Sanibel & Captiva Halloween Fun Begins Today

It’s another happy Sanibel Friday with islanders looking forward to a cool front arriving tonight, with morning temperatures expected to dip into the high 60’s. That should make it more comfortable for runners in tomorrow’s FISH 10K Race and the Halloween festivities beginning this 10K 2018

Island Events

  • 14th Annual Island Paws Howl-o-Ween Bash – today Fri Oct 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Over Easy Café Patio includes pet costume contest & fundraiser to benefit Captains for Clean Water.
  • 10th Annual 10K Race 4 FISH – Sat Oct 27, begins at 7:30 a.m. & ends at The Community House. I’m the Sanibel Square roadway volunteer, near the finish line. Give a wave if you are running!
  • Hallo-‘Tween Party & Costume Contest – Sat Oct 27 hosted by ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa: Crow’s Nest open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. with dinner 5-10 p.m., Gatlin 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Canoe & Kayak open for dinner 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Wakefield Room DJ/Dance Party 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wristbands $10 (21 and up after 10 p.m.)
  • Trunk or Treat at Sanibel Community Church – Wed Oct 31 from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Center 4 Life Annual Trash & Treasures Sale – Sat Nov 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Island Seniors, 2401 Library Way.
  • Flip Flop Family Scavenger Hunt – Sat Nov 3 to benefit Sanibel Sea School scholarship program. Starts at 10:30 a.m. at Sanibel Congregational Church
  • Sanibel Blues & Jazz FestivalSun Nov 4 in Bailey’s Backyard from 12 to 7 p.m. Tickets at Bailey’s General Store &
  • 37th Annual Taste of The Islands to benefit CROW, Sun Nov 11 at Sanibel Community Park from 12:30 to 5 p.m.
  • The Launch Sat Nov 17 Coastal Keepers fundraiser at The Community House from 6 to 10 p.m. More info & tickets at


Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoThe islands’ Association of Realtors® annual meeting last night included a report by President Dustyn Corace summarizing another good year for our healthy organization. Progress in the continued fight for better water quality and several fund-raising events for community charities were recognized, with contributors thanked for their help and participation. Congratulations to Realtors® George Kohlbrenner and Connie Walters, both elected to the incoming Board of Directors.


Our last benefit of the year called “Fall Into Christmas” for “Friends Who Care” followed the meeting with many unwrapped toys, gift cards, and cash donations collected for this wonderful organization. It’s founder, islander Tom Louwers provided a brief history. Beginning in the early 80’s when Sanibel law enforcement knew of a family in need of a hand-up, today, this charitable non-profit quietly helps island residents and employees cope with a range of small emergency needs. Through the year, it assists anonymously with such items as school supplies and gas cards, while over the holidays, particularly at Christmas it provides with holiday meals and presents from Santa delivering them directly to those in need. Funded by the generosity of islanders and organizations like the Association of Realtors®, every dollar collected goes directly to the people it serves.

2018-10-26 Fall Into Christmas

Some of the “Fall Into Christmas” elves and guests are shown above with Leslie Adams (center) who catered the yummy appetizers, while desserts shown were from Totally Baked on Sanibel). Service, libations, & decor were by the elves (chaired by Realtor Kelly Huguenin & Amanda Curran Corace) & Association staff. Tom Louwers with “Friends Who Care” is on the far right next to Association CEO, Bill Robinson.

SanibelSusan Realty Associates

SanibelSusan Realty from Periwinkle WayIt was quiet at our office this week and our open houses didn’t yield many lookers. Like our colleagues, we look forward to reverting to the weekly Thursday morning caravan schedule next week.

These Open Houses of new listings (Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. until noon) will continue through “season” and are an island tradition.

The action posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service since last Friday follows a couple of news items below.

“Ding” Darling Wins America’s Best Restroom

This week, the refuge’s “Learning Lavatories” were voted American’s Best Restroom in Cintas Corporation’s nationwide contest. With nine other finalists, online votes were counted to select the country’s top-rated restroom. This contest is in its 17th year and certainly is a unique way to feature a facility. To become a finalist, judging criteria includes cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality, and unique design elements. The refuge restrooms certainly led in several of those categories.

The Refuge restroom project was completed about a year ago and outside includes a mother and baby manatee sculpture (made of recycled bike tires) and floor-to-ceiling paintings depicting images of refuge wildlife. Inside, built to green standards, they feature an underwater motif with mangrove photo-tile murals and wildlife sculptures. Stall doors are wrapped in close-up professional photos of refuge birds, while educational teaser messages encourage visitors to learn more.

Ding bathroom

Positive Sea Turtle News

loggerhead_sea_turtle_baby_blogThough Southwest Florida water conditions late this summer generated plenty of negative news, it was a good season for sea turtles nesting on Sanibel/Captiva and their hatchlings. According to SCCF’s (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Sea Turtle Program Coordinator and as reported today in the “Island Sun”: “This year’s nesting season was actually pretty good. We’ve had four record-breaking seasons in a row, and while we didn’t set any records this year, it was an above average season.”

Nesting season runs from mid-April until the end of October. According to 2018 statistics compiled by SCCF, a total of 721 sea turtle nests were laid in 2018, compared to a total of 871 laid during 2017. An estimated 38,579 hatchlings emerged from the nests and entered waters surrounding Sanibel and Captiva. “…hatchlings swim like crazy the first seven to 10 days of their lives before they start eating; they feed from the yolk sac, which gives them the energy to get far out into the gulf. In fact, FWC (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) says that hatchlings may be the lone glimmer of hope in an otherwise horrible red tide season.” The agency requests that if the public witnesses sick, distressed or dead wildlife, they should call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 (press 7 for the operator).

Thanks to the many island sea turtle program volunteers and SCCF staff members who in addition to their daily beach patrols, which begin at dawn, collect trash and debris left on island beaches. For more information or to adopt a sea turtle next to to

Average Mortgage Rates Edge Up – 30-year at 4.86%

Florida Realtors logoFlorida Realtors® on-line posted the below article yesterday (Oct 25) by The Associated Press:associated-press-logo

“Long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged slightly higher this week amid continued anxiety in financial markets as interest rates rise.

“Home borrowing rates remain at their highest levels in more than seven years, with the key 30-year rate approaching 5%. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages ticked up to an average 4.86% this week from 4.85% last week. A year ago, it stood at 3.94%.

“The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.29% this week from 4.26% last week.

“Anxiety over rising interest rates, which stem from strength in the economy, has buffeted financial markets in recent weeks and spilled over into the housing market.

“Stocks have swooned over the last three weeks as investors worried about interest rates, as well as trade tensions between the U.S. and China, and slowing economies outside the U.S. As of Wednesday, the S&P 500 index had plunged 9.4% in just three weeks, with two separate six-day losing streaks. It hasn’t had a streak of losses that long since November 2016.

“The combination of higher borrowing costs and increasing home prices has made homeownership less affordable.

“Sales of new U.S. homes plunged 5.5% in September, the fourth straight monthly drop as the housing market cools, the government reported Wednesday. The annual rate of home sales has dropped 15.3% since May, eliminating much of the strength in sales from the first five months of 2018.

“Builders had assumed that a stronger economy would boost sales, yet a greater share of new construction is going un-purchased.

“Interest rates on Treasury bonds, which have climbed to seven-year highs in recent weeks, were steady this week. The yield on the key 10-year Treasury note, which can influence mortgage rates, was at 3.14% Wednesday, down from 3.15% last week.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

“The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year mortgages also held steady, at 0.4 point.

“The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.14% from 4.10% last week. The fee remained at 0.3 point.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Oct 19-26, 2018

sancap GO MLS logoSanibel


7 new listings: Tennisplace #C23 2/1.5 $339K, Blind Pass #G201 2/2 $479K, Mariner Pointe #842 2/2 $650K, Sand Pointe #228 2/2 $749K, Sand Pointe #117 2/2 $799K, Sunset South #5D 2/2 $1.189M, Cyprina Beach #1 3/2.5 $1.795M.

3 price changes: Sundial West #D304 1/1 now $399K, Island Beach Club #320F 2/2 now $747.5K, Compass Point #183 now 2/2 now $1.25M.

2 new sales: Seashells #43 2/2 listed at $329K, Cottage Colony West #132 1/1 listed at $634.9K.

2 closed sales: Pointe Santo #C34 1/1 $450K, Snug Harbor #121 3/2 $1.099M.


4 new listings: 401 Raintree Pl 3/1.5 $549K, 223 Southwinds Dr 3/2 $699K, 498 Surf Sound Ct 3/3 $885K, 2385 Wulfert Rd 4/5 $1.399M.

7 price changes: 531 Piedmont Rd 3/2 now $449.5K, 1325 Par View Dr 3/3 now $675K, 707 Cardium St 3/2 now $849K, 1747 Jewel Box Dr 3/2 now $1.049M, 1433 Sanderling Cir 4/3 now $1.089M, 1426 Causey Ct 3/2.5 now $1.099M, 599 Lake Murex Cir 3/3.5 now $1.675M.

4 new sales: 1717 Atlanta Plaza Dr 2/2 listed at $420K, 1236 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 listed at $565K, 256 Daniel Dr 3/2 listed at $799K, 1035 S Yachtsman Dr 5/4.5 listed at $999K.

5 closed sales: 4542 Bowen Bayou Rd 3/2 $410K, 976 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex listed at $715K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 listed at $690K, 1043 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $715K, 1528 San Carlos Bay Dr 3/3 $1.6M.


No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 978 Main St listed at $179.9K.

No closed sales.



No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Beach Cottages #1407 2/2 $1.12M.


No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: with contingencies: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 listed at $1.499M.

1 closed sale: 14860 Mango Ct 5/4 $1,698,500.


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.

Dearie Trick or Treaters-colorUntil next Friday, remember at SanibelSusan Realty, it’s all about treats – no tricks here! Happy Halloween!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Almost Halloween on Sanibel

OctoberToday is another sunny day on the islands where we are excited to report cooler temperatures and low humidity. It’s always a nice change to have windows open and to wear long-sleeves again. Those local changes also indicate changes up north too, with cooler norther temps resulting in more inquiries and a boost in business here. Temperatures today were expected to reach the low 80’s before another cool front arrives tomorrow after a few showers. Then, temperatures are expected to go into the 50’s at night, with days in the 70’s.

SanCapAssnLogoSanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Following the Association’s annual meeting yesterday, several new sales were announced during Realtor® Caravan. More new listings also are on the market.

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

Upcoming Events

With holidays fast approaching, here are a few more upcoming events.

13th Annual Island Paws Howl-O-Ween Fundraiser – Tonite Oct 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. on the Over Easy Café patio to raise money for Gulf Coast Humane Society.

FINAL_FISH_10K_20179th Annual 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H. – Tomorrow morning Oct 28 – Race begins at The Community House at 7:30 a.m. Periwinkle Way will be closed to one lane during the race.

Island Nights Fall Festival – Tomorrow Oct 28 from 3 to 9:30 p.m. at Casa Ybel Resort with local vendors, life music, food, rum and craft beer samples, dessert station, face painting, henna tattoos, bounce house, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin painting, goodie bags, & a movie.

Trunk or Treat – Tuesday Oct 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Sanibel Community Church.

Fall Family Festival – Tuesday Oct 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Community House. A bag of candy gains admission where costumed families will win prizes, enjoy carnival games, a hay ride, and get hot dog and burger dinners.

24th Annual Esperanza Woodring Memorial Cast Net Rodeo – Saturday Nov 4 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at The Bait Box. Free family event with free lessons, youth competition, refreshments, music, and raffle.

Sanibel Sea schoolThanksgiving Beach Walk – Thursday Nov 23 from 8:45 to 10 a.m. with Doc Bruce, Sanibel Sea School, 414 Lagoon Dr. Walk the beach with him, learn about the eco-system, and explore creatures found along the way. Free & kid-friendly.

Sanibel Update on Hurricane Irma Vegetative Debris Collection

Veg-Debris-1As of Wed, reports that the “first sweep” of the island is 93.35% complete with 78.08 miles out of the 83.64 miles of roads completed. 28 streets (or a portion) out of 256 public and private roads remained to be done with two streets remaining due to sagging Comcast lines. City crews are using small vehicles to collect the debris on the roads blocked by Comcast lines.

Stump removal and a final “mop-up” collection of hurricane-generated debris will be next with hours of operation changing on Monday Nov 6.

Property owners are reminded that vegetative debris generated as part of routine maintenance is to be disposed consistent with pre-hurricane collection methods. Bagged or containerized residual debris will be collected by the regular hauler on regularly scheduled horticulture collection days.

Vegetation Trimming on Periwinkle Way

Sanibelcityseal logoNotice from City of Sanibel – “From Monday Oct 30 through Friday Nov 10 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the vegetation along Periwinkle Way will be trimmed from Lighthouse Beach Park to Tarpon Bay Rd. Intermittent lane closes are expected. Drivers and pedestrians, please proceed slowly and cautiously through areas when workers are present.” 

Are Your Neighbors Trees Growing On Your Property?

henderson-franklinAnyone who knows where I live, recognizes that I like my yard neat and trimmed. Thankfully, my landscaper does a good job of keeping it that way. One of my neighbors, on-the-other-hand, prefers the jungle look. Sometimes a few of their trees, a big one in particular, grow out over my property.

Some years, during my annual fall “big trim”, I have paid dearly to have some of “their” branches cut back. This year, however, Hurricane Irma did a nice job of taking care of that task for me. Even so, the below article by Donald Thompson, posted on-line Oct 18, 2017 on the Legal Scoop Blog of Henderson Law was of interest. Maybe it applies to your situation too.

“Your neighbors are proud of their beautiful, large fruit trees, which are now growing substantially over your property. The trees have grown so large that a number of branches extend over your house, tool shed, and other improvements, which you believe results in a dangerous condition, not to mention rotten fruit dropping on your patio. What are your options: force the neighbor to remove the tree extending over your land, sue for damages, or something else? You may be surprised.

“In Florida, a possessor of land is not liable to others outside his land for nuisance caused by vegetation growing from his land over adjoining properties. Scott v McCarty, 41 So. 3d 989 (Fla.4th DCA 2010). Therefore, your neighbor has no duty to remove or even trim the tree branches that encroach onto your property.

“However, as the adjoining property owner, you have the privilege to trim back, at your expense, the offending (encroaching) tree, roots, branches, and other vegetation. Gallo v Heller, 512, So. 2d 215 (Fla.3d DCA 1987). Maybe this does not seem fair. You may wonder why you must pay to cut your neighbor’s trees that she allowed to grow over your property. The rationale appears to be grounded in common sense and public policy. Courts recognize that allowing such a claim would likely result in innumerable, and in many instances, vexatious lawsuits. In fact, one case reasoned that departing from the precedent would invite further litigation between neighbors, which as a matter of public policy should be avoided. Scott v McCarty, 41 So. 3d 989 (2010)

“Options – If your neighbor’s tree is growing onto your property, as a general rule you may trim the vegetation that extends onto your property. However, you should not cut any portion of the tree on your neighbor’s property and should not enter onto your neighbor’s property without consent. In fact, you should chat with your neighbor first and discuss what you intend to do. Even if your neighbor disagrees, and the matter ends up in a courtroom, a judge is likely to look favorably on your attempt to amicably resolve your disagreement.

“Exceptions – Of course, there are exceptions to most general rules. In Sullivan v Silver Palm Properties, Inc., 558 So. 2d 409 (Fla. 1990), the Florida Supreme Court cites at least two cases which held a landowner responsible for maintenance of trees and vegetation obstructing motorists’ view of a stop sign. The Courts reasoned that overhanging vegetation which blocks traffic control devices presents an imminent danger, and that a duty to remove vegetation obstructing critical traffic control signage is common sense. Also, the general rule in Florida of no duty or liability of a neighbor for overgrown trees is not the rule followed in all states.

“Other matters to consider before taking action may include:

  • review municipal or county ordinances, if applicable;
  • investigate and consider the possibility of removal of vegetation on your property causing damage to your neighbor’s property; and
  • use common sense.

“These types of claims can be fact driven and varying facts may affect an outcome in court. If in doubt, be sure to seek a competent attorney to assist you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue, please feel free to reach me at or by phone at 239-344-1369.”

Good Info From The Shell Museum

bailey-mathews shell museum signLast week, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum held another educational event for those wanting to become Shell Ambassadors. You may have seen those folks on the beach, wearing blue tee-shirts and helping those shelling. One of these days, I hope to become a Shell Ambassador too, but in the meantime, I thought one of their handouts had some good info. Aka Important Contact Information, it includes some number that might come in handy if you see injured wildlife or perhaps a tourist violating a local rule. I’ve added the info to my website “Useful Phone #s & Links” tab. FYI, here it is:

  • Injured land animal – CROW 239-472-3644 x222 or FWC Wildlife Alert 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC or #FWC on mobile phone
  • Sea turtle problems – SCCF Sea Turtle Hotline 978-728-3663 or FWC Wildlife Alert 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC or #FWC on mobile phone
  • Manatee & dolphin problems – FWC Wildlife Alert 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC or #FWC on mobile phone
  • Active code violations on Sanibel (like live shelling, littering, leash law, feeding/harassing wildlife, destroying beach/dunes, picking native plants, etc.) – Sanibel Police non-emergency 239-472-3111
  • Passive code violations on Sanibel (like abandoned beach furniture, large amounts of garbage, etc.) – Sanibel Code Enforcement 239-472-4136
  • Live shelling on Captiva & causeway beaches – FWC Wildlife Alert 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC or #FWC on mobile phone or Lee County Sherriff non-emergency 239-477-1000 • Full Outside bar opens at 10pm (cash only) Wristbands: $10 at entrance cash only (must be 21 years of age or older with wrist band only for admission). Costume Contest winners announced at midnight! Cash prizes awarded to 1st ($1,000), 2nd ($500), and 3rd ($250) of best overall costume. Other prizes to include free night stays, dining credits, Cabana rentals, Jet Ski and parasailing vouchers and more! Dinner before party? Why yes, with both Crow’s Nest and Captiva House accepting reservations now at 472.5161!

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity October 20-27, 2017



No new listings.

5 price changes: Sundial West #H409 1/1 now $465K, Island Beach Club #P1A 2/2 now $639K, Cottage Colony West #132 1/1 now $654K, Cottage Colony West #108 1/1 now $654K, Pointe Santo #B2 2/2 now $815K,

4 new sales: Spanish Cay #E3 2/2 listed at $369K, Sanibel Siesta #303 2/2 listed at $529K, Shell Island Beach Club #7B 2/2 listed at $820K (our buyer), Nutmeg Village #100 2/2 listed at $1.07M.

Shell Isl. Beach Club

Shell Island Beach Club Aerial


1 closed sale: Villa Sanibel #3C 2/2 $630K.


3 new listings: 5299 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/3 $698K, 921 Strangler Fig Ln 3/3.5 $995K, 1743 Jewel Box Dr 3/3.5 $1.2M.

6 price changes: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $499K, 1943 Sanibel Bayou Rd 3/3 now $649.9K, 5657 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 3/2 now $895K, 1304 Eagle Run Dr 3/3 now $1.199M, 1672 Hibiscus Dr 3/2 now $1.295M, 1149 Paper Fig Ct 4/3 now $2.245M.

2 new sales: 4775 Rue Helene 4/3 listed at $799K, 1270 Bay Dr 3/2 listed at $1.349M.

2 closed sales: 1550 Bunting Ln 2/2.5 $622K, 3728 West Gulf Dr 5/5 $2.325M.


No new listings:

3 price changes: 2486 Wulfert Rd now $179K; 412 Tiree Cir now $349,555; 2401 Blue Crab Ct now $699K.

1 new sale: 1415 Sanderling Cir listed at $398K.

No closed sales.



No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: Beach Villas #2523 1/1 listed at $539K.

No closed sales.


1 new listing: 14865 Mango Ct 2/2 $979K.

No price changes, new sales, or closed sales.


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.


halloween-kidsHappy Halloween!

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 (, 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 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
  • 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

  • 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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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