Baywaters Back to a Glistening Blue

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

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

Realtors® Gathered in Washington This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanibel Plays Flood Insurance Points Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progress on Projects on Sanibel Island

SCA-View-2.jpg

Rendering of the new Sanibel Community House renovation

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

1927 Community House North Room

The Community House in 1927

 

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

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

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

Water Quality Continues to Improve

bay May 2016

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanibel

CONDOS

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

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

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

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

HOMES

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

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

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

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

LOTS

1 new listing: 2133 Starfish Ln $439K.

No price changes.

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

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

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

No closed sales.

HOMES & LOTS

Nothing to report.

(This representation is based, in whole, or in part, on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® or its Multiple Listing Service. Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. The information provided represents general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.)

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

Beach (Medium)

Great Weather, Great Traffic, Great White Pelican, & Great Leaders

Great weather, great traffic, a Great White Pelican, and great effort by Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and other Southwest Florida leaders. Read about it all here this week.

Below are a few news items collected by SanibelSusan, followed by the action this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Sanibel & Captiva Real Estate

Only two sales were announced at our Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday, but many price reductions. It’s that time of the year. Here’s a summary of Sanibel’s residential inventory today. Sales are chugging along nicely.

CONDOS – No. – Average Price – Average DOM

For Sale – 101 – $745,450 – 242

Under Contract – 29 – $930,824 – 205

Sold/Closed To-date 2016 – 27 – $677,736 – 228

Sold/Closed in 2015 – 160 – $701,088 – 298

Sold/Closed in 2014 – 164 – $650,418 – 286

HOMES – No. – Average Price – Average DOM

For Sale – 157 – $1,373,993 – 225

Under Contract – 39 – $1,026,413 – 163

Sold/Closed To-date 2016 – 23 – $952,727 – 214

Sold/Closed in 2015 – 236 – $912,744 – 255

Sold/Closed in 2014 – 206 – $838,672 – 265

Note:    DOM = days on market

Sanibel & Captiva Weather Today

Sun clip artYes, the weather has been extraordinary – sunny days with mid to high 70-degree temperatures during the day with more of the same expected in the days to come.

The forecast for the next week has daytimes as warm as 81 degrees and evenings as cool as 61 degrees. How perfect is that?

79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival

HeatherYes, it has contributed to traffic delays yesterday and today, but the 79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival is well worth it.

MindyRecord crowds are attending the event at The Community House across the street from Sanibel Square and our office. It winds up tomorrow (Sat) from 9 to 4 p.m.  If you are on the island be sure to get there before it closes.

Congratulations to our friends who have garnered ribbons. You know who you are.

Great White Pelican Sightings

Our photographer friend, Roberta Schuldenfrei, was beside herself this week after seeing the ‘Ding” Darling refuge’s newest visitor, a Great White Pelican. It was reported that when this pelican appeared on Sunday, it may have been the first North American sighting of this bird which usually is found only in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Word of its arrival spread quickly through the birding community with the refuge reporting record numbers of visitors as a result. Park rangers say that they don’t know why the Great White Pelican is here or where it came from. They say that it has not been banded or clipped which would indicate that it escaped from somewhere. They don’t know where it came from. Maybe it took a vacation – we know lots of snowbirds do that.

The Great White Pelican looks somewhat like the White Pelican that is a common winter resident at the refuge, but it is much larger. It feeds the same way as the White Pelicans and mingles with them. It has been seen at various points along Wildlife Drive at low tide.

The Great White is a bit pinker or rosier than the White Pelicans, according to Wikipedia, and their wing span can be from 7 to almost 12 feet.

Great White Pelican

Photo from Facebook page of Ding Darling Wildlife Society – Friends of the Refuge with photo credit to Tammy McQuade

Mayors’ Progress on Water Releases

Sanibelcityseal logoAs reported in the “Island Sun” today, “Less than 24 hours after returning from Washington D.C., Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and two of his fellow mayors – Marni Sawicki of Cape Coral and Randy Henderson of Fort Myers – joined three additional Southwest Florida leaders for a 2-hour workshop to discuss the progress they made in the nation’s capital regarding ongoing water issues.

“On Feb 26, Ruane, Sawicki and Henderson were joined by mayors Ben Nelson of Bonita Springs, Anita Cereceda of Fort Myers Beach and Nick Batos of Estero at MacKenzie Hall, Sanibel, where the group – along with Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman – talked about the 19 meetings they had over the course of three days in Washington….

“The trio of Lee County mayors met with Florida’s congressional delegation – including local representative Curt Clawson – as well as Senator Bill Nelson, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

“We are committed to global solutions across geographic and partisan barriers. We continue to coalesce around long-term solutions that acquire land and move waters from Lake Okeechobee south,” Ruane reported after the 2nd day of meetings in Washington. “All of our meetings have been very productive and interactive. We are meeting in round-table formats with congressional members and their staffs. Our goal is not to just be heard but to obtain commitments to fund long-term solutions.”…

“Statement of the Problem

“The coastal communities of Lee County are once again being devastated by freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee watershed. Damaging high-volume freshwater releases are impacting the ecology of local waters, the quality of life for its citizens, the strength of area businesses, and it continues to have a lasting effect on the local economy.

“According to the mayors, these impacts are occurring as a direct result of inadequate water storage within the Kissimmee, Lake Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee watersheds and the inability to effectively move water south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

“Record rainfall throughout South Florida associated with strong El Nino conditions this winter have resulted in the level of Lake Okeechobee approaching 16.5 feet. To protect the communities that surround Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting high-volume regulatory releases from the lake to the coastal estuaries, with the Caloosahatchee on the west coast and the St. Lucie on the east.

“For nearly a month, weekly average freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee have been more than three times the high-flow harm threshold (9,000 cubic feet per second) and are producing lethal conditions for oysters and other economically important fish species within the estuary. The discharges are also generating a freshwater plume extends throughout Pine Island Sound and into the Gulf of Mexico, blanketing Lee County’s beaches and coastal communities with dark,, nutrient-laden water that is devastating the local tourism-based economy.

“At the workshop, each of the mayors made a pledge to inform their respective council members to ensure that everyone is “on the same page”….

“Environmental Impacts

“James Evans, Sanibel’s department of natural resources director, reported that as of Friday morning, Lake Okeechobee stood at 16.36 feet. With the freshwater flows out of the lake, ordered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake level dropped approximately 1.4 feet over the last week. However, 77% of the water coming out of the lake is directed toward the Caloosahatchee.

“Evans also noted that those freshwater releases will harm the upcoming spawning season for several marine species. However, this year’s plume only extends about one mile offshore from Lighthouse Beach towards Fort Myers Beach. The freshwater plume which occurred in the summer of 2013 extended more than 12 miles out into the gulf.

“Our goal is to find every opportunity for land to store water,” said Evans. “We need to be planning 10 years in advance for what happened this year….”

Lake O Releases Being Reduced

US Army Corps logoGood news on The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website yesterday:

‘The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee beginning this weekend.

“Starting Friday (March 4), the new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary is 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at Moore Haven Lock (S-77) located in the southwest part of the lake.  The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary is 1,800 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart. Additional runoff from rain in the St. Lucie basin could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets.

““Lake levels have been falling as a result of water releases, decreased inflows, and drier conditions,” said Jim Jeffords, Jacksonville District Operations Division Chief.  “Although the lake is still uncomfortably high for this time of year, our water control plan calls for lower flows based on current conditions.  If the lake starts rising again, we may have to increase flows; it all depends on the weather.”

“Today, the lake stage is 15.83 feet, down more than a half foot since it peaked at 16.40 feet on February 8.  The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary to balance the competing needs and purposes for water in Lake Okeechobee.

“Additionally, Jacksonville District water managers are updating the formula used to calculate water flows through the spillway gates at the St. Lucie Lock structure.  When drier conditions took hold during the latter part of February, water managers noticed an anomaly.  In working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), engineers determined that the reported flows through the spillway exceeded actual flows by 1,500-2,500 cfs.

“Our reported flows exceeded what was actually passing through the spillway gates,” said Jeffords. “At our request, the USGS conducted downstream measurements at St. Lucie and we have updated our formulas for computing discharge rates accordingly.  We recognize the importance of this information and want to be sure it’s as accurate as possible.”

“For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx. “

Surprising Tax Credits for Homeowners

From Realtor®Mag on-line yesterday. Also on www.energy.gov :

Homeselfe - Logo

About Homeselfe: Homeselfe is the most comprehensive and innovative do-it-yourself home energy evaluation in the marketplace allowing energy conscious homeowners to reduce their overall consumption. Homeselfe is the number-one tool in leading America’s progression towards combating rising energy costs, cleaner sources of energy, and protecting the environment. Founded in 2014, Homeselfe was created as a patent pending technology from Energy Datametrics, one the leading providers of cutting-edge energy efficient software and technology services. Website: http://www.homeselfe.com, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/homeselfe, Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/homeselfe (PRNewsFoto/Homeselfe)

“Homeselfe, a home energy assessment app and web service for homeowners, recently released a list of several significant tax credits available to those who made energy efficiency upgrades to their homes in the 2015 tax year.

““If you upgraded your home in 2015 by adding insulation, one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make, you already know you are saving on your utility bills every month plus you may be eligible for a tax credit on that investment,” said Ameeta Jain, co-founder and spokesperson of Homeselfe.

“The company says homeowners can earn up to $500 on their return by taking into account small upgrades made last year, including:

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Advanced main air-circulating fans (tax credit amount of $50)
  • Insulation (10% of the cost, up to $500)
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar earns a tax credit of $300)
  • Windows, doors and skylights (tax credit amount is 10% of the cost excluding labor)

“Homeselfe includes flowcharts and other information to help homeowners determine whether they qualify for energy-related tax credits. “Not taking advantage of that is throwing away your hard-earned cash. We want to empower families to receive the maximum refund allowed on their tax returns by providing them insight into the energy credits that are available,” says Jain.”

Source: “Do You Qualify for A Home Energy Tax Credit?” Homeselfe (Feb. 10, 2016)

The Power of Pets

PetsAs a dog lover and because it was my grand-dog’s birthday this week, I got a kick out of reading this article in Wednesday’s Realtor®Mag. We recently had a home listing go under contract to a condo owner who wanted to move to a home so that she could get a dog. This article describes how times are changing.

“The real estate business traditionally has shown scant love for pets. The conventional wisdom held that sellers should conceal all traces of their dogs or cats—the toys, bowls, beds, even the animals themselves—when prepping a home for sale. But those hardline messages are clearly softening, as pets become a plus in the marketing of homes for sale.

“The reason for the shift has a lot to do with the numbers: Pet power is rising. Currently 65% of households own a pet, up from 56% in 1988. A record-breaking 79 million U.S. households now own a pet, according to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association. Indeed, 83% of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family, according to a Packaged Facts research report.

“For real estate practitioners, addressing that pet love means helping buyers scout for homes that meet the needs of their pets or working with sellers to leverage their home’s pet appeal.

“In fact, pet-friendly agents have found one another—and consumers—on a growing national social platform called the Pet Realty Network. The network, launched in 1997, now boasts about 300 members who pay $30 annually to be included in the directory and can add to its pet-friendly listings.

““I think the days of hiding your pet are over,” says Rhona Sutter, sales associate with Downing Frye Realty Inc. in Naples, Fla., and founder of the network. “You may not want the boisterous Labrador running to the door to greet a home buyer, but quite honestly, a home that is pet-friendly is an advantage for a house nowadays.”

“The pet advantage is notable at every price point. For a $5 million listing in 2013, the Boutique Real Estate Group in Corona Del Mar, Calif., produced a video showing off a luxury 6,300-square-foot, six-bedroom home all from the perspective of a French bulldog named Rocco. The bulldog even wore a custom-made suede collar in the video, inscribed with the property’s URL,49GoldenEagle.com. Raj Qsar, owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, says the idea to star Rocco in the video, which came about after the dog took a liking to his team as they toured the space, helped him secure the listing. “They loved the idea,” he says.

“Joining the pet craze, home builders are touting pet-accommodating floor plans, such as those with pet nooks in mudrooms. Also, luxury condo buildings are marketing amenities to pet-loving households, offering rooftop pet parks and spas (complete with “pawdicures”), dog-bone-shaped swimming pools, pet fitness yoga classes and treadmill sessions, and even “yappy hours” social mixers.

“Coldwell Banker last year launched a national campaign called “home’s best friend,” teaming up with AdoptAPet.com. Its brokerages partnered with shelters and rescue groups to hold events nationwide in an effort to find homes for 20,000 adoptable dogs.”

8 Bad ‘Home Improvement’ Habits

This Old House logoThis was posted on “Daily Real Estate News” last Friday.

“Home owners can overdo it when it comes to the upkeep of their home. This Old House recently spotlighted several ways that home owners’ enthusiasm for home ownership may actually harm the house.

  1. Having light bulbs that are too bright. You want a well-lit home, but exceeding a lamp or light fixture’s recommended wattage can be dangerous, particularly with incandescent or halogen lights, says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories. “Using a bulb with too-high wattage will cause the fixture and its wiring to overheat,” he notes, which could then allow the heat to travel to the wall or erode the insulation on the wires and lead to a house fire. Check the fixtures label to make sure you use the correct wattage.
  2. Planting trees near driveways or walkways. A line of trees to the house may up its curb appeal but adding young trees near driveways or walkways could be putting your slab at risk. As these trees grow taller, their roots will go outward, potentially pushing up the paving and causing it to buckle or crack. This Old House recommends planting small trees that will remain under 20 feet at maturity and that are at least 10 feet from paved areas. For larger trees, leave at least a 20-foot radius.
  3. Over scrubbing a sink. Don’t overdo it with abrasive cleaners; they can scratch the sink. “Cleaners with a grit or grain to them will wear away at the finish and dull it,” Kohler‘s Mike Marbuch told This Old House. “That will make the sink more prone to gunk sticking to it—actually making it look dirtier.” Try a liquid cleanser like vinegar or lemon juice on the sink and avoid scrubbing it every day.
  4. Overdoing it with can lights. Excessive recessed lighting in a home can cause a lot of air leaks. Recessed lighting is known as causing heat-sucking air leaks, especially when the fixtures are unsealed in vaulted ceilings. Airtight recessed lighting fixtures are available that are rated for insulation contact (IC). Also, use as few recessed lights as you can, especially when it comes to adding them to cathedral ceilings or in rooms directly below unconditioned attics.
  5. Spreading too much mulch outside. “Over-mulching will suffocate plants, confuse their root systems, and prevent water from percolating into the soil,” notes the article at This Old House. “If you’ve mulched so much that tree trunks and flowers’ and shrubs’ lower branches are covered by or dragging in it, you’ve gone overboard.” Have mulch no thicker than 3 inches.
  6. Using glass cleaner on mirrors. Watch out for store-bought sprays that promise to make your glass sparkle. “A drop of liquid running around the mirror’s edge can cause the reflective backing to lift or craze,” This Old House notes. The black edge can occur from using ammonia- or vinegar-based cleaners. This Old House recommends using warm water and a soft, lint-free cloth to clean mirrors. Or if you do use the sprays, spray it onto a dry cloth first and not directly onto the glass.
  7. Repainting too much. “Excessive paint is detrimental – especially on an older house, which may have layers of thicker oil-based paint, which becomes brittle with age,” notes This Old House. To avoid thick, cracked, or peeling paint, be sure to carefully power-wash prior to painting, sand areas that need it, and then use 100% acrylic-resin exterior paint.
  8. Fertilizing too much. Fertilizing too often can spur more weeds to grow. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency warns over-fertilizing can cause “nutrient pollution,” which is when nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from lawn fertilizers and then leads to an overgrowth of algae that can even pollute local waterways. Some lawn experts recommend only fertilizing twice a year, late summer and fall only.”

Source: “19 Ways You’re Killing Your Home With Kindness,” This Old House (February 2016)

Tickets for BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concerts

BIG Arts logoIf you are looking for a little listening pleasure at the end of the month, the time is now to get your tickets for the BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concert. Since the group’s two evening performances have sold out in recent years, this year an afternoon matinee has been added to the schedule.

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare, the program includes tunes from Broadway to merry old England with songs from around the world including selections from West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, and a special commissioned piece by composer Gregory Brown.

Tickets are available now at the BIG ARTS Box Office. $10 for adults. Kids and students are free. Performances are in BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall on Mar 29 at 7 p.m., Mar 30 at 2 p.m., and Mar 31 at 7 p.m. SanibelSusan sings with the altos and with the Ensemble too. Hope to see you there!

2016 Spring Concert Flier

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity February 26 – March 4, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Mariner Pointe #733 2/2 $529K, Loggerhead Cay #402 2/2 $595K, Donax Village #14 2/2 $569K, Loggerhead Cay #181 2/2 $725K.

9 price changes: Seashells #38 2/2 now $375K, Mariner Pointe #813 2/2 now $449K, Coquina Beach #4C 2/2 now $499.9K, Blind Pass #B209 2/2 now $539K, Surfside 12 #A2 3/2 now $699K, Sunset South #12C 2/2 now $784K, Sanibel Surfside #117 2/2 now $965K, Sanibel Seaview #A1 3/3 now $1.249M, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 now $1.285M.

4 new sales: Sanibel Arms West #A6 2/2 listed at $539K, Sundial East #O402 2/2 listed at $655K, Snug Harbor #113 2/2 listed at $985K, Wedgewood #306 3/3.5 listed at $1.379M.

4 closed sales: Seashells #33 2/2 $270K (short sale); Mariner Pointe #411 3/2 $519.75K (our listing & sale); Lighthouse Point #113 3/2 $634K; High Tide #B101 2/2.5 $1,750,125.

MP Bayside Pool

Bayside pool at Mariner Pointe just outside #411

 

HOMES

14 new listings: 748 Marthas Ln 3/2 $509K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 $575K, 5105 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 4/3 $699K, 1052 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 $749K, 1438 Albatross Rd 4/3 $779K, 676 Emeril Ct 3/3 $789K, 1487 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $814K, 1429 Jamaica Dr 3/3 $829K, 9027 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 $839K, 792 Birdie View Pt 3/3.5 $1.119M, 3386 West Gulf Dr 3/3.5 $1.349M, 824 Limpet Dr 3/3 $1.395M, 5771 Baltusrol Ct 3/4 $1.398M.

14 price changes: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $549K; 746 Cardium St 4/2 now $599,998; 1125 Captains Walk St 3/3 now $699.9K; 3850 Coquina Dr 3/3 now $899K; 1314 Par View Dr 4/3 now $945K; 232 Robinwood Cir 4/3 now $1.389M; 4353 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2.5 now $1.479M; 4014 West Gulf Dr 3/2/2 now $1.595M; 1743 Venus Dr 4/3.5 now $1.795M; 1688 Hibiscus Dr 3/4 now $1.849M; 626 Kinzie Island Ct 3/2.5 now $1.899M; 2451 Blind Pass Ct 4/4.5 now $2.299M; 2518 Tropical Way Ct 3/3.5 now $2.395M; 911 Strangler Fig Ln 4/3 now $2.695M.

7 new sales: 3301 Twin Lakes Ln 2/2 listed at $599K, 689 East Rocks Dr 3/3 listed at $759K, 5757 Pine Tree Dr 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 345 East Gulf Dr 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 979 Oyster Ct 2/2 listed at $940K, 1111 Schooner Pl 3/3 listed at $949.5K, 411 Lighthouse Way 4/3 listed at $1.445M.

6 closed sales: 1653 Bunting Ln 3/2.5 $434,716; 450 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $505K; 2079 Wild Lime Dr 3/2 $570K; 1224 Par View Dr 3/3 $905K; 6015 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3.5 $2.05M; 3911 West Gulf Dr 5/5.5 $4.3M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Tennis Villas #3227 1/1 $287K.

3 price changes: Tennis Villas #3111 1/1 now $244K, Bayside Villas #4202 1/2 now $310K, Tennis Villas #3131 2/2 now $410K.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: Ventura Captiva #1B 3/3 $1.1M.

HOMES

No new listings.

2 price changes: 14980 Binder Dr 4/3 now $1.378M, 14860 Mango Ct 5/4 now $2.344M.

1 new sale: 15000 Binder Dr 3/2 listed at $1.049M.

No closed sales.

LOTS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: with contingencies: 16297 Captiva Dr listed at $1.549M.

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 general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.)

Until next Friday, here’s hoping great things continue!

Happy weekend, Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

It Sure is Quiet on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It’s SanibelSusan reporting that this week, it is REALLY QUIET on the islands – hopefully the end of that lull between “season” and the arrival of summer vacationers. Lee County Schools are out today, so maybe we will see more Floridians on the island in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, the reprieve is giving the locals a little time to stop and smell the roses, or in my case, appreciate my bougainvillea explosion and happy trumpet bush.

June 1 2015 my bougainvillea explosion April 16 Angel Trumpet

Happenings at SanibelSusan Realty

SANSLogoOver the last seen days, we had a few listings shown, but no offers or even routine buyer traffic through the office.

SanCapAssnLogoThe local Association of Realtors® did not have a Caravan meeting this week. The next one is June 18, which also is a monthly Membership Meeting. The real estate activity posted this week in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows a few news items below.

ASSOC LogoOn Tuesday, I taught my annual class at the Association Office. Each summer, the Sanibel/Captiva Islands Association offers the 12 modules of instruction that are needed for Realtors® to earn their SCIS designation (Sanibel & Captiva Islands Specialist). Nearly 15 candidates this year are working to earn theirs, looking to join our 75 active certificate holders. You-know-who was in the first class many years ago.

Three years ago, I wrote the module on the Resort & 2nd Home Market and have taught it each year since. Here are a few tidbits that were added this year to the class handout:

  • Last year, vacation home sales nationally climbed to an estimated 1.13 million, the highest since NAR (National Association of Realtors®) began tracking those statistics in 2003. This was an increase of 57% over the number sold in 2013. Vacation home sales in 2014 nearly doubled the combined total of the previous two years. Nationally, vacation home sales were 21% of all transactions in 2014.
  • As vacation home sales soared & despite a strong rental demand, investment purchase dropped for the 4th consecutive year to their lowest since 2010. (These national statistics are on trend with Sanibel/Captiva too.)
  • Why? Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, says: “Affluent households have greatly benefitted from strong growth in the stock market in recent years, & the steady rise in home prices has likely given them reassurance that real estate remains an attractive long-term investment. Furthermore, last year’s impressive increase also reflects long-term grown in the numbers of baby boomers moving closer to retirement & buying 2nd homes to convert into their primary home in a few years.”

Upcoming Events

Ding Darling signTomorrow, Sat, June 6 – National Trails Day kicks off free summer programs at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge with special activities held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events tomorrow include scheduled hikes on Indigo Trail & the Wildlife Education Boardwalk; Reading in the Refuge & Animal Tracking 101 in the Visitor & Education Center; & Animal Olympics on Indigo Trail. Bi-weekly family nature films & weekly walks & nature crafts highlight the free summer programs offered through August 9. See full schedule at www.dingdarlingsociety.org/summer-programming.

Island night LogoWed, June 17 – 22nd Annual Sam Bailey’s Islands Night at Lee County Sports Complex, gates open at 5:30 p.m., parade at 6:15 p.m., game starts at 7:05 p.m.

historical village logoSat, June 20 – FREE ADMISSION to The Sanibel Historical Village, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

“Know Before You Owe” Disclosure Forms

Florida Realtors logoFrom the June 2015, “FloridaRealtor®” magazine:

“On August 1, 2015, new rules go into effect to combine the Good Faith Estimate and the initial Truth in Lending (TIL) disclosure into a single “Loan Estimate” and combine the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and the final TIL disclosure into a single “Closing Disclosure”. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) refers to these as the “Know Before You Own” disclosure forms.

“Because of the new requirements, at least initially, it might be unrealistic to plan a 30-day closing for most transactions. Until we see what impact the new rules will have, NAR (National Association of Realtors®) advises to plan on 45-day closings instead of 30-day closings, and to be ready for closing (including doing the walk-through) a week in advance.

“These modifications, which come as part of the CRPB’s changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, will apply to most closed-end consumer mortgage loans.

“As part of the new rules, the lender must give the loan estimate to the buyer within three business days after the lender receives a completed application from the buyer. A completed application contains six items of information: buyer’s name, income, Social Security number, property address, estimated property value and loan amount.

“The lender or the closing agent must give the buyer the Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing. Changes to the information provided in the document may require a revised Closing Disclosure and an additional three-day review period to be given. Buyers may waive the review period for a bona fide financial emergency.”

Upcoming Summer Projects on the Islands

Sanibelcityseal logoSummer into fall, when fewer occupants will be disturbed, is when most associations allow noisy projects in their communities. When working with Buyers thinking of purchasing a property that is in need of renovation, we always advise that they pay strict attention to the association rules and guidelines on how and when those projects may be accomplished, including what approvals and permits may be required. Some associations also have restrictions on what the improvements may be. For those looking for contractors, www.MySanibel.com has a list, by discipline, of those licensed here.

One of those summer projects began this week, at Seascape. Their stucco restoration project began June 1; while at Sunset South, we understand that their Building 8 will be reconstructed beginning July 1.

Coming over the same Sanibel causeway bridge after Debby passed

Some broader news is that last week, the City (Sanibel) was notified by the Lee County Department of Transportation that they will be performing bridge maintenance on all three causeway bridges beginning Monday June 8 and ending Thursday June 18, weather permitting. The bridges will remain open during this time, but there may be some lane shifts.

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity May 22-June 5 

Sanibel

CONDOS

1 new listing: Loggerhead Cay #474 2/2 $489.9K.

1 price change: Sundial #R401 2/2 now $824K (our listing).

6 new sales: Captains Walk #F6 2/2 listed for $319.9K, Mariner Pointe #121 1/1 listed for $369K, Sunset South #2D 2/2 listed for $525K, Pointe Santo #C4 1/1 listed for $639K, Island Beach Club #P2E 2/2 listed for $799.9K, Seascape #201 3/3 listed for $1.795M.

2 closed sales: Ibis at The Sanctuary A101 2/2 $449K, Ibis at The Sanctuary #B201 2/2 $435K.

HOMES

2 new listings 9439 Coventry Ct 2/2 $525K, 1730 Jewel Box Dr 4/3 $1.85M.

4 price changes: 9032 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 now $598.4K, 1460 Court Pl 6/5.5 multi-family now $649K, 1328 Seaspray Ln 4/4 now $895K, 1245 Isabel Dr 3/3.4 now $1.649M.

2 new sales: 778 Cardium St 3/3 listed for $449K, 4620 Rue Bayou 3/3 listed for $899K.

6 closed sales: 4109 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 2/1 $275K, 828 Rabbit Rd 2/1 $360K, 257 Daniel Dr 3/2 $604K, 1755 Jewel Box Dr 3/2 $685K, 667 Anchor Dr 4/3.5 $1.05M, 3400 West Gulf Dr $1.1M.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price change: 3723 West Gulf Dr now $2.895M.

2 new sales: 0 Bowmans Beach Rd now $125K, 247 + 255 Robinwood Cir now $229K.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings or price changes.

2 new sales: Beach Villas #2322 1/1 listed for $499K, Marina Villas #706 2/2 listed for $625K.

1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5318 3/3 $600K.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 16897 Captiva Dr 5/5.5 now $3.09M.

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 general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

Until next Friday, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

The Sky is Blue & Real Estate is Selling on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It is another sunny Friday on Sanibel – what we call, “another picture-perfect day”. It reminds me of yesterday when I complimented an island pal on her Sanibel photos and she said “use them anytime”. So, before the rest of Friday’s blog, here are a few feathered friend pictures – thanks to Ellie Hayward. She took the alligator pix too!

 

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

SanCapAssnLogoMore winter sales were announced at our local Association of Realtors® Caravan Meeting yesterday and calls for showings are picking up too.

Below are a couple of news items followed by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service action over the last seven days. “Season” is shaping up to be a good one. The statistics below indicate the few sales already in process. During the next three months, the number of sales should jump.

CONDOS                      HOMES                         LOTS

                      #  / Avg $ / Avg DOM    # / Avg $ / Avg DOM     # / Avg $ / Avg DOM

SANIBEL

Available        117 / 751,571 / 403       155 / 1,258,601 / 243    79 / 499,905 / 722

Pending         27 / 755,406 / 373          43 / 1,086,499 / 320     6 / 496,250 / 663

Sold/closed in:

2015 to 1/30  8 / 491,094 / 398           10 / 784,468 / 365         1 / 352,000 / 192

2014              164 / 650,418 / 286        206 / 838,672 / 265       27 / 424,198 / 495

CAPTIVA

Available       43 / 885,909 / 372          50 / 3,503,921 / 318      6 / 2,280,000 / 330

Pending        4 / 1,113,500 / 118         4 / 7,337,250 / 442        1 / 1,390,000 / 116

Sold/closed in:

2015 to 1/30  0 / N/A / N/A                  0 / N/A / N/A                  0 / N/A / N/A

2014              22 / 624,068 / 421         23 / $2,826,717 / 364     0 / N/A / N/A

Island Happenings

SANSLogoSanibelSusan.com continues to bring us listing inquiries and this week one came from a follower of the “Upcoming Events” also posted on our web site. Tracking island happenings keeps us current. Here are a couple of new items recently noticed.

  • SCCF logoWater Quality Exhibit at SCCF Nature Center – Water quality is a subject key to our real estate business and an item often discussed at our state Association of Realtors® Land Use Committee meetings. A new 5-panel exhibit at SSCF’s Nature Center is the first on the island about water quality. Educational and fun for all ages, the centerpiece of this SCCF exhibit includes a touchscreen with an in-depth RECON overview. RECON is the River Estuary Coastal Observing Network which was launched in 2007. RECON sensors along the Caloosahatchee River, Pine Island Sound, Tarpon Bay, and San Carlos Bay gather data which aids in research and management of the water in these areas. The Nature Center at SCCF is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sanibelcityseal logoMayor’s Report to CASI – Last Friday, Sanibel Mayor Ruane updated CASI (Condominium Associations of Sanibel, Inc.) on the progress City Council has made this year in its goals of improving water quality, stabilizing city finances, and encouraging sensitive redevelopment. A few statistics he mentioned include that 27% of Lee County’s tax revenues come from Sanibel. Of each Sanibel property owner’s tax bill, 15 cents is retained by Sanibel, while 85 cents goes to the county. With some carefully selected projects like the Sanibel Civic Core which is being planned for the city hall/library area and expected to include BIG ARTS, the Senior Center, and the Sanibel Community Association, City-owned property may be eligible for bringing some of those tax dollars back to the island.
  • CROW logoCROW’s New Speaker Series – Beginning in February and running through March, CROW is offering more interactive and educational programs. As they are announced, dates will be posted on SanibelSusan.com “Upcoming Events”. More info at www.crowclinic.org.

Existing-Home Sales Rebound: 5 Stats to Know

for sale signBelow is a summary article from “Daily Real Estate News” last Friday. It’s a good synopsis of the real estate market nation-wide.

“Home sales picked up at the end of 2014, closing off a year that had a sluggish start but then showed encouraging signs in the second half, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report, released Friday.

“Existing-home sales rose 2.4% in December month-over-month, bouncing back after a dismal November. Total home sales –reflecting completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops – reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in December. “Home sales improved over the summer once inventory increased, prices moderated, and economic growth accelerated,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Sales were measurably better in the second half – up 8% compared to the first six months of the year.”

“Overall for 2014, the median national existing-home price was $208,500, reaching the highest level since 2007, and a 5.8% increase from 2013 when it was $197,100. However, total existing-home sales were 3.1% lower in 2014 compared to 2013, NAR reports. Here’s a closer look at five housing stats from NAR’s latest report — reflecting December 2014 data — to gauge the market:

“1. Home sales: Single-family home sales rose 3.5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million compared to 4.32 million in November. Single-family home sales are 4% above the pace a year ago. Existing condo and co-op sales, on the other hand, dropped 5% in December.

“2. Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $209,500 – 6% higher than year ago levels. This marks the 34th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

3. Days on the market: Properties typically stayed on the market in December for 66 days, a slightly shorter time frame than a year ago when the average was 72 days. Short sales were on the market the longest amount of time at a median of 98 days in December, while foreclosures sold in 61 days. Non-distressed homes averaged 66 days on the market. About 31% of homes that were sold in December were on the market for less than a month, according to NAR.

“4. Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales edged up slightly in December, reaching 11% of sales compared to 9% in November. However, distressed sales are down from 14% a year ago. Of December existing-home sales, 8% were foreclosures and 3% were short sales. On average, foreclosures sold for a discount of 15% below market value while short sales were discounted 12%.

“5. Inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 11.1% to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale. That represents a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 5.1 months in November. Unsold inventory is now 0.5% lower than a year ago.

““A drop in housing supply in December raises some affordability concerns in the months ahead as minimal selection and the potential for faster price appreciation could offset the demand from buyers encouraged by a stronger economy and sub-4 percent interest rates,” says Yun. “Housing costs – both rents and home prices – continue to outpace wages and are burdensome for potential buyers trying to save for a down-payment while looking for available homes in their price range.”

“By Region: The following is a look at how existing-home sales performed across the country in December:

  • Northeast: existing-home sales fell 2.9% to an annual rate of 660,000. Sales are 3.1% above year ago levels. Median price: $246,600, up 3.2% above a year ago.
  • Midwest: existing-home sales dropped 3.5% to an annual level of 1.09 million in December. Sales are 2.7% below December 2013. Median price: $159,100, up 5.3% from a year ago.
  • South: existing-home sales in the South climbed 3.8% to an annual rate of 2.17 million in December. Sales are 7.4% above December 2013. Median price: $184,100, up 6.6% from a year ago.
  • West: existing-home sales surged 9.8% to an annual rate of 1.12 million in December. Sales are 2.8% above a year ago. Median price: $299,600, up 5.6% year-over-year.”

Housing Demand Rises, Supply Is Bigger Issue

realtor logoAs the market rebounds another concern was highlighted by Realtor.com in another recent article. We are already seeing signs of not enough inventory on Sanibel and Captiva too. We all know that shrinking inventory often results in rising prices.

“Several signs in the housing market point to higher demand for real estate, but the big question remains whether the supply will be able to meet the rise in demand, writes Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com®, in new commentary at realtor.com®. “Supply is quickly becoming the biggest concern for healthy growth in home sales in 2015,” Smoke notes.

“Smoke points to the following three positive signs showing higher demand in the housing market:

Builders are more confident: Builders are remaining upbeat about the new-home market. The National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index recently showed builder sentiment on the rise, with builders optimistic about the six-month outlook in the new-home market. New construction is starting to follow suit. Housing starts rose 4.4% in December, with that rise driven by an uptick in single-family construction. Single-family starts are at the highest number in six years, reaching a pace of 728,000 units in December. “That is a good early sign that homebuilders are gearing production for greater demand in the spring,” Smoke notes.

Low mortgage rates: Mortgage rates continue to hit new yearly lows, bringing borrowing costs down for home buyers and refinancers. As such, mortgage application activity rose to its highest level since June 2013 recently. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.63% last week, its lowest weekly average since May 2013, according to Freddie Mac. But economists are warning that the low rates won’t likely stick around much longer and could move up to 5% by the end of the year.

Existing-home sales rebounding: Demand has been growing in the existing-home sales market too. The annual pace of existing-home sales was 5.04 million in December, 3.5% higher than last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS® latest report.

“Housing supply remains the biggest issue, Smoke says. The inventory of existing-homes is at a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace – well-below the 6-month supply that most economists consider healthy, according to NAR’s December report. “We need more markets to see listing growth over the next several weeks to keep appreciation at healthy, normal levels,” Smoke says.  “With three years of positive price appreciation behind them, existing-home owners in most areas should see conditions as very favorable for trading up. That is what the market needs to set the stage for significant growth this spring.””

Why I Bought Realtor.com®

Realtor_comlogoAs a Realtor® who has had successful results from Realtor.com, but many frustrations from inquiries from viewers looking at other third party real estate search sites, I have patiently been waiting for more news about Rupert Murdoch’s recent purchase. Here is the article posted on “Daily Real Estate News” yesterday. Love the last sentence!

“News Corp founder and executive chairman Rupert Murdoch took the stage at Real Estate Connect in New York on Thursday to explain why Move Inc., the operator of realtor.com®, was a better acquisition than its chief rivals in the online real estate space. Murdoch said Move and realtor.com® have a trifecta of powerful marketing points over Zillow and Trulia. “Move has the most up-to-date and accurate listings in the market,” Murdoch said, noting that realtor.com®’s listings are updated every 15 minutes.

““Move has a close relationship with the National Association of REALTORS®, and I believe real estate agents are crucial to every home sale in America,” he said. “Realtor.com® attracts transaction-ready consumers — they’re not just window shoppers — and that’s attractive to advertisers,” Murdoch said.

“Most people who begin their real estate search online eventually need human interaction and guidance, Murdoch said, and realtor.com® facilitates those connections. “There is no digital replacement for the human touch,” he said. “No technology can meet all of someone’s needs. It takes a real person. Realtor.com® helps bring home buyers, sellers, and agents together. We want the shortest distance between the American Dream and a family’s reality to be realtor.com®.”

“Murdoch reassured critics that News Corp’s goal is not to turn Move into a media company and take realtor.com® away from its mission of connecting agents with consumers. Instead, he said, he wants to enhance the realtor.com® user experience to help it better fulfill its mission. “We’re going to add to the user interface, make it more obviously friendly for agents and consumers,” Murdoch said. “We’ve got to make a better product, and then when we’re satisfied, we need to get out and market it hard. We understand that there’s a different business model in America,” continued the Australian-born media magnate, who owns media properties all over the world. “We don’t want to replace agents — we think they’re absolutely central.”

“Murdoch also predicted that the U.S. housing market would continue to expand and recover — another reason he was interested in buying a real estate company. He said the data he’s been seeing from Move thus far is encouraging, and the U.S. market offers the best bet for long-term growth in the world.

“Murdoch ended on a note that easily became the most talk-about moment of his appearance at Real Estate Connect. He said he believed in the ability of the realtor.com® name to attract consumers away from the site’s rivals because “we all know what ‘REALTOR®’ means.” And then he quipped: “What the hell does ‘Zillow’ mean?””

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity January 23-30 

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Sanibel Arms West #L5 2/2 $524.9K, Sanibel Sunset #202 3/2 $1.795M.

3 price changes: Captains Walk #C7 1/1 now $244K, Sanibel Arms West #J4 2/2 now $459K, Sanddollar #A104 2/2 now $819K.

4 new sales: Sundial #F406 1/1 listed for $359.9K, Sanibel Arms West #L5 2/2 listed for $524.9K, Loggerhead Cay #191 2/2 listed for $660K, West Shore #6 3/3 listed for $1.795M.

1 closed sale: Pointe Santo #A2 2/2 $782.25K.

HOMES

8 new listings: 4109 SanCap Rd 2/1 $324K, 4619 Brainard Bayou Rd 3/2 $599.9K, 1085 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $669K, 1182 Kittiwake Cir 3/3 $739K, 923 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2 $889K, 1331 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $985K, 5418 Osprey Ct 4/3.5 $1.195M, 4525 Waters Edge Ln 3/3.5 $4.495M.

8 price changes: 2621 SanCap Rd 3/2 now $279K; 1602 Serenity Ln 3/2 now $499K; 9032 Mockingbird Ln 3/2 now $619,995; 741 Nerita St 3/2 now $679K; 3131 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $704,999; 1224 Par View Dr 3/3 now $1.099M; 518 N Yachtsman Dr 3/3 now $1.179M; 2255 Troon Ct 4/5.5 now $1.55M.

6 new sales: 320 Palm Lake Dr 2/2 listed for $424K, 590 Lake Murex Cir 2/1.5 listed for $635K, 5753 Pine Tree Dr 3/4 listed for $749K, 1337 Eagle Run Dr 3/2.5 listed for $1.149M, 6440 Pine Ave 3/3 listed for $1.295M (our sale), 536 Lighthouse Way 4/4.5 listed for $3.395M.

1 closed sale: 960 S Yachtsman Dr 3/3 $1.299M.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price change: 1311 Par View Dr now $269.9K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

2 new listings: Tennis Villas #3115 1/1 $294.9K, Beach Villas #2614 2/2 $620K.

2 price changes: Bayside Villas #4114 1/2 now $269.9K, Bayside Villas #5316 3/3 now $619K.

No new or closed sales.

HOMES

1 new listing: 928 S Seas Plantation Rd 5/5.5 $4.175M.

1 price change: 17130 Captiva Dr 4/4 now $4.499M.

2 new sales: 43 Oster Ct 2/2.5 listed for $784.9K; 16585 Captiva Dr 5/4/2 listed for $2,799,585.

No closed sales.

LOTS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 16915 Captiva Dr listed for $1.39M.

No 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.

Until next Friday – best weekend wishes to all – from Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan