Sanibel & Captiva Islands Real Estate – With All Eyes on Tropical Storm Isaac

The SanibelSusan Team has been watching the weather channel entirely too much today; but better safe than sorry. As a precaution, Dave brought in all of our “For Sale” signs this morning. We don’t want them to become airborne.

We all got our 2012 hurricane re-entry passes in June, but it seems some did not plan ahead. The City/Police Dept stayed open until 8 p.m. last night to accommodate those folks getting them at the last minute.

With all eyes on how Isaac moves after it crosses Cuba, our plan is to be open unless it looks unsafe. Being on the easterly side of a hurricane path is not the best from a wind and storm surge standpoint, so we naturally hope it either veers way out into the gulf or dissipates.

Dave and I did some business on Sanibel’s west end earlier in the week. He snapped these pictures near the dredging area of Blind Pass. The beach sure looked terrific. Let’s hope that Isaac doesn’t bring back the sand that just got moved offshore.


Real Estate Action This Week

We had no real estate caravan meeting yesterday, but there was a little island sales action as posted below. Last week, we had multiple offers on our Rabbit Road lot listing that went under contract. That definitely was a surprise, but fun! It has been a long time since that has happened.

Elise took a class at the Association of Realtors® office yesterday, called “iPads, iPhones, & Tablets”. Now she’s sharing her new knowledge with the rest of us. Our Association also has a new website that went on-line this week,

Buyers Want a Bargain? Here’s Their Chance!

For home buyers who are looking for a chance to buy low, they may not want to drag their feet too much longer according to an article posted Tuesday in the “Daily Real Estate News”:

““Home prices have probably bottomed in most markets,” David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said in an NBC News-hosted Web chat with online visitors last week. “Mortgage rates are not likely to go down much further and will eventually rise as the economy recovers. Home builders are hungry and while you will still have to pay a fair price, you may not get a better bargain than now before all the rest of the demand comes back.” However, the best bargains will largely depend on where you’re at, Crowe says. “House prices are rising in some markets, notably Texas… In a few markets that were severely damaged by the recent Great Recession, prices may continue downward for another six to ten months,” Crowe says. Crowe says one hurdle that may slow the recovery is the inability for some home buyers to still not be able to qualify for financing due to banks’ tightened underwriting conditions in the last few years….”

Comparing this article to the Sanibel and Captiva market, I think it is safe to say that the tide is changing here too. Here are the latest inventory statistics with the number of sales “up” in all categories.

                                 #                      # Sold               # Sold               # Sold               # Sold

                              For Sale            Year-to-Date      in 2011              in 2010              in 2009

Sanibel condos          161                   132                   142                   120                   87

Sanibel homes           186                   150                   179                   124                   144

Sanibel lots                 83                     30                     19                     21                     11

Sanibel Subtotal          430                   312                   340                   265                   242

Captiva condos           47                     31                     24                     25                     22

Captiva homes            41                     25                     22                     10                    16

Captiva lots                  4                       4                       1                       2                      3

Captiva Subtotal          92                     60                     47                     37                     41

Total Both Islands       522                   372                   387                   302                   283

“Rescue Me” Partnership

This week tree trimmers were working along Periwinkle Way, removing some of the vegetation growing over the power lines. That was timely, wonder if they knew in advance that Isaac was thinking about Florida.

This trimming made it particularly timely, when I saw this internet posting:  “CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) is working with the City of Sanibel, Lee County Electric Coop (LCEC) and Asplundh Tree service in an effort to protect our nesting birds.  This huge undertaking requires a team of volunteers who can help identify which trees have nests and mark those trees in advance to alert the tree service crews.  If an active nest is displaced or babies have fallen, the Asplundh Tree Service crew will place the nests and/or babies in “Rescue Me” boxes created by our local Boy& Girl Scouts, mark the location where the babies were found and then deliver them to CROW for short-term rehabilitative care and release back at the original nest site.”

Below are a few Sanibel bird photos. The baby red-shouldered hawk picture came from CROW while the others are from a Facebook acquaintenance who visited the island for many years and is willing to share his pictures. Thank you, Joe Santucci.

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27th Annual Coastal Cleanup September 15

SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) is inviting everyone to participate in an international volunteer effort to rid our coastlines and waterways of marine litter, pollution, and debris. As many as 400,000 volunteers worldwide will be removing 6.8 million pounds plus of coastal trash that can hurt local economies, injure and kill marine wildlife, and choke the ocean environment. SCCF’s partner in the Ocean Conservancy’s 27th Annual Coastal Cleanup is Keep Lee County Beautiful. Participation is easy. Bring your friends and family to SCCF at 3333 San-Cap Road between 9-12 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 to check in and pick up your Coastal Cleanup Data cards and trash bags. Return your data sheets, deposit your trash in the SCCF dumpster, and have lunch or snacks on the Nature Center porch between 10 and 12 a.m. Call SSCF at 239-472-2329 with questions, to pick your “cleanup” spot early, or get data cards ahead of time.

Top 8 College Towns for Investors

I had two clients tell me this week that they are looking at buying investment real estate in their college towns. Again another timely article was posted Wednesday on “Daily Real Estate News”. It says:

“Investors increasingly are eyeing college towns to snag properties at discounts and turn them into rental properties that could potentially offer steady cash flow with student tenants. But which college towns offer some of the best returns? recently released its second annual list of the best college towns for investors, factoring in average monthly rental prices and comparing it to estimated mortgage payments of a median priced home. The following are the top eight college towns for investors, according to this year’s report.

1. Boston, median list price: $334,900, average rent: $3,084, mortgage payment estimate: $1,240

2. Princeton NJ, median list price: $265,000, average rent: $2,056, mortgage payment estimate: $980

3. Chicago, median list price: $194,000, average rent: $1,630, mortgage payment estimate: $720

4. Washington DC, median list price: $395,000, average rent: $2,637, mortgage payment estimate: $1,460

5. Houston, median list price: $183,000, average rent: $1,134, mortgage payment estimate: $680

6. Philadelphia, median list price: $234,900, average rent: $1,475, mortgage payment estimate: $870

7. Atlanta, median list price: $174,900, average rent: $1,187, mortgage payment estimate: $650

8. Pittsburgh, median list price: $140,000, average rent: $1,122, mortgage payment estimate: $520″

Price Your House To Sell Quickly

I have shared articles on this subject before, but thought this one particularly well written. It was posted by Dian Hymer with Inman News on Monday. Dian is a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, a nationally-syndicated real estate columnist and author of “House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide.”

If home lacks features of recent comps, it’s time to subtract value – A 1st-quarter survey of homebuyers and sellers done by, a real estate services website, revealed that 76% of homeowners believe their home is worth more than the list price recommended by their real estate agent. Homebuyers usually have a better grasp of current market value in the area where they’re looking to buy than do sellers who own and live there. Buyers look at a lot of new listings. They make offers, know what sells quickly and for how much, and what doesn’t and why. HomeGain reported that homebuyers still think sellers are overpricing their homes.

“Your home is worth what a buyer will pay for it given current market conditions. This may not be the same as your opinion of what your home will sell for, or what you hope it’s worth. Relying on emotion rather than logic when selecting a list price can lead to disappointing results…. Listings that sell today are priced right for the market. Buyers need to feel comfortable that they are getting a good deal. Buyers won’t overpay if they feel home prices are still declining, and in some areas of the country, they still are. In areas of strong sales, buyers may shy away from multiple-offer situations if they feel the recovery is fragile and that prices may slide further before stabilizing. Even in areas where home sales have been strong in the first half of 2012, local practitioners wonder how long the uptick will last.

“HOUSE HUNTING TIP: When selecting a list price, it helps to understand how real estate agents and appraisers establish an expected selling price or price range for your home. They research the recent listing inventory for homes similar to yours that sold. The most recent sales give the best indication of the direction of the market. They analyze these comparable sales giving more value to your home for attributes that it has that the comparables don’t, like a remodeled kitchen. Value is subtracted from your home for features it lacks when compared to the sold comparables, like an easily accessible, level backyard.

“It’s difficult for sellers to step back and take an attitude of detached interest in their home. But it’s essential to do so if you want to sell successfully in this market…. If the comparable sale information suggests that the value of homes like yours is declining, select a list price that undercuts the competition to drive buyers — and hopefully offers — to your home. You can take a more aggressive stance on pricing if the comparables show that prices are moving up.

“If there is high demand for homes like yours, you may receive more than one offer. But don’t list too high. It’s better to stay in the range shown by the comparables and expose the house to the market before accepting offers. The market will drive the price up if it’s warranted.

“THE CLOSING: Don’t rely on rumors circulating in the neighborhood about how high a home sold. Prices tend to get inflated when passed from one person to another. Select your list price based on hard facts.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity August 17-24

No new listings.
3 price changes: Blind Pass #E102 2/2 now $395K, Blind Pass #B102 2/2 now $359K, Loggerhead Cay #232 2/2 now $539K.
1 new sale: Compass Point #143 3/2 listed for $1.049M.
1 closed sale: Captains Walk #F7 2/1.5 $205K.

1 new listing: 3825 West Gulf Dr 3/2 $2.35M.
2 price changes: 1536 Bunting Ln 3/2 now $433.5K, 5841 Pine Tree Dr 3/2 now $489.9K.
2 new sales: 750 Nerita St 3/2 listed for $499K, 494 Surf Sound Ct 5/2.5 listed for $899,555.
2 closed sales: 2210 Camino Del Mar 3/2 $512.5K, 1043 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $535K.
No new listings
1 price change: 133 Butterknife Pl now $324.9K.
1 new sale: 545 Rabbit Rd listed for $179K (our listing).
1 closed sale:  4771 Rue Helene $345K.

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
2 closed sales: Captiva Shores #1B 3/2.5 $1M, Captiva Bay Villas #D 3/3.5 $2.5M.

1 new listing: 1114 Schefflera 4/3 $1.795M.
No price changes or new sales.
1 closed sale: 11407 Old Lodge Ln $950K.

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale: 11401 Old Lodge Ln $2.5M.

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its Multiple Listing Service.  Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy.  Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.  The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

Finishing Up a Busy April on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

I am back from my week on the Ruby Princess and The SanibelSusan Team is busy – so much for thinking that the few weeks after Easter were going to be slow this year. The report below of the Multiple Listing Service action this week confirms that the islands are active.

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Dave and Lisa spent time yesterday at both our listing on Beach Road, accompanying a showing, and our listing on North Yachtsman Drive, which closed this morning. Posted above are a few photos that they snapped during those trips. Talk about glorious weather. For the past several days, the humidity has been under 40%, days in the low 80’s, and evening temperatures down into the high 50’s. Best April weather that I recall in my 20 years here!

When I attended a closing at Barrier Island Title this morning, the girls there remarked that they are staying late most evenings to stay up with the workload, with most of the incoming contracts being cash and quick closings (our favorite kind).

I just made a call to Island Condo Management for an update on some condominium documents and they said that they also are busy – their busiest April in years. Wow, let’s hope this continues. Maybe the buyers have gotten the word that the tide is turning on Sanibel and Captiva!

Here are a few news items, followed by the MLS report for the week:

75th Sanibel Shell Fair and Show

For those who were just hopping off a cruise ship last weekend – or otherwise busy – if you missed the CBS news segment on Sunday morning about Sanibel shelling, here is a link:;contentBody

Piping To Be Replaced in The Dunes Subdivision

I noticed an article in the “Island Sun” that said that Island Water Association, Inc. started working in The Dunes last week to replace the piping in that subdivision. Construction operations will take place on the north side of the subdivision between Albatross Road and The Dunes Clubhouse, starting near the clubhouse. The dates for other streets will be announced as construction progresses. To get more info, call 239-472-1502.

Final Farmer’s Market of the Season This Weekend

Can you believe that it has been four years since two island residents, Jean Baer and Betsy Ventura, brought the first farmer’s market to Sanibel? Offering vegetables, fruit, breads, flowers, plants, meats, seafood, sauces, dips, cheeses, jams, honey, treats, meals, and much more, the number of vendors varies each week from 30 to 40, including repeat and new vendors each year. The Sanibel Farmer’s Market operates each Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., from November to April at City Hall on Dunlop Road. The last one for this season is this weekend. We will miss them and already are looking forward to their return in November.

SanibelSusan’s Golden Rules for Dealing With Technology

Here's our office

As an old dog, always willing to learn a few news tricks, I try to embrace technology so that my business stays ahead of the curve. Thank goodness son Dave is a computer guru. He usually kicks and screams when we suggest social media; while the girls in the office, Elise, Lisa, and I enjoy the connectivity that this new technology brings. The changes that keep us connected today and improve our communication – from iPhones, iPads, texting, and the many features of Facebook, LinkedIn – remind me there are some rules that should not be forgotten. A recent article posted in the YPN (Young Professionals Network) Lounge at the National Association of Realtors® site concurs. (I like to read about what those Young Professionals are saying so I stay young too!)

Here are the three golden technology rules you can always count on from The SanibelSusan Team.

1) The client we are with is always our top priority. We do not use technology when we are in clients’ presence unless it is for them. We respect our clients, so you will not find The SanibelSusan Team reading messages, posting e-mails or texts, or handling routine business calls while we are with you.

2) We use technology for its intended use, not to do our dirty work. When a verbal communication can best relay a message, you will get a “real” phone call. When the written word is necessary to record an event, you will get that.

3) Grammar and spelling are important. My team knows that this is one of my pet peeves. They call me the boss with the “red pen”. If we think the correct use of hyphens is important, imagine how important it is that we “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” correctly in our contract work for you. Technology may provide us with better connectivity, but we will remain details-oriented.

Embracing technology is essential to today’s real estate arena; however, basic good manners and professionalism always will prevail when you work with The SanibelSusan Team.

Tarpon Tournament Update

The deadline to register for the “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament is May 1st and 35 teams have already signed up. The tournament takes place on May 4th and 5th at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Fort Myers Beach and will benefit wildlife research and education at the refuge and will also benefit tarpon by rewarding participating anglers who perform DNA scrubs on their catches for genetics research before releasing them.

Mina Hemingway, former Sanibel resident, avid fisher, and granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway has joined the tournament. She will be flying in from Bozeman, Montana to fish with Sanibel Island Fishing Club members Rol Campbell (SanibelSusan’s neighbor), Tom Butcher and Charlie Sobczak (island Realtor® and author) aboard Charlie’s boat “Nine Lives”.

Celebrity author Randy Wayne White and TV fishing personalities captains Ozzie Fischer and Ozzie Lessinger also are listed among the teams signed up for the catch-and release tournament. White, a former Sanibel fishing guide, also will preside over a “Kangaroo Court” during the awards ceremony that follows the tournament.

Did you know that this fishing tradition began in 1885 with the first tarpon ever caught on rod-and-reel right here at the “Ding” Darling Refuge in Tarpon Bay? Some islanders have even delayed their return trips to their northland homes, so that they can fish in the tournament this year. Good luck, Bruce!

Interested fishing teams can resister at or by calling 239-472-1100 ext. 4. 

March Pending Home Sales Rise, Market Recovering

Here is a “positive” press release issued yesterday:

“Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, another signal the housing market is recovering, according to the NAR (National Association of Realtors®).

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1% to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February and is 12.8% above March 2011 when it was 89.9.  The data reflects contracts but not closings.

“The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said 2012 is expected to be a year of recovery for housing.  “First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years.  The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good,” he said. “The housing market has clearly turned the corner.  Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses,” Yun said.

The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.8% to 78.2 in March but is 21.1% above March 2011.  In the Midwest the index declined 0.9% to 93.3 but is 16.9% higher than a year ago.  Pending home sales in the South rose 5.9% to an index of 114.1 in March and are 10.6% above March 2011.  In the West the index increased 8.7% in March to 108.0 and is 9.0% above a year ago.

“The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

“*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing. The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales.  In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.

“Information about NAR is available at News releases are posted in the website’s “News and Commentary” tab.  Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab of

“REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.  Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.  All REALTORS® are members of NAR.”

Sanibel & Captiva MLS Activity April 20-27

4 new listings: Blind Pass #B101 2/2 $449K, Pointe Santo #C24 1/1 $459K, Shell Island Beach Club #7A 2/2 $710K, Seascape #302 3/3.5 $1.349M.
2 price changes: Seawind #A103 2/2.5 now $450K, Sea Pines #D 3/3 now $489K.
3 new sales: Snug Harbor #311 2/2 listed for $459K, Tarpon Beach #104 2/2 listed for $679K, Sundial #T207 2/2 listed for $849K.
5 closed sales: Island Beach Club #320F 2/2 $410K, Sandalfoot #3D1 2/2 $430K, Sandalfoot #4C2 2/2 $455K, Kings Crown #104 2/2 $565K, Gulfside Place #116 3/3 $1.505M.
4 new listings: 1415 Sandpiper Cir 2/2 half-duplex $329K, 960/964 Palm St 3/3 $379.9K, 1536 Bunting Ln 3/2 $442.5K, 1574 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $549K.
10 price changes: 966 Fitzhugh St 2/1 now $337K; 1610 Sabal Sands Rd 3/2 now $489.9K; 1339 Par View Dr 3/2 now $670.5K; 4996 Joewood Dr now $760K; 4960 Joewood Dr 4/3 now $769.9K; 1807 Buckthorn Ln 3/2.5 now $779.9K; 4781 Tradewinds Dr 3/2 now $1.695M; 553 Lighthouse Way 4/4 now $1.795M; 1232 Isabel Dr 3/3 now $1,999,999; 568 Lighthouse Way 4/4.5 now $2.4M.
2 new sales: 5230 Caloosa End Ln 4/3 listed for $996K, 2564 Wulfert Rd 5/5 listed for $2.298.5M.
6 closed sales: 555 Chert Ct 3/2 $350K, 525 Lake Murex Cir 3/2.5 $467.5K, 1284 Par View Dr 2/2 $516K, 542 North Yachtsman Dr 2/2 $630K (our listing & sale), 3061 Poinciana Cir 3/2 $650K, 1331 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $725K.
2 new listings: 412 Tiree Cir $375,555; Island Inn Rd $1,350,555.
1 price change: 568 Lighthouse Way now $1.3M.
No new sales.
2 closed sales:  1594 Century Ct $129.9K, 1299 Par View Dr $187K.
No new listings or price changes.
4 new sales: Beach Villas #2516 1/1 listed for $449K; Beach Villas #2517 1/1 listed for $499,950; Captiva Shores #5D 2/2 listed for $768.8K; Beach Homes #13 3/3 listed for $2.475M.
2 closed sales: Captiva Shores #6B 2/2 $675K, Lands End Village #1628 3/3 $1.55M.
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale: 16185 Captiva Dr 4/4 $1.2M.
Nothing to report.
This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its Multiple Listing Service. Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions. If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.