Yippee! It’s sunny again on Sanibel Island!

beach 2017-05-23There are a lot of smiling faces on Sanibel today. After more rainy days earlier in the week, it could be that island weather is back to typical “rainy season” – just occasional showers.

Bayou 06-05-17

We saw lots of sunshine both yesterday and today, so even the weekly visitors leaving tomorrow are happy.

At The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoYesterday was the June Membership Breakfast Meeting at the islands’ Association of Realtors®. Attendance was light, but the speaker was terrific – my friend, Fort Myers Beach Realtor® Cynthia Shafer.

bed clip artShe told the group about the Bedz for Kidz Program, a non-profit that she founded in 2001 on behalf of the local court’s Guardian ad Litem Program. As a GAL volunteer advocate, Cynthia discovered that sometimes children being relocated to a new living situation do not have their own bed. Caring people sometimes willing to take in a vulnerable child may lack the resources to provide them with their own bed. So since 2001, Cynthia and her husband have provided nearly 3,000 beds to those needy children in our five-county area. They have spent essentially every Saturday during those years, personally handling the delivery and assembly. As Cynthia says, “my husband has power tools”. Currently, particularly in need of colorful patterned twin sheets (like Batman, princesses, minions, etc.) and solid color crib sheets, those are the items that the Association will be collecting during the month of July to donate to Bedz for Kidz.

There were not a lot of new real estate announcements – new listings or new sales, but we are thankful to have one of each. The following Caravan tour of new properties only had one property open. The next Caravan meeting is June 29.

The action as posted since last Friday in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows a few news items below.

Island Estimated Property Valuations Increase

LeePALogoHeading from a front-page article in June 7, “Islander” which says:

“The City of Sanibel property values have once again risen, an estimated 5.87%, over last year. The numbers will not be finalized until July 1 when the preliminary values, which are sent to the state, are set.

“The total taxable value in Sanibel is estimated at $5.031 billion up from the $4.752 billion final figure in 2016. Overall, Lee County’s estimated overall taxable value went up to 6.56%….

“”This is the start of the season where we are required to notify all the taxing authorities what they can look forward to in property values,” said Kenneth Wilkinson, Lee County Property Appraiser. “It tells them what they can set for the millage.” Wilkinson’s office has analyzed the market activity for all of 2016 and the numbers are based on what they were as of January 1, 2017.

“Once the preliminary numbers are set, Wilkinson will also give taxing authorities a rollback millage rate, what cities can lower the millage to so it can get the same money. ”It tells taxpayers who is raising taxes and by how much,” Wilkinson said.

“Fort Myers estimated valuation increased 8.09%, Cape Coral increased by 7.87%, Fort Myers Beach was up 4.84%, Bonita Springs increased 5.93%, and Estero went up to 4.64%.

“Obviously we have not risen at the same level as our neighboring communities, but we didn’t fall as much as our neighboring communities. It’s nice to get a little boost,” City Council member Mick Denham said. He said they are not quite sure what the data means to them quite yet due to the budget process getting underway. “This is not going to make a large difference to the way we think. We don’t have the growth in redevelopment here, or new properties like the rest of Lee County enjoys. We expect our revenue to be relatively flat over the next few years. We don’t have the space. We are built out,” Denham said.

“Wilkinson said all the numbers will likely change between now and July 1, which in recent years have trended upward. Those figures will be sent to Tallahassee for state approval. Winkinson said he has never had an assessment declined by the state.

“TRIM notices are mailed to property owners in August. Property owners will then have 25 days to resolve any disagreement in value with the property appraiser.”

The county tax appraiser’s web site, www.leepa.org is user-friendly and has more info.

Island Inn Breaks Ground on New Matthews Lodge

Island Inn Sanibel OfficeArticle from today’s Santiva Chronicle on-line regarding Island Inn:

Built in 1895, …the historic Island Inn has launched the next phase of its refurbishment program with the replacement of the Matthews Lodge.

The multi-million-dollar investment will transform the 55-year-old, 12-unit concrete block building into a dozen Gulf-view luxury suites.…The revitalized Matthews Lodge suites, set to open in January 2018, will be designed with a large private screened balcony, living and dining room, full kitchen, custom tile floors, updated bath, personal wet bar, spacious bedroom, queen pull-out sofa and necessary electronics – all in 600 square-feet….”

sancap GO MLS logoSanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity June 9-16, 2017

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Sanibel Arms West #I3 2/2 $519K, Gulf Beach #102 2/2 $799K (our listing).

IMG_8430

Gulf Beach condos beach path

 

2 price changes: Loggerhead Cay #342 2/2 now $594K, Nutmeg Village #313 2/2 now $999K.

2 new sales: Tennisplace #C21 2/1.5 listed at $339,555, By-The-Sea #C302 2/2 listed at $1.495M.

5 closed sales: Sandalfoot #4C3 2/2 $635K, Sunset South #2A 2/2 $672.5K, Kings Crown #208 2/2 $670K, Pointe Santo #B25 2/2 $715K, Kings Crown #106 2/2 $820K.

HOMES

1 new listing: 981 Main St 4/2.5 $689K.

7 price changes: 3021 Singing Wind Dr 3/2 now $495K; 1943 Sanibel Bayou Rd 3/3 now $699.5K; 563 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $749K; 673 East Rocks Dr 3/2 now $749,888; 655 Anchor Dr 3/3 now $789K; 5657 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 3/2 now $975K; 1672 Hibiscus Dr 3/2 now $1.299M.

4 new sales: 215 Palm Lake Dr 3/2 listed at $699.9K (our buyer), 765 Conch Ct 5/4 listed at $939K, 518 N Yachtsman Dr 3/3 listed at $1.345M, 3402 West Gulf Dr 3/2 listed at $1.65M.

5 closed sales: 1585 Serenity Ln 3/3 $505K, 755 Pen Shell Dr 3/2 $785K, 941 Pecten Ct 3/2 $882K, 4428 Waters Edge Ln 3/2.5 $1.06M, 615 Lighthouse Way 3/3.5 $2,176,250.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price change: 1311 Par View Dr now $278K.

3 new sales: 2529 Wulfert Rd listed at $300K, 9023 Mockingbird Dr listed at $389K, 2479 Harbour Ln listed at $535K.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Beach Homes #8 4/3 now $2.625M.

1 new sale: Beach Villas #2525 2/2 listed at $639K.

3 closed sales: Tennis Villas #3125 1/1 $233K, Beach Homes #29 4/4 $1.9M, Beach Homes #9 4/3.5 $2.95M.

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, wishing you sunshine too & a Happy Fathers’ Day weekend!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

lighthouse 06-05-17.jpg

Counting Down to Christmas on Sanibel Island

It’s SanibelSusan with another Friday report. Sanibel and Captiva are festive and the roadways, beaches, and bike paths are filling with holiday visitors as the weather has stayed sunny and bright until today.

As I write this some needed rain is said to be bringing a brief cool front which will only last through Sunday when the highs only expected to be in the 70’s.

Back to the low 80’s by Sunday and through next week. Santa better wear his shorts!

Sanibel snowman

A Sanibel snowman – Dec 2015

 

Below, following some news items, is info on the real estate activity posted this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service. Not many new sales are reported – none on Captiva and just three on Sanibel (two condos and a lot).

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoYesterday was the final Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® monthly breakfast meeting of the year.

DunesEntry2Held at the recently-remodeled clubhouse at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, the meeting included presentation of the Association’s 2015 Honor Society awards. It was rewarding to see several members receive the award for the first time, but sure made me feel old to get it for the 23rd year. Given in recognition of professionalism through education, participation, and service, 25 Sanibel/Captiva Realtors® from our 298 members received the award this year.

ASSOC LogoFourteen Realtor® SCIS (Sanibel-Captiva Islands Specialist) designations also were awarded at the meeting. Many of these were attendees at the class that I taught this summer (on Resorts & Second-Homes). To achieve this designation, members must complete 12-class curriculum requirements during a multi-year period. Since the program began, over 80 island Realtors® have become island specialists. These classes provide education specifically about buying and selling real estate on Sanibel and Captiva.

Upcoming Open Houses at The Sanctuary

sanctuary golf club logoThe Sanctuary Homeowners Association again is allowing open houses in the community once a month this winter, through April. The first one will be Wednesday, January 6, from 1 to 4 p.m. Others also are scheduled on Wednesdays – February 3, March 2, and April 6. These are easy opportunities to see all of the properties for sale in The Sanctuary during a single afternoon. Our listing at 5743 Baltusrol Court will be open – unless it sells first!

What’s Happening at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club

DunesYesterday’s membership meeting was the first opportunity many Realtors® had to visit The Dunes recently-remodeled clubhouse. The buffet breakfast was outstanding too.

The Dunes Club events include tennis and golf clinics, round robins, tournaments and league events, plus such social events as fine and casual dining, trivia nights, dinner with DJs, comedy nights, and other competitive sporting events.

Dunes logoIf you are wondering what the 2016 costs are to belong to the club at The Dunes, here is some information from their handout.

  • Full Club Membership – $7,450 (family) or $4,450 (single)
  • Senior Full Club Membership (over 80) – $3,750 (family) or $2,250 (single)
  • Associate Full Membership (45 & under) – $3,750 (family) or $2,250 (single)
  • 30-Day Golf Membership – Nov 1 to Apr 31 – $1,399 (family) or $899 (single)
  • 30-Day Golf Membership – May 1 to Oct 31 – $499 (family) or $299 (single)
  • Tennis, Sports & Social Membership – $2,525 (family) or $1,875 (single)
  • 30-Day Tennis Membership – Nov 1 to Apr 31 – $399 (family) or $299 (single)
  • 30-Day Tennis Membership – May 1 to Oct 31 – $199 (family) or $99 (single)
  • Sports & Social Membership – $1,325 (family) or $1,025 (single)
  • Social Membership – $650 (family) or $550 (single).

Captiva Landmarks Join National Register of Historic Places

Capitiva-Chapel-Outside-1024x768@2xLast week (as reported in the “Island Sun”), a pair of plaques, honoring two island landmarks – The Captiva School & Captiva Chapel-by-the-Sea and the Historic Captiva Cemetery – were unveiled to the public for the first time, two years after they were officially dedicated as part of the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the National Register of Historic Places website, The Captiva School & Captiva Chapel-by-the-Sea historic district is “significant at the local level under Criterion A in the areas of Exploration/Settlement and Social History”.

The one-room schoolhouse, built in 1901, also served as the primary place of religious worship for the early settlers of Captiva until it was converted into a Methodist mission church in 1921. The Captiva Civic Association, by agreement with the Methodist Church, took over operation of the building in 1947. The Methodist church deeded the property in 1954 to Captiva Chapel-by-the-Sea.

Prior to the entrance of the chapel property, the two-acre historic cemetery – founded in 1897 – includes a number of the early settlers of Captiva. The first interment of the cemetery was the unnamed stillborn daughter of Herbert and Hattie Brainerd, whose daughter, Ann, purchased the parcel in 1900 for a single gold coin. One year later, Ann died from tetanus from stepping on a rusty nail. Hattie Brainerd retained ownership until she deeded it to the Methodist church in 1936.

These landmarks join the ‘Tween Waters Historic District as the island’s representatives on the National Register of Historic Places.

Baby Boomers Blamed for Clog in Housing

baby boomersPosted on line on Dec 7 on “Daily Real Estate News”, here is an interesting take on low inventory.

“Some economists say the baby boomers aren’t selling their homes like previous generations did and not downsizing fast enough, which is leading to shortages of homes for sale and rising prices.

“Baby boomers are “clogging up the whole chain of home sales,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist of Freddie Mac. “They appear to be staying in the family home longer than previous generations, and the imbalance between housing demand and supply continues to boost prices.”

“Baby boomers are big players in real estate. In 2013, people age 55 and older controlled two-thirds of all home equity, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances.

“In previous generations, once the kids have moved out of the house, empty nesters tended to downsize and move to smaller homes or rent apartments. But so far, boomers haven’t made a move.

““Economists say boomers’ slower-than-expected rate of downsizing and selling is playing a contributing role in supply, demand and pricing imbalances in local markets — not creating those imbalances,” The Washington Post reports.

“Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, told The Washington Post that the lingering effects of the housing crisis and the Great Recession may be the reason why more baby boomers are postponing their moves. From 2008 to 2011, home owners of all ages lost lots of equity and many home owners may still be rebuilding equity to allow them to sell and move without having to bring money to closing, Yun says.

“But Fannie Mae’s Patrick Simmons, an economics and strategic research group director, says that the clog in the real estate pipeline from baby boomers not moving will not likely hold for much longer. “Boomers will not inhabit this vast inventory [32 million homes] forever,” he says. Their circumstances will inevitably change with age and they will move, and “their actions will reverberate through the housing market.””

Upcoming Island Events

Today & Tomorrow – Dec 18th & 19thOrchid & Bromeliad Show & Sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Village Shopping Center.

Sunday – Dec 20thSanibel Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., City Hall Grounds (every Sunday thru Apr)

Sanibel LighthouseChristmas Eve – Dec 24th – Annual Christmas Eve Beach Service at Lighthouse Beach at 5 p.m. featuring candle lighting and carol singing, with offering to benefit FISH (Friends in Service Here) and the Salvation Army. (Note: a special bike corral will be set up at the end of the bike path leading to Lighthouse Beach. Vehicle parking available at the Chamber of Commerce with trolley service to the beach.)

Saturday thru Tuesday – Dec 26th thru 29th 21st Annual Holiday Mini-Golf, 18-hole indoor golf course with prizes awarded daily, at the Sanibel Community House, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Real Estate’s Impact From Spending & Tax Deal

Florida Realtors logoPosted on-line yesterday (Dec 17th) by FloridaRealtors®:

“The U.S. House and Senate have come to an agreement on a massive spending and tax bill – the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill – that will be voted on today. Passage is expected, and President Obama said he will sign it.

“A number of provisions – and excluded amendments – touch on Florida real estate interests.

  • Florida families will permanently gain the ability to deduct sales taxes from their federal income taxes under the bill. The benefit applies only to states without an income tax and has applied in recent tax years. However, the temporary benefit becomes permanent when the new bill becomes law.
  • Several business tax breaks will be extended, including one for the purchase of small business equipment. The bill also extends a tax deduction for “bonus” depreciation of business property purchases, along with television and film production.
  • Green energy gets a boost from a tax break extension for energy from renewable sources – solar, wind and geothermal, for example – and biodiesel fuels and electric cars.
  • The bill creates new rules for the visa waiver program. Under the program, citizens of 38 countries can travel freely to the U.S. with only a passport; but after the new bill becomes law, citizens from these countries who have visited terrorist-identified countries such a Syria or Iraq in the past five years will be denied a visa waiver.
  • The EB-5 visa won’t be affected. In early versions of the omnibus bill, lawmakers considered changes to a visa program popular in some areas of Florida – the EB-5. Under the program, foreigners may obtain a U.S. green card if they invest $500,000 in projects that create American jobs. However, the FBI noted some problems with the program. In the end, though, a proposal to change the EB-5 visa was backed out of the bill.
  • The bill creates a new REIT provision. After passage, companies in most cases won’t be allowed to spin off property they own into a real estate investment trust (REIT).
  • More money goes to low-income housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) praised the bill, saying funds still remain “wholly inadequate to meet the housing needs of low-income Americans,” but “the bill does not raid the National Housing Trust Fund … This will allow HUD to implement the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016 with funds from a modest assessment on the annual volume of business of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • The bill prohibits disposition of taxpayer-owned stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for two years. That timeframe will give Congress more time to consider housing finance reform.”

What the Fed’s Decision Means for Housing

Federal Reserve logoGood write-up here from “Daily Real Estate News” yesterday, Dec 17th, regarding the small uptick in interest rates.

“Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has kept a zero-interest rate policy in place. But on Wednesday, in a largely anticipated move, they voted to bring an end to that era and increased its benchmark short-term interest rate by 25 basis points from near zero.

“The Fed made clear that it’s going to issue a gradual tightening cycle over the coming months. That likely means mortgage rates will inch slowly upward, though most economists are predicting that it shouldn’t unnerve the housing recovery.

““The interest rate is still low compared to historical standards,” Kevin Young, an analyst at IBISWorld in Los Angeles, told The New York Times.

“The Fed controls the federal funds rate – also known as the short-term interest rate – that banks use to borrow money. That rate inadvertently ends up being passed on to consumers.

“So what does the Fed’s latest move mean for the housing market?

“Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, says that an uptick in short-term rates shouldn’t have a big effect on those looking to borrow in 2016. With rates going up by such a small amount, the Fed’s move actually could serve as a stimulant to the economy, he says.

“”The raising of short-term rates could be more of a confidence play to the market — it provides a signal that the economy is strengthening, and to the degree that the Federal Reserve is providing [that signal] and the lenders believe that, it may actually provide more lending opportunity for the banks,” Yun says. “As a borrower, even for the short-term borrower, what difference does it really make whether one is borrowing at 0.1% or 0.2%, when the Fed Funds Rate is historically at 3.3% or 3.5%?”’

“Some economists are predicting the Fed to raise short-term rates incrementally about four times by the end of next year.

““But we don’t expect mortgage rates to track the short-term policy rates directly,” writes Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com®. “In fact, we’re likely to see mortgage rates increase by only half or two-thirds as much.” Mortgage rates tend to track trends in long-term bonds.

“According to realtor.com®’s 2016 forecast, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will likely average 4.65% by the end of next year. Last week, it averaged 3.93%, according to Freddie Mac.

“Still, Smoke says rates will likely be volatile day-to-day and week-to-week in the year ahead as the financial markets try to anticipate the timing of the Fed’s policy changes.

““On the positive side, the massive amount of news coverage on the Fed’s move will finally hit consumers to realize that we are at the end of the low-rate era and that rates are now on the move up,” Smoke writes. “We think this will influence fence-sitting buyers – and, more important, fence-sitting sellers who intend to buy as well – to act before rates get much higher.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity December 11-18

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Lighthouse Point #325 2/2 $889K, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 $1.385M.

No price changes.

2 new sales: Sundial West #H411 1/1 listed at $269.9K, Kings Crown #118 3/2 listed at $1.299M.

1 closed sale: Tennisplace #E31 2/1.5 $315K.

HOMES

2 new listings: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex $559K, 5757 Pine Tree Dr 3/2.5 $899K.

2 price changes: 1211 Periwinkle Way 3/2 now $499K, 557 N Yachtsman Dr 4/3 now $799K.

No new sales.

8 closed sales: 9032 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 $492K, 1774 Bunting Ln 3/2 $525K, 3181 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $550K, 215 Palm Lake Dr 3/2 $579K, 420 East Gulf Dr 3/3 $639K, 6019 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3 $1.1M, 4241 West Gulf Dr 5/4.5 $3.65M, 1220 Morningside Pl 5/5 multi-family $1.024M.

LOTS

5 new listings: 2356 Wulfert Rd $195K, 1305 Seaspray Ln $752K, 6519 Pine Ave $995K, 6505 Pine Ave $995K, 5340 Punta Caloosa Ct $1.598M.

2 price changes: 5121 SanibelCapiva Rd now $219,555; 2462 Wulfert Rd now $224.9K.

1 new sale: 1820 Farm Trail listed at $229K.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5144 1/2 $299K.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 19 Urchin Ct 2/2.5 now $879K.

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.)

Starfish santaUntil next week, when I’ll blog earlier than Friday, Merry almost-Christmas! Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

From Biking to the Economy to Events & Investment – Sanibel Island Is Top-Notch!

It’s SanibelSusan again reporting that it was another quiet week in the island real estate world. Not as quiet as it likely will get in late August until about mid-October when the island typically is at its lowest occupancy, but quiet just the same. We are thinking forward to the July 4th holiday and hopefully the visitors arriving this weekend and next. Mostly vacationing families are in town now, not many listings are getting shown or new sales reported. But, our phones rang with some unusual requests this week which were reminders that it takes time for real estate news to trickle down to the general public. That news is that island inventory is low, both for sale and for rent.

Before a couple of news items, followed by the action posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Services over the past seven days, here are some photos shared by client friends who know that I am always looking to share pictures of the islands. These first two were taken by Scott Shew and overlook Pine Island Sound. Though snapped just minutes apart, they show what a wonderful light show sunsets bring and how quickly the colors change.

SZ6A9855

SZ6A9883This next photo came from Susanna and Yves-Pascal Salzedo and was taken during their last visit when they were fishing in Ding Darling. These osprey may have been on the outlook for fish too!

Yves Osprey

Florida’s Sanibel Island Shared-Use Paths

Photo from RailsNTrails 6/15/15

Photo from RailsNTrails 6/15/15

Kudo’s to Sanibel City Manager, Judie Zimomra and all involved for another great posting about the island on June 15. Articles like this only make our area more desirable.

Sanibel’s Shared Use Path System is featured as the “Trail of the Month” on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy site. The article mentions the street where I live too!

“Trail of the Month: June 2015 – “It’s truly part of our transportation network.”

Bike Trail on Middle Gulf Dr

Bike Trail on Middle Gulf Dr

“Sun, sea, and sandy beaches: Florida’s Sanibel Island is a summer sanctuary. Better yet, the island’s extensive shared-use path system—totaling 24 paved miles—provides access to it all: beaches, a wildlife refuge and rehabilitation center, a historical lighthouse and village, a renowned seashell museum, restaurants, shops and just about everything else in this laid-back community on the Gulf Coast. It’s the type of place where nary a building stands taller than a palm tree, and many of the streets are named after types of shells or mariner terms like Anchor Drive and Captains Walk.

“I call it Mayberry by the Sea,” says Tom Sharbaugh of the idyllic City of Sanibel, which encompasses the entire island. “The focus is on the beach; it’s on nature; it’s on riding a bike, so a lot of families come here. And, if you live here, you never have to get in your car. You can cycle every place you want to go.”

Sanibel Bicycle Club marching in the July 4, 2012 parade

Sanibel Bicycle Club marching in the July 4, 2012 parade

“Sharbaugh is an active member of the Sanibel Bicycle Club, which began two decades ago for social and recreational get-togethers and has evolved into an advocacy group for the trail and cycling. Recently, the club launched a well-received educational video to help both tourists and locals bike on the island safely.

““A ton of people come for vacation, and a lot of them live in places that aren’t so cycling friendly,” says Sharbaugh, noting that the peak tourist season typically runs from mid-January to late spring. “So it’s a big attraction for them to come here and rent bikes and get out on the trail. We have grandmas and grandpas and kids of all ages, so there’s a range of skillsets on the trail.”

“Just this year, FamilyFun magazine ranked Sanibel as the number one tourist town for families in the country. But this is no Disney World. Nature takes center stage in this corner of Florida, and the island’s J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge—perhaps second only to its beaches—is a main attraction. The massive refuge, sprawling over 6,400 acres, is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States and offers unparalleled opportunities for viewing wildlife, including alligators, bobcats, river otters, turtles and more than 245 species of birds. The paved pathway leads to its doorstep, and then visitors can bike through the refuge with an on-road route, or opt for a hike or explorations by kayak or canoe.

““We’re an extremely environmentally conscious community,” says Judie Zimomra, Sanibel’s city manager. “Nearly 70% of the island is set aside in perpetuity for environmental conservation.”

Billy's-logo-bikes“Salli Kirkland, who co-owns an island bike shop called Billy’s Rentals with her husband, agrees. “The city wrote up a plan to keep development to a minimum. There are no bright lights here, no neon. We don’t even have traffic lights. You can see the stars at night.” The Kirklands started their bike rental shop just off the bike path 15 years ago, and Salli says business has continued to grow every year. “Because it’s an island, the roads can get congested,” she says. “You can actually get to places faster by bike, and almost every business has bike racks.”

The vision for the island’s pathways dates back to 1972, when four local housewives sought to create a way for their children to get to and from elementary school safely. A lack of sidewalks, coupled with narrow roads with no bike lanes or shoulders, made getting around by bike or foot nearly impossible. Together, Grace Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Sherry Vartdal and Starr Thomas formed the Sanibel Bike Path Committee and fundraised for the development of a new bike path. In 1976, thanks to their efforts, the first 2.5-mile section of the bike path was built along Periwinkle Way, the island’s main street.

sanibelmapbike“Today, biking or walking to school, work or for other errands is safe, convenient and—due to the island’s flatness—very easy. In 2014, the city was designated a bike-friendly community at the Silver Level by the League of American Bicyclists, a feat matched only by three other (much larger) Florida communities.

“Zimomra notes that the city is continually improving and expanding on the network—investing more than $1.1 million into the path system since 2007—making it possible to now get from one end of the 12-mile island to the other entirely by bike. Numerous unpaved spurs also branch off its main paved spine to link to parks and other attractions; a new connection to popular Bowman’s Beach will begin construction this year. “It’s truly part of our transportation network,” says Zimomra.

12 Metros with Fastest-Growing Economies

bloomberg businessweekGood news about Florida on Bloomberg last week and repeated on Tuesday in “DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS”

florida“Florida is emerging as the new leader for economic growth, fueled by baby boomers and retirement communities. Oil towns had dominated in recent years but as the energy boom fades, growth has been tapering off. Instead, Naples, Fla., emerged as the leader on a list of metro areas that are expected to see the most economic growth next year, according to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, prepared by IHS Global Insight. Naples is expected to see its economy grow 4.9% in 2016. Metro areas in Florida made up half of the top 19 economic performers. For example, The Villages, a senior community, ranked third and has been the fastest-growing city by population for two consecutive years.

“Here’s a list of the metros expected to see the most economic growth in 2016:

Naples – Immokalee – Marco Island, Fla.: 4.9%

Sebring, Fla.: 4.8%

The Villages: 4.7%

Cape Coral – Fort Myers, Fla.: 4.5%

Austin-Round Rock, Texas: 4.4%

Raleigh, N.C.: 4.3%

Ocala, Fla.: 4.2%

Fayetteville – Springdale-Rogers: 4.2%

Dallas-Fort Worth – Arlington: 4.1%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.: 4.1%

Laredo, Texas: 4.1%

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.: 4.1%”

Foreign Buyers Spend More on U.S. Real Estate

realtor logoA few more interesting statistics in Realtor®Mag on-line June 18. That “DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS” article says:

Fewer international buyers are flocking to the U.S. to purchase real estate, but those who are, tend to spend more on their home purchases. The total sales dollar volume from international home buyers climbed 13% this year compared to last year – at a time when the total unit sales from international home buyers decreased, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients.

“From April 2014 through March 2015, total international sales were estimated at $104 billion, trumping last year’s $92.2 billion. This represents 8% of the total existing-home sales dollar volume, according to NAR’s report. “In 2014, sales transaction to buyers outside of the U.S. dropped 10%, possibly due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar in relation to international currencies and weakening foreign economies,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “However, the amount of money spent has increased; this means international purchasers in the U.S. have become an upscale group of buyers, spending more money on fewer homes.”

“Last year, five countries alone accounted for 51% of all purchases by international buyers: China, Canada, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom. Buyers from China exceeded all other countries in terms of their appetite for U.S. real estate, purchasing an estimated $28.6 billion worth of U.S. property, according to NAR’s report. Canada buyers followed with $11.2 billion in purchases and then India at $7.9 billion; Mexico with $4.9 billion; and the United Kingdom at $3.8 billion.

“International buyers tended to spend more on their home purchases than the average U.S. home buyer. International buyers spent, on average, $499,600 on their home purchases compared to the overall U.S. average home price of $255,600. Chinese buyers were found to most often spend the most, with an average price of $831,800 on their U.S. home purchases.

“More REALTORS® are reporting working with international clients, up from 28% in 2013 to 35% in 2014. Four states accounted for half of all international sales: Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona, according to NAR’s report.”

Reading this article, reminded me to count up where SanibelSusan’s non-US buyers and sellers are from. I have not really seen much difference through the years, usually having just one or two clients each year that are from outside the country. The latest were from France and Austria, prior to that more frequent buyers (and sellers) were from the United Kingdom and Canada, with occasional business with buyers from Sweden and Switzerland.

Upcoming Events

south seas logoIn an earlier report, the traditional Sanibel July 4th events were listed from the morning parade to the noon scavenger to the fireworks at dusk. Captiva Island has a fun-filled holiday celebration planned too.

fireworks clip artSouth Seas Resort is holding its 7th Annual Hot Dog Eating Competition followed by a Red, White, & “Boom” Party featuring music, children’s activities, and food/beverage options. On Saturday, the Star Spangled Celebration includes a patriotic golf cart parade, live DJ entertainment, “Sunset Shellabration”, and fireworks display. More info at www.southseas.com.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

SanCapAssnLogoAlthough we did not have an Association of Realtors® Caravan meeting this week, I was at the Association Office a couple of times for meetings.

On Monday, our local leadership team got an update from Dave Garrison, Florida Realtors® Vice President of Finance, Professional Development, and Internal Operations.

Florida Realtors logoAs background, 2015 marks the 99th anniversary of Florida Realtors® which began in 1916 with 68 real estate brokers from 16 Florida communities gathering in Jacksonville for the first convention. Today Florida Realtors® membership is over 140,000 and growing. Dave said the 2016 budget looks ahead to 150,000+members, probably 160K+ by 2017. Florida Realtors® has 120 paid positions, strong reserves, and a positive outlook for the future. The mission of Florida Realtors® is to advance Florida’s real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues; encouraging, promoting and teaching consistent standards for ethical practice and professionalism; and building on the efforts of local Boards/Associations to provide the information and tools members need to succeed. Florida Realtors is the largest trade association in the state.

Florida Realtors Headquarters, Orlando

Florida Realtors Headquarters, Orlando

The Association headquarters is in Orlando, and the legislative Office of Public Policy is in the heart of Tallahassee.

On Wednesday at the 2015 Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® Nominating Committee meeting, I worked with fellow past presidents on coming up with a slate of candidates for our officer and board of director election later this year.

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity June 19-26

Sanibel

CONDOS

1 new listing: Colonnades #15 1/1 $225K.

3 price changes: Sanibel Moorings #1512 2/2 now $477K, Tarpon Beach #204 2/2 now $745K, Tigua Cay #489 3/3.5 now $2.295M.

2 new sales: Captains Walk #B4 2/2 listed for $315K, Sundial #C301 1/1 listed for $315K.

5 closed sales: Dugger’s Tropical Cottages #2 1/1 $285K, Sanibel Arms #E7 1/1 $320K, Mariner Pointe #121 1/1 $332.5K, Sundial #C207 1/1 $400K, Pointe Santo #C4 1/1 $508K.

HOMES

3 new listings: 999 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $575K, 501 Lagoon Dr 2/3 $789K, 1537 Sand Castle Rd 4/3 $829K.

1 price change: 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $549K.

6 new sales: 1835 Ardsley Way 2/1 listed for $309K, 9439 Coventry Ct 2/2 listed for $525K, 600 East Rocks Dr 3/2 listed for $535K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 listed for $549K, 963 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed for $599.9K, 1085 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed for $650K.

3 closed sales: 632 Lake Murex Cir 2/2 $435K, 2984 Island Inn Rd 3/2 $587K, 3351 Barra Cir 3/2.5 $750K.

LOTS

1 new listing: 971 Main St $199K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 4626 Buck Key Rd listed for $188K.

2 closed sales: 9277 Beldling Dr $163K, 2133 Starfish Ln $366K.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Marina Villas #709 2/2 $629K.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #4114 1/2 $255K.

HOMES

1 new listing: 16167 Captiva Dr 3/3 $1.795M.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: 15009 Binder Dr 4/5.5 $3.525M.

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.

waving flagUntil next Friday, we’ll be digging out the July 4th decorations & looking forward to more real estate action & holiday festivities!