2-Sale Double-Dip Week Plus a New Great Listing for SanibelSusan

IMG_1732We had a flurry of activity at SanibelSusan Realty this week. There was no Realtor Caravan meeting yesterday, but I (Susan) had two unexpected sales (both my listings – love those) – one by a past client and the other a new customer who called from reading my Friday blog. How about that!

Dunes logoYesterday, we received a terrific new listing in The Dunes. A photo taken from the great room of this house at 1311 Sand Castle Road is shown above. It has peaceful lake views perfect for wildlife watching.

With good feedback from other listings that were shown this week too, our fingers are crossed on a couple of those! Maybe “season” is starting early!? That sure would be nice!

Sancapbank logoSpecial shout-outs to Dan Cronin, Assistant Vice President and Loan Officer, with the Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank and Ron Dehler, Chief Inspector, with Horizon Inspection Service, Inc. for their expert service this week too!Ron Dehler448_FJ_Ron_house

Great to refer business to folks who respond, professionally and quickly!

Mid-September on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Sunset-croppedThe peak day of hurricane season was Tuesday, so hopefully Southwest Florida will wind down through the next two months with less rain and no storms. Though it has been one of the wettest summers in recent history, there has been wonderful weather the last few days. The typical afternoon/evening showers have not made it to the island, though there has been some pretty serious flooding in some areas off-island.

It also was reported on the news that the water releases from Lake Okeechobee will be reduced 60% beginning today because the water level in the lake is down to a more reasonable level. There have been a few inquiries about the water, but mostly locals are fielding visitor questions about what is open and what’s not. With schools back in session, September is usually the islands’ quietest month. Ding Darling Drive remains closed until October 1. The Sanibel Movie Theater is closed all month and many restaurants and shops continue to close for fix-ups and vacations.

Here are a couple of wind insurance news items followed by this week’s action in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Florida Approves Citizens Property Insurance Hikes

Citizens_logoSometimes these news items are not much fun to post. Earlier this week the “Associated Press” posted the following article from Tallahassee:

“Florida customers of the state’s largest property insurance company – including many homeowners who live near the coast – will be paying more in the coming year. State regulators on Monday announced that they had approved an overall statewide rate hike of 6.3% for customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The hike means that the state-created Citizens – which has 1.22 million policyholders – will have raised its rates for four straight years.

“The Office of Insurance Regulation’s hike is slightly smaller than what Citizens officials had requested. The increases would take effect in January and February 2014.

“But the range of hikes varies depending on where homeowners live and what type of policy they have with the insurer. Many policyholders in South Florida as well as coastal counties such as Sarasota, Escambia and Volusia may see a 10% jump in their insurance bills while the rate change will be lower for those who live further inland.

“Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens, maintained that exposure to hurricanes and sinkholes were the “major drivers” behind the need for the rate hikes this year. In a statement, Gilway said he was pleased that regulators “agreed with our overall approach.”

“Citizens would have likely asked for larger increases next year – but state law does not allow Citizens to raise rates on most coverage more than 10% a year. That cap does not apply to sinkhole coverage.

“The final order issued by regulators allows sinkhole rates to go up by 20% in Hernando and Pasco counties and 50% in Hillsborough County.

“Citizens has the power to place a surcharge, also called a “hurricane tax,” on its own policies and on the policies of most insurance policies if it can’t cover its losses following a major storm. That has prompted a push by Gov. Rick Scott and others to force Citizens to improve its finances. Citizens has billions of dollars in surplus now, but a series of a storms, or back-to-back years with major hurricanes, could wipe out the surplus. “The agency’s action will allow Citizens to continue providing quality service to our 1.2 million policyholders while reducing the risk of assessments on all Floridians,” Gilway said in his statement.

Citizens Insures Thousands of Out-of-State Owners

FLRealtors_newlogoContinuing with more news about Citizens, I read this article on FloridaRealtors this morning. It was sourced to “The Miami Herald” yesterday.

“When Citizens Property Insurance sends out its monthly customer bills, only 31% of them go to the same house that is insured. The rest go to other mailboxes in Florida – and around the globe, according to data analyzed by the American Consumer Institute of Citizen Research. More than 19,000 bills go to people who live in Canada, nearly 27,000 go to New Yorkers, almost 12,000 go to folks in New Jersey and hundreds more go to England, Germany and France. From Singapore and China, to South Africa and Luxembourg, Florida’s state-run insurance company is providing subsidized insurance coverage to 22,775 property owners who reside abroad. Another 176,465 policies go to homeowners with primary addresses in other states, the study found.

“At least 1 million of the nearly 1.3 million monthly bills for homeowners policies stay in Florida, but that includes an estimated 500,000 policies that go to addresses different from the property that is insured. As Florida grapples with how to lower the cost of homeowners insurance along its hurricane alley, the out-of-state subsidies are a luxury it cannot afford, said Steve Pociask, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that reviewed Citizens’ billing lists. “It all comes down to affordability,” he said. “People who live here and have their primary homes insured here are teachers, police, service workers and they are being stung by higher prices, while 27,000 people who have their bills sent to New York are getting subsidized insurance. Why do we want to subsidize these folks?”

“The inequities are enough to prompt Sen. David Simmons, the chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to draft legislation to require that out-of-state policyholders whose second homes or vacation are insured by Citizens no longer receive subsidized rates. “It is a real issue,” said Simmons, R-Maitland. “We thoroughly investigated it. The people who have the wind-only policies in the coastal accounts pay comparatively less than people who have personal accounts who are paying close to actuarially sound rates. It’s grossly unfair.”

“Pociask’s findings have also prompted a coalition of business and environmental groups this week to call for legislation to ban property owners whose primary residence is out of state from qualifying for Citizens insurance, which are offered at below-market rates. “It is bad public policy to continue to allow public subsidies for wealthy, out-of-state homeowners, including coastal homeowners who should be paying a fair price to live in a vulnerable area,” said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation and a member the Stronger Safer Florida Coalition, whose goal is to reduce the risk of hurricane losses in the wake of a major storm.

“The study, produced independently by Pociask using data supplied by Citizens, does not distinguish between policyholders who own or rent their property to full-time residents in Florida but receive their bills out of state, and those who live in Florida only part of the year. It’s a controversial suggestion in a state where steady improvements in the real estate market are being driven in part by international buyers.

“For example, in Sunny Isles Beach, development is under way for eight luxury condominiums, most of which are being marketed to foreign and out-of-state investors. Mayor Norman Edelcup predicts the city’s property tax base will double in the next five years because of it. But, he said, access to property insurance is key. “If Citizens were to deny insurance coverage to non-resident owners – in effect creating second class citizens – I would be totally against it,” he said. If those property owners are denied Citizens coverage, and can’t obtain insurance from an alternative carrier, “that would immediately cut those buyers out of the market and that would have a dramatic effect on us,” he said.

“Legislators tried to impose a surcharge on non-homesteaded property once before, in 2006. But the measure, which was adopted by legislators as part of a sweeping insurance reform bill, was repealed the next year in the wake of spiraling insurance costs at the state-run carrier. Under the current system, anyone who obtains a Citizens policy faces the risk of being charged additional assessments if the state runs out of money to cover claims in a massive storm. Floridians who don’t carry Citizens coverage would also face fees to bail out the state carrier, leading some to question the fairness of giving out-of-state residents subsidies if they escape the added costs. “We should not be subsidizing insurance – period – because it distorts risk and it distorts the market,” said Christian Camara, Florida state director of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank. “But we especially should not be subsidizing folks who do not live in Florida and would not be subject to the assessments in a worst-case scenario.”

“Efforts to shrink Citizens and reduce the potential size of those assessments was the focus of a major property reform bill passed last session. Under the plan, Citizens established a clearinghouse to encourage private insurers to take over Citizens plans, limited the maximum Citizens policy from $2 million to $1 million and eliminated subsidizes for new construction in environmentally-sensitive coastal areas.

“But Pociask, who said his organization receives no funding from Florida entities, warns that because of the large number of out-of-state policyholders, the reforms may not do enough to ease the financial burden on Florida residents if a massive storm were to hit. “The whole idea of having that investment from other countries is really good for the state, but, the question is, should somebody else be on the hook for paying for their insurance?” he asked.

“Simmons said he is prepared to find the answer with legislation next session. “Our plan is to address the inherent inequities that exist without denying anybody access to Citizens,” he said. “But we want to make sure the existing Citizens policyholder are not subsidizing other policyholders who are out of state.””
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity from Sep 6-13


3 new listings: Beach Road Villa #103 2/2 $349.5K, Sanibel Moorings #1622 2/2 $439K, Sanibel Arms West #M4 2/2 $450K.
2 price changes: Blind Pass #E206 2/2.5 now $479K, Pointe Santo #B25 2/2 now $749K.
4 new sales: Duggers Tropical Cottages #2 1/1 listed for $249K, Mariner Pointe #1042 2/2 listed for $424K (our listing & sale) (picture of that view above), Sanibel Arms #D1 2/2 listed for $450K, Sunset South #3B 2/2 listed for $595K.
1 closed sale: Sanibel Siesta #210 2/2 $414.5K.
4 new listings: 1039 Beach Rd 2/2 $340.5K; 579 Rabbit Rd 3/3.5 $579,555; 1311 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $749.9K (our listing); 600 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2.5 $1.195M.
2 price changes: 1809 Bowmans Beach Rd 3/2 now $499K, 1342 Junonia St 3/3 now $629K.
4 new sales: 659 Donax St 2/2 listed for $449K (our listing & sale),  470 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 listed for $495K, 4585 Bowen Bayou Rd 4/4 listed for $645K, 200 Robinwood Cir 3/3.5 listed for $1.268M.
3 closed sales: 1520 Centre St 2/2 $319K, 1941 Roseate Ln 3/2 $420K, 1066 Bailey Rd 3/3 $721K (short sale).
No new listings.
1 price change: 4954 Joewood Dr now $399K.
1 new sale: 5439 Osprey Ct listed for $379K.
No closed sales.
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5134 1/2 $257K.
1 new listing: 16249 Captiva Dr 3/3 $2.995M.
1 price change: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 now $1.449M.
No new or closed sales.
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.


Here’s to sunny weekend weather…on the islands & beyond…

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Scoop, Real Estate, Water, & More…

On Redfish Pass, overlooking Lands End at South Seas Resort, Captiva, 8/20/13

On Redfish Pass, overlooking Lands End at South Seas Resort, Captiva, 8/20/13

It has been another busy few days for The SanibelSusan Team though there was not a lot of real estate action again this week on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Things here are pretty quiet with local schools back in full swing and visitor traffic down considerably.

I hate to say that the water from the Lake Okeechobee releases had much to do with inactivity, but it has caused some unrest. Discolored water here in late summer is fairly normal during the rainy season (it is like making tea out of mangroves, i.e. their decomposition), but the Lake “O” releases like I’ve mentioned on earlier Fridays are especially brutal this year. (More about that below.)

If the water is going to look bad, at least it is during that time of the year when the island is not as busy. Many condo complex summer remodeling/renovation projects are in full-swing and some of the restaurants are closing for their summer vacations. Sweet Melissa’s is closed now and Traders will be closing for a few weeks beginning tomorrow.

Weather this week has returned to a typical summer rainy season pattern with bright sunny days and late afternoon or early evening showers. More of the same is expected for the next few days.

Here are a couple of news items, followed by a report of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service action.

Continuing Education at Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

A view of Ding Darling's fish house on Roosevelt Channel taken from the "Santiva" heading to Pine Island Sound, 8/20/13

A view of Ding Darling’s fish house on Roosevelt Channel taken from the “Santiva” heading to Pine Island Sound, 8/20/13

Here’s Elise holding a faux dolphin skull (man-made for training purposes).

While SanibelSusan teammates Dave and Lisa kept the office running, Elise and I both completed 16 hours of Realtor® Continuing Education this week. The off-season in the summer is the best time to fulfill the requirements needed to keep our state real estate licenses up-to-date and it is even fun when the training includes information that we can really “use” in selling the islands. 

Learning from Kristie out on the water is "the best!"

Learning from Kristie out on the water is “the best!”

The 7-hour Tuesday session titled “Environmental Considerations of Coastal Living” included a boat tour out of McCarthy’s Marina on the “Santiva” with SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Education Director Kristie Anders.

This is the 14th year that Kristie, also a Florida Realtors®-approved instructor, has helped our Association by teaching our Realtors® about the islands’ latest environmental trends. In addition to covering info she has gained in cooperation with the Lee Visitor & Convention Bureau (http://www.leevcb.com), much of the discussion was about recent water releases from Lake “O”, water quality, land development, and flora/fauna/animal life and their co-existence with us.

SCCF's Herpatologist Chris holding a Cane Toad.

SCCF’s Herpetologist Chris with a Cane Toad.

While at SCCF later in the day, we got a bird’s eye view – too close for many – of a dreaded Cane Toad. Though these animals were found only recently on Sanibel, they reproduce prolifically (thousands of toadlets from just one female) and they have no known predators. They also produce a toxic venom that can quickly and horrifically kill pets and other animals. Cane toads also can live for 5 to 10 years and they are big too, like 4 pounds! You can be sure that class attendees now will be on the lookout for these creatures. SCCF’s Herpetologist and Director of Wildlife Habitat Management, Chris Lechowicz, told us that he is working hard to get rid of them too, and asks that sightings be reported to him at clechowicz@sccf.org.

SCCF Researcher AJ talks about water.

SCCF Researcher AJ talks about water.

Another fun part of the class was getting updated on SCCF’s Marine Laboratory and RECON stations. (RECON = River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network)  There are several constantly-monitored RECON stations in the islands surrounding waterways (Gulf of Mexico, Blind Pass, Redfish Pass, Shell Point, Tarpon Bay, Caloosahatchee River). If you want to find accurate island weather conditions, info from the RECON stations usually is even better than local TV/radio (http://recon.sccf.org/).

Tony MacWednesday, we had a well-known and respected Florida and international educator at the Association Office for their first training session on the islands. That morning, Tony Macaluso taught us the required 3 hours of “Core Law” updates plus another 3 hours about “Expanding Business into the Global Market”.

Thursday after our Monthly Membership Meeting, which had a presentation and question/answer session with a panel of local real estate appraisers, Tony presented a third 3-hour class called “The Booming Business of Boomers, Vacation and Second Home Sales”. We learned during this last class that someone turns 65 every second in the U.S. with those numbers expected to reach 10,000 a day soon. The good news for us is that the most-favored “boomer” destination in the U.S. is Florida. Florida holds the preferred ranking for foreign buyers too.

Notice of Proposed 2013 Real Estate Property Taxes

LeePALogoIt is that time of the year when island property owners receive their proposed property tax bill for 2013. Mine arrived in the mail yesterday. This is not the actual tax bill for payment, but instead is a notice from the Lee County Property Appraiser of what he considers the market value of the property to be this year and what taxes are estimated to be for 2013. The market value is based on 2012 sales. Any disputes with notices must be filed on/before September 16. (For comparison, the County’s market value of my east-end canal-front home was down 8% from 2011 to 2012. Dave’s house just off-island was down less than 1%.) If you are wondering about property assessments, any county property can be searched by address or owner’s name at http://www.LeePA.org.

More Progress on Lake Okeechobee Releases

City photo

City photo

Yesterday, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane provided testimony on the Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases before the Florida Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin in Stuart, FL. This committee has eight members including Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto from Southwest Florida. It was moderated by Senator Joe Negron from Palm City who also attended, listened, and spoke at our Florida Realtors Land Use, Property Rights, & Sustainable Development Subcommittee meeting which I attended at our Realtor Convention last Friday in Orlando.

The good news is that the amount of the Army Corps-managed water releases from Lake “O” were reduced somewhat yesterday because of the water height in the lake going down. The bad news is that Florida is just coming into the high rainy season (September 10 being peak) and there are no funded short- or long-term solutions to the water storage problems in central Florida. (The key word here is “funded”. Please continue to keep the pressure up with your state congressmen too. There are approved construction projects and programs that will take years to complete, but were halted when monies were directed elsewhere.)

Yesterday’s meeting is the first of four expected Senate meetings before the committee submits their findings. More info about this committee at www.flsenate.gov/topics/IRLLOB.

Tomorrow morning, there is a “Save Our Bay” rally on the causeway where some are expected to vent their frustrations about the water releases.

Captiva Island Beach Renourishment Project Awarded

067Despite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers backing out of the project, less than a month ago, local news this week reported that the Beach Renourishment Project on Captiva Island is ready to move forward.

The Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD) voted unanimously to hire the lowest bidder to replenish 800,000 cubic yards of sand along six miles of shoreline between Redfish Pass and Blind Pass. CEPD had a contingency plan in case federal funding was no longer available, so they are now using a combination of state and county funding, private loans, and budget reserves.

The Army Corps shocked CEPD with their last-minute decision to rescind the agreement, but because of their good planning the project will be accomplished without delay. A pre-construction meeting is scheduled for the beginning of September, work begins in late October. The target completion date is February 1. According to the Army Corps, the project is no longer in compliance with federal policies and regulations having to do with beach easements and access parking.

Sanibel Sea School

Sanibel Sea schoolThe commercial building on Sanibel’s east end at the corner of Periwinkle Way and Lagoon Drive was on the market off-and-on over the last few years. It sold and the Sanibel Sea School has agreed on a long-term lease. In front of the current Sanibel Sea School property, plans for the new Sanibel Sea School building which currently houses retail space and administrative offices for the educational facility are to divide it into six separate areas. Plans also call for raising and rotating the original Sea School building, and creating a central courtyard between the buildings that may be used when school is not in session for other educational or health-related activities. So far the only noticeable change is that the building facing Periwinkle has been painted “Sanibel Sea School” blue. According to Dr. Bruce Neill, founder and director of the school, who is working closely with the City Planning Department, the redevelopment will be unique on Sanibel, embracing education, commerce, environmental harmony and the local community.
Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity from August 16 to 23

3 new listings: Loggerhead Cay #574 2/2 $565K, Lighthouse Point #215 3/2 $599K, Sundial #E208 2/2 $839K.
No price changes.
5 new sales: Spanish Cay #D4 2/2 listed for $325K, Kings Crown #313 2/2 listed for $590K, Pointe Santo #D24 2/2 listed for $635K, Sundial #R202 2/2 listed for $649.9K, Plantation Village #212 3/2 listed for $1.085M.

2 closed sales: Pointe Santo #C24 1/1 $420K, Cottage Colony West #128 1/1 $510K.

3 new listings: 4585 Bowen Bayou Rd 4/4 $645K, 1019 Lindgren Blvd 3/2 $769K, 5313 Punta Caloosa Ct 4/3 $898K.
3 price changes: 490/460 Old Trail Rd 3/2 now $375K (short sale), 1013 Lindgren Blvd 4/3 now $799K, 1329 Eagle Run Dr 3/2.5 now $895K.
2 new sales: 1014 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2 listed for $585K, 1183 Kittiwake Cir 3/3 listed for $699.9K.
3 closed sales: 1409 Sandpiper Cir 2/2 half-duplex $285K, 385 Old Trail Rd 4/2.5 $825K, 691 Cardium St 4/3 $880K.
No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: 1307 Par View Dr listed for $239.5K.
1 closed sale: 5891 SanCap Rd $398K.
No new listings.
1 price change: Bayside Villas #5102 1/2 now $292K.
No new or closed sales.
1 new listing: 16221 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 $4.795M.
No price changes.
1 new sale: 16447 Captiva Dr 7/6/2 listed for $3.25M (short sale).
No closed sales.
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.


Until next Friday, here’s to more sunny days & beautiful sunsets…

Photo by Jim Anderson, JMA Photography

Photo by Jim Anderson, JMA Photography