunteers that combs the beaches each morning during nesting season.

“That total is ahead of last year’s nest total on the corresponding date from last year. On July 3 last year, SCCF had found 468 nests.

“Two of SCCF’s three nesting zones are ahead of 2015. Sanibel West, always the most populated area for nests, has 261 nests and slightly lags 2015 when there were 280 nests. Sanibel East, the area near the lighthouse, is seven ahead of last year with 98. Meanwhile Captiva continues at a torrid pace with 127 nests. That’s 20 more than last year and appears ready to threaten the Captiva record of 179 nests set in 2000.

Captiva wears the honor of having the first nests of the season to hatch. The first two were on Captiva. During the past week, Sanibel has recorded its first hatched nest. That happened June 30 and was reported by volunteer Carol Strange, who also took photographs.

“Meanwhile, the overnight turtle-tagging team, on duty for the first time this year, has come across 158 sea turtles during their surveys. Some of them are previously encountered turtles, providing valuable data about nesting habits.

“Here are the numbers from SCCF as of Friday, July 1, with last week’s numbers in parenthesis:

  • Sanibel East – 98 (82) nests, 219 (197) false crawls
  • Sanibel West – 261 (211) nests, 514 (421) false crawls
  • Captiva – 127 (109) nests, 184 (131) false crawls
  • Totals: 486 (402) nests, 917 (749) false crawls”

No Slime on Sanibel Beaches, but Dark Water Doing Damage

Good write-up explaining the water situation here was published on-line Wed by the “Santiva Chronicle”:

June 2 & 22 2016 Bay City of Sanibel

“The phone is ringing at Sanibel City Hall. The people on the other end want to know about the water. “The calls are coming in from all over – Ohio, New Jersey, all around,” James Evans, Sanibel director of Natural Resources, said Tuesday, July 5. “People want to know about the quality of the water and they are disappointed to hear that it is dark.”

“Evans is forced to report that the water is brown, but is also able to report that it is not slimy from blue-green algae blooms. An explosion of blue-green algae blooms has hit the East Coast of Florida in Martin County. When Lee County was added to Gov. Rick Scott’s declaration of a state of emergency over the algae blooms, the assumption was that the blue-green algae is on Lee County’s beaches, including Sanibel and Captiva.

““Our beaches are in a very different situation from those on the East Coast,” Evans said. “What we are experiencing is a plume of dark water. There is no blue-green algae on the beaches, but we are seeing some in stagnant areas of the Caloosahatchee River.”

“Evans’ assessment is re-enforced by Rick Bartleson, marine biologist at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. “The water is brown, but the cyanobacteria numbers were down some today (Tuesday) and we aren’t seeing blue-green algae blooms here right now,” Bartleson said.

“The blooms are fed by the ongoing high levels of water being released from Lake Okeechobee down the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers as a result of historic rains that drenched South Florida in January. Sixteen inches fell on Sanibel when the historical average is less than two inches. Both rivers are receiving too much water, as much as three times desired flows, in order to protect Lake Okeechobee’s aging Herbert Hoover Dike. But the situations are different.

““The St. Lucie is a smaller river and the estuary is small. So when there is a bloom there is a really big effect, and that’s what we are seeing,” Bartleson said. “We have a larger estuary and there is more dilution.”

“It’s comparing apples and oranges,” Evans said. “The St. Lucie is a much smaller system and another big difference is that we are 70 miles from the lake. The Caloosahatchee has a much more extensive marsh that can dilute the algae. We’re lucky because the nutrient levels we are getting are just as high.”

““It’s two different systems and they react in two different ways,” he said. “We are very concerned about excess nutrient loading.” Blue-green algae blooms occur naturally, but are fed by nutrients in water runoff. Blue-green algae makes its own nitrogen but needs phosphorus.

The beaches in Martin County are covered with slime from the blue-green algae. The situation on the Treasure Coast near Stuart and other beach communities has made national news, including a recent report in the New York Times and a report Tuesday morning on The Weather Channel.

““I’ve seen it on the national news and its very damaging,” Evans said. “It’s on social media that the water quality is bad. Those things linger and stick around for a long time. We are not seeing blue-green algae, but we are seeing dark water all along Sanibel’s beaches. It’s a big concern for all of us. It hurts people’s ability to enjoy the beaches. It hurts business. It affects our quality of life.”

“Also likely to linger for a long time are the effects on the Caloosahatchee’s estuary in San Carlos Bay. The estuary is clouded, a fact that does more than just chase tourists away. The beaches are safe to visit and don’t pose a health problem for healthy people, but the water is brown.

““The flows from Lake Okeechobee have been way too high for the critters and the seagrass in the estuary,” Bartleson said. “It’s been way above the harm level and that kills a lot of things in the estuary. Lots of oysters and other critters are dying.”

“Evans takes note of the city’s telling pictures at the top of this page. (Will repost on SanibelSusan.com blog later today)

““On June 2 the bay was a beautiful blue green. Three weeks later it’s dark brown, almost black,” Evans said.

“We are really concerned about the ecological effects,” he said. “Seagrasses are dying and floating to the surface and washing up on the beach. We’ve received too much fresh water and the estuary is in salinity shock that’s causing important habitat destruction.

“The brown water also blocks light from seagrass, which below one meter is currently not getting enough light, Bartleson said. The roots die when the leaves can’t produce oxygen for them.

““People come to enjoy our beaches. They come to fish and enjoy our other natural treasures. All that is affected by the excess water releases,” Evans said.

“The blue-green algae bloom on the Treasure Coast, the governor’s emergency order and the resulting media coverage once again highlight the overall problem. The dike around the lake is aging and needs work. But the bigger issue is where the water goes. Once it flowed naturally out of Lake Okeechobee south into the Everglades. Man changed that by connecting the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee to the north end of the lake to create farmland to the south of the lake. That happened a century ago and the long term effects are being felt now.

“Gov. Scott’s emergency order prompted the South Florida Water Management District to seek land to store water on. That’s something that water quality advocates are always pushing for.

““A new study by the University of Florida says that water storage is needed both north and south of the lake,” Evans said. “The governor’s order has brought attention to the issues.”

““South Florida used to be 50 percent wetlands,” Bartleson said. “It’s hard to find the wetlands now.””

Mayor Ruane Sees Dirty Water & Silver Lining

santiva chronicleThere was a good follow-up today to the above article. Again from the “Santiva Chronicle”:

“Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane doesn’t like what he sees when he drives across the Sanibel Causeway these days. He knows the brown water below him in San Carlos Bay is causing serious economic damage and he knows without being able to see through it, that the water is causing serious harm to oysters, seagrass and other marine life that lives here.

“The view also gives the mayor hope and stiffens his resolve.

“I’m disappointed and disheartened,” Ruane said Thursday, July 7. “I’ve seen this movie before. In 2013 we had the same problems, but now I feel there is more political will than ever before.”

“Ruane’s remarks came about an hour before he released through mysanibel.com the city’s latest update on the South Florida water crisis that has fostered blue-green algae blooms on the east coast, millions of gallons of dirty water to both coasts, a state of emergency from Gov. Rick Scott and finger-pointing at the Obama Administration.

Read the mayor’s latest update here

“Sanibel has been water-conscious since before its founding. The unprecedented rainfall in January raised the awareness of everyone in South Florida and Sanibel was ready. Its white paper “Caloosahatchee Watershed Regional Water Management Issues” written by James Evans, Sanibel director of Natural Resources, offers short- and long-term solutions for storage and treatment of water and states Sanibel’s position. Ruane drew heavily on the white paper in his update to Sanibel citizens Thursday.

Read the Caloosahatchee Watershed white paper here

““We just all need to get on the same page,” Ruane said. “If there is a silver lining here, that may be it.”

In the days since the algae-bloom wrecked beaches on Florida’s Treasure Coast in Martin County, Ruane has seen the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announce that it will be releasing less water from Lake Okeechobee and the South Florida Water Management District announce that it is seeking more land to store excess water on.

““We asked for those things back in February. They are doing nothing more today than what we have been asking for all along. I don’t know why we have to get to an emergency standpoint before things happen,” Ruane said.

“But it’s not like nothing was going on before the latest algae blooms. The coalition of Lee County mayors, in which Ruane plays a leading role, continues to press for public awareness and political action. Together with the Florida League of Cities, the mayors hosted a water quality symposium in Fort Myers that brought together 19 counties.

““We had 19 counties represented there, and that represents about $1.3 trillion. It was very successful, so successful that it will be repeated in Stuart on the East Coast in August,” Ruane said. “Credit the mayors for bringing this to the forefront and keeping everyone’s eye on the ball.”

“Sanibel City Hall, Ruane said, has been hit with phone calls from around the country. Lee County was included along with East Coast counties Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach in Gov. Scott’s state of emergency declaration. Even though Lee County and Sanibel don’t presently have blue-green algae blooms, the general impression from national news coverage is that it does.

““We are having people writing and calling. We cannot deny that we’ve had excess water releases, but unlike the other coast, we have 70 miles along the river to dilute the algae blooms and we don’t have blue-green algae,” Ruane said.

““We’ve been explaining that a lot. It wasn’t a quiet Fourth of July,” he said.”

NAR Pressures Senate Over Flood Insurance

realtor logoAs reported last Friday by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR):

“The rising costs of flood insurance are posing “significant hurdles” to small businesses and home owners, David McKey, 2016 Vice Chair of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Insurance Committee, testified to a Senate committee this week. Potentially, up to 1 million properties may be affected.

“”Despite everything that’s been done on this issue, the threat of a $30,000 flood insurance premium still looms,” McKey testified to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on Thursday. “A few years ago, the uncertainty over future rate increases was enough for buyers to direct REALTORS® not to show them any listings in the floodplain. That’s enough to worry business owners and home owners alike, and it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

“McKey said that rates continue to rise significantly by up to 25% each year until policy-holders reach their “full-cost rate.” In order for businesses and home owners to prove they’ve reached that threshold, they must hire a licensed surveyor and provide the Federal Emergency Management Agency with an elevation certificate. Once the certificate shows the property owner has reached the full-cost rate, the owner can then request an optional full-risk rating to end the 25 percent increases, or the increases will continue, NAR explains.

“McKey testified that it is an “endless escalator” of rising costs, and he asked the committee to consider changes.

“McKey offered NAR’s support for several possible solutions, such as reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, which sunsets in October 2017. McKey also said NAR supports using advanced technology to improve the accuracy of flood maps, which can help better determine who will face escalating rates and reduce the number of property owners who have to file pricey appeals.

“McKey also asked the committee to consider authorizing the use of funds to proactively mitigate properties in hazard areas, such as by flood proofing, elevating, or strengthening a property against the risk.

“”Unfortunately, while funding is currently available for mitigation efforts, funds typically aren’t accessible until after a flood event, when costs are higher and the damage has already occurred,” McKey stated.

“”REALTORS® see the effect of rising flood insurance rates firsthand in their businesses and in the local communities. But commonsense solutions to the problem are well within reach.””

sancap GO MLS logoSanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity July 1-8, 2016

SANIBEL

CONDOS

1 new listing: Tennisplace #C21 2/1.5 $385,555.

1 price change: Tigua Cay #487 3/3.5 now $1.899M.

3 new sales: Island Beach Club #210B 2/2 listed at $589K, Villa Sanibel #1B 2/2 listed at $595K, Oceans Reach #1A1 2/2 listed at $999.9K.

1 closed sale: Sanibel Moorings #421 2/2 $449K.

HOMES

No new listings.

4 price changes: 956 Dixie Beach Blvd 2/1 now $385K, 588 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $699K, 243 Southwinds Dr 4/2.5 now $999K, 4440 Waters Edge Ln 3/3 now $1,290,010.

1 new sale: 9292 Belding Dr 3/2.5 listed at $429K.

4 closed sales: 1410 Causey Ct 3/2 $510K, 645 Lake Murex Dir 3/2 $780K, 841 Lindgren Blvd 2/2 (for statistics) $885K, 1245 Isabel Dr 3/3.5 $1,500,125.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price changes: 4566 Buck Key Rd now $199K.

No new sales or closings.

CAPTIVA

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes, new sales, or closings.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 16447 Captiva Dr 6/5.5.5 now $3.75M.

No new sales or closings.

LOTS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closing: 16298 Captiva Dr $4.9M.

(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 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

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Baywaters Back to a Glistening Blue

It has been another nice weather, low traffic week on Sanibel. The Sanibel/Captiva Realtors® Caravan Meeting held yesterday had light attendance with several colleagues from the local leadership team and office staff being in DC as described in the write-up below.

After a few other news items is a summary of the action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service over the last seven days. Note our new listing at Loggerhead Cay. Known as Sanibel’s Rainbow, it earns phenomenal income!

Realtors® Gathered in Washington This Week

NAR_midyear_logo_hp2014_conventionThousands of Realtors® from across the nation met with legislators, regulators and industry leaders this week during their annual Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo. More than 8,500 Realtors and guests have been in Washington, D.C. attending these meetings which began Monday and run through tomorrow. As posted earlier on “FloridaRealtors®”:

“There is a wide range of residential and commercial real estate issues that are of high importance to Realtors and are coming to a head right now, so we’ll be using the strength of our combined voices to remind members of Congress to maintain sound real estate markets,” says National Association of Realtors (NAR) President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Fla., who served as Florida Realtors president in 2003. “Furthermore, we’ll be setting the stage for next year, after the elections, when House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle are expected to move tax reform proposals,” Salomone adds.

“Conference attendees will hear from industry and political leaders, including Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, who will discuss student loan debt. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), will share perspectives on housing finance and student debt; political pollsters Peter Hart and Bill McInturff will offer insights into the mood of the country and its impact on the 2016 presidential and congressional campaigns; investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward will share his thoughts on the presidential elections; and Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner will discuss financial and commercial real estate markets. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun will also share residential and commercial real estate market updates and forecasts.

“Throughout the week, Realtors will also visit Capitol Hill and meet directly with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the legislative and regulatory environment’s effect on residential and commercial real estate. Among the high-profile policy issues that Realtors will raise:

  • Extending the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act
  • Maintaining important real estate tax policies
  • Federal Housing Administration reforms
  • Ensuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage guarantee fees aren’t extended, increased or diverted for unrelated government spending

“Attendees will also be conducting in-person meetings with officials and staff at the White House and more than a half dozen regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Sanibel Plays Flood Insurance Points Game

santiva chronicleIt can be challenging describing to prospective island property owners how Sanibel fits into the federal flood insurance equation. These buyers often think that because Sanibel is a barrier island that flood insurance is not an option and if available it would be cost prohibitive. Homeowners and lenders, however, often want the protection of this insurance.

The below article was posted on line yesterday by “Santiva-Chronicle”. Written by their Editor David Staver, it is a good explanation of the changes that went before Sanibel Planning Commission this week.

“Flood insurance. It’s a points game. That means keeping score and it should be simple. It’s anything but simple.

NationalFloodInsuranceProgr“The Sanibel Planning Commission gave its approval Tuesday, May 10, to the removal from the city code of a pair of flood insurance-related restrictions that are no longer required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They are the five-year cost accumulation period and the 50% rule for substantial improvements.

There’s no use going into what those two restrictions are since they will come off the books in July when the City Council can give final approval to their removal. No one will have to worry about them after July and anyone who has been hampered by them knows how they work. But the complexity of them is a microcosm of flood insurance – the points game.

“The points game begins with a community’s rating which is somewhere between 1 and 10. Hitting it with a broad brush, a community with a 1 will never flood and a community with a 10 not only will flood, but doesn’t care either.

“Sanibel obviously cares and its rating is 5. That gives property owners here a 25% discount on flood insurance premiums. Recently the consulting firm TetraTech did a detailed analysis of the city’s flood insurance status. What the city learned is that 5 is about as good as its going to get here. TetraTech identified what Sanibel would have to do to achieve a 4, and, for that matter, a 3 and a 2 too. Most of that was out of the question. Hitting it with a broad brush again, any development in the city would basically have to go three feet more in the air than it is now. That’s something the City Council doesn’t think Sanibel can stomach without undue hardship.

“It’s all about points. Raising everything in the air would get a bunch of points in the Community Rating System. Towns and cities that aren’t flood prone get a bunch of points for just being where they are. Sanibel is an island. It will never score well in this critical category. So it has to go looking for points elsewhere to make sure it keeps its Class 5 rating in the CRS, which is constantly adjusting what and how many points it awards for this and that.

There are some low-hanging points. The CRS changed the way it provides points for telling prospective buyers more about the floodplain risk. TetraTech said the city could snag 20 points by preparing a flood depth map and then making it available and publicizing it. Sanibel has already contracted with Johnson Engineering to make the map and no city does publicity better than Sanibel, so that’s 20 points to be had.

“More points are also to be had with better public outreach, says TetraTech. Again, Sanibel is on the case. The city has coordinated with Lee County and surrounding communities to form a Multijurisdictional Program for Public Information. The MJPPI requires an annual commitment for public outreach and obligates the city to print brochures and do mailings throughout the year. That’s money and more work, but it’s points that can be had.

The TetraTech report found that the cost accumulation and 50% rules were no longer applicable and by July they will be gone. That won’t hurt the city’s rating. In the meantime Sanibel is trying to build up its point total from its sea level location. It’s all about location and when it comes to flood insurance, it’s about points too.”

Progress on Projects on Sanibel Island

SCA-View-2.jpg

Rendering of the new Sanibel Community House renovation

Community House Renovation – With its $3 million capital campaign nearly complete, the Sanibel Community Association board and staff members gathered Monday at The Community House to officially break ground on a six-month reconstruction, restoration, renovation and expansion project. Improvements to the nearly 90-year old structure will include: restoration of historic North Room; new exterior olde-Florida design including new roof, porch-style entry/drop-off area; redesign inside creating a more open flexible floor plan; kitchen redesign/update and expanded restrooms; new conference room; redesign of offices/storage spaces updating audio, video, – in 1927, more than 50 island organizations and over 50,000 attendees use The Community House each year. Congrats to my friend, fellow-BIG ARTS Chorus alto, and architect Amy Nowacki who completed the renovation design.

1927 Community House North Room

The Community House in 1927

 

AT&T Donax cell towerAT&T Cell Service – Gotta love it when you get info about island happenings from FaceBook. Tuesday, City Manager Judie Zimomra posted this photo of the work underway on the cell phone tower (aka tall flag pole) on Donax Street. AT&T is adding their equipment there. Those of us living on Sanibel’s east-end are all anxious for the work to be complete. For years, my home has required its own min-cell tower to get coverage. Hopefully when this is done, east-end cell service will improve.

LCVCB logoLee County Visitor & Convention Bureau – Yesterday, City Manager Zimomra also posted a photo taken at the local tourism board where she said they “voted to approve $2.43 million in grants from bed taxes to the City of Sanibel to protect and maintain our beaches in their natural state…thanks to our Mayor Kevin Ruane for his support through the process and the excellent work by all the staff on the teams that prepared our grant applications…our Friends at Ding Darling were awarded an addition $35,000 for educational purposes.”

Summer Vegetation Trimming Begins – On Monday, May 16, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., vegetation along the west side of Tarpon Bay Road will be trimmed from Island Inn Road to West Gulf Drive.

Water Quality Continues to Improve

bay May 2016

1st week of May 2016 – San Carlos Bay toward the causeway

 

Good news reported this week by the “Islander” when it was posted that “The clarity of the waters surrounding Sanibel Island continue to see improvements as less flow is released from Lake Okeechobee.

“James Evans, Director of Natural Resources said as of Monday, May 2, the elevation of Lake O was 14.15 feet dropping approximately 0.93 feet during the past month. He said as long as the dry conditions persist the lake should be 13.5 feet by June 1, which should put them in good position going into the rainy season.

“”There’s different weather patterns that are starting to form. The water managers are really focusing on a potential strengthening La Nina pattern and that could mean a drier wet season,” Evans said. “Obviously as we move into the raining season with a dryer pattern, there could be some concerns about water supply. It’s the balance between getting water out of the lake, but not too much water to make sure we have water for dry season flows next fall and winter and having water supply for the Everglades agricultural area and other parts of the system.”

“Because of the drier conditions in April, the Corps have steadily been cutting back on the release of Lake O. On April 22, they reduced the pulse released from 3,000 to 2,500 CFS. On April 29, further reductions were made from 2,500 to 2,000 CFS.

“If you have noticed driving across the causeway the water is getting quite clear out there and along our gulf beaches are really starting to clear up,” Evans said, which is great.

“He said although the target flows are around 2,000 CFS, they are seeing slightly higher average flows. Evans said the flows are closer to 2,700 CFS, so it is surprising that the water is as clear as it is out in the bay right now.

“He said about 90% of the water they are receiving right now is coming from the lake because there is no rainfall in the watershed. With the improved water clarity, he said they are seeing better salinity, which in turn is helping the oyster beds and sea grass.

“Mayor Kevin Ruane said they have divided responsibilities among the council to talk about water quality. He said the “white paper” walks about what they would like and what is necessary, all science based and adopted by Florida entities.

“Vice Mayor Mick Denham said one of the misunderstandings is that even if they could completely stop the flows from Lake O coming down the Caloosahatchee they would still get some issues with water in the estuaries that they do not want. He said they get a good amount of water from the Caloosahatchee Basin when there is a rain event.

“”If we could stop flows from Lake O we would still get flows from the Caloosahatchee Basin. A flow way south is part of the solution. I think call the flow way south is an incorrect statement. It really should be described as a storage treatment and conveyance system,” he said. “That would be part of the solution, but not the complete solution,”

“Ruane said their job is to be advocates and educate people.

“A revised draft of the “white paper” will be on the agent for consideration in June.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity May 6-13, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

ExpandedAerialFromGangl3 new listings: Loggerhead Cay #264 2/2 $598.3K (our listing), Mariner Pointe #943 2/2.5 $649K, Loggerhead Cay #174 2/2 $869K.

3 price changes: Seashells #14 2/2 now $379K, Loggerhead Cay #331 2/2 now $499K, Tanglewood #1A 3/2 now $1.179M.

3 new sales: Sundial West #H110 1/1 listed at $299K, Coquina Beach #5F 2/2 listed at $495K, Heron at The Sanctuary II #2B 3/3.5 listed at $665K.

6 closed sales: Kimball Lodge #244 1/1.5 $330K, Sand Pointe #213 2/2 $570K, Pointe Santo #C41 2/2 $795K, Tanglewood #3 3/3 $1.25M, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 $1.25M, Gulfside Place #306 3/2 $1.3575M.

HOMES

3 new listings: 242 Christofer Ct 3/2 $745K, 421 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $829K, 984 Oyster Ct 3/3 $2.1M.

7 price changes: 956 Dixie Beach Blvd 2/1 now $399K, 5105 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 4/3 now $679K, 3941 Coquina Dr 3/2 now $699K, 1429 Jamaica Dr 3/3 now $789K, 660 Oliva St 3/3 now $938.5K, 2311 Starfish Ln 4/3 now $1.249M, 1306 Seaspray Ln 3/4 now $3.945M.

5 new sales: 848 Rabbit Rd 3/2 listed at $379.9K; 2150 Egret Cir 3/2 listed at $489K; 3927 Coquina Dr 3/2 listed at $599,995; 830 Limpet Dr 4/4.5 listed at $1.545M, 1245 Isabel Dr 3/3.5 listed at $1.548M.

6 closed sales: 1631 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $435K, 1139 Buttonwood Ln 2/1 $595K, 600 East Rocks Dr 3/2 $655K, 1258 Par View Dr 3/2 $700K, 1111 Schooner Pl 3/3 $885K, 6011 Clam Bayou Ln 3/3 $1.2M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 2133 Starfish Ln $439K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 6217 Starling Way listed at $1.295M.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 new sale: with Bayside Villas #5106 1/2 listed at $289K.

No closed sales.

HOMES & LOTS

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 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, here’s hoping the wonderful weather continues…Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Beach (Medium)

“High” Season Over on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Yes, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. Early Easter this year made for an early end to “high season” here. This week, several of our normally-booked condo listings were vacant – the first time in months. Once the last of the spring breaks are over, it likely will be quiet here again until schools are out and summer visitors start to arrive.

The Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday was well attended. The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® now has 31 broker offices with 284 Realtor® members. Announcements included a handful of new listings and a few sales, but mostly price reductions. The SanibelSusan Team had a new gulf-view condo listing go “live” last weekend. A few photos are below. It’s Nutmeg Village #303, top-floor, remodeled 2 bedroom 2 bath, with bright open kitchen, and views of the beach/gulf from all windows on both sides of the property!

View b

Kitchen bFront ViewMore snowbirds are departing daily and the recently-installed traffic cams are working, so roadways are easing up. I ran into the City Manager yesterday and as we were commiserating about “season”, she shared an email that she had just received from a happy winter visitor commending her and her staff and sharing some personal positive thoughts on the wonders of the island. Even in the throes of “season”, Sanibel is the “the best”. We too appreciate all the City does to make it that way.

After a couple of news items below is the activity posted in the Sanibel/Captiva Multiple Listing Service over the last seven days.

2016 Predicted to Be Housing’s Golden Year

Posted last Friday on “Realtor®Mag”:

“Officials from mortgage giant Freddie Mac have made a bold prediction: This year housing starts and home prices will reach their highest levels since 2006.

FreddieMacLogo_3 “The main reasons behind its bullish forecast is low mortgage rates, an improving job market, and a gradual increase in housing supply. “Housing markets are poised for their best year in a decade,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “In our latest forecast, total home sales, housing starts, and home prices will reach their highest levels since 2006.”

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains well-below 4% this year. This week it averaged 3.71%. “Expect the 30-year mortgage rate to remain very attractive throughout the spring home-buying season, staying below 4% until the second half of the year,” according to Freddie Mac’s monthly Outlook for March.

“For home sellers, they’ll be able to enjoy more home price increases. “In 2015, house prices increased about 6% on a year-over-year basis,” Freddie notes in its outlook. “Expect house prices to continue to rise, but at a moderating pace, with annual price appreciation slowing to 4.8% in 2016.”

“Also, gains in employment across the country will help to fuel hotter housing markets, according to Freddie Mac. The unemployment rate dropped below 5%.

That said, challenges remain for the housing market, particularly with wage growth. Wages remain “anemic, barely keeping pace with inflation,” Freddie Mac officials caution. “If wages and incomes do not start rising, then rising interest rates, home prices, and rents will squeeze households and ultimately slow housing markets,” Freddie Mac notes.

“Despite some headwinds, officials remain mostly upbeat. The “nation’s housing markets should sustain their momentum from 2015 into 2016 and 2017,” the outlook notes.”

Flood Insurance Rates Up April 1

NationalFloodInsuranceProgrThe below article was posted last week in the “Sun Sentinel” Fort Lauderdale and reprinted in FloridaRealtors® on-line last Friday, April 1. It’s long, but a good explanation of the changes this month in flood insurance rates.

“Flood insurance rates are set to increase for all policyholders today as the National Flood Insurance Program continues to dig itself out of $24 billion in debt incurred in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and other recent emergencies.

“That means policyholders and their insurance agents will once again be forced to wade through a bewildering barrage of bureaucratic lingo like “Lapsed and reinstated pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (Pre-FIRM) policies,” “Pre-FIRM primary residences,” “preferred risk,” “standard rated,” “Biggert-Waters” and “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.”

“And those phrases are from just two paragraphs of a news release Thursday from state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s office alerting Florida residents of the coming rate increases. McCarty says it’s important for Florida residents to carry flood insurance on their property. Of the National Flood Insurance Program’s 5.1 million policies, about 1.8 million are in Florida.

“”Although Florida’s hurricane season has been mild over the last 10 years, it is important that we not forget how easy it is for one storm to cause a great deal of damage and destruction from flooding,” the news release quoted McCarty as saying. “Tropical Storm Fay is a good example of a storm that made slow progress through the state leading to massive flooding problems for several Florida counties back in 2008.”

“Flood insurance premiums will increase an average of 9% nationwide, excluding some surcharges and fees, said Susan Hendrick, spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“But those increases will vary depending on whether buildings are primary homes, built prior to the 1980s, in flood hazard zones, or have been paying artificially low premiums since flood zone maps were first created in the 1980s.

“Flood insurance rates are based on flood zone maps developed and revised by FEMA for each county in the U.S. The maps estimate how high flood waters will rise after a storm likely to occur once every 100 years.

Homeowners with mortgages backed by a federal lending guarantor such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are required to carry flood insurance if they live in a special flood hazard zone. Flood hazard zones are typically near the ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway or canals, or in low-lying areas….

“In 2012, after hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and other major storms plunged the flood program deeply into debt, Congress enacted the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which was intended to remove government discounts and bring insurance rates charged for risky properties up to levels reflecting actual risk. But many owners of those risky properties were enraged by the increases in their renewal notices in 2014, and they pressured Congress to throttle back on the rate of increases.

“The result was a 25% annual limit on rate increases for properties in flood hazard zones, paid for with a new surcharge imposed on all property owners.

“Here’s a breakdown of the most-common property types and rate increases their owners will face as of Friday:

“Properties in flood hazard zones that were grandfathered into the program with subsidized rates will see premiums increased by 25% this year – and each year into the future until they are no longer paying subsidized rates.

“Totaling roughly 20% of the 5 million properties insured by the National Flood Insurance Program, these grandfathered, subsidized properties are called “pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (pre-FIRM)” properties because they were built before their communities’ first FEMA flood zone maps were created in the 1980s.

“”When the program first started, the government decided not to penalize homes built before the 1980s” by forcing them to pay actuarially sound (or fair market) rates, FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said. Instead, the government allowed them to pay discounted rates until 2012.

“Properties subject to 25% increases include non-primary residences and business properties. Grandfathered-in primary homes will see increases up to 18%, as will properties that are neither homes nor businesses – such as churches, non-profits and schools.

“Preferred-risk policies – which are policies written for properties within moderate- or low-risk zones B, C or X zones and not required with government-backed mortgages – will see premium increases of up to 15%.

“The Federal Policy Fee introduced last year will increase from $22 to $25 for preferred-risk policies and from $45 to $50 for standard-risk policies, which are policies in flood hazard zones.

“Another charge known as the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act Surcharge will remain at $25 for houses, townhomes and condo units used as primary residences by their owners and $250 for all other buildings, including vacation homes and businesses. This is the surcharge approved in 2014 to help offset the cost of distributing policy rate hikes over several years for properties in flood hazard zones.

“The Reserve Fund Assessment will increase from 10% to 15% for Preferred Risk Policies. The assessment is already at 15% for all other types of policies.

“Property owners should purchase insurance by May 1 if they want to be covered at the start of hurricane season on June 1, according to the news release from the state insurance commissioner. Coverage is now offered by several private insurers at rates comparable to the National Flood Insurance Program, and to cover values exceeding the federal program’s limit of $250,000 per home and $500,000 per business, the release said.

“For more information, flood insurance customers are urged to contact their agents or go to floodsmart.gov.”

The Dunes Will Get Four Speed Bumps

DunesEntrySignAs described in Tuesday’s “Santiva Chronicle”

“Sand Castle Road in The Dunes neighborhood of Sanibel will have four speed bumps on it next tourist season following a request by the Dunes Board of Directors and action by the Sanibel City Council on Tuesday, April 5.

The removable speed bumps are the second tier of traffic control recommended to the city and they will be in place during the peak tourist and traffic season. The Dunes is used as an alternate route off and on the island during peak traffic times via Dixie Beach Road on one end and Bailey Road on the other end….

“The city identified the problem of motorists cutting through The Dunes and contracted with Johnson Engineering to gather data and recommend solutions. Johnson recommended two tiers of traffic control. The city implemented Tier 1 in January 2015 by reducing The Dunes speed limit from 25 to 20 mph and reducing the speed in the curves on Sand Castle from 20 to 15 mph.

“Increased police patrols were part of Tier 1. Police Chief Bill Tomlinson said that in 14 months since the reduction in the speed limit that his department has spent about 10 hours a week patrolling traffic in The Dunes and has issued 206 traffic citations.

“The four speed bumps will be 14 feet long and will rise to a height of 4 inches above the road surface. On each side of the bumps will be a 2.5-foot buffer to allow passage of pedestrian and bicycle traffic….At its junction with Albatross and Bailey roads, Sand Castle goes both directions in a circle. Motorists can go either way and two speed bumps will be installed on each of the north and south portions of Sand Castle.”

Sanibel Farmers’ Market To Stay Open Through May

Sanibel Farmers MktFarmers Market Brussels SproutsBy unanimous vote on Tuesday, Sanibel City Council voted to allow the Sanibel Farmers’ Market to stay open this season through the last Sunday in May.

The popular market was slated to close down for the season at the end of April, but owners of market operator Local Roots, asked the city to extend to May 31 due to its great success this season.

The market is open Sundays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. See you there!

Stage a Baby Boomer Home the Millennial Way

The Washington PostAn article posted on “Daily Real Estate News” this week was sourced to “The Washington Post”, March 31, 2016. It has some good tips.

“Like every generation, millennials’ needs and tastes differ from their parents’ generation, as plenty of surveys have attested to. But as millennials become home owners, how can your baby boomer home sellers amp up their homes’ appeal to this younger generation’s tastes?

“David Charron, president and chief executive of the multiple listing service MRIS, offered up a few tips on presenting a home to appeal to millennials in a recent column in The Washington Post. Here are a few of his suggestions:

Entryway: “Millennials prefer their living spaces to be streamlined,” Charron notes. “A home’s entryway is one of the easiest places to make a good first impression.” For example, builders are adding shelves next to electrical outlets for charging stations in new construction. Sellers can do the same. Set up a dedicated command center near the door with a place to stow keys, mail, coats, and bags, and add a tastefully styled power strip or charging center.

“Common areas: Millennials place a high emphasis on socializing, so make sure the kitchen and living room show the spaces as great places to host a party. For example, a taller-than-usual kitchen table with bar chairs may offer up that picture. An open layout arranged with several seating areas also can help buyers visualize how the home can accommodate big group gatherings without feeling too crowded. For an open house, offer up a beverage and snacks station so that visitors can see and experience the entertaining aspect of the home.

“Children areas: Millennials span the ages of 20 to 35, and many are starting families or plan to soon. They are looking for places where they can keep an eye on young children as they play indoors along with kid-friendly areas. Display maps with nearby playgrounds, parks, and bike paths outlined to show the area has plenty to offer children.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 1-8, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

Spa

Beachside amenities at Nutmeg Village on Sanibel

 

3 new listings: Nutmeg Village #303 2/2 $799K (our listing), Clam Shell #E 3/2.5 $995K, Pointe Santo #E6 2/2 $1.25M.

4 price changes: Mariner Pointe #522 2/2 now $499K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #3-3 2/2.5 now $675K, Surfside 12 #B1 3/2 now $999K, Sanbel Surfside #127 2/2 now $1.095M.

4 new sales: Coquina Beach #5D 2/2 listed at $375K, Sundial West #B207 1/1 listed at $489.9K, Sanibel Siesta #402 2/2 listed at $559K, Shorewood #2B 3/3 listed at $1.349M.

7 closed sales: Sundial West #H408 1/1 $385K, Mariner Pointe #1073 2/2 $425K, Sunset South #6B 2/2 $477.5K, Sunset South #4C 2/2 $750K, Sundial West #E205 2/2 $764K, St. Croix #4 2/2.5 $890K, High Tide #A301 2/2 $1.895M.

HOMES

6 new listings: 1722 Serenity Ln 3/3 $525K, 980 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex $525K, 702 Oliva St 3/2 $649K, 4760 Rue Helene 3/2 $1.1M, 1360 Eagle Run Dr 5/3.5 $2.495M, 900 Snowberry Ln 4/3 $3.595M.

5 price changes: 1635 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex now $469K, 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $534.9K, 1024 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2 multi-family now $569K, 2311 Starfish Ln 4/3 now $1.299M, 2405 Blue Crab Ct 4/4.5 now $2.595M.

7 new sales: 575 Piedmont Rd 3/2 listed at $425K, 1631 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex listed at $479K, 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 listed at $535K, 1125 Captains Walk St 3/3 listed at $649.9K, 5753 Pine Tree Dr 3/4 listed at $998K, 746 Windlass Way 4/3 listed at $1.149M, 819 Lindgren Blvd 4/3.5 listed at $1.295M.

5 closed sales: 3870 Coquina Dr 3/2 $575K, 2499 Harbour Ln 3/3 $675K, 1259 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $840K, 532 Sea Oats Dr 3/4 $1.2M, 1688 Hibiscus Dr 3/4 $1.82M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 690 Birdie View Pt $399.9K.

No price changes or new sales.

2 closed sales: 2933 Wulfert Rd $260K, 5407 Osprey Ct $465K.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings or price changes.

2 new sales: with contingencies: Bayside Villas #5208 1/2 listed at $287K, Beach Villas #2632 2/2 listed at $710K.

1 closed sale: Beach Homes #27 5/3 $2.395M.

HOMES

1 new listing: 11537 Laika Ln 4/3 $1.695M.

2 price changes: 15161 Captiva Dr 4/4.5 now $2.495M, 11530 Paige Ct 4/5.5 now $3.585M.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 $1.4M.

LOTS

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 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

Counting Our Blessings at SanibelSusan Realty

Banyan BeachIt sure was fun yesterday to be recognized again at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® September membership meeting for my “big” closing on Monday.

At nearly $8.5M, “Banyan Beach” it is the record year-to-date sale on Sanibel and Captiva. The team and I are very thankful for it, as well as our other closings Monday and today.

After posting the new sales of two condo listings last Friday, it was a wonderful surprise to also find the paperwork for another terrific condo listing in my email on Friday night. It’s the top-floor west-corner unit at Island Beach Club, so the views of the gulf and the beach are spectacular. Even though much of the complex, including this unit, is not fully accessible this month because the association is doing their annual exterior repair work, this condo already has had a showing of the rooms that can be seen and a couple of Realtor® viewings.

Luckily the photos that we borrowed from their rental organization, Select Vacation Properties, show it in total. Big thank-you to their employee, Patience, for sharing! If you want to see this one-of-a-kind income-producing condo, here are her photos.

Below are a few other news items followed by the action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands MLS since last Friday.

Where Buyers Face Steepest Competition

CashSometimes island buyers and sellers are surprised when we tell them how high the percentage of cash buyers is on the island. Here is an article posted yesterday in “Daily Real Estate News”, sourced to “24/7 Wall Street. Looks like the islands are not the only place in Florida where cash sales prevail.

“All-cash transactions remain high, but they are showing signs of dropping, which could be good news for traditional home buyers with financing who find they are unable to compete against cash buyers.

Nearly 38% of home and condo purchases in the second quarter were from all-cash transactions, according to RealtyTrac’s data. That marks a drop from the first quarter, when all-cash transactions reached a three-year high of 42%.

“However, the share of all-cash purchases varies widely in markets across the country. For example, in the Miami metro area, more than 64% of home sales were cash in the second quarter, but in Madison, Wis., that figure was only 18.5%.

“Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, explained to 24/7 Wall St. that some of the highest number of cash sales are occurring in recovering markets that have the highest activity of institutional investors. Also, all-cash sales tend to be highest in areas with still-elevated levels of foreclosures and short sales. Blomquist further notes that all-cash sales are higher for both low-end and luxury properties. Cash sales make up two-thirds of home purchases for up to $100,000 and 45% of purchases for more than $2 million.

“24/7 Wall St., using RealtyTrac data, reviewed the cities that had the largest percentages of all-cash sales in the second quarter of this year. The following metros showed the highest concentration of all-cash transactions:

  • “Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL – Percent of cash sales: 64.1%
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL – Percent of cash sales: 62.1%
  • Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, FL – Percent of cash sales: 61.5%
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL – Percent of cash sales: 54.6%
  • Lakeland, FL – Percent of cash sales: 53%
  • Orlando-Kissimmee, FL – Percent of cash sales: 52.2%
  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX – Percent of cash sales: 52%”

There’s An App for That – Discover Ding Game App Premieres for “Ding” Days

Discover DingHere’s info from a recent press release from “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge:

“If you noticed a giant cell phone walking around the island recently, don’t have your bifocals checked. It’s just the latest costumed character at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. “Happy Appy” is helping to promote the unveiling of the Discover Ding app on Sunday, Family Fun Day, Oct 19, 2014 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Ding” Darling Days.

“A collaboration among the 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 interaction experience that encourages smart-phone users of both Apple and Android products to immerse themselves into their natural surroundings.

“DNA is developing similar apps for other refuges and national parks, but “Ding” Darling will be the first to go live.

“”The first-of-its-kind Discover Ding app will offer the public a few new way to experience the refuge, further enhancing our effort to integrate new technology and social media into our interpretive programming,” said Paul Tritaik, refuge manager.

“The refuge will host a public unveiling and “download-in” to kick off the three Family Fun Days and weeklong eco-festival at 10 a.m. on Oct 19 in the Visitor & Education Center Auditorium. The first 250 people to show staff their download get a special free T-shirt. Happy Appy will be on hand throughout the day to give free tutorials on downloading and using the app which combines nature, gaming, social media, and GPS technology for an entirely new experience. Throughout the week, the costumed character also will be in the Education Center parking lot each morning at 9:25 a.m. to offer help and instruction….”

To support DDWS and the refuge, go to dingdarlingsociety.org.

There’s An App for Real Estate Too

GoMLSLogoThe Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® announced this week that they are taking the next step forward in Multiple Listing Service mobility with a new App too. Within the next few weeks, the new GoMLS mobile app will be available for island Realtors® and their clients. With this app, there will be access to real-time MLS data with listing search capability by city, zip code, address, MLS number, geo-location, or by drawing a search area on a map; multiple map views including street, satellite and hybrid; driving directions; ability to schedule a viewing or contact the listing agent; share listings via text, email, Facebook® and Twitter®; and more!

Flood Insurance Overview

SanCapAssnLogoThe speakers at our monthly Realtor® membership meeting yesterday were a panel of affiliate-member professionals in the insurance business.

They were there to update us on recent Flood Insurance changes. Panelists were:

  • David Arter with Private Client Insurance Services
  • Chris Heidrick with Heidrick & Co.
  • Angie Larson with Rosier Insurance

To understand flood insurance lingo, here are a few definitions.

The most hazardous flood zones are V (usually first-row beachfront properties) and A (usually, but not always properties near water.) According to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the National Flood Insurance Program, any building in A or Z zones are considered to be in a Special Flood Hazard Area.

V zones generally include the first row of beachfront properties. The hazards in these areas are increased because of wave velocity – hence the V designation. If your home is in a “V” zone, adhere to the following recommendations:

  • The bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the lowest floor elevation must be at or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
  • Enclosed areas below the lowest floor cannot be used for living space. The building must be elevated on piles, piers, posts or column foundation.
  • Electrical, heating ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning equipment and other service facilities must be elevated to or above the BFE.

The next most volatile of the Special Flood Hazard Areas is the A zone. These areas are subject to rising waters and are usually near a body of water with a high potential of flooding. If your home is in an A zone, follow these important recommendations:

  • The lowest floor elevation must be at or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
  • Enclosed areas below the lowest floor cannot be used for living space.
  • Electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning equipment and other service facilities must be elevated to or above the BFE.

On Sanibel and Captiva, the flood zones that apply are either the VE Zone or the AE Zone, with the AE zone being a place with potential for a 1%-annual-chance flood event.

In the flood insurance business, it also is important to know if Pre-FIRM insurance rates apply. Pre-FIRM properties on Sanibel were those permitted prior to April 1979. On Captiva, Pre-FIRM properties were permitted before September 1984.

What else is important for these professionals to know is whether a property will be used as a primary residence or non-primary residence. The definition of a “primary residence” for policy rating purposes is: The property must be occupied by the insured and/or the insured’s spouse more than 50% of the 365 days following the policy renewal date.

If you have more specific questions about flood insurance, be sure to talk to an insurance professional.

Economist Calls for National Policy to Reinforce Home Ownership

realtor logoIn a recent column for “HousingWire”, Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Realtor.com®, breaks down the good and the bad of the housing recovery. In the article titled “Economist: Here’s Why Mortgage Supply & Demand Isn’t Normal”, he notes:

“Certain areas are close to a complete recovery, such as employment, home prices, distressed existing home sales, multifamily new construction, and rents. On the other hand, Smoke says the recovery is far from normal levels in terms of single-family new-home construction, mortgage applications and originations, household formation, and home ownership.

“The most negative sales signal comes from the new-home market, where new-home sales came in at an estimated annualized rate of 412,000 in July, the second lowest rate in the last 10 months,” Smoke notes. New-home permits and starts have failed to reach a pace that economists consider healthy for the sector, which is generally above one million.

Smoke points to another troubling area: Mortgage applications, which fell to the lowest level in 14 years at the beginning of September. Mortgage applications remain low despite the fact that rates are hovering near yearly lows. “Mortgage applications are considered a leading indicator for future home sales, but I believe the decline is not so much a signal of another downturn in demand but rather an indication of a seriously hobbled housing credit market,” Smoke writes. He says many buyers are being sidelined due to a very “small credit box,” where only consumers with easily documented incomes, strong credit scores, and large down payments are able to qualify for financing on a home.

“Another housing hurdle Smoke notes is the abnormal levels of supply and demand. “Affordable homes aimed at the first-time buyer segment are not being built,” he says. “Hedge funds bought up most of the affordable distress inventory over the last three years and have turned them into rentals. Home values have recovered the least in affordable price points, resulting in higher numbers of existing owners with negative equity and therefore unable to sell.”

“Smoke says that the continuing declines in areas of home ownership will portend to bigger problems ahead for the overall economy. “Without a strong housing policy, the mortgage market is incapable of adequately addressing risk-appropriate access to credit that supports home ownership,” Smoke writes. “Fundamentally, we need new directions for national housing policy to address the broken credit market, find solutions for affordability housing across all income levels, reinforce home ownership as the cornerstone of financial security, and fulfill the housing needs of older households.”

Priced to Sell at $30M? & Even $68M?

Realtor.com logos“Daily Real Estate News” last Friday posted the following. It was sourced to a “The Wall Street Journal” article from Sept 10, 2014, titled “Luxury Homes: Priced to Sell at $30 Million”. Just after I read that article, I heard on the news about the $68M mansion just listed for sale in neighboring Naples.

“Luxury homes are selling faster than last year, and the homes fetching some of the heftiest price tags are spending less time lingering on the market, according to new data from Realtor.com®. An uptick in the stock market and improving economy may be helping to boost the luxury market in recent months.

“The High-End Market is Booming: For homes listed less than $1 million, the median age of listings ranged from 80 days to a median of 180 days for homes just under $30 million, according to Realtor.com®. But for homes above $30 million, the median time to market dropped to 139 days.

Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com®’s chief economist, says the faster times are often because these high-ticketed homes are marketed quietly before hitting the open market. This market segment is attracting a more engaged group of buyers lately, he says. For example, in Vail, CO., homes above $15 million used to sit on the market for more than two years, but now are selling in “months, not years, and sometimes in weeks,” Tye Stockton, a real estate professional with Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty, told The Wall Street Journal. In Greenwich, CT, Tamar Lurie with Coldwell Banker told The Wall Street Journal that she is expecting about 20 sales above $10 million this year – double the number sold last year. A $2 million listing in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles sat on the market last year before it was removed after never hooking a buyer. But this month, the owners put the home back on the market and sold above the asking price in just one day, says Billy Rose, co-founder of the Agency, a real estate brokerage in Beverly Hills, CA.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity September 12-19

Sanibel

CONDOS

5 new listings: Mariner Pointe #951 1/1 $449K, Nutmeg Village #107 2/2 $659.9K, Sandalfoot #5A3 2/2 $849K, Kings Crown #307 3/2 $925K, Island Beach Club #P6D 2/2 $990K (our listing).

2 price changes: Sundial #I103 1/1 now $345K, Sunset South #9D 2/2 now $425K.

5 new sales: Sundial #D207 1/1 listed for $239K, Kimball Lodge #304 2/2 listed for $499K, Pointe Santo #E22 2/2 listed for $749K, Nutmeg Village #308 2/2 listed for $769K, Pointe Santo #D45 2/2 listed for $799K (our listing).

6 closed sales: Dugger’s Tropical Cottages #5 1/1 $283.25K, Sundial #G407 1/1 $325K, Spanish Cay #A4 2/2 $325K (our listing), Loggerhead Cay #583 2/2 $510K, Sandpiper Beach #302 2/2 $590K, Shell Island Beach Club #5A 2/2 $597K.

HOMES

No new listings.

4 price changes: 1825 Ardsley Way 3/2 now $538K, 732 Durion Ct 3/2 now $749K, 1777 Serenity Ln 5/4.5 now $759K, 501 Sea Walk Ct 3/2 now $889K.

1 new sale: 419 Lighthouse Way 4/3 listed for $849.9K.

5 closed sales: 1364 Jamaica Dr 2/2 $470K, 620 Hideaway Ct 3/2.5 $570K, 4500 Waters Edge Ln 2/2 $769K (our buyer), 676 Anchor Dr 3/3 $887K, 466 Sea Oats Dr 4/3.5 $937.5K.

LOTS

No new listings.

3 price changes: 1246 Sand Castle Rd now $225K, 6411 Pine Ave now $345K, 1048 Fish Crow Rd now $415K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS
Nothing to report.

HOMES

1 new listing: 0 on Captiva-Village Area 4/4 $1.799M.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: 16682 Captiva Dr 10/12.5 $8.48M (our buyer).

LOTS

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.

Here’s to another great week!

Weekend good wishes from the team at SanibelSusan Realty