Celebrating July 4th Weekend on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Another Friday has rolled around as Sanibel and Captiva have settled into summer – with sunny, occasionally cloudy mornings, then late afternoon showers cooling things down before a beautiful sunset.

It was quiet in the office all week, with similar news from other real estate offices. With the real estate market hot and only 81 properties available on both islands (condos/homes/lots), many prospective buyers are discouraged and playing the waiting game.

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

July 4th Holiday Weekend on the Islands

Though some are disappointment that there will not be a holiday parade or fireworks on Sanibel, the precautions are understood and appreciated. We still can decorate though – so, as usual, SanibelSusan Realty will be decked out in red, white, and blue as thankful freedom reminders.

If you are looking for some pre-July 4th fun, the San-Cap Motor Club is hosting a Cars and Coffee cruise-in tomorrow, Sat, Jul 3 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Periwinkle Place Shopping Center.

After that, the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club’s 41st Annual Road Rally will line-up for a noon start time at The Timbers Restaurant parking lot. To sign up for the 2021 Freedom Road Rally, contact Randy Carson at RCarson@gmail.com. Cost is $50 per vehicle and prizes will be awarded. Registration will be accepted until 11:45 a.m. on race day. The afterglow party and awards presentations will immediately follow the rally in The Sanibel Grill at The Timbers.

On 4th of July, there is a celebration at American Legion Post #123, 4249 San-Cap Rd with free hot dogs served all day, plus music by The Marty Stokes Band from 3 to 6 p.m.

Also on July 4th, South Seas Resort will host their annual golf cart parade and fireworks. You must be a registered guest to enter the resort grounds.

At the J.N. “Ding” Darling Visitor and Education center, the refuge staff will observe Independence day on Mon, July 5, with the administrative building and Visitor Center closed, but Wildlife Drive and its trails, Bailey Tract, and Tarpon Bay Explorers remain open with their regular hours.

Presenting Offers: OK with License Law? Code of Ethics?

Posted recently at FloridaRealtors on-line, this article by Meredith Caruso (Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors®) provides direction for Realtors® but offers good information for Sellers and Buyers too.

“Your exhausted seller received five offers in one day. Four are over asking price, but the last one offers $50,000 less, possibly making it a waste of time for an already exhausted seller. Must you still present it? Perhaps not – but only under very specific conditions.

“ORLANDO, Fla. – In today’s fast paced market, sellers receive many competitive offers on their properties. Some sellers may choose to ask for highest and best; some sellers may just accept one of the offers presented to them.

“This article isn’t about that though. This article focuses on the agents involved and their actions with regards to offers and counteroffers.

“Florida real estate licensees can have one of three types of agency relationships with buyers and sellers: single agent, transaction broker or no brokerage relationship. Unless a licensee has something in writing with their respective party indicating single or no brokerage relationship, Florida law presumes you are in a transaction broker relationship.

“Under a transaction broker relationship – as well as single agent relationship – you have obligations with regards to offers and counteroffers. Additionally, Article 1, Standard of Practice 1-6, 1-7 and 1-8 of the Code of Ethics set forth further requirements regarding the presentation of offers and counteroffers.

“Specifically, per Florida Statute 475.278, the licensee is obligated to present all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner, unless a party has previously directed the licensee otherwise in writing. This article focuses on the language of this statute.

“What does this mean in plain English? Unless your buyer or seller sent you something in writing in advance, or you’ve added something into your listing or buyer brokerage agreement clarifying what kinds of offers and counteroffers they want to see, you must present them all.

“We all know the market is hot right now, so I understand the pressure to act quickly, on both sides. However, Florida Realtors Legal Hotline calls have included statements from Realtors® indicating that some sellers feel overwhelmed by the number of offers they’re receiving. As a result, these agents try to help by picking and choosing which offers the sellers see.

“Let me be clear: If you don’t have something in writing in advance – before you received those multiple offers – stating that you’re able to do this, it’s a violation of your real estate licensing law.

“Does this mean this can’t happen at all? No! But you must do it properly.

“If you’re a listing agent taking a listing, you can easily have a conversation with the sellers and should be asking a variety of questions, including what kind of offers the sellers are looking for. Do they only want to see cash offers? Do they only want to see offers over a certain price point? Do they only want to see offers that can close by a certain time? If so, clarify that in writing in your listing agreement or get it in writing some other way from your sellers. Then if you get offers that don’t fall within the sellers’ criteria, you do not have to present those offers and are able to move forward, confident you are in compliance with your real estate licensing law and the Code of Ethics.”

SCCF’s June 30, 2021 Turtle Update

As locals and visitors tentatively watch what is happening south of Florida with Tropical Storm Elsa, it was great news to read this week’s email update from the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Here it is, titled “Green Sea Turtles Return to Nest on Sanibel”:

“In the last few weeks, SCCF’s sea turtle team has documented 12 green sea turtle… nests on Sanibel. The team has been able to identify four different individual green nesters, two of which have been seen on Sanibel in years past and were part of a satellite tag tracking project in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

“Most of the nesting on Sanibel and Captiva is primarily by loggerhead sea turtles so a different species is always extra exciting,” said Research Associate Andrew Glinsky. “Based on the number and timing of nests there could possibility be as many as two more green sea turtles that we have yet to positively ID.”

“…As of today, Sanibel has 440 loggerhead nests… and Captiva has 139 loggerhead nests as hatching season is ramping up on our islands…. To date, nine nests on both islands have hatched, with nearly 1,000 hatchlings.”

Surfside Condo Tragedy Could Influence RE Market

As we all have watched the devastation on Florida East Coast, this article posted Wed on FloridaRealtors® is sourced to 2021 “Miami Herald” and distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. There is some interested info in the article.

Sanibel residents appreciate that there are no high-rise buildings here, prevented by our building code. Interestingly, in recent months, local West Coast Realtors® have seen an increase in business from East Coast buyers looking to get out of the Miami hustle bustle post-COVID. I wonder if the Surfside tragedy will mean even more future business here.

“It could take years to understand the Surfside tragedy’s cause, and condo buyers will likely pay more attention to building inspections and assessments going forward.

“MIAMI – As grim images of rescue workers sifting through the wreckage of the Champlain South Tower circulate around the world, Miami’s kingpin condo real-estate industry is bracing for a slide.

““In the short-term, the effect of the collapse will be jarring,” said real estate attorney Jesse-Dean Kluger, who said he spent the weekend fielding calls from clients under contract for units in older buildings. “You’re going to have some pushback from buyers on the closing dates, because why would you close before you have an inspection and a satisfactory report?” he said. “This could be a deal-breaker for some clients.”

“Built in 1981, the beachfront Champlain Towers South condo, located at 8777 Collins Ave., partially collapsed on the morning of June 24 shortly after 1:30 a.m. The building was going through its 40-year recertification process.

“Search and rescue efforts are ongoing – While the exact cause of the collapse probably won’t be known for at least a year, two suspected contributors – salt air and ocean water – are cause for concern for would-be buyers of waterfront condos in older buildings. In the short-term, at least, some experts say they expect the brakes to slam on what has been a county-wide sales bonanza.

““At the very least, people are being more sensitive to association fees and checking the financial health of the association,” said Ron Shuffield, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty. “These 40-year recertifications are now something that everyone is aware of, instead of just the industry. Buyers are also looking more closely to the construction of the building.” Increased attention to such detail is a positive development, said Shuffield. But it likely also will lead to higher prices and deter some buyers, say experts.

““Every condo, especially the older ones, are going to want to hire an expert and verify the integrity of their buildings,” said Alex Barthet, managing member of the Barthet Construction Law Firm and publisher of thelienzone.com website. “These are probably not fully budgeted items, so this will increase the assessments,” Barthet said. “That’s going to send buyers away, because they only have a certain number of dollars to spend, so why spend them on an older building?”

“According to the Miami Association of Realtors, sales of existing condos jumped a whopping 286% in May year-over-year, from 563 to 2,176, driven primarily by U.S. buyers from tax-burdened states. The median sales price of existing condos rose to $325,000, a 25% year-over-year increase, and sales of existing condos priced between $400,000-$600,000 – a range that includes many older waterfront buildings – increased 475.4% to a total of 328 transactions.

“The Champlain Towers South, where property records show a total of 14 units were sold over the last three years, was part of the sales boom. Condos in the town of Surfside may be particularly hard hit for the next year, especially in older buildings, said Ana Bozovic, founder of brokerage and consulting firm Analytics Miami. Buildings located near the collapse site may be most affected. Bozovic said resale prices might drop for the ultra-luxury Eighty Seven Park, which is adjacent to the site of the collapse and currently has seven units for sale priced between $2 million-$11 million. “Who wants to buy something overlooking this collapse? People died there,” she said. “People don’t want to look at the site.”

““When 9/11 happened, it affected the lower Manhattan area,” she said. “It’s going to be the same thing here.”

Buyer hesitation also may affect newer buildings, say experts. Such was the case for an attorney whose clients were scheduled to close on a Bal Harbour condo the day after the Surfside collapse. “They got cold feet, even though the building where they were buying is only three years old,” said the lawyer, who declined to be named. “They just needed a minute to hear more about what happened at the Champlain Tower. A lot of people with active contracts can delay their closings, but they can’t pull out because they would lose their deposits. They’re stuck.”

“Inspections underway – Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami Beach have started doing visual inspections and audits of buildings nearing or at their 40-year recertification process, which is required by county law. The city of Miami has gone further, requiring inspections of all buildings 40 years and older that are six stories or taller. The city has given condo associations a 45-day deadline to provide letters detailing the condition of their buildings signed by licensed structural engineers.

“But the enforcement boost hasn’t eased buyer concerns. “The question is, does being able to walk out on the sand surpass the value of safety?” said real estate analyst Jack McCabe. “What I thought was going to be paradise could now be a danger. “This collapse is the tip of the iceberg,” McCabe said. There are a lot of other buildings affected by sea level rise and hurricanes that are 40-50 years old, that have not been well maintained, and that have put off special assessments” – that can run into millions.

“Favorable pricing has been the chief attraction of older buildings. “It comes back to affordability,” said Dan Kodsi, CEO of the Miami-based development firm Royal Palms Companies, which developed the Paramount Worldcenter tower. “A lot of people live in those older buildings because they can afford it and still get to live by the water.”

“But repairs can diminish the differential. “Getting hit with a huge assessment bill is going to become a bigger factor in the minds of buyers,” McCabe said. “It could be a much more costly endeavor buying an existing unit than it was in the past.”

“Age matters – The numbers tell the story. According to the real estate firm Condovulturesrealty.com, some 1,660 units in buildings on the barrier islands built before 2000 – or before Florida’s building code was strengthened to its current standard – currently are listed for sale, with an average price per unit of $589,692. During the first three months of 2021, 779 sales were closed at an average price of $487,384. Currently 491 units are under contract at an average price of $484,821.

“In comparison, the current 1,241 active listings of condos in buildings on the barrier islands built after 2000 have an average asking price of $3,141,845 – a price tag beyond the reach of all but the wealthy.

“The gap likely will widen. “What you’re going to see is anything built before 2000 is going to suffer and [drop] their prices,” said Peter Zalewski, co-founder of Condo Vultures. “We have always told our clients not to look at anything built before then. Right now the system is stacked against any due diligence by the buyer. The associations are very private, and they’re not going to share any information that might impact pricing. They give the condo docs, and in three days your offer is locked in by default according to state law.” “According to Zalewski, there were 139 towers fronting the Atlantic Ocean in Miami-Dade County as of November 2019. Of those, only 60 were built between 2000-2019. The other 79 towers were built between 1930-1999.

“While waterfront has long been considered prime territory, inland locations have been gaining favor as waterfront prices soar and climate change becomes a greater concern. A recent study of “climate gentrification” in Miami-Dade showed home buyers and renters are increasingly choosing properties on higher-elevation land, most of which happens to be in primarily Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

“The collapse may speed the inland migration. Cordelia Anderson, founder of the Miami-based I Heart Real Estate LLC brokerage firm, said one of her prospective condo buyers from New York is now considering moving her search more inland, expressing concern about the structural integrity of coastal buildings and sea level rise.

“Falling prices? The seemingly inevitable price drop of older condos in beachfront locations isn’t just a problem for their owners and brokers. According to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, the county is poised to collect more than $94 billion in 2020 taxes from condominium owners – money that goes to everything from schools and police and fire services to infrastructure repairs and maintenance.

“If prices of older condos take a nosedive, all Miami-Dade residents will feel the pinch, since taxes are calculated by property values. But if prices drop far enough in older buildings to make selling too much of a loss for the owner, there’s another possible scenario that could eliminate the problem altogether, said Alicia Cervera, chairman and principal of Cervera Real Estate: Condo termination, in which owners decide to sell the entire building to a developer interested in building something new at the location.

“When you sell an entire building in a triple-A location to a developer, you get a much better price for your condo,” she said. “It may be that some associations are not doing the repairs because they simply can’t afford it. Selling to a developer could be a solution for the owners and would result in the buildings being taken down before they become unlivable. It’s a good exit strategy for a lot of condo owners.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity June 25-July 2, 2021

Sanibel

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Mariner Pointe #231 2/2 now $674K.

1 new sale: Loggerhead Cay #433 2/2 listed at $735K.

7 closed sales: Sundial #F106 1/1 $440K, Sanctuary Heron #3A 2/2.5 $760K, Pointe Santo #A1 2/2 $868.5K, Sanibel Surfside #123 2/2 $905K, Loggerhead Cay #101 2/2 $964K, Sundial #P403 2/2 $1.3M, Sanddollar #A102 3/2 $1.425M.

HOMES

2 new listings: 5809 San-Cap Rd 3/2 $1.35M, 5379 Shearwater Dr 4/3 $2.295M.

1 price change: 5270 Indian Ct 6/6.5 now $2.295M.

5 new sales: 1376 Jamaica Dr 2/2 listed at $710K, 1270 Par View Dr 3/2 listed at $859K, 1450 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $1.199M, 633 Lake Murex Cir 3/3 listed at $1.235M, 1206 Par View Dr 3/2 listed at $1.249M.

12 closed sales: 1643 Bunting Ln 2/2 $626K, 1737 Serenity Ln 3/2 $635K, 429 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $740K, 1585 Serenity Ln 3/3 $749K, 2480 Library Way 3/2.5 $725K, 770 Donax St 2/2 $850K, 1469 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $969K, 450 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $980K, 812 Sanddollar Dr 3/3 $1.2M, 3385 Twin Lakes Ln 5/5 $1.5M, 1460 Middle Gulf Dr 4/4.5 $1.725M, 4701 Rue Belle Mer 4/5 $3.395M.

LOTS

1 new listing: Dixie Beach Blvd $399.5K.

1 new sale: 2431 Shop Rd listed at $249.9K.

1 closed sale: West Gulf Dr $3.895M.

Captiva

CONDOS

No listings or price changes.

1 new sale: Beach Homes #20 3/3 listed at $3.549M.

3 closed sales: Bayside Villas #4118 1/2 $425K, Bayside Villas #5318 3/3 $789.9K, Lands End #1629 2/2 $1.376M.

HOMES

Nothing to report.

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.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy July 4th holiday weekend.

Sanibel’s Popcorn Clouds Are Back!

It is SanibelSusan reporting the end of another quiet week on sunny Sanibel. Today, traffic picked up a little on Periwinkle Way with some early weekend holiday arrivals. The weather has settled into a more typical summer routine – warm sunny days with late afternoon or evening showers. Here are a few recent photos. I love those big white popcorn clouds.

06-2017 Clouds06-2017 Clouds2

June 29th Association of Realtors® Caravan Meeting

Sanibel realtors logoAt yesterday’s Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® biweekly Caravan Meeting, only three properties were open (including one off-island).

SCCF logoUpdate on Water Quality – Rae Ann Wessel, SCCF’s Natural Resource Policy Director gave attendees a quick update on water quality. She is one of the local scientists involved in preparing weekly reports on conditions in the Caloosahatchee River and how these conditions affect the health, productivity and function of the system. Their report this week described that flows to the estuary between June 20 and 26 came entirely from the watershed, with no flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Interesting, I’ve heard several locals mention that they think the bayside waters have changed color, that happens after normal rainfall not just from Lake O water releases, particularly after a long dry spell as the one experience here this winter and spring.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) discontinued flows to the Caloosahatchee in early June due to the significant rainfall throughout the region then. On June 23, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an emergency order to allow temporary operational changes to minimize flooding south of Lake Okeechobee. The next day, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) initiated back pumping to Lake O from that agricultural area.

The scientists’ recent memo to USACE, DEP, and SFWMD recommends not making any releases to the Caloosahatchee from Lake Okeechobee while the Lake is relatively low and the Caloosahatchee is receiving adequate freshwater flow from the watershed. They also encourage the use of as much watershed storage as possible within distributed storage projects and other lands owned or under contract by the State.

Rae Ann stressed that everyone needs to hold the state’s feet to the fire to ensure that the storage areas already voted on and committed are really built. This is a long tedious process and she illustrated how budgeted funds in the political arena can move, regardless of commitment.

She also thanked Realtors® for their continued efforts in the fight for clean water, particularly their participation during the spring legislative meetings in Tallahassee where voices were heard and action resulted.

Update on Community Projects

Today is the last day of our Association of Realtors® summer food drive for the F.I.S.H. Food Pantry. I’m so proud of my Communications and Public Relations Committee members for spearheading efforts this year to further the Association’s 2017 campaign “Together, We Make A Difference”.

Thanks to an anonymous donor who agreed to match any donations collected this week, our goals are halfway met for our upcoming food packing event under the direction of Meals of Hope. With another four weeks to go, we still to need to raise funds to pay for the food/supplies needed to pack 20,000 meals and find another 25+volunteers committed to help with the packing on July 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. at The Community House. You can be sure The SanibelSusan Team will have the Friday update done early that day. We will be packing!

Community Associations: New Estoppel Rules

HendersonFranklin logo read another good article on-line this week in “Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate”. This one posted June 26, 2017 by Michael Lehnert of Henderson Franklin, Attorneys at Law. It says:

Beginning July 1, 2017, Florida community associations will have to comply with more burdensome estoppel requirements.

“The 2017 Florida legislature just recently passed a new law that will require associations to comply with a request for an estoppel certificate within 10 business days. If they fail to do so, they will forfeit their right to charge a fee for the preparation and delivery of the document.

“Furthermore, the fee that an association may charge is now strictly regulated. The fee is capped at $250 if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association for the applicable unit or parcel, or $400 if a delinquent amount is owed. However, associations may charge an additional $100 if an expedited request is made, and the association delivers the estoppel within three (3) business days after the request.

“In addition to the changes to the timeframe and fees related estoppel certificate issuance, the new law will require associations to provide more information than previously required. Associations will have to provide, among other things, information about parking or garage spaces, any open violations noticed to the owner or mortgagee, and contact information for all insurance maintained by the association.

“While the law appears strict on its face, the intent behind the law is to provide more uniformity to the estoppel process in order to help buyers and sellers expedite their closings.

“If you or your association have any questions about this new law, please give me a call at 239- 344-1231 or email me at michael.lehnert@henlaw.com.”

Sanibel Independence Day Special Events – July 4th

Free Pancake Breakfast – 7 to 9 a.m. at Sanibel Community Church.

27th Island Independence Day Parade – at 9:30 a.m. “Preserving the Red, White, and Blue”, parade begins at Tarpon Bay Rd in front of Bailey’s Center & heads down Periwinkle to Casa Ybel Rd. (A few favorite photos from the 2015 parade shown above.)

Celebration at Jerry’s – after parade until 2:30 p.m. with waterslide, food & refreshments.

38th Annual Sanibel-Captiva Road Rally – at noon from Timbers Restaurant parking lot. Sponsored by Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club with proceeds to benefit local scholarships.

Fireworks – at 9 p.m. rain or shine, launched from bay end of Bailey’s Rd, best viewing from causeway or bay side.

NOTE: Possession & discharge of fireworks on Sanibel are illegal & strictly enforced.

SanibelSusan Realty Associates

Below is the action posted since last Friday in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

The team is off on Tuesday for the holiday, but I will have the office open early for those wanting a cool spot for parade watching. Will be zipping up before noon though, to participate in the Road Rally.

SanibelSusan July 4 2015

Waiting for the parade to begin July 4, 2015

waving flagBest wishes from all of us for a safe and happy July 4th holiday.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity June 23-30, 2017

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Blind Pass #B105 2/2 $464.9K, Sundial West #B108 1/1 $469K, Sundial West #H406 2/2 $789K.

8 price changes: Seashells #11 2/2 now $350K, Ibis at The Sanctuary #B302 2/2 now $479K, Breakers West #A5 2/2 now $509K, Sanibel Arms West #G7 2/2 now $529K, Cottage Colony West #138 1/1 now $575K, Sunset South #1C 2/2 now $685K, Pointe Santo #D6 2/2 now $699K, Pine Cove #102 3/2 now $1.299M.

1 new sale: Mariner Pointe #1412 1/1 listed at $334K.

3 closed sales: Tennisplace #C21 2/1.5 $329K, Seashells #38 2/2 $345K, Pointe Santo #B23 2/2 $735K.

HOMES

1 new listing: 1043 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $899K.

2 price changes: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $509K, 514 Kinzie Island Ct 4/5 now $1.995M.

4 new sales: 1212 Par View Dr 2/2 listed at $548K, 5056 Joewood Dr 3/2 listed at $759K, 1294 Par View Dr 3/2.5 listed at $929K, 1237 Isabel Dr 5/6.5 listed at $2.18M.

2 closed sales: 769 Pyrula Ave 3/3.5 $ 1.25M, 696 Kinzie Island Ct 4/5 $1.8M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 6027 Dinkins Lake Rd $249.8K.

1 price change: 1311 Par View Dr now $276K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

2 new listings: Beach Villas #2623 1/1 $530K, Beach Villas #2514 2/2 $609K.

No price changes, new or closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings or price changes.

2 new sales: 4 Sunset Captiva Ln 3/2.5 listed at $2.345M, 16979 Captiva Dr 7/6.5 listed at $3.998M.

1 closed sale: 16464 Captiva Dr 8/8.5 $5.25M.

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.)

july 4th flip flops

Winding up a Holiday Week on Sanibel Island

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It was a great July 4th on Sanibel Island from the parade right through to the fireworks. Unfortunately, since then we have had rain almost every day, though today we have lucked out so far and the space shuttle was able to take off.

Sanibel School Earns “A” for 13th Straight Year

It was announced last week that for the 3rd straight year, the Lee County School District achieved an “A” grade for its district-wide achievement by earning 537 points. An “A” grade is awarded for 525 points. Also for the 13th consecutive year, The Sanibel School earned an “A” grade, garnering 692 points. The Sanibel kindergarten through 8th-grade facility reported 97% of its students met the high standard in reading, 95% in math, 93% in writing and 86% in science. According to Sanibel School Principal Barbara Von Harten, The Sanibel School also has received notification that they have been ranked the top K-8 educational facility in the entire state of Florida. Pine Island Elementary is the only other school in the local district to earn an “A” grade since the school grade reports began in the 1988-89 academic year. To see a complete listing of the school grades visit www.leeschools.net.

Shelling & Fishing

Locals and visitors alike have commented that the fishing and shelling over the past holiday weekend were both excellent. It is always fun to see the newspaper reports with photos of the “finds”. The good ones this week included: several rather large prized junonia shells, a couple of foot-sized whelks, snook up to 42″, and even a 150‑lb tarpon.

32nd Annual July 4th Road Rally

If you are thinking of making your plans now for the 4th of July holiday next year, consider the Road Rally after the parade. This was my first year and though the prizewinners haven’t been announced yet, it was a lot of fun. Sponsored as a fundraiser by our local Optimists Club, it begins at The Timbers Restaurant parking lot at noon, with staggered start times. It is not a race, but rather a game of timing, mileage, and wit. Once provided with detailed driving directions around the island, and instructions that include “no backing up”, entrants are given question and answer sheets with more than 100 questions to answer. It is much like a scavenger hunt but without picking up items (well maybe a few). Most of the questions can be answered by carefully following the driving directions and being “very” observant. One would think that a carload of island Realtors® would have a good advantage, but we found at The Timbers Afterglow Party that several of the visiting vacationers beat us on some of the questions. How the Optimists could come up with so many difficult questions after 31 years is a surprise too. Some of the entries have been participating since the beginning. Maybe we will do better next year.

Captiva Beach Re-Nourishment Project

I heard from one of my Captiva pals that plans are underway for another beach re-nourishment project on Captiva in 2013/2014. That is always a pricey undertaking, but also great news for Sanibel as we always manage to get the sand eventually. Sometimes, it is just best to be an east-west oriented island.

Not Enough Done on Housing

Florida REALTORS® reposted an article yesterday from the “Washington Post” where “President Obama made a rare admission of a policy misstep, acknowledging that his administration failed to provide enough support to struggling homeowners and recognize the scope of the nation’s housing crisis. Despite predictions by Obama’s advisers that the housing market would rebound by now, real estate prices are falling once again. And the administration’s efforts to push banks to modify the mortgages of families who missed their monthly payments have been widely criticized as lacking. Obama first raised the issue Wednesday when a questioner during a town hall event asked what mistakes the president had made in handling the economy. “The continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn’t bottomed out as quickly as we expected,” Obama responded. Later, he added, that his administration’s efforts to help struggling homeowners were “not enough. And so we’re going back to the drawing board,” he said.

“The housing issue threatens to loom over Obama’s re-election campaign, with foreclosures piling up and real estate markets in turmoil in pivotal swing states such as Florida and Nevada, which voted for him in 2008. Obama has not often discussed the housing crisis with much of his time in Washington and on the campaign trail focused on job creation and deficit reduction. But the issue repeatedly came up Wednesday as Obama conducted his first ever town hall meeting via Twitter. One person asked in a tweet: “How will admin work to help underwater homeowners who aren’t behind in payments but are trapped in homes they can’t sell?” Later, another questioner – whose Twitter handle was @Shnaps – asked a follow-up question about whether the market could heal itself. Obama responded that “given the size of the housing market, no federal program is going to be able to solve the housing problem.” He later added: “Some folks just bought more home than they could afford and probably they’re going to be better off renting.”

“Much of the criticism of the administration’s housing policy has focused on the Treasury Department’s foreclosure prevention initiative called the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. The program was funded by the financial bailout and carved out tens of billions of dollars to pay banks to modify the mortgages of distressed homeowners, or at least lower their monthly payments. The administration has said that HAMP helped more than a million families in this way. But critics say that the aid was not long lasting, and that the initiative’s design was too complicated for the industry to implement effectively.

“During Wednesday’s town hall, Obama said his administration would press banks to modify loans more quickly and, where possible, reduce the principal owed by homeowners. The questions submitted to the president were wide ranging, though Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who moderated the event, noted that 6 percent of the tweets focused on housing. Other hot topics included jobs, the economy and education.

“The president spent much of the time responding to questions verbally, leaving it to his staff and officials from Twitter to parse his words down to 140-character tweets, the maximum allowed on the micro-blogging Web site. Obama sent a live tweet only once, patting himself on the back for being the first president in history to do so.

“While the event was billed as a “discussion,” the format provided a platform for Obama to repeat his positions on the economy with little follow-up from the moderator and Twitter users. Obama got a laugh, though, when he took a question from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who is known as @speakerboehner on Twitter. Boehner asked, “Where are the jobs?” Obama joked: “This is a slightly skewed question.” He then acknowledged that job growth has been slow. But he also accused Republicans of standing in the way of infrastructure and public works programs that would have created work for Americans. “Eventually, I’m sure the speaker will see the light,” Obama quipped.”

Island Real Estate Scoop This Week

Attendance was down yesterday at our biweekly Realtor® Caravan Meeting and just a handful of new listings were on tour. Even with the holiday vacationers and rain hampering outside activities, not many properties were shown and little real estate action was reported. Here are the MLS changes since last Friday.

Sanibel & Captiva MLS Activity July 2-8

Sanibel
CONDOS
1 new listing:  Signal Inn #18 2/2 $949K.
1 price change:  Sanctuary Golf Villages I #3 3/3 now $719K.
1 new sale:  Sundial #R203 2/2 listed for $499K.
5 closed sales:  Sanibel Moorings #241 1/1 $260K, Sanibel Siesta #403 2/2 $340K, Sanibel Arms West #M4 2/2 $375K, Compass Point #243 2/2 $460K, Atrium #306 3/2 $1.1M.
 
HOMES
4 new listings:  491 Rabbit Rd 2/2 $339K; 1439 Albatross Rd 3/2 $439,555; 1470 Middle Gulf Dr 4/5.5 $2.395M; 4431 Waters Edge Ln 4/4 $2.85M.
2 price changes:  3145 Twin Lakes Ln 3/3 now $499,994; 2479 Blind Pass Ct 3/2 now $1.1M.
2 new sale:  1035 South Yachtsman Dr 5/4.5 listed for $799K, 1360 Eagle Run Dr 5/3.5 listed for $1.039M (short sale).
1 closed sale:  9292 Belding Dr 3/2.5 $350K.
 
LOTS
1 new listing:  761 Donax St $189K.
1 price change:  2562 Coconut Dr now $399K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale:  5618 Baltusrol Ct $180K.
 
Captiva
CONDOS
1 new listing:  Tennis Villas #3219 1/1 $245K.
4 price changes:  Tennis Villas #3229 1/1 now $240K, Bayside Villas #3406 3/3 now $638K, Beach Villas #2618 2/2 now $685K, Beach Villas #2628 2/2 now $699K.
No new or closed sales.
 
HOMES
No new listings.
1 price changes:  15631 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 now $2.95M.
No new or closed sales.
 
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 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.