Another Friday has arrived with the islands settled into a steady post-season routine – essentially no traffic delays on Periwinkle, no lines at local restaurants, but still vacationers here enjoying summer-like weather at the beaches, on the bike paths, and outdoors in general. They are benefiting from lower off-season accommodation rates too.
Overall, inventory remains fairly low and sales activity is a little slow. At our last “season” weekly Realtor® Caravan meeting yesterday, only a couple of new sales were announced and just six new listings were open for viewing.
The schedule of these Thursday morning caravan meetings has now switched to the ever-other-week summer schedule which will apply until new listing activity picks up again in the fall. The next meeting on May 12 will be an “Open Caravan” – meaning property that either east or west-end properties may be included. That “open” schedule flexibility will continue until fall.
Sanibel Inventory in Perspective
Using the data from the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service as of April 29 and comparing the activity year-to-date with the sales during the same timeframe last year, here are the standings. Also included are the same statistics for 2006 – the year of the market “peak”. Though ten years ago, it is interesting how those statistics compare to the same 4-month period (January 1 through April 29).
# for Sale # Sold/Closed 2016 # Sold/Closed 2015 #Sold/Closed 2006
Median Asking Price Median Sale Price Median Sale Price Median Sale Price
96 56 64 73
$662,450 $664,500 $662,000 $799,000
154 59 94 59
$997,000 $795,000 $764,000 $899,000
What does this mean? Though inventory is low, particularly when compared to previous years, there still is a lot. At the current rate of sales, there are about seven months of condo inventory and over ten months for homes.
Typically, there are fewer island sales in the spring and summer, with more last quarter and first quarter, but this year is a bit of an anomaly. The median sale price is up, but the number of units sold is down, both for condos and homes. If election year jitters calm down, it certainly will help.
A couple of the articles below about the economy and predictions for the rest of the year offer more insight. The action posted over the last week in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service follow the news.
Work To Upgrade AT&T Signal Under Way at Donax Tower
According to an article posted in last Friday’s “Santiva Chronicle”, “AT&T appears to be getting closer to the long-awaited signal upgrade on Sanibel. Heavy equipment is presently on the site along Donax Street where the cellphone tower that doubles as a heavy-duty flagpole sits. AT&T told the city early this year that the upgrade would occur in the second quarter of 2016.
““The city issued a building permit to the AT&T subcontractor well more than a month ago and the city had been previously advised that AT&T planned to install its communications equipment during the second quarter of 2016,” City Attorney said in an e-mail on Thursday, April 21.
““Our understanding is that the AT&T subcontractor has now commenced construction of the ground building that will house the generator and ground equipment which supports the communications equipment to be installed within the tower,” Cuyler said.
“Finally getting the new equipment running on the Donax tower will help alleviate the frustration AT&T customers have experienced with weak signals and dropped calls….”
Islanders Briefed on Blind Pass at Stakeholders Meeting
As reported in the “Santiva Chronicle” this week – “Keep Blind Pass open and keep it open in a correct way – That was the consensus of about 100 people attending the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study meeting at The Sanctuary clubhouse Thursday evening, April 21.
“The meeting was hosted by the Lee County Natural Resources Division to discuss the status of the ongoing study of Blind Pass and to take input from stakeholders. It drew a cross section ranging from Sanibel and Captiva officials, to members and officials of island non-profits and residents of the immediate area.
““Everything is on the table. We have powerful tools to develop this model,” Steve Boutelle, operations manager of the Lee County DNR, said.
“The meeting was to take community input to supplement the vast amount of data that is being gathered to determine the best way to keep one of the key inlets open and the water within it circulating as it should be.
Blind Pass is the inlet that separates Captiva and Sanibel. Its history, which was reviewed by B&I, the consulting firm hired by the DNR, is one of closing, opening and moving around as a result of natural forces and human intervention.
“Michelle Pfeiffer of B&I presented a number of slides and charts, and she also had aerial shots of the various shapes the volatile inlet has taken through the years. The most dramatic was in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes marched through, “forever altering Blind Pass,” according to B&I’s Tom Pierro.
“Blind Pass has been dredged and one more dredging is scheduled before the current permit to do so expires. Presently the pass is in extremely shallow condition with people easily wading across and causing boats with shallow drafts to struggle.
“Ann Vanderbilt spoke for the 300 members of the Bayous Preservation Association, a citizens group that works to restore and maintain the water quality in the area, including Blind Pass. She was the first of several to point out the recent cooperation between stakeholders when it comes to Blind Pass.
“The DNR got valuable input from knowledgeable residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, including Harvey Padewer and John McCabe. Both men spoke for others in the hope that whatever decision is arrived at for Blind Pass, that it will keep the water circulating and improve water quality.
““Blind Pass has a history of opening and closing. The decision has been made to keep it open. Our goal is to determine how best to do that,” Boutelle said.
““The study is in the very early stages, so it is very important to get input from you at this time,” Pierro told the stakeholders.
“Tidal inlets that connect the ocean to estuaries are important to the ecology of estuaries. Decreased water flows in the estuaries generally lead to increased sedimentation and accumulation of nutrients.
“Thursday’s meeting was the first of three. The DNR team said it expects a second meeting in two months with a third to follow.”
4 Housing Predictions for the Rest of 2016
From Monday’s “Daily Real Estate News” on line, sourced to: Freddie Mac
“Freddie Mac economists are still upbeat about the housing market’s outlook for the rest of the year, despite recent data that showed a gloomier first quarter in economic growth than originally projected. According to Freddie Mac’s April outlook, housing will “maintain its momentum in 2016 and be an economic engine of growth.”
“”We’ve revised down our forecast for economic growth to reflect the recent data for the first quarter, but our outlook for the balance of the year remains modestly optimistic for the economy,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, we maintain our positive view on housing. In fact, the declines in long-term interest rates that accompanied much of the recent news should increase mortgage market activity, particularly refinance.”
“Economists made the following predictions for the remainder of 2016:
- Employment: The labor market is expected to stay strong. The unemployment rate is projected to drop back below 5% for 2016 and 2017. “Stronger economic growth for the remainder of 2016 and reduced slack in the labor market will drive wage gains above inflation, though the gains are likely to be modest,” Freddie’s report notes.
- Mortgage originations: Loan originations are estimated to rise by $50 billion in 2016 and reach $1.7 billion. The forecasted boost is a result of low mortgage rates that are fueling a refinancing boom.
- Mortgage rates: Low mortgage rates are expected to stick around longer. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.7% in the first quarter. “After lowering the forecast for subsequent quarters by a tenth of a percent, expect rates to average 4% in 2016,” Freddie Mac researchers note.
- Housing prices: Home prices will rise by 4.8% in 2016 and by another 3.5% in 2017, Freddie Mac researchers predict. These rising home prices will lead home owners’ to see more equity gains.”
Why the Economy Is Slowing
By my favorite economist as posted in RealtorMag” last Thursday, this article is sourced to “Forbes”, April 19, 2016:
“The economy has been on a roller coaster ride the past few years. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, points to two main reasons behind the latest slowing of the economy: Constrained homebuilding and business spending.
“Homebuilders have been slow to up their production of new homes. They’ve been plagued with labor shortages and a shortage of suitable land for development. They’re also facing new housing permit rules and new financial regulations on small-sized banks. All of these factors are contributing to an “abnormally sluggish homebuilding recovery in this cycle,” Yun notes in his column at Forbes.
“What’s more, this contraction in home building is contributing to an overall sluggishness in the economy, Yun says.
“Housing starts in March were about 1.09 million units at an annualized pace. While it is up 14.1% from a year ago, it’s still far from historical levels. Normal activity is usually about 1.5 million housing starts a year. Yet, builders have been producing fewer than 1.1 million units since 2008. Prior to that, housing starts had not dipped below that level since 1981 and 1982, when mortgage rates were near 20%, and in 1991 when the economy was in a recession.
““Had the housing starts rebound been like in past cycles – that is, quickly getting back up to 1.5 million new units – then broad economic growth would have been markedly stronger,” Yun notes in his recent column at Forbes.
““With soft housing starts, GDP growth is similarly expected to be soft, barely above the zero growth line in the first quarter. … Had the economy moved along at the normal historical growth rate of 3% average annual GDP growth compared to what we actually experienced over this past decade, the typical American would have an additional $7,000 this year.”
“But homebuilding isn’t the only factor leading to a slowing economy. The economy also has been slowing due to “an unusual trend in recent years of business spending being below corporate profits,” Yun says.
“He explains: “For most of U.S. history, business spending (defined as the sum of spending for non-residential equipment and intellectual property products in GDP accounting) was higher than corporate profits. Borrowing, typically by new small businesses, had permitted more spending. That is, America always had more entrepreneurial ideas than money. But in recent years, ideas are apparently no longer in abundance and corporate cash is sitting on the sidelines and not doing much.”
“Yun notes that he believes an increase in homebuilding and business spending are key to getting the economy back on track.”
Turtle Nesting Season Begins Sunday
As reported in “The News-Press” on Wednesday: “Although nesting season doesn’t start until Sunday, there have been two nests this year, on Captiva and Fort Myers Beach.
“Turtle nesting season runs from Sunday, May 1, through Oct 31.
“Turtle nesting season begins Sunday and experts are hoping the four-year trend of high nesting continues.
After almost a decade of a low count of nests, females have been coming ashore in higher numbers since 2012. But Eve Haverfield, president and founder of Turtle Time, says that doesn’t mean 2016 will be another top year.
“We are hoping for the best,” she said. “Last year was a good season and we are hoping for another one.”
She said a real pattern has not been established with nesting numbers.
““They are better, but they are not out of the woods yet,” Haverfield said. “Just because you had one or two or three good years, that does not mean the species has recovered. You don’t want to draw conclusions over a few years.”
“Still Haverfield is always positive about turtles. “We are eternally optimistic,” she said.
“Last year Bonita Beach had the first nest of the season, but this year that honor goes to Captiva that had a nest laid on April 21. That is just one day short of the record for the earliest nest laid there on April 20, 2012.
“Kelly Sloan, turtle coordinator for the Sanibel/Captiva Conservation Foundation, is excited about having the first nest and also about a new program piloting on Sanibel. For the first time Sanibel will have two volunteers that patrol the beach four or five nights a week to tag the mother turtles.
“Tagging has been done for years on Keewaydin Island in Collier County and by Mote Marine. Sloan said tagging on Sanibel will add to the pool of knowledge and let researchers see if there are changes in patterns and the genetics of the turtles that come on shore. “Part of the reason is to see if there is a genetics break at San Carlos Bay,” Sloan explained. Her 120 volunteers will also be patrolling Sanibel and Captiva in the morning and putting screens around the nests to prevent coyotes from eating the eggs. Sloan said this program was very successful last year. “We are hopeful for another great year,” Sloan said.
“Maura Kraus, senior environmental specialist for Collier County Natural Resources is also hopeful for another great turtle season. “We are hoping it is all the work we have been doing all these years. Everything we have been doing, hopefully we are seeing an upward trend,” Kraus said. Kraus said for the last three decades there has been a strong push to help sea turtles, from more public awareness to turtle excluder devices on shrimp boats to the work done on beaches around the state.
““Loggerheads take 30 years to reach maturity. So hopefully we are seeing the results of our hard work,” she said. Kraus is feeling a lot better about turtle season now than she did in the past. “In 2002 we were getting a little nervous. It was pretty worrisome,” she said about the low number of nests then.
“Kraus said most people in Collier County comply with keeping lights from shining on the beach and pulling furniture from the sand at night. But one problem she does see is people who dig holes in the sand and then don’t fill them in. “So we want to make sure people fill in the holes,” Kraus said. “People should stay off the beach at night. Everyone has their lights on their phones and their cameras on the phones and we don’t want that on the beach at night.”
“Although nesting season doesn’t start until Sunday, volunteers have been monitoring the beaches since April 15. So far there have only been two nests this year, the one on Captiva and one laid on April 25 on Fort Myers Beach.
“Now that nesting season is beginning, Haverfield wants people living along the beach to use amber LED lighting and to close their drapes at night. Hatchlings follow the lights of the horizon to find the water and can be disoriented by unnatural light. She said most people do comply, but there are some that still shine too much light on the beach. “People have been very supportive,” Haverfield said. “People love the fact that sea turtles nest on our beaches.”
*Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida
*Adults grow to more than 3-feet long and weigh 200-350 pounds
* They may travel thousands of miles from feeding grounds to nesting beaches
* Female turtles nest on the same beaches where they were born.
* A female loggerhead may nest 1-7 times during a season at about 15 day intervals
* Incubation takes 55-65 days
* The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. Cooler sand produces mostly males, while warmer sand produces mostly females.
* Hatchlings are about 2 inches long
* Hatchlings emerge at night and are guided by the lighter Gulf horizon to the water
Both interior and exterior lights must not be visible on the beach.
People can explore the different options of LED fixtures at: http://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/certified
Beach furniture must be removed from the beach from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (must be behind the dunes and vegetation or up against the house)
The rule is in effect from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. May 1 to Oct. 31.”
Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 22-29, 2016
2 new listings: Lighthouse Point #122 2/2 $499K, Sanibel Arms West #B8 2/2 $548.9K.
3 price changes: Beach Road Villa #105 2/2 now $424K, Blind Pass #A102 2/2 now $429K, Sanibel Surfside #127 2/2 now $1.065M.
3 new sales: Donax Village #14 2/2 listed at $529K, Sanctuary Golf Villages 1-1 2/2.5 listed at $595K (our sale), Clam Shell #E 3/2.5 listed at $995K.
3 closed sales: Sanibel Moorings #211 1/1 $365K, Shell Island Beach Club #5A 2/2 $790K, West Shore #3 3/3 $1.637M.
5 new listings: 956 Dixie Beach Blvd 2/1 $410K, 3118 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $619.9K, 810 Elinor Way 3/2 $679K, 2313 Wulfert Rd 4/3 $1.15M, 243 Southwinds Dr 4/2.5 $1.195M.
8 price changes: 2407 Shop Rd 3/1 now $349K; 1635 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex now $464K; 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 now $499,999; 5306 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $625K; 5299 Ladyfinger Rd 3/3 now $749K; 588 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $779K; 563 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $795K; 1238 Isabel Dr 5/3/2 now $3.864M.
6 new sales: 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $529.9K, 441 Lake Murex Cir 3/3 listed at $569K, 702 Oliva St 3/2 listed at $649K, 1858 Farm Trail 3/2 listed at $649K, 676 Emeril Ct 3/2 listed at $749K, 841 Lindgren Blvd 2/2 listed at $899K.
3 closed sales: 1565 Bunting Ln 3/2 $585K, 911 Strangler Fig Ln $2.219M, 3421 West Gulf Dr 5/4.5 $6.8375M.
1 new listing: 1329 Par View Dr $349K.
No price changes.
1 new sale: 1310 Par View Dr listed at $359,555.
No closed sales.
1 new listing: Seabreeze #1251 3/3 $2.25M.
No price changes, new, or closed sales.
1 new listing: 15 Seascape Ct (Sunset Captiva) 3/2.5 $995K.
2 price changes: 1135 Longifolia Ct 4/4.5 now $4.295M, 16560 Captiva Dr 7/7.5 now $6.5M.
1 new sale: 19 Urchin Ct 2/2.5 listed at $879K.
No closed sales.
1 new listing: 956 S Seas Plantation Rd $2.1M.
1 price change: 16298 Captiva Dr now $5.049M.
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, Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan