Happy Lucky Friday the 13th on Sanibel


It’s SanibelSusan reporting that the island real estate market still is pretty quiet. Attendance was light at our Realtor Caravan meeting yesterday morning, with just a handful of new listings open for viewing.

Exterior Front CloseI was pleased to announce one of the few new sales and also advised attendees about our new listing at Moonshadows. With a reduction in the former price, but an increase in commission, it got their attention.

It’s a unique property, a half-duplex beach-front 3 bedroom 3 bath, with about 3000 sq. ft. of air-conditioned living space, plus covered parking, gulf-side patio and storage areas. In a small (12 owner) Property Owners’ Association with community pool and tennis., it’s like owning a home, but with the amenities of a condo. Only four Moonshadows homes are right on the gulf – all assessed between $1.9 & $2.2M.

View tweeked smallerAsking price of this one which is in an estate (lovingly enjoyed by the same owners since 1982) is just $1.695M. Neat clean, well maintained, and furnished, it’s by-far the lowest-priced Sanibel home on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s included in the islands’ Multiple Listing Service changes posted after a few news items below.

Summer Sunsets

There have been some spectacular sunsets this week. Clouds have been rolling onto the island from the mainland side almost every afternoon. Sometimes they bring a few showers, but often not until evening, so some of the sunsets before/after these quick storms are stunning. Here are a few from this week. They remind me of why there are both songs and drinks called “Sanibel Sunsets”.

bay sunset 07-12-18

Update on Sanibel Summer Projects

  • Bailey Tract Restoration – The Bailey Tract remains closed due to the planned hydrological restoration project underway in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
    bennight restoration_1

    Photo from Refuge email

    Crews still are working on transferring fill to Ani March and are continuing to pump water as the marsh constantly drains into the pond. The other areas of the refuge remain open (though Wildlife Drive is always closed on Fridays). Check the schedule at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling/ for days/times/updates.

  • Dunes Resurfacing Project Has BegunDunesEntrySignThe City’s annual street resurfacing project began on Monday with paving being done during normal daytime hours. Access to residences and businesses will be maintained at all times, but the public is reminded to use caution when traveling through a construction zone. Every year, the City resurfaces selected roads based on a time schedule and existing condition. This year’s contract involves full-width resurfacing of the following eight streets: Albatross Rd, Sand Castle Rd, Pelican Rd, Mockingbird Dr, Kittiwake Cir, Sandpiper Cir, Sanderling Cir, and Causey Ct. The contractor is required to complete the project within 45 days.
  • 2nd Half of Spanish Cay Paver Project – has begun. The asphalt is being removed from the east side of the parking lot now, but there still is plenty of room for the few occupants in town to park on the west side – including anyone showing our listing in Building A.

Ordinance Prohibiting Distribution of Plastic Straws

Sanibelcityseal logoAt Tuesday’s Sanibel City Council meeting, councilors unanimously approved a draft ordinance prohibiting the distribution of plastic straws on Sanibel. The prohibition would not apply to prepackaged beverages prepared outside of the city, medical and dental facilities, use of straws by disabled people who rely on their use to consume beverages or dietary supplements, multiple use straws or on land owned and managed by the Lee County School Board, Lee County, the state of Florida, or the federal government.

The idea of banning plastic straws on the island was brought before council in June by representatives of Coastal Keepers, whose Strawless on Sanibel (SOS) initiative began last year. Since then, more than a dozen island businesses have joined the initiative and eliminated using single-use plastic straws.

Baby Turtles Are on the Move

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SSCF) reports that 15 sea turtle nests have hatched so far this year. These early nests are the ones that were incubating when Tropical Storm Alberto hit, so they are encouraged that they survived the storm.

Seaturtlehatchlings

SCCF photo of sea turtle hatchlings heading to the gulf

As of July 9, 2018, SCCF’s turtle patrol has identified a total of 532 loggerhead nests (68 on Sanibel’s east-end, 339 on the west end, and 125 on Captiva). Two rare green turtle nests also have been identified, both on Sanibel’s west end. Remember, until sea turtle nesting season ends on October 31st, please help keep our beaches sea turtle friendly:

  • Close curtains or blinds after dark.
  • Remove all beach furniture after 9 p.m.
  • Fill in holes after your day at the beach.
  • Turn off or shield ALL lights visible from the beach.
  • No flash photography or cell phone lights after dark.
  • Avoid using flashlights and NEVER shine them on a nesting turtle of hatchlings.

Alligators Also on the Move

This guy was crossing Casa Ybel Road this week, a good reminder that summer is alligator mating season too. Always good to be on the lookout for them wherever there are bodies of water.

20180710_101918-cropped-v2.jpg

Captiva’s Sunshine Seafood Café & Wine Bar Reopens

Following eight months of downtime, Captiva’s Sunshine Café has reopened in a new location. Previously on Captiva Lane, the cafe had been leasing its space since it sold in 2004. Its new spot (the former home of Latte Da at 11508 Andy Rosse Lane) required significant rebuilding (not just remodeling) after Hurricane Irma so, the project took a little longer than expected. The new site has more inside dining plus room to sit at the bar and watch the operations in the expanded open kitchen.

More Water News

Water 07-12-18.jpg

On West Gulf Drive this week. You can be sure it doesn’t look like this in the river!

At Tuesday’s Sanibel council meeting, Mayor Ruane informed councilors that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to cut back on the frequency of water quality testing, including sample tests that are currently being conducted on a weekly basis at Bowman’s Beach. Sanibel’s lone testing facility, part of the Florida Healthy Beaches program, also is under consideration of being eliminated.

According to James Evan’s of the City’s Department of Natural Resources, the weekly tests which screen for bacteria harmful to humans and animals – cost $62.78 per sample.

In addition to requesting a call for action so citizens can get involved, council members authorized Councilor Smith to submit a request to the Lee County Tourism Development Council (TDC) for funding to continue water quality testing on the island.

Vice Mayor Denham also suggested that the City reach out to every homeowners’ association on Sanibel and request that they contact Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office, the federal government, and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) with a letter expressing concerns for water quality.

On Wednesday, a coalition of local real estate association leaders from Southwest Florida’s District 5 (which covers from Cape Coral to Marco Island) met in Naples with our local District VP and SCCF’s Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel to discuss cooperative efforts in the recent calls-to-action about water quality at our local Realtor® Associations. Presentations about the importance of water quality to real estate values are in the works for further discussion at Florida Realtors® upcoming governance meetings in Orlando in early August.

SCCF Notice Posted Today

SCCF logoThe below article is lengthy, but worth posting in its entirety. Some more good and some not-so-good “water” news. It was emailed this morning to SCCF’s members.

“Speak Up About Caloosahatchee Flows

“A lot has been going on with water this week! We ask you to please take a moment to take action and read the good news and challenges on our waterfront.

“Increasing Flows

“Today, Caloosahatchee flows will be increased with releases up to 3,000 cfs from Lake Okeechobee. This water will be in addition to flows originating from the 45 miles of river watershed between Lake Okeechobee and the Franklin Lock in east Lee County. The past week no water was discharged to the Caloosahatchee or St Lucie from the lake. The harm threshold for estuary flow at the Franklin Lock is 2,800 cfs which has been exceeded continuously since May.

“Emergency Order – Link Here

On Monday SCCF Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel was invited to meet with Governor Rick Scott and Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein on a tour of the estuary to discuss the devastating conditions caused by the cyanobacteria bloom that extends from the Lake to our beaches. Later that day the Governor issued an Emergency Order that allows the Corps and South FL Water Management Districts to exercise operational flexibility in moving water south and through the system outside of the standard operational protocols.

“With this flexibility available, this week we requested the Corps and SFWMD redirect the harmful estuary flows south onto 484,000 acres of crop lands south of the lake, an area larger than the acreage of Lake O which is 470,000 acres. By spreading the water over this acreage, it will saturate soils on fallow fields and crop lands that can expedite evaporation and evapotranspiration. In addition, the organic load from the algae will enrich the soils instead of contaminating our waterways.

“We ask that you take action now by pressing the Send A Letter button at the bottom of this email that will direct you to the next page where a sample letter has been addressed to the Governor, state and federal water managers, and our Congressmen. We ask that they use this operational flexibility to stop the harm to our estuaries while agricultural crop lands are afforded complete flood control, exacerbating the problem. Why are coastal communities asked to shoulder the harm alone especially when AG lands are protected from any such losses? It’s time to demand new actions for better outcomes.

“Some Good News: Everglades Reservoir Approved by OMB and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

“On a brighter note this week the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the Everglades Reservoir project, so it can be included in the 2018 Federal water bill, (WRDA) bill for authorization.

“This is a critical project that will create a new outlet from the Lake to send water south reducing estuary discharges by 40 – 60% and providing needed water supply for the Everglades and Florida Bay.

“The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is online at the link here. Public comments on the plan will be accepted through July 24 and can be sent electronically to: EAAReservoir@usace.army.mil/

Send A Letter

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity July 6-13, 2018sancap GO MLS logo

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Sunset South #9B 2/2 $589.9K, Loggerhead Cay #184 2/2 $789K.

4 price changes: Sanibel Moorings #141 1/1 now $435K, Breakers West #A4 2/2 now $534K, Snug Harbor #312 3/2 now $648K, Sunset South #10C 2/2 now $775K.

2 new sales: Mariner Pointe #1073 2/2 listed at $499K, Sundial East #N403 2/2 listed at $889.5K.

3 closed sales: Sanibel Inn #3522 2/2 $677K, Island Beach Club #230D 2/2 $1.325M, Tamarind #B302 2/2 $1.73M.

HOMES

8 new listings: 531 Piedmont Rd 3/2 $462.5K; 9211 Dimmick Dr 3/2 $599.9K; 1018 Demere Ln 4/2 $759K; 480 Las Tiendas 3/3 $799K; 1564 Middle Gulf Dr 3/2.5 $1,295,555; 5657 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 3/2 $1.299M; 1351 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 $1.695M (Moonshadows #2C, our listing); 4771 Tradewinds Dr 3/3 $1,795,555.

4 price changes: 1805 Ibis Ln 2/2 now $559K, 1676 Middle Gulf Dr 3/2 now $999K, 1244 Par View Dr 4/3 now $1.022M, 243 Daniel Dr 4/3.5 now $1.494M.

3 new sales: 9240 Belding Dr 3/2.5 listed at $535K, 5430 Osprey Ct 3/3 listed at $599.9K, 4772 Tradewinds Dr 3/2.5 listed at $819K.

3 closed sales: 966 Greenwood Ct S 3/2.5 half-duplex $440K, 1627 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $585K, 1183 Kittiwake Cir 3/2 $745K.

LOTS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 5321 Punta Caloosa Ct listed at $335K.

1 closed sale: 1219 Periwinkle Way $750K.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Beach Homes #2 3/2 now $1.999M.

2 new sales: Beach Villas #2414 2/2 listed at $640K, Marina Villas #803 2/2 listed at $749K.

No closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 15147 Captiva Dr 6/5.5 now $5.295M.

No new or closed sales.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

fishing pier sunset 07-12-18Wishing you a weekend of stunning sunsets!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Bidding September Goodbye at SanbelSusan Realty


It’s SanibelSusan reporting another Friday of beautiful Sanibel Island weather. Today we continue to watch the track of Hurricane Matthew. It could miss much of Florida, but still bears a close eye.

This morning, there also was a news report that red tide which over the last few days has plagued Sarasota county beaches to the north, could be heading this way. There is a red tide watch through tomorrow for Lee and Collier counties. Fingers crossed that early Hurricane Matthew winds disburse it.

Teammate Lisa received the below “green flash” photos from a reader who noticed the one mentioned last week. She said she also saw one on her last island visit. (Thanks for sharing, Cheri.)

green-flash

On the “Upcoming Events” tab above, I have been adding fall/winter happenings as they are scheduled and announced. “Season” is filling up nicely with plenty of things to do.

Record Turtle Nesting Season

sea-turtle-nest

Those here this summer likely noticed the large number of sea turtle nests. As reported on-line at the “Santiva-Chronicle”, as of Monday, “SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) reports that 23,017 sea turtle hatchlings have emerged. With almost 100 nests left on the beach, this season could beat last season’s 26,727 hatchlings. A normally-developed nest yields about 100 hatchlings to offset a survival rate of about 1 in 1,000 once the turtles are in the water.

“Last year was a record-setting year here for nests with more than 600. This year has obliterated that mark with a new record total of 826 nests, two of which are endangered green sea turtle nests.

“SCCF turtle volunteers comb the beaches each morning during the nesting season to chart the nests, stake them off and protect them from coyotes and other predators. The volunteers have been busier this season than ever before in all three of SCCF’s designated turtle nesting zones. All three zones have set nesting records. The volunteers also log false crawls, where a female turtle comes ashore but for one reason or another doesn’t lay eggs. The previous record for false crawls has also fallen with 1,447 false crawls found this season….

“The nesting season took a hit recently with the passage of Hurricane Hermine. Hermine a tropical depression when it skirted past the barrier islands on Aug 30 hundreds of miles out to sea. It created a storm surge that SCCF said washed out 57 nests on Sanibel and 24 on Captiva, a total loss of just under 10%….”

New Places/Things & Re-Openings

DunesEntrySignDunes Speed Humps – To reinforce the 20-mph speed limit to travelers taking this alternate route during high season, four humps have been installed on Sand Castle Road in The Dunes subdivision.

Two are on the north side of the circle and two on the south side. Speeders beware!

Noah’s Ark – Reopens Tues, Oct 4.

Sanibel Farmers MktSanibel Farmers Market – The locals are ready and this is an indication that “season” is coming. Sanibel Farmers Market opens Sunday and will be open every Sunday through Apr 30 – from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on the grounds of City Hall. The only exception is Christmas Day, when it instead will be open the next day, on Monday.

Restaurant Reopenings:

  • Bleu Rendezvous French Bistro – Reopens Thurs, Oct 6.
  • Blue Coyote – Reopens Tues, Oct 4.
  • Sweet Melissa’s Café – Bar renovation is almost complete. They reopen Tues, Oct 4.
  • Trader’s Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts – Has their sold-out Shell Museum fundraiser on Mon, Oct 3. Reopens the next day for lunch and dinner.

Coming Soon:

  • Totally Baked – in the Island Center, 2407 Periwinkle Way (former location of McIntosh Books) where construction began this week, is expected to open in early Nov. This week, Sanibel Planning Commission approved a variance and development permit that will allow them to have 16 outdoor seats.
  • Pasture & Pearl – The “Island Sun” posted that this new restaurant will open in early 2017 in The Village Shops as a “refined and modern dining experience…a more relaxed interpretation of the “fine dining” concept….”

 

Florida Ranks 4th as Business-Friendly State

Florida Realtors logoAs posted yesterday by FloridaRealtors® on line:

“The nonpartisan Tax Foundation released its 13th annual State Business Tax Climate Index, which measures how well-structured each state’s tax code is by analyzing more than 100 variables in five tax categories: corporate, individual income, sales, property and unemployment insurance.

“Wyoming once again took first place with the most competitive tax code in the country, while New Jersey maintained its long-standing position at the bottom of the pack.

“Overall, Florida ranked fourth. Only three other states were deemed to have a more business-friendly tax code. This year’s most competitive states include:

  1. Wyoming 2. South Dakota 3. Alaska 4. Florida 5. Nevada 6. Montana 7. New Hampshire 8. Indiana 9. Utah 10. Oregon

“This year’s least competitive states include:

  1. Louisiana 42. Maryland 43. Connecticut 44. Rhode Island 45. Ohio 46. Minnesota 47. Vermont and D.C. 48. California 49. New York 50. New Jersey

“States are penalized for overly complex, burdensome and economically harmful tax codes, and rewarded for transparent and neutral tax codes that do not distort business decisions. A state’s ranking can rise or fall in rank because of its own actions or actions taken by other states….”

The full report is available online

A Lesson for Sellers on Disclosures

realtor logoThe below article posted on RealtorMag® “Daily Real Estate News” on Sep 21:

“Sellers may feel hesitant to reveal any minor problems with their home; afraid they’ll scare off buyers. But here’s a warning for your sellers: They may land in legal trouble if they fail to disclose.

““Most sellers think it is in their best interest to disclose as little as possible,” Rick Davis, a real estate attorney in Kansas, told realtor.com®. “I completely disagree with this sentiment. In the vast majority of cases, disclosing the additional information (especially if it is something that was previously repaired), will not cause a buyer to back out or ask for a price reduction.”

“Disclosure laws vary from state to state, and sometimes even on a local level. (Florida is a full disclosure state.)

““In general, sellers should disclose any known facts about the physical condition of the property, existence of dangerous materials or conditions, lawsuits or pending matters that may affect the value of the property, and any other factors that may influence a buyer’s decision,” according to a recent article at realtor.com®.

“This includes disclosing issues that have been previously repaired, Davis says. Also, disclose any inspection reports.

““It is much better to lose a buyer by clearly disclosing all known issues than it is to spend two years and tens of thousands of dollars in litigation,” says Adam Buck, a certified real estate specialist with the Frutkin Law Firm in Arizona.

“Rest assured, sellers won’t be put on the hook for failing to disclose issues that they didn’t know about.

They should be careful not to make any guesses when prompted, particularly when it comes to the measurements of the home — one common problem area for disclosures.

““Even if you’ve had an appraiser check out your home, you may have no idea how many square feet it truly is because, as it turns out, there’s no single agreed-upon way to measure a home,” the article states. “Three different appraisers can come up with three different measurements.” Don’t make a guess or buyers can come back and accuse you of misleading them.”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity September 23-30, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Sanibel Surfside #225 2/2 $799K, Atrium #201 3/3 $1.595M, By-The-Sea #9 3/2 $1.749M.

2 price changes: Tennisplace #D22 1/1 now $245K, Tanglewood #1A 3/2 now $1.099M.

1 new sale: Tennisplace #D21 1/1 listed at $229K.

4 closed sales: Loggerhead Cay #462 2/2 $505K, Sanibel Moorings #1542 3/2 $750K, Sundial West #A205 2/2 $789.5K, Surfside 12 #B1 3/2 $862.25K.

HOMES

2 new listings: 2401 Shop Rd 2/1 $298K, 1525 San Carlos Bay Dr 3/2 $1.995M.

3 price changes: 9209 Kincaid Ct 3/2 now $489K, 1501 Sand Castle Rd 5/3.5 now $1.049M, 1842 Woodring Rd 3/3.5 now $2.295M.

4 new sales: 1364 Jamaica Dr 2/2 listed at $629.9K, 588 Hideaway Ct 3/2 listed at $699K, 3850 Coquina Dr 3/3 listed at $899K, 584 Kinzie Island Ct 3/4 listed at $1.795M.

1 closed sale: 774 Sand Dollar Dr 3/2 $1.225M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 2401 Blue Crab Ct $879K.

No price changes, new, or closed sales.

Captiva 

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Beach Villas #2416 1/1 $507K.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 16464 Captiva Dr 8/8.5 now $6.295M.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 11523 Wightman Ln 4/4 $1.82M.

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.)

So as September comes to an end, the wonderful popcorn-like clouds won’t be seen as often. They seemingly jump from the sky & create the best sunsets! Here are a couple from this week!

2016-09-28

2016-09-27

Enjoy your weekend, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

TGIF – The Last One in February 2016


It’s SanibelSusan reporting a few more days of island winter weather. A cold-front arrived here with a little rain on Wed evening. Since then, we’ve had bright blue skies, but temperatures only into the high 60’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That is great weather for showing property.

Beach

Beach in front of Olde Middle Gulf Dr

 

The week’s real estate activity as posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service follows a few news items below.

Island Weather

No rain is the forecast for the next five days and, according to AccuWeather, with the weekend setting up as an excellent one. Today’s high will be around 68 degrees, with 65 on Saturday and 73 on Sunday.

Beaches

Low tide set up perfectly for shell seeks this morning when it came in at 8: 34 a.m. Tomorrow (Sat), it will be at about 9 a.m., with high tide about 2:30 p.m.

Tonight, evening sunset on Captiva comes at 6:28 p.m., only about a minute later tomorrow night.

Sanibel sunset 2011

Upcoming Island Events

2016 shell fairMar 3 to 5 – 79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival – at The Community House from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thurs and Fri, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat.

Mar 16 – Sanibel Historical Village’s Let’s Get Historical USO Canteen Dinner & Dance – at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the historical village.

Apr 9 – Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s 5th Annual Beer in the Bushes – from 6 to 10 p.m. on the grounds of SCCF’s Nature Center.

Sales Make Gains, Prices ‘Rising Too Fast’

realtor logoFrom yesterday’s “Realtor®Mag” on line:

“Existing-home sales kicked off 2016 on solid footing, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report, released Tuesday. Existing-home sales in January moved to their highest annual rate in six months, while constrained inventory levels also pushed home prices to their fastest increase since last April, according to the report.

“All regions in the U.S. saw increases in January sales, except for the West region.

“Total existing-home sales, which encompass completed transactions for single-family homes, condos, town homes, and co-ops, inched up slightly by 0.4% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million.

“Sales are 11% higher than a year ago, which is the largest year-over-year increase since July 2013.

““The housing market has shown promising resilience in recent months, but home prices are still rising too fast because of ongoing supply constraints,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Despite the global economic slowdown, the housing sector continues to recover and will likely help the U.S. economy avoid a recession.”….

Regional Breakdown

“Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales performed across the country in January.

“Northeast: Existing-home sales rose 2.7% to an annual rate of 760,000, and are 20.6% higher than a year ago.  Median price: $247,500 — 0.9% above January 2015.

Midwest: Existing-home sales increased 4% to an annual rate of 1.30 million in January, and are 18.2% above a year ago. Median price: $164,300, up 8.7% from a year ago.

“South: Existing-home sales were at an annual rate of 2.24 million in January — unchanged from December — and are 5.7% higher than a year ago. Median price: $184,800, up 8.5% from a year ago.

West: Existing-home sales dropped 4.1% to an annual rate of 1.17 million in January, but remain 8.3% higher than a year ago. Median price: $309,400, 7.4% above January 2015.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Southwest Florida Housing Market Has Slowed – and That’s Good

naples daily news logoNarrowing the field down to just Southwest Florida, here’s an article posted on line at FloridaRealtors®. It came from ”The Naples Daily News”:

“The housing market is showing signs of slowing and local experts say that’s OK. Home resales are slowing – and so are land sales for new homes and developments.

“We’re in the middle of a downshift in the marketplace. And it’s a good thing,” said Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes & Co. in Fort Myers. Grimes was one of three expert speakers at Market Watch 2016, sponsored by the News-Press and held at the Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers on Tuesday night. All agreed the housing market is changing in a big way, sharing their thoughts on the future of real estate with a sold-out crowd in the hundreds.

“Generally speaking, home resales started falling from Sarasota to Naples in the last two to three months of 2015, Grimes said. “It’s kind of across the board,” he said. “We saw sales down in Lee County 30% in January.”

So what gives? While the roads are full, as they usually are in season, and buyers are out looking for houses, he said, the consumer confidence tank is “low on fuel.”

“Part of the low confidence, he said, is “our fault,” with home prices rising too quickly. “We have seen tremendous price increases in the last two or three years and we are pricing ourselves out of a lot of the market. You can ask for more, but buyers won’t pay it,” Grimes said.

“There are a few exceptions. The luxury market in Naples is still going strong, with the volume of resales rising 18% in the more than $5 million price category and 11% in the $1 million to $5 million segment in 2015, over 2014.

“”I think the luxury market and ultra-luxury market is being driven by people saying, ‘If not now, when?'” he said.

It’s clear the “Louis Vuitton” market of Port Royal in Naples, he said, is different, with 37 existing homes selling there last year, generating more than $300 million in sales, for an average price of about $8 million. Homes don’t really go “on sale” there, he said. “You want to be in Port Royal? You pay the price and you come,” Grimes said. “That is an anomaly. I can’t find that type of behavior anywhere else. It may be the only place on the Gulf Coast of Florida like that, which speaks highly for that area.”

“Except for the ultra-luxury market, he predicts home price growth will slow down this year, and could even retreat a little bit. “We have to slow down. We are going too fast for our own good,” Grimes said.

“Randy Thibaut, president of Land Solutions Inc. in Fort Myers, agrees a slowdown is needed, coming from a different angle. Last year, new home permits soared in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. Builders pulled about 13,000 permits in the three counties, for a 44% increase over 2014. Lee saw the biggest increase and that was driven mostly by a boom in apartment construction.

“Apartments are in higher demand because of the rising home prices. First-time buyers are still looking for homes priced at $200,000 to $250,000, which can be found in very few places in Southwest Florida, Thibaut said.

“In Collier County, the median home price – the price at which half the homes sell for more, and half for less – rose to $430,000 in December. For that reason, it makes sense that Maple Ridge at Ave Maria, where there are still homes available for less than $300,000, was the top selling subdivision last year in all three counties, he said. “The reason why is price and value,” Thibaut said. “So it’s one of the last places people can get a value.”

Some of the buyers in Maple Ridge are coming from the east coast of Florida, and commuting back and forth to their same jobs over there because they can get more home for their money in Ave Maria and they often have a shorter drive than they would on Interstate 95. Thibaut described the trend as mind boggling. “Wow,” he said. “That is crazy.”

“Land prices for residential development now exceed where they were in 2005 at the “peak of the peak,” which is giving builders reason to pause, Thibaut said. “We are seeing builders, developers and equity firms starting to tap the brakes on land transactions because the prices in some cases, in a lot of cases, have gotten to the point where they can’t meet buyers’ price demand requirements and are pushing the limit to still make margins,” he said.

“The pause is good for many reasons, Thibaut said. “We have a great shortage of labor and we are having a tough time meeting the demand for the sales and products that are being built and permitted,” he said.

Some builders have already noticed a slowing demand for new homes, with several starting to offer incentives to entice buyers to purchase the inventory. One of the areas where that is happening is in the Immokalee Road corridor in North Naples, which has seen a surge in new construction over the past few years.

“High-rise condominium construction is back, with five projects planned or under construction from Naples to Estero, and it will be something to watch this year, along with continued apartment construction, which one speaker described as “white hot,” especially in Lee County. “Apartments are really pulling the market,” said Stan Stouder, a commercial real estate broker with CRE Consultants in Fort Myers.

“He showed a picture of a tugboat pulling a big cargo ship to bring home his point. In Southwest Florida, he said, 2,557 apartment units will be built this year, twice the number as last year, Stouder said. Apartments aren’t just attracting students, but millennials with too much student debt and not enough money for a down payment, would-be buyers with bad credit, and even boomers who can no longer afford the hefty home prices.

“”Boomers are coming in great waves,” Stouder said. “But they are less affluent. So their pension plans might have been wiped out, their 401ks might have gone down. Their houses may be selling now, but selling for less than they hoped they could get. They still want to come to Florida. Maybe they can’t afford a second home, but they can afford to rent an apartment.””

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity February 19-26, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Beach Road Villa #105 2/2 $434K, Mariner Pointe #522 2/2 $519K, Kings Crown #208 2/2 $825K.

6 price changes: Sanibel Arms West #J4 2/2 now $429K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #1-1 2/2.5 now $645K, Sanibel Inn #3522 2/2 now $699K, Lighthouse Point #325 2/2 now $830K, Compass Point #151 3/2 now $1.195M, Golden Beach #2 3/2.5 now $1.499M.

4 new sales: Mariner Pointe #1073 2/2 listed at $454.5K, Shell Island Beach Club #5A 2/2 listed at $864.9K, Tanglewood #3 3/3 listed at $1.595M, High Tide #A301 2/2 listed at $1.895M.

2 closed sales: Sundial West #H103 2/2 $415K, Tigua Cay #489 3/3.5 $2M.

HOMES

10 new listings: 1635 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $489K; 3301 Twin Lakes Ln 2/2 $599K; 4648 Buck Key Rd 3/2 $679K; 1133 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $699K; 5299 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/3 $799K; 1724 Bunting Ln 3/4 $1.089M; 746 Windlass Way 4/3 $1.149M; 6011 Clam Bayou Ln 3/3 $1.395M; 4353 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2.5 $1,478,999; 584 Kinzie Island Ct 3/3.5 $1.995M.

8 price changes: 2407 Shop Rd 3/1 now $354K, 575 Piedmont Rd 3/2 now $490K, 5267 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $794K, 3335 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $799K, 1321 Par View Dr 3/2.5 now $899K, 1121 Skiff Pl 3/3 now $1.095M, 1238 Isabel Dr 5/3/2 now $3.965M, 1306 Seaspray Ln 3/4 now $3.995M.

9 new sales: 1490 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 listed at $515K, 441 Lake Murex Cir 3/3 listed at $599K, 1113 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $639.9K, 1460 Court Pl 6/5.5 listed at $649K, 1970 Wild Lime Dr 4/3 listed at $699K, 577 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 listed at $769K, 595 Birdsong Pl 4/2 listed at $849K, 1328 Seaspray Ln 4/4 listed at $849K, 696 Kinzie Island Ct 4/5 listed at $2.395M.

1 closed sale: 693 Emeril Ct 3/3 $660K.

LOTS

2 new listings: 2310 Wulfert Rd $339K; 5830 Sanibel-Captiva Rd $399,555.

No price changes, new, or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Sunset Beach Villas #2318 2/2 $595K.

1 price change: Bayside Villas #4302 3/3 now $605K.

2 new sales: Beach Homes #29 4/4 listed at $2.5M, Beach Homes #27 5/3 listed at $2.599M.

No closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings.

2 price changes: 15133 Captiva Dr 3/3 now $3.495M, 13550 Palmflower Ln 4/3.5 now $4.495M.

4 new sales: 11515 Murmound Ln 3/3 listed at $1.494M, 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 listed at $1.495M, 11535 Andy Rosse Ln 4/4 listed at $2.339M, 16251 Captiva Dr 7/4.5 listed at $2.495M.

No 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.)

Enjoy your weekend, folks, wherever you are!

The last February 2016 island weekend is going to be terrific!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Canalside docks from website

Canal side at Sanibel Moorings