Pelicans Diving, Dolphins Jumping, & Realtors® Learning


It’s SanibelSusan with a weekly update on Sanibel and Captiva Islands happenings. It is a gorgeous day here today, but most of us have our minds on those along the eastern seaboard who are experiencing the wrath of Hurricane Florence. Floridians, particularly islanders know too well the angst and worry associated with those events.

Here, though Southwest Florida’s water quality continues to affect visitor business, things are rebounding – even during what usually are the slower weeks of September. The gulf and beaches look sooo much better – and people and wildlife are out enjoying them again.

Only two real estate sales were reported this week on Sanibel, none on Captiva. Overall, island inventory remains low – with only 60 condos and 121 homes for sale on Sanibel, 30 condos and 33 homes on Captiva. The team and I are hopeful that when fall and winter visitors return, sales will be strong. The action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service since last Friday follows a couple of news items below.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoThe local Association of Realtors® had no weekly Caravan Meeting this week but hosted their annual 14-hour continuing education classes. Florida Realtors® are required to complete 14 hours every two years. This year, the Association also offered the Ethics class that all Realtors® nation-wide must complete before the end of the year.

It’s always fun to be the oldest student in the class. Wednesday’s 7-hour class “Environmental Considerations of Coastal Living” was especially fun in the afternoon when we boarded “Play Time” out of McCarthy’s Marina for a ride up/down Roosevelt Channel and around much of Pine Island Sound – viewing the water, wildlife, and mangroves.

Though we passed one small patch where red tide probably lingered as several attendees coughed simultaneously, by the time we got to the old fish houses just north of North Captiva Island (the ones on pilings that are on the Historic Register), the water was crystal clear right to the bottom. The seagrasses looked healthy and small fish were swimming among them.

Fish houses 09-12-18

Then within about a 10-minute span, we saw a flurry of wildlife – dolphins jumping, pelicans diving, a nurse shark, and a loggerhead turtle. It wasn’t perfect, but it obviously was an area where the water quality was much better.

Red fish house 09-12-18.jpg

Nearby, in front of Demere Key on Pine Island, we saw a huge group of swans, ducks, and geese swimming. (Yes, swans. They can live in salt water too.) It was a gorgeous day – vivid blue sky, bright white clouds, balmy breeze, and flat water.

demere key 09-12-18.jpg

Those white birds are swans!

Water quality specialist Dr. Rick Bartelson on board for questions with SCCF’s Director of Education Kristie Anders said that he and others from the marine lab had been diving recently several miles off shore in the same area he earlier had viewed as a dead zone. The news really went crazy with that information. (A “dead zone” is an underwater patch with no plant or animal life.)

Dr. Bartelson had reported back in mid-August that they started noticing an area like that off the island coast. Then, they measured no oxygen in the water about 3 to 5 meters down from the surface, in some places all the way to the bottom (about 8 meters). This week, he reported that from Tropical Storm Gordon breaking things up, the oxygen levels in that same area are “up” and improving. You bet we want that to continue!

East Rocks Water Main Replacement

Island Water reports that the East Rocks water main replacement project is almost done. The new main has been installed on most of East Rocks Drive and Boulder Drive. The last section to be completed is Durion Court. For this project, Island Water used a polyethylene piping for the boring under paved roads and driveways, rather than cutting up/then repairing driveways or removing/reinstalling pavers. Bet those owners appreciate that they weren’t inconvenienced.

Temporary Closings & Reopenings

  • Bleu Rendezvous – closed for vacation, reopening Oct 5.
  • Blue Coyote Supper Club (Sanibel) – sold. A new restaurant “Malia” to reopen there Oct 1.
  • Bubble Room – closed for repairs beginning Sep 24, reopening Mon Oct 1.
  • CIP’s – closed for lunch until Oct, still open for dinner.
  • Clam Shack – reopened today.
  • Gramma Dot’s – reopens Sep 27.
  • Island Cinema – closed for cleaning & maintenance until Oct 5.
  • Island Pizza – reopens Sep 17.
  • Noah’s Ark Thrift Shop – accepting donations at their loading dock. Ark to reopen Oct 2 and will be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Oct.
  • Over Easy Café – closed for vacation Sep 10 through 20.
  • Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts & T2 (Traders 2) – to reopen Oct 2.
  • Traditions – reopens Sep 23.
  • The Sandbar Steak & Seafood – to reopen Oct 3.

International Coastal Cleanup

Postponed from Sept 15 to Sat Oct 13 (9 a.m. to noon) on Causeway Island B (island closest to Sanibel). Organized by Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Their van will be parked onsite.

Galloway Captiva Triathlon

captiva tri logoThe Captiva Triathlon held on the grounds of South Seas Resort scheduled tomorrow (youth segment) and Sunday (adult segment) has been changed to a duathlon due to concerns over water and air quality conditions due to red tide on the northern end of Captiva. The swim leg will be replaced by a run of the same length (approximately a quarter mile), followed by the usual 10-mile bike and 5K run. The children’s events will be the same format – run/bike/run. More info at packet pickup.

Spectators are welcome with parking available at the south end, with shuttles to take them to the north end. The public is reminded that Captiva Drive will close at 6:45 a.m. More info at www.captivatri.opg.

National Public Lands Day

ding darling goose logoCelebration at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Saturday, Sep 22, with free admission to Wildlife Drive (open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), discounts at Tarpon Bay Explorers, and multiple activities at the refuge.

First Annual Flip Flop Family Scavenger Hunt

Sanibel Sea schoolSanibel Sea School will host this island-wide family event that will end with a bonfire celebration on the beach. Save the date, Saturday, Nov 3 at 10:30 a.m. Proceeds will support the Sea School’s scholarship fund.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Sep 7-14, 2018sancap GO MLS logo

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Tennisplace #D22 1/1 $240K, Mariner Pointe #1061 2/2 $499.9K (our listing), Coquina Beach #2A 2/2 $619K.

Boardwalk b.jpg

Mariner Pointe bay walk & private fishing pier

1 price change: Sand Pointe #111 2/2 now $699K.

1 new sale: Sanibel Arms #A1 2/2 listed at $535K.

3 closed sales: Loggerhead Cay #463 2/2 $440K, Loggerhead Cay #434 2/2 $600K, Island Beach Club #340D 2/2 $1.26M.

HOMES

4 new listings: 1674 Bunting Ln 3/2 $649K, 568 Sea Oats Dr 3/2.5 $749K, 3284 Twin Lakes Ln 4/4 $845K, 2729 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 $1.575M.

2 price changes: 1190 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $585K, 480 Las Tiendas Ln 3/3 now $749K.

1 new sale: 1350 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $699K.

3 closed sales: 9240 Belding Dr 3/2.5 $525K, 978 Black Skimmer Way 3/2 $658K, 5657 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 3/2 $1.2M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 4538 Bowen Bayou Rd $239,999.

1 price change: 1226 Isabel Dr now $1.695M.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Tennis Villas #3128 1/1 $340K.

HOMES

1 new listing: 16221 Captiva Dr 5/6.5 $4.95M.

No price changes, new sales, or closed sales.\

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.

Until next Friday, wishing you bright skies with sunshine!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Island Beaches Sooo Much Better…


It’s SanibelSusan with another Friday report from sunny Sanibel Island.

Beach

The beaches here are looking much better this week thanks to the wind from Tropical Storm Gordon blowing the long-lingering red tide away from shore. The islands still are not getting many beach-goers but the water and beach improvement are obvious.

Beach

Unfortunately, putting a damper on that improvement is an article published Wednesday in “The News-Press” headlined “Red tide causing dead zone conditions in Gulf of Mexico”. In this write-up is a description of what local scientists saw this week on the ocean floor miles off-shore. Here’s a link to that sad article, if you’d like to read it.

One of the local experts quoted in the article is Dr. Rick Bartleson, a water-quality scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and their lead red tide investigator. Both he and his research assistant will be sharing their knowledge with local Realtors® during our continuing education classes next week.

More positive water news is that the vehicles and boats that, for weeks, have been cleaning local beaches and waterways were spotted leaving the island.

Causeway drivers and beach visitors all report that birds and fish are returning and dolphins jumping again. You know we all hope that the improvement continues.

Below are a couple of other news items followed by the action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service since last Friday.

bananasThe SanibelSusan Team is lucky and thankful that we had half of Sanibel’s new condo listings and condo sales this week. We had one of the three home closings too. We have always said that activity in this business happens in bunches – like bananas. We are ready for another bunch next week!

Re-Openings & Temporary Closings

  • Bailey Tract – has reopened (following a 3-month marsh habitat restoration project).
  • Bleu Rendezvous – closed for vacation, reopening Oct 5.
  • Blue Coyote Supper Club (Sanibel) – sold Aug 13. A new restaurant called “Malia” is expected to reopen there Oct 1.
  • Bubble Room – closed for repairs beginning Sep 24, reopening Mon Oct 1.
  • CIP’s – closed for lunch until Oct, still open for dinner.
  • Clam Shack – reopens Sep 14.
  • Gramma Dot’s – reopens Sep 27.
  • Island Cinema – closed for cleaning & maintenance until Oct 5.
  • Island Pizza – closes Sep 10 & reopens Sep 17.
  • Lighthouse Café – reopens tomorrow.
  • Over Easy Café – closed for vacation Sep 10-20.
  • Sanibel Community House – closed for maintenance Sep 10-14.
  • Sweet Melissa’s – closed for vacation, reopening Sep 12.
  • Tarpon Bay Boat Ramp – has reopened (following closure for nearly 2 years during construction of SSCF’s new marine lab, replacement of seawalls, and a boat dock).
  • Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts & T2 (Traders 2) – to reopen Oct 2.
  • Traditions – reopens Sep 23.
  • The Sandbar Steak & Seafood – to reopen Oct 3.

Sandalfoot Kudos

Sandalfoot.jpgThrough the years, we have had listings and sales at Sandalfoot condominiums. One was especially memorable when Hurricane Charley seriously damaged a top-floor beach-front unit there that had just gone under contract a few weeks before the storm arrived. Their on-site staff have always been helpful, often going above-and-beyond, so it was great to see that their long-time employee Domingo Nieves was recognized recently at The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau’s 18th Annual Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards. It’s wonderful to see him recognized. Here’s the write-up from their website.

“Lee County’s EAwards were held August 30th to announce Outstanding Service Awards in the hospitality industry. The awards acknowledge excellence through extraordinary customer service and dedication to tourism throughout Lee County. The “Superheroes” themed Awards were presented by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Fort Myers News Press.

“The awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort in Bonita Springs and celebrated local customer service professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. More than 670 nominations were received from residents and visitors from around the world recognizing the exceptional service and caring offered to visitors who come to Lee County.

“Sandalfoot Condominium is beyond proud to announce that one of its own, Domingo Nieves, was honored with the top award, the Honor of Distinction. Winners of this award exhibit exemplary service, leadership, work ethic, job knowledge, performance skills, familiarity with the destination and assistance during an emergency.

Domingo received a number of nominations for this award. One nominator described him as “one in a million.” Another described him as “tireless, self-sacrificing, humble, compassionate and an all-around exceptional human being.” In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico last year, Domingo was quick to respond. As a native to the island, Domingo sent six generators, at his own expense, to help people in his uncle’s neighborhood.

“Another nominee says he visited a guest in a local hospital every other day for a month while they were on Sanibel and he frequently cuts fresh flowers for guests’ special occasions. Domingo assists elderly guests with getting around on the property and attending special events held here. He gives guests rides to the grocery store if they don’t have a car and lends his own fishing equipment for guests’ enjoyment. Domingo also helped people living on Sanibel prepare for Hurricane Irma and helped clean up after the storm.

“Anyone who knows Domingo is aware that this award is richly deserved. We at Sandalfoot are honored to share this information and honored to know Domingo. He truly is a caring, compassionate individual who always puts everyone’s needs ahead of his own. Congratulations Domingo!”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Aug 31- Sep 7, 2018sancap GO MLS logo

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Sunset South #6D 2/2 $699K (our listing), Island Beach Club #310A 2/2 $759K.

View b

View from Sunset South #6D

1 price change: Pointe Santo #C34 1/1 now $499K.

2 new sales: Spanish Cay #A7 1/1 listed at $259K (our listing), Sandy Bend #4 2/2 listed at $738K.

A bldg stairs + river

Spanish Cay Bldg A

4 closed sales: Mariner Pointe #1073 2/2 $470K, Seawind #109 2/2.5 $487K, Loggerhead Cay #313 2/2 $520K, Loggerhead Cay #314 2/2 $569K.

HOMES

4 new listings: 1677 Sabal Sands Rd 3/2 $825K, 5422 Shearwater Dr 3/2.5 $1.075M, 824 Birdie View Pt 3/3 $1.125M, 1305 Eagle Run Dr 3/2.5 $1.249M.

2 price changes: 1520 Centre St 3/2 now $445K, 4648 Buck Key Rd 3/2 now $539.9K.

1 new sale: 610 Hideaway Ct 3/2.5 listed at $639K.

3 closed sales: 9240 Belding Dr 3/2.5 $525K, $5410 Osprey Ct 3/2.5 $700K, 734 Anchor Dr 3/2 $850K (our listing).

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0497.JPG

734 Anchor Drive to Sanibel Marina & San Carlos Bay & beyond

LOTS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: 412 Tiree Cir $290K.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Sunset Beach Villas #2214 2/2 $605K.

HOMES

1 new listing: 15133 Captiva Dr 3/3 $3.2M.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 14860 Mango Ct 5/4 listed at $1.794M.

No closed sales.

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.

Dolphin 11-6-15Until next Friday, here’s to more clear water, diving pelicans, & jumping dolphins!

Enjoy your weekend!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

It’s a Happy May on Sanibel & Captiva


SanibelSusan here reporting another quiet week on the islands. There were no traffic directors at the Periwinkle intersections today and even the resorts have vacancies – a typical pre-summer pattern – but also a wonderful time to be here. Most locals swear that May and October are the best months on the islands – great weather and easy maneuvering when enjoying “all” of the things to do here – and the Royal Poinciana are in bloom in all their splendor!

 

LakeMurexRoyal1

In the island real estate world, there was no Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday. Considering that it is “after season” though, a surprising number of new Sanibel listings came on the market this week (12 over the last seven days). There also were nine price reductions, and ten closings. Not so much real estate action on Captiva, however, where there were no new listings, but four price reductions, and three new sales.

Sanibel realtors logoIt’s a terrific time to be come to look at property as most listings are easy to view and probably will be until schools are out and summer vacationers start arriving.

The details of the activity posted since last Friday in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Service follow a few news items below.

23rd Annual Sam Bailey’s Island Night

islands-night-logoOn Wednesday, June 1, Island Night will return to Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex when the Fort Myers Miracle play the St. Lucie Mets. This is the 23rd year of this annual community tradition that encourages islanders to come together for a fun evening of baseball and camaraderie. Pre-game festivities with parade begin at 5:30 p.m. with the game at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are free and available at Bailey’s General Store (both in Bailey’s Center and at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa) and at event sponsors which include island service organizations. Again this year, the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club and the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club will be in a friendly competition to support local charities.

2016 Sanibel Prescribed Burns

Sanibelcityseal logoYesterday, Sanibel’s Natural Resources Department issued the following news release about the upcoming prescribed burns:

“During the 2016 spring/summer season, the Sanibel Prescribed Fire Partnership will be looking to conduct prescribed burns on the following conservation lands:

  • Bailey Tract (USFWS J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge)
  • Frannies/Johnston Tract (SCCF)
  • Sanibel Gardens Preserve (City of Sanibel/SCCF)
  • South Center Tract & Postell Tract (SCCF & City of Sanibel)
  • Gulfside City Park Extension (City of Sanibel)

To view a map of the conservation lands, please click here.

“We would like to invite the public to an informational meeting on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. in the “Ding” Darling Visitor and Education Center to discuss the burn plans and address any questions or concerns.

“When forecasted conditions are favorable, the Sanibel Prescribed Fire Partnership will issue further notification that a prescribed burn is possible and identify the specific location of the burn.  All prescribed fires must be authorized by the Florida Forest Service on the morning of the scheduled burn.  A change in the forecast conditions may result in cancellation of the planned burn.  A prescribed fire will NOT be conducted if the prescription conditions cannot be met prior to ignition or if conditions change after the prescribed fire has been ignited.

“A burn plan, or “prescription,” has been established for the priority areas within these conservation lands.  The prescription details the required conditions that must exist in order for a prescribed burn to take place.  These include environmental conditions such as soil moisture, fuel conditions, and recent rainfall as well as forecasted and actual weather conditions including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction.  Following a predefined prescription allows fire management officers to establish the desired fire behavior (intensity, flame length, direction of fire spread and smoke).  The prescription also identifies the number of qualified fire personnel needed to conduct the burn as well as the types and number of equipment required to safely complete the burn.

Why are prescribed fires needed?

“Fire is a natural part of Florida’s ecosystem, historically set by lightning. Because of this history of periodic fires many of Florida’s natural communities are adapted to burning. Fire removes old vegetation, promotes new growth of native vegetation and suppresses the growth of non-native invasive plants. In the absence of fire many plant communities are displaced by dense, woody vegetation which can reduce plant diversity and eliminate foraging opportunities for the island’s wildlife. Species such as the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snakes, and the Sanibel rice rat all depend on a fire maintained ecosystem.  In addition to the natural benefits of fire, carefully planning and conducting managed burns can prevent the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires and help preserve the natural ecology of the area.   This technique, called “prescribed fire,” reduces the amount of vegetation – or “fuel”-that would be available in the event of a wildfire.

Why can’t prescribed burns be conducted some other time?

“The window of opportunity for conducting prescribed burns in southwest Florida is very narrow and may vary from year to year.  By mid to late spring, soils and fuels are often too dry and prescribed fires may be prohibited by State authorities.  By mid- to late summer, soils on Sanibel are often too wet, humidity is high, and afternoon thunderstorms render wind conditions unsuitable.  Plus, on any given day all the conditions detailed in the prescription must be met and personnel and resources must be available to conduct the burn.  To maximize our opportunities for conducting prescribed fires, the Sanibel Prescribed Fire Partnership has identified a number of priority burn sites for 2016.  Because the prescription requirements for each site are different, this provides us with the flexibility to determine if the forecast conditions will meet the prescription requirements for any of the priority burns sites and then to schedule the prescribed fire accordingly.

What can I expect on the day of a prescribed burn?

“Depending on the wind direction and strength, it may be possible to see or smell smoke.   The fire prescription identifies the specific wind conditions necessary to achieve the burn objectives while minimizing smoke impacts to roads and communities.  However, smoke and ash associated with a prescribed burn cannot be prevented.  Smoke sensitive individuals should keep their windows closed and avoid outdoor activities in the affected areas.  If you would like to be registered on the City’s list of smoke sensitive individuals, please contact Joel Caouette in the City’s Natural Resources Department at (239) 472-3700.  Once registered, the City will notify you in advance of any prescribed burn on Sanibel.

“During the prescribed burn operations, residents and visitors are encouraged to:

  • close windows
  • cover pools
  • move cars and furniture indoors
  • stay indoors to minimize the impacts from smoke
  • visit other areas of the Island away from the burn site
  • abide by all signs, road closures, and instructions about closed areas provided by law enforcement and fire personnel

“After the prescribed burn has been completed, there may be occasional smoke or burning embers seen from the burned area for several days.   Fire personnel will monitor the burned area and adjacent roads, day and night, taking all precautions and maintaining readiness to minimize fire activity and smoke impacts to the public.  Do not be alarmed if you see smoke or burning embers within a burned area.

Is Sanibel at risk for wildfires?

“Of course!  However, prescribed fires, planned and carefully conducted by well-trained and experienced fire personnel are a cost-effective way to reduce fuel loads on Sanibel and reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire.  To address safety and wildland fire issues on Sanibel, the City of Sanibel, the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge formed the “Sanibel Firewise Task Force.”  To reduce the risk of wildfire around your home, the Sanibel Firewise Task Force recommends that you:

  • Trim dead palm fronds from trees
  • Trim tall grasses near the home
  • Prune large, leafy hardwood trees so the lowest branches are six to ten feet above the ground
  • Do not store combustible materials such as gasoline containers, firewood, and building supplies under or around the home, and
  • Keep mulch and other landscaping material well watered

“For additional information regarding fire and prescribed burning on Sanibel, please contact the City of Sanibel Natural Resources Department at (239) 472-3700.

Watch Out for Inflation

realtor logoAs follow-up to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, DC last week, here are some predictions from NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun as reported in Friday’s “Daily Real Estate News”:

“Home sales will grow modestly this year, but a continuing inventory shortage will keep upward pressure on prices and make it hard for many people to buy, even though interest rates remain low…

“Yun predicted existing home sales will rise to 5.5 million at the end of the year, up slightly from 5.4 million last year. New-home sales will rise to 540,000 units from half a million, but because that segment of the market is currently so far below historical levels, the gains won’t come close to closing the inventory gap, Yun said.

What’s more, most new homes are at higher price points, exacerbating affordability struggles for first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Yun said larger homes are the most profitable for builders, who have to worry about meeting local ordinances and other costs. He added that most new homes come on the market at more than $300,000.

“The West saw home prices rise 35% over the last three years, making that the least affordable part of the country and dampening sales there, he said. While sales increased almost 20% last year in the Northeast, they dropped almost 10% in the West.

“Inventory shortages continue to be a main driver of price increases, which were almost 7% nationally last year. The increase far outpaced wage gains, which were up only about 2%. Yun is forecasting prices to rise another 4.5% this year.

“Continuing low interest rates are a bright spot, but Yun warned that when inflation picks up, mortgage rates will follow suit. Yun said today’s low consumer price index (CPI), at about 1.7%, doesn’t reflect the rise in prices people are seeing on everyday items because low gas prices are keeping the broader index down.

“But CPI won’t stay low forever. Yun said the monthly rental rate tenants pay is going up (almost 4% this year, a seven-year high) and that will send the broader index up. When that happens, the Federal Reserve will raise the short-term interest rate it charges banks, which in turn will impact mortgage rates.

“Right now he’s forecasting mortgage rates to be at 3.9% at the end of this year, about where they were last year, and to rise to 4.6% in 2017. Yun identified 6% as a mortgage-rate threshold, noting anything much higher than that will curb home sales. “If rates get to 7 or 8%,” he said, “watch out.”

“Bottom line: Look for modest market growth this year and next, but as long as inventory shortages persist, homes will become increasingly unaffordable. Once mortgage rates start going up, which they could do as rental rates continue rising, sales will be hurt.”

What Makes a Smart Home Smart?

smart-home-essentials-for-living-85947231Interesting info posted last week on FloridaRealtors® and sourced to “Smart Home Glossary,” and “Smart Home and Internet of Things FAQ,” CRT Labs (May 2016)

“More consumers than ever see the benefits of buying a home with smart technology. A 2016 Coldwell Banker survey found that owners believe smart home technology makes their home safer, saves them money and saves them time.

“The same survey also found that 54% of homeowners would buy or install smart home products if they were selling their home because they believe it would make the home sell faster.

“In order to help agents and consumers understand the common smart home benefits and buzzwords, CRT Labs put together a guide. Here are some highlights:

Smart home terms and facts

What are the benefits of smart home technology?

“Smart home technology automates household tasks like adjusting a home’s temperature, unlocking the front door or opening the garage door using voice-activation devices. Smart devices can work together to offer owners safety by alerting them if something in their home seems amiss, and it can save owners money by automatically controlling the temperature and energy of a home. Insurance companies and utility companies may offer reduced rates and rebates for homes with smart devices.

Who owns the data, how is it used and are there security risks?

“A home’s smart home data can be used in a variety of ways, according to CRT Labs. Data is “generally used by smart device companies to improve product development and provide additional services to their customers,” but: “You should also read the vendor’s privacy policy to see what they are legally allowed to do with the data. They may allow themselves to sell your data to third parties, so read carefully.”

What’s the impact on selling prices?

“On a large scale, the financial impact is yet to be seen since the technology is so new, but survey results showed that 72% of millennial owners would spend $1,500 or more to add smart home technology. Fifty-nine percent of parents with children would also pay more for a smart home, according to Coldwell Banker’s survey.

3 smart home phrases to know:

IoT (Internet of Things): This buzzword describes automated devices like lights, thermostats and locks that work together and are connected by the Internet. IoT products use data to simplify things that previously weren’t automated.

Hub: In the world of smart homes, a hub is almost like a universal remote, according to CRT Labs. A hub is the main device that connects all of the different smart home products together so they’re all automated.

SmartMeter: These electric and gas meters help owners monitor their utility usage by sending real time meter readings.”

Leaving Your Property for the Summer

Lcec logoSome excellent tips were posted this month in “LCEC News” (Lee County Electric Cooperative):

“If you are leaving your home for the summer, there are some very important tasks you should consider to keep your home in tip-top shape while you’re gone:

  • Enroll in LCEC kiloWATCH so you can be alerted of any unusual electricity usage. Sign up at www.lcec.net.
  • Avoid mildew damage by installing a timer on the air conditioner to cycle the air for two hours per day. Or install a humidistat and set it to cycle when indoor humidity reaches 65%.
  • Unplug the water heater.
  • Leave all interior doors open to promote airflow. Space out clothing, shoes, and other stored materials for the same reason.
  • Fill jugs of tap water to put inside the refrigerator/freezer – a full unit will use less power than an empty one.
  • Finally, have a neighbor, friend, or professional house sitter check your home periodically during your absence.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity May 13-20, 2016

sancap GO MLS logoSanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Tennisplace #D22 1/1 $249.9K, Loggerhead Cay #152 2/2 $999K, Pine Cove #104 3/2 $1.495M.

3 price changes: Sanibel Moorings #822 2/2 now $449K (our listing), Mariner Pointe #733 2/2 now $519K, Loggerhead Cay #211 2/2 now $615K.

(Photos below are some of the community amenities at Sanibel Moorings. Click the tab above for more info on this listing.)

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1 new sale: Sanddollar #C101 2/2 listed at $870K.

2 closed sales: White Caps South #7 1/1 $520K, Sanibel Arms West #L4 2/2 $520K.

HOMES

8 new listings: 984 Greenwood Ct 3/2 half-duplex $462K, 376 Lake Murex Blvd 3/2 $598K, 1426 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $675K, 1333 Par View Dr 3/2 $879K, 931 S Yachtsman Dr 4/2.5 $880K, 641 Lake Murex Cir 4/3 $975K, 598 Kinzie Island Ct 3/3.5 $1.895M, 1137 Golden Olive Ct 5/3.5 $2.695M.

5 price changes: 1746 Windward Way 3/2 now $580K, 3364 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $750K, 4775 Rue Helene 4/3 now $845K, 5075 Joewood Dr 4/4.5 now $3.7497M, 4449 Waters Edge Ln 3/3 now $4.65M.

8 new sales: 2407 Shop Rd 3/1 listed at $349K; 5131 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 2/2 listed at $465K; 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 listed at $499,999; 9475 Beverly Ln 3/2 listed at $529.5K; 1702 Sand Pebble Way 3/2.5 listed at $535K;  676 Emeril Ct 3/2 listed at $749K; 1317 Eagle Run Dr 4/3.5 listed at $1.195M; 4353 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2.5 listed at $1.479M.

6 closed sales: 748 Martha’s Ln 3/2 $500K, 1460 Court Pl 6/5.5 multi-family $610K, 1970 Wild Lime Dr 4/3 $690K, 775 Birdie View Pt 3/2.5 $900K, 5773 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 2/2 $950K, 819 Lindgren Blvd 4/3.5 $1.24M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 2441/2453 Los Colony Rd $179K.

1 price change: 497 Sea Oats Dr now $499K.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: 5749 Sanibel-Captiva Rd $600K, 3723 West Gulf Dr $2.6M.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

2 price changes: Tennis Villas #3227 1/1 now $279.9K, Bayside Villas #4202 1/2 now $305K.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: Beach Villas #2632 2/2 $675K, Beach Homes #20 3/3 $2.4M.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 11523 Wightman Ln 4/4 now $1.949M.

3 new sales: 57 Sandpiper Ct 2/2 listed at $885K, 17130 Captiva Dr 4/4 listed at $3.998M, 16665 Captiva Dr 2/2 listed at $4.8M.

1 closed sale: 16665 Captiva Dr 2/2 $4.55M.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price change: 16298 Captiva Dr now $4.999M.

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 Memorial Day weekend, Happy Friday!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

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Sanibel Island Real Estate Is Moving, Traffic Not So Much


It is hard to believe that more people are expected to be on the islands next week for the President’s Day holiday. Suffice it to say, that Sanibel is busier now than The SanibelSusan Team ever remembers it and we are trying to “nicely” share with the many vacationers, snowbirds, and owners here enjoying it too.

No one seems to mind that the daily temperatures this week have, for the most part, only been in the mid-60’s. Bikers in their shorts and tee-shirts continue to fly by our office on the bike path, while we locals have rare chances to wear sweaters and jackets. Here are a few photos taken by our client/friend Ellie Hayward and others during some of the recent breezy days when the shelling has been amazing.

SanibelSusan had lunch this week with VIP’s Vacation Rentals Manager, and he said they do not have a single accommodation left that is available between now and Easter. Other companies and accommodations likewise report 100% occupancy. That is great news for the local economy, but tough traveling for us trying to keep showing appointments on schedule.

We also heard this week that the “Sports Illustrated” annual swim suit edition has hit the streets with some of the photos taken on the islands. Do suppose that could bring even more traffic to Southwest Florida?

SCCF 2015 Life Member/Benefactor Luncheon

SCCF logoTuesday, we attended SCCF’s 2015 Life Member/Benefactor Luncheon which concluded with a terrific presentation by Director Eric Lindblad on current and future conservation plans. This organization does so much for the islands, we should all be strong supporters.

Eric advised that thanks to cooperation with Tarpon Bay Explorers, SCCF in early April will begin construction of a new marine lab on the grounds of Tarpon Bay, facing the water, in the location of the former concession stand.

SCCF work at rehabbing and reconfiguring The Bailey Homestead continues with preliminary plans in-the-works for eventually moving the Native Plant Nursery there. It has already increased usage of the connected paths that now go from the Chamber of Commerce through the Shipley Trail to Pond Apple Park and City Park via the Starr D. Thomas Boardwalk. A colleague recently saw an eagle there. Here’s a link to the trails: http://www.sccf.org/content/86/SCCF-Walking-Trails.aspx

Other Island Happenings

rotary logoThe Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club’s 32nd Arts & Crafts Fair is tomorrow and Sunday at the Community House across the street from SanibelSusan Realty. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, they expect to have 7,000 attendees.

I’ll be at the office then, hoping they want to buy real estate to go with their other purchases. Here’s a link to the fair website: http://www.sanibelartfair.com/visiting-the-fair/

Happenings at SanibelSusan Realty

SANSLogoNext week again will be busy. We have some Open Houses planned and have a big (over 6,000-piece) bulk mailing going out. It’s our annual inventory lists for owners of all of the property for sale on the islands, plus for comparison, recent sales.

If you would like a copy too, just give us a call (888-603-0603 or 239-472-HOME (4663)) or send us an email (Susan@SanibelSusan.com).

Below after a few more news items is the action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service since last Friday.

Vacation Home Tax Deductions

taxesTax time is here and though it is best to consult your tax advisor, here is a handy summary that was posted on-line by HouseLogic and reprinted in NAR’s “Real Estate News” on Monday.

“The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

  • If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.
  • Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Your expenses are deducted on Schedule E.
  • Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days you rent it and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and allocate them based on how often you used and how often you rented the house.”

Read more about home tax deductions at http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/home-tax-deductions/#ixzz3RRnJm200

‘Domino Effect’ to Set Off 2015 Housing Wave

clear capital logoInteresting concept recently described in the “Daily Real Estate News”, sourced to a Clear Capital report of February 2, 2015 titled “Traditional Home Buyers, Make Your Move”:

“Home prices between the top and bottom segments of the housing market are rising, which could unleash a “domino effect” that builds first-time and move-up buyer momentum this year, notes a new real estate report by Clear Capital. But the build-up in traditional home buyers is coming at the cost of declines in the luxury home market.

“”The rate of appreciation for top tier homes is stalling, which is a more direct reflection of waning fair market demand,” says Alex Villacorta, vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “While this is a concerning development, there is a silver lining. The moderating upper tier may give traditional buyers a moment to catch their breath, and entice move-up buyers to enter this segment of the market. The ripple effect of opening up inventory all the way down the price spectrum could provide opportunity and motivation across all segments, including first-time buyers, to enter the marketplace.”

“The lower and middle-range ends of the housing market is stabilizing, allowing traditional home buyers to re-emerge. “The next phase of the housing recovery is dependent on healthy demand from this segment,” Villacorta says.

“The lower-end of the housing market was once driven mostly by investor activity, but now doors are opening for first-time home buyers to break in.  Also, as the number of underwater mortgages steadily decreases, home owners in the mid-tier of the home pricing segment can finally trade up to a larger, more expensive home.

Lower-end properties have been outpacing price growth in the luxury market, Clear Capital reports. The low-tier has posted double-digit gains year-over-year of 10.2%, compared to the top tier, which saw the lowest price growth rate among the three tiers, at 3.6% year-over-year.

““This divide between a healthy low tier and stalling top tier could kick-off a domino effect,” Clear Capital notes in its report. “Stalling prices in the top tier of the market could create the perception of a good deal. This instills confidence in mid-tier home owners, motivating them to move-up to the top tier. In turn, this opens up more opportunity for low tier home owners to move-up to the mid-tier. … This domino effect could be the catalyst for balanced demand across all sectors of the market.

“The Midwest is leading the pack, according to Clear Capital. The Midwest posted double-digit gains in the low-tier segment at 13.6 percent, while seeing its top-tier of the market fall 3.3% with prices. The Midwest is the only region currently seeing price appreciation in the low and mid tiers, growing above 1%. As such, Clear Capital economists are predicting the Midwest to be the first region in U.S. to realize full buyer momentum among first-time and move-up buyers, due to its moderating top tier.”

“Bleu Rendezvous” Coming to Sanibel

Bue windowsMany islanders call it a “road trip” when we venture off island for dinner. A favorite spot for that since discovering it a few years ago is Blue Windows French Bistro in South Fort Myers which is a small classic French restaurant. Though tiny and only visited occasionally, I always see other islanders there enjoying it too, so it is great news that Christian and Mari Vivet are planning to open a second restaurant, Bleu Rendezvous, on Sanibel in May. It will be in the space of the former Sangria Grill at 2430 Periwinkle Way just up the street from our office.

According to a posting in the “News-Press” this week, “The Vivets, who usually close Blue Windows during the summer, plan to keep both restaurants open throughout this year. Christian hinted they might have other plans for the south Fort Myers store, but said it was too early to disclose anything. As for Blue Rendezvous’ menu, fans of Blue Windows won’t be disappointed. “We’re taking exactly what we’re doing here and doing the exact same thing there, even the same wine list at this point,” Christian said. “It’s worked for us so well, we didn’t see any reason to change it.”

“Blue Windows serves dinner Monday to Saturday at 15250 S. Tamiami Trail, south Fort Myers. Call 849-0622 or visit mybluewindows.com for more info.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity Feb 6-13 

Sanibel

CONDOS

6 new listings: Sundial #C306 1/1 $329K, Sundial #D312 1/1 $349K, Donax Village #8 2/2 $449K, Lighthouse Point #231 2/2 $670K, Sundial #F201 2/2 $829K, Tigua Cay #489 3/3.5 $2.595M.

6 price changes: Captains Walk #A2 1/1 now $239.9K, Sanibel Siesta #105 2/2 now $424.5K, Loggerhead Cay #411 2/2 now $490K, Sanibel Arms #E8 2/2 now $499.9K, Sanibel Surfside #211 2/2 now $798K, Sundial #Q205 3/2 now $825K.

3 new sales: Seashells #15 2/2 listed for $324.9K, Sanibel Arms West #G5 2/2 listed for $525K, Kings Crown #317 2/2 listed for $940K.

4 closed sales: Loggerhead Cay #453 2/2 $439K, Sand Pointe #235 2/2 $665K, Island Beach Club #330E 2/2 $783K, Wedgewood #204 3/3.5 $2.0625M.

HOMES

7 new listings: 2220 Camino Del Mar 3/3 $699K, 1710 Sand Pebble Way 3/2 $769K, 3840 West Gulf Dr 3/2.5 $849K, 401 Lagoon Dr 4/4 $ 875K, 4620 Rue Bayou 3/2 $979K, 1314 Par View Dr 4/3 $1.1M, 757 Windlass Way 3/2.5 $1.149M.

7 price changes: 1938 Roseate Ln 3/2 now $329K, 1211 Periwinkle Way 3/2 now $530K, 420 East Gulf Dr 3/3 now $725K, 4037 Coquina Dr 3/3 now $799K, 1351 Middle Gulf Dr #1A 3/3 now $939K, 6015 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3.5 now $2.249M, 696 Kinzie Island Ct 4/5 now $2.359M.

13 new sales: 240 Southwinds Dr 3/2 listed for $549K, 1075 Blue Heron Dr 3/2 listed for $629K, 497 Lake Murex Cir 4/3 listed for $715K, 732 Durion Ct 3/2 listed for $719.9K, 8999 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 listed for $775K, 3840 West Gulf Dr 3/2.5 listed for $849K, 1287 Par View Dr 3/2 listed for $89.5K, 566 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2 listed for $939K, 857 Birdie View Dr 3/2.5 listed for $995K, 630 Periwinkle Way 4/3 listed for $999.9K, 297 Ferry Landing Dr 3/3 listed for $1.295M, 1309 Seaspray Ln 5/5 listed for $1.898M.

2 closed sales: 490 Christine Rd 2/2 $534K, 1748 Jewel Box Dr 4/4 $1.058M.

LOTS

No new listings.

7 price changes: 0 Bowmans Beach Rd now $125K, 9239 Dimmick Dr now $139K, 9277 Belding Dr now $179.9K, 2324 Starfish Ln now $449K, 1242 Anhinga Ln now $525K, 1770 Dixie Beach Blvd now $699K, 4334 West Gulf Dr now $899K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

2 new listings: Bayside Villas #5222 1/2 $322K, Sunset Beach Villas #2418 2/2 $650K.

1 price change: Sunset Beach Villas #2337 2/2 now $674.9K.

2 new sales: Captiva Shores #5C 2/2 listed for $898K, Captiva Bay Villas #C 3/3.5 listed for $2.395M.

1 closed sale: Marina Villas #603 2/2 $585K.

HOMES

1 new listing: 11520 Murmond Ln 5/5.5 $2.075M.

No price changes, 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.

valentineUntil next Friday, best wishes for a great Valentines Day.

P.S. There’s no gift like a property in paradise for the one you love. SanibelSusan is working all day tomorrow for your last minute gift shopping!

Almost-October Real Estate Happenings on Sanibel & Captiva Islands


It has again been quiet on the islands this week – few phone calls, only a handful of showings, no real estate caravan, and no new listings or closings for us. What are we doing you might ask? Yesterday, my pals and I had to make three stops before we found a restaurant available for lunch! We sure are looking forward to October!

IMG_0846copye

The islands had several cloudy/rainy days early on in the week, but nothing like the flooding reported on the other side of the state. Here we have had blue skies and sunshine for at least two days in a row now with the weekend weather expected to be much of the same. They have been not so lucky in inland Lee and Collier counties where afternoon and evening showers continue to prevail.

Island Beach ClubLots of deep-clean and maintenance/repair action continues at plenty of island properties, gearing up for “season”. Work around the floor-to-ceiling windows in a few Island Beach Club units is expected to be completed in early October. That has made for interesting showings at our new listing there.

sundial-logoAt Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, the second phase of their renovation is well underway with completion expected sometime in early November of a new state-of-the-art Fitness Center, Pizza Kitchen, on-site market and deli, and new soft tennis courts, as well as changes to the pool bar and main pool deck area.

Below are a couple of other news items followed by the action posted this week in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Some New Openings

The “Island Sun” reported this week that City permit approval was given for a new business going in at The Bailey Center. In the location formerly occupied by “Nick’s Yogurt” and next door to “Billy’s Bikes” new rental spot, will be “Beach Piez” featuring pizza for take-out and delivery.

Another eatery soon to open in the former location of “Island Barbeque” on Palm Ridge Road, next door to “Subway”, is “The Pecking Order” which will feature comfort and soul food.

lobster rollSanibel Farmers MktOpening next Sunday, Oct 5 (a whole month earlier than in previous years) is “Sanibel Island Farmers Market“. On the grounds of City Hall from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Sunday through April, it is my favorite stop on the way to the office!

farmers mkt lobsterThis is beyond fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meats, baked goods, and more.

We are talking Maine lobster and lobster rolls!

The Scoop on Sanibel Homes as of 9/26/14

In doing some file clean-up this week, I found the below tables with data from mid-summer 2013. Always a fan of statistics, I updated them with today’s info. Divided by the same geographic areas as our Multiple Listing Service, this illustrates low Sanibel home inventory.

Bay-Front
Status Number Median Price $ DOM
For Sale as of 9/26 7 1,995,000* 648
Under Contract as of 9/26 1 1,795,000* 955
2014 Sales to 9/26 5 1,695,000 183
2013 Sales 7 2,190,000 679
2012 Sales 8 2,144,500 335

 

Bayou-Front
Status Number Median Price $ DOM
For Sale as of 9/26 6 1,470,000* 1,193
Under Contract as of 9/26 0 N/A N/A
2014 Sales to 9/26 10 860,000 425
2013 Sales 6 990,500 267
2012 Sales 5 1,649,000 472

 

Canal-Front
Status Number Median Price $ DOM
For Sale as of 9/26 19 1,273,500* 373
Under Contract as of 9/26 8 990,000* 365
2014 Sales to 9/26 30 912,000 272
2013 Sales 28 864,000 312
2012 Sales 37 749,000 275

 

Gulf-Front
Status Number Median Price $ DOM
For Sale as of 9/26 6 4,042,500* 311
Under Contract as of 9/26 1 3,900,000* 234
2014 Sales to 9/26 4 3,095,000 342
2013 Sales 16 3,245,000 335
2012 Sales 11 2,350,000 309

 

Inland
Status Number Median Price $ DOM
For Sale as of 9/26 28 599,000* 198
Under Contract as of 9/26 4 527,250* 208
2014 Sales to 9/26 41 499,000 281
2013 Sales 52 512,497 252
2012 Sales 32 493,000 168

 

Near-Beach
Status Number Median Price $ DOM
For Sale as of 9/26 65 829,000* 267
Under Contract as of 9/26 8 744,000* 621
2014 Sales to 9/26 72 676,950 201
2013 Sales 79 685,000 269
2012 Sales 86 567,000 330

DOM = days on market

* Asking price

Citizens Put an Early End to Storm Tax

Florida Realtors logoYesterday, Florida Realtors® posted an article sourced to “The Palm Beach Post” and distributed by MCT Information Services:

Citizens nixes storm tax, may expand clearinghouse

Citizens_logo“A 1% assessment or “storm tax” to pay off 2005 losses is ending two years early at state-run insurer Citizens, under a plan reported by The Palm Beach Post last week and approved by its board Wednesday. That will save customers of Citizens and other property insurers 1% on their bills starting July 1, 2015. The assessment, with a total cost of $1.38 billion, originally was scheduled to run until July 2017 but was collected from a broader base of customers than initially planned, making its early retirement an option.

“Meanwhile, executives turned to goals for 2015. Among them: put commercial properties including condos and apartment buildings into a clearinghouse designed to steer policies to private insurers. The clearinghouse, a computer system used by agents, began processing homeowner policies this year.

Citizens President Barry Gilway said he intends to work with state legislators to expand the system. The clearinghouse is intended to block new customers if a private insurer is offering coverage priced up to 15% more and kick out renewing customers if a private carrier is offering policies priced the same or less.

Twelve private insurers are in the clearinghouse for new customers and eight for renewing customers, counting two companies coming on board Wednesday.

“Another goal Gilway cited: Eliminate all risk of assessments from a 1-in-100 year storm, which Citizens has already reduced from more than $11 billion several years ago to about $2.3 billion now. Assessment risk has been falling in large part because Citizens has shrunk from 1.5 million customers three years ago, swelled by a pullback of large national insurers, to about 933,000 now. Transfer offers from private insurers, mostly small Florida-based companies, and clearinghouse activity are expected to reduce that to about 825,000 customers by year’s end and 750,000 by the end of 2015, Gilway projected.

“Smaller size alone reduces risk exposure, but one debate is whether to expand the purchase of private reinsurance, or back-up coverage, from firms in Bermuda and other places abroad. That is controversial in part because of foreign trips company officials say are necessary to buy reinsurance. The oversight of such travel has been criticized in an inspector general’s report and was the subject of Florida Cabinet scrutiny last month in the wake of reporting by The Post.

“But it’s also a question of whether big sums of money should go offshore or stay in the state-run company’s $7.6 billion surplus at home, where it can grow and remain available to pay claims year after year.

“Citizens, backed by its own surplus and a state hurricane fund, bought no private insurance at all as recently as four years ago, but has spent more than $1 billion on it since, including $311 million in 2014. The coverage it buys would reduce possible future assessments if historically rare storms hit. But there’s a slim chance it is needed in any given year and if not used in short-term contracts, it represents a transfer of $1 billion from its ratepayers to private hands.”

Jumbo Mortgages Are Cheaper, Easier to Get

CNN MoneyFrom “Realtor®Mag” on Monday and sourced to Sunday’s “CNNMoney” article titled “For Rich People, Mortgages are Getting Cheaper and Easier”:

“Wealthy home buyers are paying lower average rates on high-dollar loans (known as jumbo mortgages) and in some cases, they don’t even have to worry about a large down payment or mortgage insurance,

“For the last several months, interest rates on jumbo loans—mortgages that are $417,000 or more (or $625,000 or more in high-priced markets—have been lower than what average borrowers pay. For example, the average rate on jumbo loans last week was 4.24% compared to 4.36% for a 30-year, fixed-rate conventional mortgage, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“In some cases, lenders also have reduced their down payment requirements as well, requiring as little as 10%, which is about half the normal rate. Some lenders are waiving the private mortgage insurance requirement, too.

“Many banks have lowered their credit standards for jumbo loan originations. For example, many jumbo borrowers used to need at least a 700 credit score to qualify, but now lenders are considering applicants with credit scores of 650, says John Walsh, owner of lender Total Mortgage Services.

“Banks are on the hunt for jumbo customers in order to win them over as clients for other banking services too such as retirement planning, says Malcolm Hollensteiner, head of retail lending for TD Bank. Jumbo borrowers tend to have better track records in repaying their loans and have lower default rates, so more banks are willing to take the gamble on them.”

Household’s Net Worth Hits Record High

Here is an interesting tidbit from “Daily Real Estate News” last Friday. It says:

2000px-US-FederalReserveBoard-Seal.svg“Recent gains in the stock market and higher home prices helped Americans’ net worth soar to a record high in the second quarter, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve. Net worth was up 1.7% during the quarter, reaching a record high of $81.5 trillion.

“American’s gains in wealth have helped to lift consumer confidence and allowed them to ramp up their borrowing, which could soon prove a boon for the economic growth too. During the second quarter, household debt rose to its fastest pace since 2007, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%, compared to 2.2% in the first quarter.

wall street journal“Most of the nation’s largest wealth gains have gone to the affluent, who tend to own stocks, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose about 5% in the second quarter, while Americans also benefited from more modest gains in the real estate market. Home prices ticked up for the 12th consecutive quarter, rising 0.8% in the second quarter, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s home price index.”

Source: “U.S. Household Net Worth Rises to Record $81.5 Trillion,” Reuters (Sept. 18, 2014) and “U.S. Household Wealth Hits Fresh Record,” The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 18, 2014)

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity September 19-26

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Colonnades #51 1/1 $184K, Sanibel Moorings #611 2/2 $449K, Sanibel Moorings #1512 2/2 $478.5K, Sanibel Inn #3425 2/2 $664.9K.

3 price changes: Spanish Cay #A6 1/1 now $259.5K, Loggerhead Cay #411 2/2 now $505K, Sandalfoot #4D2 2/2 now $619K.

2 new sales: Sundial #D207 1/1 listed for $239K, Poinciana #2C 3/2 listed for $1.1M.

2 closed sales: Sundial #D407 1/1 $227.5K, Sundial #H102 2/2 $425K.

HOMES

No new listings.

4 price changes: 4606 Brainard Bayou Rd 2/1 now $399K, 3168 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $559K, 1800 Woodring Rd 2/2 now $1.595M, 2981 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 now $1.625M.

1 new sale: 1266 Isabel Dr 3/3 listed for $1.795M.

1 closed sale: 1206 Bay Dr 4/4.5 $2.45M.

LOTS

No new listings.

3 price changes: Lot 27, Leisure Acres now $179.9K, 2933 Wulfert Rd now $399K, 5830 SanCap Rd now $399,555.

1 new sale: 861 Birdie View Pt listed for $339K.
No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Sunset Beach Villas #2337 2/2 now $679.9K.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: Sunset Beach Villas #2332 2/2 $667.5K, Captiva Shores #7B 3/2 $1.2M.

HOMES
Nothing to report.

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.

Until next Friday, here’s another picture of my favorite birds…

IMG_0737copye

Girls love those pink Roseate Spoonbills!

SanibelSusan

Florida Realtors® & Sanibel/Captiva Real Estate Happenings


Florida Realtors logoSanibelSusan is writing this from the Florida Realtors® 2014 Conference & Trade Expo in Orlando which is a terrific annual event with the leadership team’s subcommittee, committee and business meetings, plus plenty of Realtor® camaraderie.

This year I am happy to be serving on several including: the Audition Panel for new instructors; the Professional Development Committee’s Curriculum Subcommittee; the Professional Subcommittee; the Professional Standards Forum; and the Resort and Second-Home Specialist Forum.

2014 conventionSometimes I think that when I am out of town, the SanibelSusan Team performs at their finest. It certainly seems to work in bringing us new business. I’ve only been here a couple of days and already the team has serviced an unexpected new listing at Pointe Santo, and teammate Dave is all set to show property tonight and in the morning to some last-minute buyers flying in later today for a quick 2-day home/condo buying trip. Dave is on a roll after putting an off-island property under contract earlier in the week. So much for August being a quiet month in Southwest Florida!

View from our new listing at Pointe Santo

View from our new listing at Pointe Santo

Here are a few more news items, followed by the action posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service over the past seven days.

“Homeless to Harvard”

breaking-night-liz-murrayMany island real estate colleagues also are in Orlando, soaking up the educational sessions, networking, and finalizing our 2014 committee work. Yesterday at the annual Keynote Awards Luncheon, the speaker was Liz Murray. As a homeless child of cocaine-addicted parents in Brooklyn to becoming a Harvard graduate on scholarship, her story is awe-inspiring.

She authored the book “Breaking Night” and the made-for-TV movie “From Homeless to Harvard” is based on her life. I have attended many conventions and events with nationally-known speakers, but this gal is second to none. With nary a dry eye in the house, we all left the room with huge motivation. If you have a chance to hear her, do it!

A Fast Ten Years

charley-track-mapIslanders all breathed a silent sigh of relief on Wednesday which was the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Charley. Though that storm brought out the best in island leaders and demonstrated amazing island spirit and neighbors helping neighbors, I think we are all very thankful that we have had pretty easy summer weather over the last few years.

2013 StarsThis August anniversary also means that right-around-the-corner is the 10-year anniversary of SanibelSusan Realty’s office opening in Sanibel Square. Those ten years have flown by.

Sanibel Luminary night 2014 (Dec 5) will officially mark the anniversary of our grand opening. Stay tuned for something special then!

Changing the Game

reading-bookAnother interesting convention speaker and co-author of the book that has many Realtors® abuzz is Steve Murray (no relation to Liz Murray above). His book “Game Changers” was the basis of a local Association task force that I served on recently.

Game-Changers-CoverThis book about the “unfounded fears and future prosperity of the residential real estate industry” describes through extensive industry research how the real estate business is changing and what the future may hold. You undoubtedly have heard of Zillow, Trulia, and various money-driven 3rd party listing portals eager to get their hands on Realtor® listing information. This book tackles not only issues like that but also agent ratings, MLS consolidations, and more.

realtor logoAs a firm believer that change is inevitable and usually for the good, I also personally think that the Realtor® needs to remain at the center of real estate transactions to best serve sellers and buyers, particularly when the market is a unique vacation-type destination like Sanibel and Captiva Islands where the clients often are absentee. It’s still all about service to me which sometimes conflicts with the theory that “bigger is better!” The greatest compliment that my team and I receive after a successful transaction is “your service is the best we have ever received from a Realtor®.” The industry remaining service-driven needs to continue for our business and profession to thrive!

What’s Happening With Real Estate in the Rest of the World?

TRC LOGOThrough SanibelSusan’s TRC (Transnational Referral Certification), I often receive information about the real estate market in other countries. Here is an excerpt from the July TRC newsletter with details from ICREA (the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations).

“With the first half of 2014 coming to a close,…quick round-the-world snapshot of key residential markets, based on news from member associations and other credible sources. …all real estate is local, but having a big picture sense of market conditions is good….

“One of the few markets to emerge largely unscathed from the global financial crisis, CANADA was well into recover by 2010. Its recession was the shortest and mildest among advanced economies. Since then the market has remained steady with slowly rising home sales. In most months about half of all local housing markets report gains. The metro Vancouver and Toronto markets tend to skew median home prices upward. Canada’s central bank has maintained its low 1% overnight lending rate for the past four years with no increase expected until 2015.

“On of the much-watched BRIC countries, BRAZIL is Lat America’s largest economy. Its housing market witnessed an economic boom thanks to low interest rates and credit expansion, raising cries of a housing bubble. Debate continues on the bubble, but the market has remained strong, supported by a growing middle class that buys for personal use. Its recent place on the world (Cup) stage, and selection as host country for the 2016 Olympics, is viewed by some as a mixed blessing with foreign investor eyes on the market but local money being redirected. Economic growth has slowed…perhaps a good sign for those fearing the bubble.

“High prices are twarting firtst-time buyers in the UNITED KINGDOM, in spite of the government’s “Help to Buy” program. Compounding the problem is a lack of inventory, which neared a 10-year low this spring. The UK’s NAEA views the Help to Buy program as a good temporary measure, but has called on the government to take action on the “unfair and hugely expensive” Stamp Duty, seen as a barrier to access and upward mobility on the housing ladder. London prices remain high and rising although the strong pound is prohibitive for some foreign investors.

“While the newly instituted property law “ALUR” in FRANCE is much-debated among industry professionals a recent FNAIM survey found a minority of citizens aware of or do not understand the law. Among those who do, few deem it effective. The law brings a raft of measures impacting the housing market, including for owners who rent their homes to tourists. While FNAIM supports efforts that protect consumers and promotes professionalism, it cites a number of shortcomings and overly burdensome elements of the law that will slow or complicate sales. Overall, the housing market remains weak, hurt by high employment, although prices are edging up in some markets. Paris and Cote d’Azur prices (particularly luxury housing) have largely remained strong.

“The newly elected Narendra Modi-led NDA government bodes well for INDIA‘s property market with many believing the government will help revive the market and address housing affordability issues. Ongoing urbanization and migration to cities coupled with increasing levels of education and healthcare will drive future demand. The market has been facing a slowdown in recent years due to high interest rates on home loans and lower economic growth. A Real Estate Regulation bill (long in development) is expected to pass this year which will support greater transparency and protect buyers’ interests.

“Housing news from China is less about housing in CHINA than about the impact of Chinese foreign buyers–primarily in the luxury market. A number of overheating local markets point to Chinese investors as pushing up home prices; often out of reach of local buyers. Markets attracting large numbers of Chinese buyers include Sydney, Mumbai, London, Paris, Singapore, NYC, Los Angeles and Vancouver. Chinese tend to buy where they have business interests, or buy for their children or to secure residency (a growing trend worldwide). Local response is mixed between those selling at record high prices and those priced out of the market. Some view the trend as dangerous to the local economy while others see it as a natural outgrowth of globalization.

“The resort market in MEXICO took a hit with the US economic recession (due to the many American expats buyers) but is now recovering with some notable success stories such as Veracruz. A positive sign is the government reforms being instituted to encourage business growth and investment. Sector actions include debt guarantees for construction companies and increased subsidies for homebuyers. The two government lenders reported a 14% credit increase in 1Q 2014 with increased participation by small and medium-sized homebuilders. Real estate trade group AMPI is doing its part by continuing its push for strong industry regulations and professionalism.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity August 8-15

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Mariner Pointe #421 2/2.5 $599K, Pointe Santo #D5 2/2 $675K, Pointe Santo #D45 2/2 $799K (our listing).

1 price change: Mariner Pointe #1052 2/2 now $480K.

3 new sales: Sundial #H407 1/1 listed for $399K, Loggerhead Cay #451 2/2 listed for $475K, Sundial #E108 2/2 listed for $799K.

1 closed sale: Island Beach Club #320D 2/2 $824K.

HOMES
No new listings.

2 price changes: 1221 Par View Dr 3/2 now $758K, 940 Lindgren Blvd 3/2 now $898K.

3 new sales: 1661 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex listed for $290K (foreclosure), 1377 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed for $469K, 9446 Beverly Ln 3/3.5 listed for $599K (short sale).

6 closed sales: 5141 SanCap Rd 2/2 $280K, 421 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $450K, 1516 Angel Dr 3/2 $865K, 1817 Buckthorn Ln 4/3.5 $1.05M, 2279 Troon Ct 3/4 $1.2M, 283 Ferry Landing Dr 3/2 $1.4375M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Sunset Beach Villas #2337 2/2 now $689.9K.

No new or closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 1 Sunset Captiva Ln 2/2.5 now $2.395M.

No new or closed sales.

LOTS

1 new listing: 15295 Captiva Dr $850K.

No price changes, 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.

Happy weekend to all! Susan

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