Sanibel Island Beach at Noon Today, Friday the 13th (April 2018)


Wondering how the beach looks? SanibelSusan made a quick stop, just after noon today, at the beach access at the end of Donax Street on Sanibel’s almost east end. As the above photos show, the beach is looking great and being enjoyed. My car said the outside temperature then was 83 degrees F. With a brisk breeze, it was perfect beach weather.

My team and I are continuing to enjoy the change in traffic pattern this week as the islands slow down. The trouble is once Periwinkle Way eases up, so do the real estate phone calls and inquiries. That’s too bad, as now is when it’s often easiest to gain access to the properties that have been occupied all winter.

Sanibel realtors logoAt yesterday’s local Association of Realtors® Caravan Meeting, in addition to many new price reductions, a large number of new listings were announced. It was a full caravan, too.

That’s a bit of an oddity for this time of the year when business typically slows down a little. Hopefully this year with winter weather continuing in many areas, Florida will be more attractive to future prospective property owners.

Shown after a couple of news items below is our weekly report showing the action posted since last Friday in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service.

Florida House Bill 631/Senate Bill 804 – What Are The Facts?

State of FL SealThere have been rumblings the last couple of weeks over House Bill 631/Senate Bill 804 – Possession of Real Property (commonly known as customary use), signed by Governor Scott on March 23. Some folks believe that this bill restricts access to Florida’s beaches. That is not true.

Florida’s Constitution provides that all land seaward of the mean high-tide line belongs to the public. No government entity or private individual or property owner can deny access to it.

Florida Realtors logoPosted on-line yesterday, April 12, Florida Realtors® provided a good explanation of customary use and the beach access issue with the following questions and answers:

“Question: What is “customary use”?

Answer: “Customary use” is a common law term referring to public access to private beachfront property. Generally speaking, beachfront property owners in Florida own the “dry sand” area leading down to the mean high tide line – the line of intersection of the land with the water’s surface at the maximum height reached by a rising tide. The land seaward of that, commonly known as the “wet sand” area, is held by the state in trust for the public.

The process known as customary use allows a local government to adopt an ordinance that allows public access to the private dry sand area of beachfront property where the use has been ancient, reasonable, without interruption and free from dispute. (1974 City of Daytona Beach v. Tona-Rama, 294 So.2d 73 (Fla. 1974)

“Question: Are customary use ordinances new?

Answer: No. The public trust doctrine is embodied in Art. 10, s. 11 of the state’s Constitution. Further, the customary use process has existed in Florida for many decades.

“Question: If customary use is not new, then what does this new law (HB 631) that was passed actually do?

Answer: The previous process for adopting a customary use ordinance was not structured in a way that encouraged active dialogue about the issue between property owners and the local government. The intent of the new law is to allow customary use practices to continue, but in a way that is more transparent, efficient and economical, while requiring active dialogue between local governments and private property owners on the front end to avoid costly legal challenges.

“Question: What was the old customary use process and how does it work now?

Answer: Simply put, prior to this law a local government would evaluate its public beach needs and previous public use, draft a customary use ordinance to address the issues they found, and then vote to adopt that ordinance. Property owners affected by the new ordinance could then pursue a legal challenge if they wished to.

Under the new law, the local government must first hold a public hearing to make the public aware of the new customary use ordinance they want to adopt. They also need to notify every affected property owner of the proposed ordinance in writing, as well as identify the use they are seeking and show evidence of the need of that use. They will then bring the proposed ordinance forward for a judicial determination and must notify affected property owners that they have 45 days from receipt of the notice to intervene in the legal proceedings….

“Question: Is public access to Florida’s beaches cut off under this new law?

Answer: No. The law only changes the process by which a local government would follow to adopt a customary use ordinance.

“Question: I live in a county that has an engineered beach/erosion control line. Does this issue affect me?

Answer: There are 35 coastal counties in Florida. A total of 26 coastal counties have an engineered beach/erosion control line – a jurisdictional boundary established in beach re-nourishment project areas. If you live in one of these counties, then customary use ordinances are highly unlikely for your area.

Nine counties don’t have an engineered beach/erosion control line. These counties are: Walton, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Volusia and Flagler.”

Reducing Your Flood Insurance Cost

femaThe cost of flood insurance often is a consideration to a prospective buyer. Some flood policies allow a new owner to assume the seller’s policy, so it is common for Realtors to ask owners about their insurance costs and the contact information for their insurance carrier. Sometimes we have info about how you may be able to reduce your insurance costs too.

Several years ago, the local Association of Realtors® brought in speakers from a local engineering firm that specializes in services related to flood zone mapping and analysis, flood protection analysis and flood proofing services. Sometimes that engineering work results in a document called LOMR (Letter of Map Revision). To fully understand what a LOMR is, it helps to know about the City’s evolution and how it relates to flood insurance.

Sanibelcityseal logoHere is some background from Sanibel’s on-line 2017 Comprehensive Floodplain Management Plan. (Read the full document at )

“The City of Sanibel is a barrier island, located on southern Florida’s Gulf coast. In 1974, the City was in a grassroots effort to gain local control over land development so that the fragile and unique environment of the Island could be preserved and enhanced…. Development within the City is regulated to coexist with nature.

“One of the City’s initial tasks following incorporation was the adoption of the Sanibel Plan (a comprehensive land use plan), which uses the ‘carrying capacity’ concept of land use management to determine the development intensity permitted on the island: the more sensitive the land is to human activity, the less development is permitted. In the City’s very fragile and vulnerable Gulf Beach, Bay Beach and Mangrove Forest Zones, little or no development is allowed. On the higher and less environmentally sensitive ridge areas of the Island, more intense development is permitted.

“Prior to incorporation, Sanibel Island was zoned for the development of over 30,000 dwelling units. After the City was established and the initial Sanibel Plan was adopted in 1976, the projected number of dwelling units to be permitted on the Island dropped to approximately 7,800. After subsequent lawsuits and Plan amendments, the current projected number of dwelling units to be permitted on the Island has been adjusted to approximately 9,000.

“Not only did the City significantly decrease the amount of development permitted on the Island, but the City’s new zoning regulations severely restrained and, in some cases, prohibited development in the Island’s most environmentally sensitive and flood prone areas such as the Bay and Gulf Beach Zones, the Mangrove Forest Zones and the Interior Wetlands Conservation District. By restricting or limiting development in these sensitive and vulnerable areas, the City took a giant step to protect the public health, safety and welfare from flood damage.

“When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) established the Community Rating System (CRS) in 1990, the City of Sanibel was one of the first to apply. Due to its historic proactive floodplain management efforts, the City is currently recognized as a Class 5 community by the CRS. Through the CRS program, the City has made a commitment to further improve and enhance its proactive floodplain management efforts through the evaluation and updating of its comprehensive Floodplain Management Plan (FMP).

“The purpose of the Sanibel FMP is to reduce or eliminate risk to people and property from flood hazard and has been developed to meet CRS criteria for such planning documents and incorporates the primary goals of the CRS to reduce flood losses, facilitate accurate insurance ratings, and promote the awareness of flood insurance. The plan includes existing and new mitigation activities, to prioritize mitigation activities and on-going activities to meet the City’s floodplain management goals. The City of Sanibel has implemented its Comprehensive Floodplain Management Plan since the initial adoption of that plan in 1995. This 2005 Floodplain Management Plan assesses updates and clarifies that plan and provides direction for future actions. On May 3rd, 2016, the Sanibel City Council established a City of Sanibel Floodplain Management Planning and Mitigation Advisory Committee to the City of Sanibel to organize and prepare the Floodplain Management Plan. Under the Community Rating System (CRS), there is an incentive for communities to do more than regulate new construction. The CRS provides a reduction in flood insurance premiums to reflect activities that reduce flood damage to existing buildings, protect new buildings beyond the minimum NFIP protection level, and help residents obtain flood insurance.

“…The largest potential impact in hazard assessment of the 100-year storm is Base Flood Elevation (BFE) requirements from the FEMA maps. In November 2014, FEMA notified the City of Sanibel that it is analyzing coastal wave action in the Gulf of Mexico as part of its Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning (Risk MAP) program. This analysis will be used to create new elevation data for Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Preliminary maps are anticipated to be distributed in 2018. Previous maps included Zone VE, where the flood elevations include wave heights equal or greater than 3 feet; and Zone AE, where the flood elevation includes wave heights less than 3 feet….

“By joining the NFIP in 1979 and requiring new construction to be built above the Program’s base flood elevation, development that has occurred on Sanibel since that time is relatively safe from flood damage in all but the very worst-case storm events….”

So how does this relate to a LOMR? In floodplain lingo, a Letter of Map Revision or LOMR is FEMA’s modification to an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM) or both.

Why do you want your property to be included in a LOMR? Because it may mean that your property is now located in a flood zone that is less likely to flood, so less costly to insure. The property didn’t move, but the likelihood of flooding occurring may have lessened because of nearby construction, shift in the land, and changes in the weather, that could affect wind and wave action.

In recent years, many island condo complexes and communities have hired engineering firms to determine if their locations could be candidates for LOMRs. The process can be costly and lengthy, but in many cases has achieved great results – and huge savings in flood insurance. Posted at on the City’s website at are recent revisions.

If your property is near one of these locations, particularly if it is landward of one of them, go to the link for that LOMR. There, you will see the letter that FEMA sent to the City identifying the area of change. The last page(s) of each document list by STRAP numbers & owners names, all of the properties affected by the that document. If yours is included, it may be worth a phone call to your insurance provider, as they may not be aware of the change. The LOMRs currently posted on the City’s site are:

  • West Wind Inn – 3345 West Gulf Dr
  • Beachcomber condo – 635 East Gulf Dr
  • 1243 Par View Dr
  • Pointe Santo condo – 2445 West Gulf Dr
  • Sanibel Seaview condo – 727 East Gulf Dr
  • Island Beach Club condo – 2265 West Gulf Dr
  • Beachview Cottages – 3325 West Gulf Dr
  • Dosinia condo – 3339 West Gulf Dr
  • Sandalfoot condo – 671 East Gulf Dr
  • Island Inn – 3111 West Gulf Dr
  • Loggerhead Cay condo – 679 East Gulf Dr
  • Sanibel Arms West condo – 827 East Gulf Dr
  • Casa Ybel Resort – 2255 West Gulf Dr
  • Tanglewood condo – 1101 to 1104 Seagrape Ln
  • Sunset Beach hotel – 3287 West Gulf Dr
  • Gulfside Place condo – 1605 Middle Gulf Dr
  • 5125 Joewood Dr
  • Sundial East condo – 1401 Middle Gulf Dr
  • Sunset South condo – 1341 Middle Gulf Dr
  • Sundial of Sanibel Bldg E & K – 1501 Middle Gulf Dr

To find your property’s FEMA map location, go to

2018 Hurricane Seminar

hurricane-symbol-blue-hiThe same day last week as the City seminar about the 2018 hurricane season, forecasters projected that the upcoming 2018 season may be busier than usual. As a fan of the City’s official weather consultant, Dave Roberts, it was interesting to read that he said hurricanes can happen during any month of the year when certain conditions are present. One of those is that water temperatures need to be about 80 degrees. (Right now, the gulf is about 77, 78 degrees.) According to Roberts, due to La Nina weather conditions, Atlantic Ocean water temperatures currently are one degree above average. “That’s something to be worried about,” he said.

Roberts also stressed the importance of heeding calls for an evacuation especially when powerful storm surges are expected. “I can tell you that a 15’ storm surge is very unlikely, but a 3’ to 5’ storm surge can happen. Believe me, you don’t want to get caught in that because one foot of standing water can move an SUV….”

Here’s hoping that if we are prepared, no storms will come.

Upcoming Events

ding darling48th Earth Day Celebration at J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Refuge, Saturday, April 21:

  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Wildlife Drive free to bikers/hikers, $5 per motor vehicle
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Free bike rentals at Tarpon Bay Explorers
  • 9:30 a.m. – Bike refuge tour (4 miles)
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Earth-friendly crafts in Refuge Visitor & Education Center
  • 1 p.m. – See free film STRAWS

Sanibel School Fund Blue Ribbon Golf Classic at The Sanctuary, Saturday, May 12. Call Christian at 917-763-6824 for more info/tickets.

Reminder About Watering

Lee County_logoAfter experiencing below-average rainfall from November through March, residents and visitors are reminded of Lee County’s year-‘round water conservation ordinance. It prohibits irrigation between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Irrigation outside of these hours is limited to Thursdays and Sundays for even-numbered addresses and Wednesdays and Saturdays for odd-numbered addresses

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity April 6-13, 2018

sancap GO MLS logoSanibel


3 new listings: Tennisplace #A34 2/1.5 $339.9K, Sanibel Moorings #1631 2/2 $615K, Sanddollar #A104 2/2 $849K.

8 price changes: Sanibel Moorings #141 1/1 now $450K, Sanibel Moorings #1611 2/2 now $499K, Blind Pass #B209 2/2 now $569K, Sunset South #6A 2/2 now $599K, Sandpiper Beach #506 2/2 now $719K, Nutmeg Village #205 2/2 now $745K, Sunset South #1A 2/2 now $749.9K, By-The-Sea #C102 2/2 now $1.249M.

6 new sales: Sanibel Arms #D4 2/2 listed at $549K, Sandalfoot #3C1 2/2 listed at $729K, Kings Crown #312 2/2 listed at $799K, Tarpon Beach #206 2/2 listed at $799K, Surfside 12 #A4 3/2 listed at $819K, High Tide #C201 2/2 listed at $989K.

7 closed sales: Tennisplace #E33 2/1 $285K, Mariner Pointe #241 2/2.5 $615K, Sundial West #J307 2/2 $738K, Sundial West #F201 2/2 $795K, Sanibel Arms West #D5 2/2 $845K, High Tide #C101 2/2 $885K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #3-6 3/3 $968.5K.


6 new listings: 1621 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 half-duplex 3/2 $565K, 5303 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2.5 $599K, 223 Daniel Dr 3/3 $898K, 829 Pyrula Ave 3/3 $1.149M, 2414 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 $1.849M, 2564 Wulfert Rd 4/5.5 $2.149M.

16 price changes: 1717 Atlanta Plaza Dr 2/2 now $455K, 3837 Coquina Dr 2/2 now $699K, 1325 Par View Dr 3/3 now $739K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 now $759.5K, 950 Cabbage Palm Ct 3/2 now $799K, 1350 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $885K, 4460 Waters Edge Ln 3/2 now $878K, 938 Pecten Ct 3/2.5 now $1.099M, 5411 Osprey Ct 3/2 now $1.099M, 1349 Eagle Run Dr 3/2.5 now $1.145M, 1126 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/2 now $1.249M, 1525 San Carlos Bay Dr 4/2 now $1.495M, 2984 Wulfert Rd 3/3 now $1.65M, 2564 Wulfert Rd 4/5.5 now $2.1495M, 3009 Turtle Gait Ln 4/4.5 now $2.795M, 1238 Isabel Dr 5/3/2 now $3.374M.

9 new sales: 813 Rabbit Rd 2/2 half-duplex listed at $399K, 3043 Poinciana Cir 4/2 listed at $525K, 1283 Par View Dr 2/2 listed at $574K, 887 Casa Ybel Rd 5/3 duplex listed at $575K, 1582 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $649K, 236 Hurricane Ln 2/3 listed at $689K, 678 East Rocks Dr 3/2 listed at $829K, 529 Lighthouse Way 3/3 listed at $1.22M, 805 Sand Dollar Dr 4/3 listed at $1.295M.

8 closed sales: 340 East Gulf Dr 2/2 $515K, 1625 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex $575K, 474 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $655K, 924 Beach Rd 3/2 $875K, 748 Windlass Way 3/3 $1.1M, 2629 Coconut 2/3 $1.15M, 2939 Wulfert Rd 5/5/2 $1.275M, 1083 Bird Ln 4/2.5 $3.675M.


No new listings.

3 price changes: 976 Whelk Dr now $679K, 6000 White Heron Ln now $749K, 1226 Isabel Dr now $1.849M.

1 new sale: 2401 Blue Crab Ct listed at $679K.

1 closed sale: 6027 Dinkins Lake Rd $215K.



1 new listing: Beach Villas #2423 1/1 $545K.

1 price change: Beach Villas #2414 2/2 now $640K.

No new or closed sales.


No new listings.

3 price changes: 14860 Mango Ct 5/4 now $1.794M; 11535 Wightman Ln 4/4 now $1,999,999; 11523 Andy Rosse Ln 5/5.5 now $2.499M.

No new or closed sales.


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 week, here’s hoping your Friday the 13th has been lucky & you get to the beach this weekend!

Here’s one more photo from today. TGIF!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusanIMG_5541

The Last Day of Summer & Real Estate News from Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It was pretty quiet again this week on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, but a few more new listings came on the market. Lisa and Dave from the SanibelSusan Team were out showing property this morning. The good news is that island inventory is being depleted faster than it is being restored.

With the first day of fall being tomorrow, we are looking forward to more activity on the islands soon.  Local weather reports, however, are that Southwest Florida probably won’t experience cooler weather for about another three weeks, when evening temperatures should drop into the low 60’s.

Below is a picture I snapped yesterday of a group of ibis snacking in the grassy area next to our parking lot.

Next Thursday morning is our Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® monthly membership meeting with speaker, Roy Gibson, from the City of Sanibel Planning Department. After that meeting, the SanibelSusan Team will be holding our new listing on Roseate Lane open for previewing Realtors®.

Below are some real estate-related news items, followed by the activity reported in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service since last Friday.

Florida’s Housing Market Continues Positive Trend in August

“Florida’s housing market had more closed sales, more pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in August, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

““Florida’s housing marketing continues its momentum,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “Buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines should see this as a sign to jump in before the market escapes them again. Sellers who have been hesitant to sell should put their homes on the market now. Chances are they will entertain multiple offers and be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates to buy their next home. Now our biggest challenge will be appraisals keeping up with the pace of this market.”

“Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 18,669 in August, up 10.8% compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

“Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed by not yet completed or closed – of existing single-family homes last month rose 40.2% over the previous August. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in August was $147,000, up 5.8% from a year ago….

“Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes/condos, a total of 8,767 units sold statewide last month, up 5.7% from those sold in August 2011. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $102,980, up 13.2% over the previous year. NAR reported the national median existing condo price in July 2012 was $180,700.

“Last month, the inventory for single-family homes in August stood at a 5.3-months’ supply; inventory for townhome-condo properties was also at a 5.3-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

““Florida’s housing market is still reviving,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Everything that should be going up is going up, and everything that should be going down is going down. After the six years of turmoil that we had, it’s good to see the trends strongly moving in the right direction. We’re hurting for inventory, but it’s possible that the improving conditions will lure more sellers into the market and mitigate the housing inventory crunch.”

“The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.60% in August 2012, lower than the 4.27% averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac….”

How Market Improvement Relates to Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Although Sanibel and Captiva comprise a small portion of the state inventory mentioned in the article above, here is how they stack up.

Sanibel & Captiva

                                         Condos                         Homes

                                      #        Average Price      #        Average Price

For Sale                        211       643,089             219       1,693,444

Under Contract                13       510,931               28          974,698

Sold 2012 to-date           156       623,046             160          913,987

Sold 2011                      135       629,361             149          987,302

Sold 2010                      114       582,555             107          821,903

As the above statistics show, prices have not rebounded yet, but the number of sales has increased significantly, pushing inventory down. At the current rate of sales, there are less than 11 months of condo inventory and less than 10 months of home inventory. Good news for sellers as we head into last quarter and first quarter, which typically are our best selling months on the islands.

City of Sanibel Cuts Property Taxes

As follow-up to the news posted last week about Sanibel’s property taxes, the “Island Sun” reported the following this week: “With a nip here and a tuck there, the Sanibel City Council on Tuesday produced a svelte final budget that calls for a reduced millage rate –
albeit a small one – and further savings for island taxpayers. As called for at the previous budget session, City Manager Judie Zimomra presented items that could be trimmed totaling $224,500. Council opted for most of them, reaping a savings of $199,500.

“The goal had been to trim $162,000 to reduce the 2.1389 working millage to 2.1. The cuts included refining two road projects to save $67,500 and postponing improvements to MacKenzie Hall ($32,000) and installing a system to video stream council meetings ($35,000). Council also chose to delay $400,000 in improvements the Center4Life, instead using $90,000 already budgeted for architect fees to do necessary repairs and maintenance, including fixing a leak that’s coming up through the floor. In all, the cost-cutting amounts to approximately $508,000.

“However, the city has to subtract nearly $91,000 for costs incurred from Tropical Storm Isaac, which will not receive state or federal reimbursement. That leaves net $350,000 to add to the ending fund balance. The owner of a home valued at $527,000 – the island average – will pay taxes of $1,106, down from the $1,127 the working millage would have cost. That doesn’t include taxes for voted debt such as the Sanibel Recreation Center and land acquisition. The focus for some time has been on reducing expenses and paying down debt, as the city sees lower income due to property values that fell almost 2% this year. Operating expenditures are projected to be $26.552 million, down 21% from last year, when expenses totaled $33,445,376. The budget includes a “sinking fund” for the five-year-old recreation center to retire the bonds, use for future operating costs and maintenance using a funds balance of about $1 million. The plan is to make $216,219 in annual contributions beginning in 2014. Council voted to allocate $440,000 to the sinking fund, representing two years’ contributions, keep some as a balance and pay down rec center debt. The center’s operating costs are projected at $2.088 million next year.”

Four Big Design Turn-Offs of Home Buyers

A recent article by Melissa Tracey in “Home Trends, Room Makeovers” at “AOL Real Estate” is right on-point with some of the complaints we have heard from buyers.

“Certain dated design features in a home can really make some home buyers cringe. Could your listing have one of them? A recent article at AOL Real Estate spotlights a few pet peeves of home buyers when touring homes today. Among the items making their list:

“1. Popcorn ceilings: The speckled ceilings can attract dirt and be impossible to paint. Plus, if the home was built prior to 1980, the ceiling may contain asbestos and need to be tested by an inspector. Fix it: Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for removing popcorn ceilings; it can get messy. It’ll have to be scraped off and the ceiling then will need to be repaired. Plus, you’ll want to have it tested for asbestos before scraping. Home owners will likely want to consider hiring a professional to do this.

“2. Carpeting everywhere: Many home buyers today have a fondness for hardwoods over wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpeting can show spots and dirt, which can serve as a quick turn-off to potential buyers who prefer the more polished look of hardwoods. Fix it: Have the carpet professionally cleaned if your seller can’t afford to swap out the carpet for hardwoods. Make sure the carpet is spot-free and looking new. If sellers are willing to spend some money, they might consider installing hardwoods on just the first floor or in just the dining room (pre-finished laminate can cost less). This allows the home to be marketed as having hardwoods, which could possibly draw in more potential buyers who won’t consider a home without.

“3. Brass fixtures: Shiny brass fixtures are viewed as out-of-date by most people’s standards nowadays. More on trend is satin-nickel or oil-rubbed bronze finishes. Fix it: Big-box retailers offer plenty of affordable lighting options nowadays to make this an easier, more budget friendly do-it-yourself project with big impact.

“4. Vanity lighting strips: The Hollywood-style strip with a line of bulbs of rounded lights hanging over your bathroom mirrors can also quickly date a home. Fix it: Find a lighting fixture that has shades for each bulb in a finish that matches your faucet. It’ll make the bathroom look more contemporary.”

Florida AAA-Rated

The following came from an e-newsletter received this week from Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer, State of Florida:

“Last week, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) released its revenue projections for the next fiscal year. Florida’s economists predict a $71.3 million surplus next year even without the $1 billion we currently have in reserves. We are fortunate to have a budget surplus because of Florida’s fiscal discipline over the last few years. These projections are the best our state has seen since the recession hit Florida in 2006, creating the first budget surplus in five years.

“We have made the necessary choices to provide for a prosperous future, just as every Florida family must do during challenging economic times. Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators have kept spending under control and maintained low taxes, thereby preserving Florida’s AAA credit rating – one of only nine AAA-rated states in the country – and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.  Last year, Florida was also able to reduce its debt by $500 million. If we remain committed to a fiscally responsible path, we can keep more money in the pockets of Floridians and help improve our opportunities for economic success.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity September 14-21


5 new listings:  Sundial #G407 1/1 $389K, Sanibel Moorings #341 2/2 $435K, Sanibel Arms West #L8 2/2 $479K, Blind Pass #E206 2/2.5 $498.5K, Sunset South #3B 2/2 $675K.
3 price change:  Lake Palms #2 2/2.5 now $259K, Seashells #15 2/2 now $379K (short sale), Sanctuary Golf Villages I #6-3 3/3 now $740K.
No new sales.
2 closed sales:  Sundial #C206 1/1 $244.9K, Heron at The Sanctuary #3B 2/2.5 $575K.

4 new listings:  6457 Pine Ave 3/2 $429K, 1978 Roseate Ln 3/2 $449K (our listing), 471 Las Tiendas 4/2 $549K, 9203 Dimmick Dr 4/2 $749K.
4 price changes:  2621 San-Cap Rd 3/2 now $250K, 688 Cardium St 5/4 now $399.9K, 1610 Sabal Sands Rd 3/2 now $479.9K, 1263 Par View Dr 5/2.5 now $629K.
4 new sales:  799 Casa Ybel Rd 4/3 duplex listed for $399K, 9440 Begonia Ct 3/2 listed for $499.9K, 1121 Skiff Pl 3/2 listed for $589K, 1188 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/3 listed for $629K.
2 closed sales:  613 Sea Oats Dr 2/2 $342.5K, 2130 Sunset Cir 3/2 $451K.
1 new listing:  3005 Turtle Gait Ln $289K.
No price changes or new sales.
2 closed sales:  545 Rabbit Rd $176K (our listing), 2251 Starfish Ln $261.9K.

1 new listing:  Tennis Villas #3131 2/2 #420K.
No price changes.
1 new sale:  Beach Villas #2433 2/2 listed for $698.5K.
No closed sales.

Nothing to report.

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its Multiple Listing Service.  Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy.  Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.  The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

Sanibel & Captiva July Real Estate Action & Local Scuttlebutt

As another Friday rolls around, The SanibelSusan Team has been checking off items on our off-season “to do” list, wishing we had more buyers in town, marketing for more listings, and enjoying the fine things that a quiet island summer offers. Here is cactus blooming on my street this week, fun to view on the way into work.  

Sharing a Kudo

After a sale, The SanibelSusan Teams sends a feedback form to the buyer or seller we represented hoping to find out why they worked with us, what we did that they liked, and what they wished we had done to provide even better service. SanibelSusan got a chuckle out of one that was returned this week. It was from a condo seller that we have never met, but who listed with us because of our mailings. He said “Good work on selling my property! You listened & communicated. At one point, I asked Susan if we needed to lower the price and she said “no” – very rare for a Realtor®. I was impressed.”

Island Weather

The islands have had no rain since Tuesday, with reports of some African dust in the atmosphere now. It purportedly has no negative effects, but has resulted in some terrific “pink” sunsets the last few nights.

Teammate Lisa was at Sunset Grill on Monday morning when a waterspout was spotted off the beach in the gulf. Here are a couple of pictures she shared. She said it lasted about 15 minutes.

Sanibel Osprey

Most islanders are huge osprey fans, so we were happy this week to receive an email with this up-close photo taken by a new island owner enjoying his first July on Sanibel. Their new family vacation home offers many fabulous photo opportunities. 

The same day as I was driving to meet a pal for lunch at Beachview, I spotted this tree just off Middle Gulf Drive. I originally though it was a group of eagles since they have been known to like the same area, but here is a group of osprey. It’s not often that we see four at once on the same perch.

July Realtor® Membership Meeting

At our monthly Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® membership meeting yesterday, Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann addressed us with an update on the county’s finances. Here is a brief summary of his comments. Overall, county tax values have gone down 45% since their peak in 2007. As a result of this decline in property values, the County ad valor em tax revenues are similarly down or approximately $100M less a year than what they were five years ago. Even with county millage rates held essentially the same since then and with budget cuts, the county has been running upside down to the tune of $30M-$50M/year. This difference has been funded with money invested during the “good years.” Unfortunately, that investment fund is within two years of being depleted ($70M remaining). Property values are expected to increase 2% this year, but obviously, it will take many years to gain back the 45% lost. Though there have been no layoffs, pay for County employees has flat-lined and the number of employees reduced by 150 through attrition. More trimming is needed.

Interestingly, Frank noted that Lee County remains the fastest growing community in Florida and one of the fastest growing in the U.S. He also said that he is often questioned about funds that are spent on the Red Sox and Minnesota Twins stadiums. He clarified that this money comes from tourism dollars (not ad valorem taxes) and that money is required by the state to be spent on things that promote tourism. There has been talk of another professional baseball team moving their spring training here.

Blackstone Group Sells Sundial

An announcement also was made at our meeting yesterday by the manager of John Naumann & Associates, regarding the sale on Monday at Sundial Beach Resort. The general amenities at Sundial previously owned by The Blackstone Group were purchased by CoreState Affiliates who have been offering investor shares. Sundial was purchased by Blackstone some years ago as part of a package deal that included The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, as well as South Seas Plantation on Captiva. This sale did not include Sundial individual condominium units and included only Blackstone’s holdings at Sundial Resort. Viewed as a positive change for the facility, plans for improvement include over $2M in upgrades to the central amenity area and new rental programs, as well as assistance in unit refurbishment. Best of all, it sounds like the resort again will be open to the public! If you remember earlier days when Sundial had a top-notch restaurant overlooking the gulf and a fun poolside tiki bar that visitors could enjoy just by walking in from the beach, it sounds like those days are coming back!

(P.S. From a Realtor®’s perspective, now is a great time to buy a condo at Sundial. It’s gonna get popular again, Sundial’s conference business will re-blossom, and you know what will happen to prices then.)

Good News For Builders

An article posted earlier this week on Florida Realtors® advises that “builder confidence” is up six points. “Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose six points to 35 on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July – the largest one-month gain recorded by the index in nearly a decade. The HMI is now at its highest point since March 2007….“This report adds to the growing acknowledgement that housing – though still in a fragile stage of recovery – is returning to its more traditional role of leading the economy out of recession,” adds NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is particularly encouraging at a time when other parts of the economy have begun to show softness and all the more reason that the challenges constraining housing’s recovery – namely overly tight lending conditions, poor appraisals and the flow of distressed properties onto the market – need to be resolved.”

“…Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for the past 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.”

GFCI Locations

When buyers or sellers have property inspected, a common defect found is that one or more GFCI’s are either not installed or not operating. Sometimes they even say what is a GFCI? From the “National Electrical Code” here is a quick definition and the requirements. These electrical devices save lives – so it is always smart to get yours checked periodically, even if you are not selling your property.

In simple terms, a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle is a device that limits the duration of electrical shocks. As an example, if you were using a metal knife or fork to pull your muffin from a toaster which still is turned on, by touching the toaster inside electrical components, the electrical current now has an extended path to you. If the toaster is plugged into a functioning properly-installed GFCI plug or GFCI breaker-protected receptacle, the GFCI will detect the “leaking” current and disconnect the power as fast as 1/40th of a second. This is less time than it takes for current to damage your body. Without GFCI protection, current is capable of causing heart arrhythmia, eventual stopping of our heart and blood circulation within seconds.

In the U.S., GFCI electrical outlets were first introduced in the early 70’s. They have advanced and became safer through the years. The table below shows various home locations and when the electrical code changed, adding GFCI requirements.

                        1971     1973     1975     1978     1987     1990     1993
Swimming Pool    X          X          X          X          X          X          X         

Exterior                           X          X          X          X          X          X         

Bathroom                                    X          X          X          X          X         

Garage                                                    X          X          X          X         

Basement                                                           X          X          X

Kitchen                                                               X          X          X

Crawl Space                                                                    X         X

Wet Bar                                                                                      X

The 3.8% Tax May Mean You Should Sell in 2012 

Beginning January 1, 2013, a new 3.8% tax on some investment income will take effect. Since this new tax will affect some real estate transactions, it is important to clearly understand the tax and how it could impact you. It is a complicated tax and difficult to predict how it will affect all buyers/sellers, so the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has developed an informational brochure to help bring Realtors® up to speed on this new tax legislation. It was passed by Congress in 2010 with the intent of generating an estimated $210 billion to help fund President Obama’s health care and Medicare overhaul plans. Understand that this tax WILL NOT be imposed on all real estate transactions, a common misconception. Rather, when the legislation becomes effective in 2013, it may impose a 3.8% tax on some (but not all) income from interest, dividends, rents (less expenses) and capital gains (less capital losses). The tax will fall only on individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) above $200K and couples filing a joint return with more than $250K AGI. If you have an interest in how this tax could affect you specifically, be sure to consult your accountant or tax expert. In the meantime, you can view some real estate scenarios and examples in the NAR brochure.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity July 13-20

1 new sale: Sandpiper Beach #105 2/2 listed for $640K.
1 closed sale: Oceans Reach #2D2 2/2 $725K.
No new listings. 
1 price change: 919 Almas Ct 3/2.5 now $1.1M.
2 new sales: 1702 Sand Pebble Way 3/2.5 listed for $399K, 940 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2.5 listed for $499K.
4 closed sales: 1621 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $389K, 585 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $540K, 561 Lake Murex Cir 3/2.5 $560K, 1274 Par View Dr 3/3 $590K.
1 new listing: 3792 Coquina Dr $399K.
No price changes.
No new or closed sales.

Nothing to report.

No new listings, price reductions, or new sales.
1 closed sale: 11512 Andy Rosse Ln 2/2 $850K.

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors or its Multiple Listing Service.  Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy.  Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.  The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.  If your property currently is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

Happy weekend!