Summer Weather Continues on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Our listings saw good activity this week with viewings by several holiday vacationers. Midweek REALTOR® teammate David held open houses for a couple of days in vacant gulf-front condos hoping to attract some interest. Though most of the unsolicited lookers were renters staying in the complexes, he did also get viewings by other REALTORS® and their clients. With glorious summer-like weather continuing on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, most visitors are out enjoying the great outdoors (daily temps of 84 degrees F & higher are expected until at least Wed).

REALTOR® Caravan and Annual Meeting

realtor logoA good sprinkling of new listings and new sales were announced at our biweekly Association of REALTORS® Caravan Meeting yesterday. Because of this pre-season additional activity, these caravans are expected to return to a weekly Thursday schedule in November. See report below for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service activity over the last seven days.

Yesterday during REALTOR® caravan, REALTOR® teammate Lisa and I previewed several new listings including the waterfront home of renowned photographer Charlie McCullough. Visiting this property was like taking a step back in time. Built originally at the turn of the century as a fishing camp, this quaint three-bedroom is on two acres surrounded by preserved lands. Inside it has an old brick fireplace and antique fixtures including claw-foot tub. Overlooking panoramic views of the bay are a wonderful big wrap screened porch (minus most of the screens), dock and boat lift. Some of the most well-known historic Sanibel photos were taken from this very home, including those of Esperanza Woodring throwing her infamous cast nets. Priced at just under $2M, this property offers a wonderful opportunity for someone to restore a true island gem. The expansive water views are amazing. Here are a few photos including of the dolphins frolicking near the dock. You may have to look carefully to spot them. The one from the dock looking back at the home shows its interesting architectural lines.

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Last night was our Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of REALTORS® Annual Meeting. As 2013 Professional Development Committee Chair and Nominating Committee Chair, my association duties are winding down. Our next event is Monday morning when we host an educational session with Certified Floodplain Managers J.R. Evans Engineering. Hopefully then, our REALTORS® will learn about some island areas that have been identified as candidates for flood map changes that could ultimately reduce flood insurance premiums. Rumor has it that part of my street (among others) is on the list! News worth sharing will be posted next work.

The Peabody Ducks

Peabody DucksFlorida REALTORs® involved in our state association’s leadership team attend mid-year and annual business meetings each January and August in Orlando. Handy to the Orange County Convention Center which sometimes hosts the National Association of REALTORS® annual meeting too, is The Peabody Orlando Hotel. The Peabody is famous for its ducks which perform a traditional red-carpet march every day from to/from their upper floor boarding area and the lobby fountain/pond. I stayed there a handful of times and always enjoyed watching the duck march. Having recently heard that The Peabody sold, it was a surprise to read about the ducks in the October “”Ding” on the Wing” (“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society newsletter). It seems that these famous birds visited “Ding” Darling for the opening of the Visitors Education Center many years ago. The article says: “Hyatt Hotels Corporation recently purchased The Peabody Orlando Hotel. As a result of the rebranding, The Peabody’s famous ducks, who visited “Ding” Darling for the opening of the Visitors Education Center many years ago, were retired at a party on September 30, 2013, in Orlando. At the party, as a gesture to the tradition and community, Hyatt Regency Orlando donated $5,000 to the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society to benefit the Refuge….”

More Good “Ding” Darling News

Ding Darling Society logoWhile passing out hotel kudos, it also was nice to read about another kind gesture: “When the Refuge was forced to shut down, due to the legislative impasse, it left the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society “homeless”.  Society staff turned to Candlewood Suites Fort Myers-Sanibel Gateway” who gave them a great rate on office space rental.

Ding Darling DaysThe good news yesterday was that the Refuge and Wildlife Drive reopened in the morning, while the free Visitor/Education Center reopened yesterday afternoon. Tarpon Bay Explorers also is open and began running its tram tours again on Thursday too. The remaining 24th Annual “Ding” Darling Days will continue with all scheduled activities beginning Monday. That is one of the most important events at the Refuge each year. Thankfully visitors arriving for those festivities next week will not be disappointed.

Support Public Land Funding 

SCCF logoThis is a reprint of an email received this week from SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation). Please take action, if you can.

“Thanks to everyone who has signed the Florida Water & Land Legacy petition to secure a funding source for Florida’s conservation lands and parks.  As you may know for 20 years the Florida legislature has allocated 33% of existing doc stamp tax revenue (the taxes paid on real estate transactions) to fund Florida’s amazing parks and land acquisition programs.  However for the past five years the legislature has redirected 95% of those funds.  This year the legislature passed a bill that required the state to sell existing conservation lands in order to fund new land purchases.  

“We need a dedicated funding source to preserve Florida’s heritage.  This amendment  will designate 33% of existing doc stamp taxes to a dedicated fund for conservation purposes, such as acquiring conservation and recreation lands, managing existing lands, protecting lands that are critical for water supply and restoring degraded natural systems.

“SCCF strongly supports this statewide conservation initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Florida Water & Land Legacy . As a like-minded organization, SCCF has contributed $5000 towards the petition drive expenses in addition to the countless hours our staff, board of trustees and volunteers have spent manning clipboards to educate the public about the petition and obtain signatures from registered Florida voters.

“At this point, all the volunteer organizations working on this have obtained 184,469 of the 459,973 signatures gathered to date. To get this initiative on the 2014 ballot an additional 220,027 signatures are needed (680,000 total) by November 30, 2013.   If you are a registered Florida voter and have not yet signed the petition, you can still do so by stopping by SCCFs Nature Center or going online and downloading the form at:  

“Many, many hours have gone into this drive so far, let’s not fall short of the goal when we are so close.   For additional information you can access the FWLL website and Frequently asked Questions at :

“The campaign continues to need financial support.  If you can help, you can do so online at  or by mail or phone: 

Florida’s Water and Land Legacy  
316 Williams Street     
Tallahassee, Florida 32303
(850) 629-4656″

Next Big Investment: A Million-Dollar Flip

wall street journalThis “Daily Real Estate News” article on Monday sourced “The Wall Street Journal”. If this trend starts on Sanibel and Captiva, we won’t have enough inventory for resident buyers. Island inventory already is very low, particularly for high-end homes.

“Some investors are betting that renovating and flipping million-dollar properties is the next big opportunity in the housing market. Investors had been mostly focused on foreclosed and distressed properties, buying them on the cheap and turning them into rental properties. But as foreclosures have dried up in many markets and competition has increased, some investment companies are turning to flipping more expensive properties, particularly in California, where limited inventories are available. 

“Unlike the flippers of the housing bubble, who bought homes with little or no money down, those investors today often have to make all-cash purchases, which has reduced the pool of potential buyers,” The Wall Street Journal reports. For example, American Coastal Properties LLC is buying up properties with what it considers “lot value”: homes with no curb appeal but that are located in exclusive neighborhoods in Southern California. ACP is spending between 50% to 100% of the purchase price in redesigning — and, in some cases, rebuilding — the homes, says ACP owner Nick Sinatra. “It’s a land trade,” Sinatra says. “We’re essentially higher-end home builders in highly desirable neighborhoods that, even in bad times, don’t suffer.” After ACP bought a Venice, Calif., home last year for $900,000, the company sold it in June for $2.065 million. It had spent nearly $600,000 on renovations. Sinatra told the Journal that he believes flipping luxury homes offers better returns because the market for turning less-expensive homes into rentals or flips has grown “overcrowded.” “There are fewer competitors in this space because it’s more difficult,” he says.”

More on Surge Protection

Lcec logoWhen I got my LCEC (Lee County Electric Coop) bill this week, it made me think of the islanders who remarked this summer about power surges that blew electronics and appliances during storms. The bill contained a nice tidbit of information: “About 60% of surges occur inside the home from microwave ovens or air conditioning motors. Even turning lights off and on can result in a power surge. Surges caused from within or outside your home can cause costly damage to your appliances if left unprotected. LCEC surgeSENSE Protection is $5.95 plus tax per month.” More info at

Speaking of LCEC, they will have “no rate increase for 2014”. LCEC has not raised their rates since 2008! Gotta love a well run non-profit!

Finally a Quick Traffic Alert

If you are on the island in the morning (Saturday, Oct 19), the F.I.S.H. 10K race will result in the following road closures. (Please note that the end times are approximate and depend on the length of time needed for runners and walkers to clear the area.)

6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – Tarpon Bay Rd from Periwinkle Way to West Gulf Dr, & Island Inn Rd from Tarpon Bay Rd to West Gulf Dr, & Southbound Casa Ybel Rd from Periwinkle Way to Tarpon Bay Rd.

6:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. – Eastbound Periwinkle Way from the Sanibel Community House to Casa Ybel Rd.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity from October 11-18

2 new listings: Oceans Reach 4C2 2/2 $825K, Sedgemoor #103 3/3.5 $2.55M.
4 price changes: Kimball Lodge #244 1/1.5 now $379K, Loggerhead Cay #451 2/2 now $492.5K, Sandalfoot #1A1 2/2 now $699K, Tamarind #B301 2/2 now $1.779M.
3 new sales: Colonnades #13 1/1 listed for $169K (short sale), Blind Pass #E207 2/2.5 listed for $379K, Sunward #301 3/2 listed for $1.895M.
3 closed sales: Lake Palms #10 2/2.5 220K (short sale), Mariner Pointe #1042 2/2 $400K (our listing & sale), Sanibel Arms West #L3 2/2 $453,750.
5 new listings: 1645 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $439K, 9405 Beverly Ln 3/2 $695K, 750 Sand Dollar Dr 2/2 $970K, 2507 Blind Pass Ct 3/3 $1.049M, 1824 Woodring Rd 4/4 $1.449M.
No price changes or new sales.
2 closed sales: 6467 Pine Ave 3/3 $410K, 200 Robinwood Cir 3/3.5 $1.187M.
Nothing to report.
4 new listings: Tennis Villas #3220 1/1 $298K, Sunset Beach Villas #2316 1/1 $525K, Gulf Beach Villas #2031 2/2 $725K, Sunset Beach Villas #2332 2/2 $775K.
1 price change: Beach Homes #6 3/3 now $1.997.5M.
No new or closed sales.
No new listings.
1 price change: 15631 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 now $1.895M.
No new or closed sales.
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 to all, SanibelSusan

Counting Down to July 4th on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

A fond memory from the 2003 Sanibel parade

A fond memory from the 2003 Sanibel parade

There was probably what is best referred to as a modest amount of visitor traffic on the islands this week – really pretty quiet – until today, that is, when the holiday visitors began arriving. Many businesses are starting to break out their red-white-&-blue with expectations that more vacationers will fill accommodations over the 4th holiday. Most of those coming for a week will arrive tomorrow.

Weather-wise, it has been typical summer all week with bright sunny days in the high 80’s/low 90’s followed by afternoon thunderstorms – though some days those don’t make it onto the island. More of the same is expected next week.

Real Estate News

Our newest listing at 9477 Peaceful Drive

Our newest listing at 9477 Peaceful Drive

As the report of the activity posted this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Services below shows, there were just a couple of new listings on Sanibel this week and several more closings. (We received a new home listing, just this afternoon, which is why this blog is being posted a little late today. That new business comes first!)

Many of the sales contracts written during high season are scheduled to close today and early next week, so by next week’s blog, I should be able to report solid data on where our market stands at the half-year mark. It will be good news! 

Holiday Happenings on Sanibel Island

Teammates Dave & Elise getting holiday ready in 2011

Teammates Dave & Elise getting holiday ready in 2011

Here is a list of the Independence Day events, all on Thursday, July 4th:

23rd Annual Independence Day Parade starts at 9:30 a.m. at Island Inn Road and Tarpon Bay Road and runs along Periwinkle Way to Casa Ybel Road. The theme is “American Hometown Pride” with nine categories to be judged. Parade t-shirts for sale along the route.

Post-parade refreshments and water at Jerry’s Foods across from where the parade ends with free hot dogs, soda, and snow cones. Also water slides, dunk tank, face painting, and bounce house, all to benefit the Boy Scouts of America.

34th Annual Road Rally organized by the San-Cap Optimist Club begins at noon at Timbers Restaurant/Sanibel Grill parking lot and ends there for an “afterglow” party. Teams puzzle out clues which follow a prescribed driving course around the island. Prizes will be awarded for best decorated vehicle, correct time, mileage, and the most correct answers to a quiz about things seen along the route. Proceeds go to fund college scholarships.

Fireworks Party 2013 at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club from 4 to 9 p.m., with food and beverage tickets for sale. Offerings include pig roast, grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken, plus putting contest and children’s games.

Fireworks will go off at dusk, as usual at the end of Bailey Road over San Carlos Bay.

Local Realtors® Get Legal Update

FLRealtors_newlogoMargy Grant, Vice President and General Counsel for Florida Realtors®, was on the island this morning giving our Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® members a legal update on a variety of subjects. It is always a treat for us to have members of Florida Realtors® staff here, when we can learn from their experiences at both the state and national level, plus get answers to our own specialized questions. Margy’s presentation covered such relevant topics as Realtors® IDX (Internet Data Exchange), the National Flood Insurance Program, short sales, upcoming contract form changes, advertising, and the various policies needed when working with social media. Florida Realtors® Legal Hot Line – which is one of her responsibilities – is a terrific resource for our members whenever we have questions about a specific issue. These lines are manned by attorneys. More than 50,000 questions are fielded each year. I look forward to seeing Margy and her team again in August during our annual committee meetings, convention and trade show.

Exciting News from BIG ARTS

BIG Arts logoThis week, fellow BIG ARTS members received a mailing from their President which discussed the Board of Directors recent meeting about the organization’s future direction. The letter said that for several years, the Board has seen the need to expand their educational offerings to meet the demands of their more than 1250-member families, to support the over 40,000 attendees who enjoy their music, dance, theater, film, lecture programs, youth camp, and special events, and the 7500+participants in their workshops and enrichment programs. It was hoped that their existing facilities which are on City property could be improved to meet their expansion requirements, but it seems that due to construction constraints, this is not the case.

The letter further went on to say “simultaneously with our own study, the City of Sanibel began to evaluate how to better integrate various arts and education activities into a “civic core” that would include 25 acres of City-owned land on Dunlop Road east of the library where the public works department is currently located. BIG ARTS Board of Directors met recently to consider the new direction. Mayor Kevin Ruane joined the meeting and described the City’s vision and plan. After discussion and deliberation our Board voted unanimously to work with the City on a new home in the civic core.”

A letter attachment prepared by the Barrier Island Group for the Arts and Toppe Consultants, Inc. (architects, planners, theater consultants) describes their “Needs Assessment” and was submitted to the City to document BIG ART’s vision and needs. “BIG ARTS is excited about the possibilities for their members and patrons and for the community as a whole.” Over the summer, they will be working with the City on a master plan for the new center.

City Manager, Judie Zimomra, posted some Facebook photos this week taken during the first of those meetings. How exciting is that?

As a long-time singer with the BIG ARTS Community Chorus which has grown to so many members that we no longer fit on the stage in Schein Performance Hall, I am excited too! Stay tuned.

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2013

Open HouseThe State of the Nation’s Housing report was posted on line this week. This report has been produced annually since 1988 by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Here’s some info from its “fact sheet” – or read the full report at

“Now in its 25th year, it (this report) continues to serve as an essential resource for both public policy makers and private decision makers in the housing industry. This year’s report provides a current assessment of the state of the housing market and the foreclosure crisis; the economic and demographic trends driving housing demand; the state of mortgage finance; and ongoing housing affordability challenges.



Rising Home Prices and Rents are Clearest Sign of Recovery

  • After across-the-board declines in 2011, all major house price indexes registered significant increases in 2012.
  • By March 2013, the median house price in the United States was up 11.6% year over year.
  • As of April 2013, home prices were up year over year in all but two states and in 94 of the 100 metropolitan areas tracked by CoreLogic.
  • Between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2012, the number of underwater homeowners fell 1.7 million, to 10.4 million.
  • April 2013 marked the 34th consecutive month of growth in rents as measured by the consumer price index and the 15th consecutive month of year-over-year increases of 2.5% or more….”

Doc Ford’s Scoop

Doc Fords CaptivaNow that high season is over, the local worker bees, like me, in need of a “quick lunch” are back to patronizing the local eateries. When at Doc’s Ford’s Sanibel location this week, I got a little scoop on their new restaurant under construction out on Captiva. Staff members are excited about how well the work is progressing on that all-new restaurant just outside the entrance to South Seas Resort at 5400 Plantation Road (former location of Holy Smoke Heavenly Barbeque, Chadwick’s Restaurant before that). Called Doc Ford’s Captiva Rum Bar & Grille, it sounds like it will probably be opening soon, most likely in August. New servers are being trained now and it sounds like it will have the same popular menu as Doc’s other locations.

Improve a Cell Phone’s Weak Signal

The_New_York_Times_logo“Daily Real Estate News” on-line posted an article yesterday about dropped calls or weak connections which are common cell phone complaints. A recent article in The New York Times highlighted some ways signal strength may be improved. Those living on Sanibel’s east end – like me – are familiar with the areas where phone signals are not good. I have successfully used one of the remedies (a 3G MicroCell) suggested in this article, so hopefully by repeating that info here, it will help someone else too.

“If you don’t receive a good signal indoors, check with your cell phone carrier. All major carriers sell a device or technology that allows access to the standard cellular network via a home’s broadband connection (such as AT&T’s 3G MicroCell or Verizon’s Network Extender). You just plug the device into your router and it can potentially help to improve your connection quality as much as five bars.

“T-Mobile offers Wi-Fi Calling, which allows users to make calls over a Wi-Fi network when cell reception is poor. But an iPhone would not work with this system; you need a Wi-Fi Calling-capable phone to use it, such as an Android or BlackBerry. 

“Signal boosters may also help. Boosters can amplify signal strength, but the hardware is bulky. The benefit with this option is that boosters don’t require you to have a certain carrier in order to add them. 

Phone carriers are debuting HD Voice, boasting that it can reduce background noise and improve voice calls so it’s like talking to someone on a landline. But the technology is in its infancy. It’s currently only delivered on certain phones, and will only work over LTE networks with some carriers.”

Source: “Remedies for Better Cellphone Signal and Quality,” The New York Times (June 26, 2013)

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity June 21 to July 5

2 new listings: Spanish Cay #D4 2/2 $325K, Coquina Beach #4F 2/2 $439.9K.
2 price changes: Sandpiper Beach #103 2/2 now $589K, Kings Crown #313 2/2 now $590K.
4 new sales: Captains Walk #A2 1/1 listed for $175K, Mariner Pointe #1083 2/2 listed for $399K, Signal Inn #12 1/1 listed for $419K, Sundial #E308 2/2 listed for $835K.
11 closed sales: Sanibel Arms West #M3 2/2 $385.5K, Sanibel Arms West #M2 2/2 $375K, Sanibel Arms West #H2 2/2 $435K, Lighthouse Point #230 2/2 $465K, Sundial #L202 2/2 $489K, Nutmeg Village #202 2/2 $585K, Coquina Beach #2E 2/2 $585K, Nutmeg Village #105 2/2 $610K, Pointe Santo #C26 2/2 $625K, Surfside 12 #B4 3/2 $830K, Atrium #101 3/3 $970K.

3 new listings: 9477 Peaceful Dr 3/2 $499K (our listing), 1014 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2 $585K, 5321 Punta Caloosa Ct 3/3 $1.094M.
2 price changes: 1249 Par View Dr 4/4.5 now $1.395M, 1950 Woodring Rd 4/3.5 now $2.475M.
3 new sales: 1021 Sand Cast Rd 2/2 listed for $409K (short sale), 1667 Sabal Sands Rd 3/3 listed for $450K, 1251 Anhinga Ln 3/3 listed for $1.995M.
11 closed sales: 1805 Ibis Ln 2/2 $350K, 9446 Yucca Ct 3/2 $480.5K, 1744 Bunting Ln 3/2 $560K, 1045 Blue Heron Dr 3/3 $575K, 526 N Yachtsman Dr 2/2 $620K, 1405 Jamaica Dr 3/2.5 $620K, 1255 Isabel Dr 3/3 $869K, 940 Victoria Way 3/3 $900K, 919 Almas Ct 3/2.5 $935K, 479 Lagoon Dr 3/3 $1.025M, 2429 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 $1.275M.

Nothing to report.

No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: Lands End Village #1625 2/2 listed for $1.225M.
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ll be putting up our holiday “stars” on Monday so SanibelSusan Realty is ready for the 4th! Until next Friday, best wishes for a safe & happy holiday!

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Are Lushing Up Again Thanks To Andrea!

It has been a rainy few days on Sanibel with off-and-on showers as Tropical Storm Andrea passed by Southwest Florida. Not very good beach days if you were lucky enough to be on the islands this week; but the parched lawns are greening up quickly – almost growing as one watches them! The rain finally abated today, but we are still waiting for blue skies again. Should happen by Sunday Her is one of SanibelSusan’s favorite island beach photos (by our pal, Jim Anderson of JMA Photography) to remind us of what it will look like!


Yesterday, only three new listings were on our Realtor® Caravan which is now on the biweekly summer schedule. Dave and Lisa checked those out for us and then held open houses trying to attract some of the island visitors looking for things to do on a soggy day. Elise’s report below covers the activity posted in the Sanibel Captiva Multiple Listing Service this week. Usually there is a downtrend in the number of sales this time of the year, but I’ve been working on an offer all week and Elise’s report shows I’m not the only one. All good progress in a recovering market. We hope it continues!

More on Flood Insurance

News Press logoEven though I’ve mentioned this subject several times lately, here is more info on a topic that has been in the forefront recently with Realtors® working in waterfront areas. With the June 1 onset of Hurricane Season, the following article was in the Fort Myers “News Press” on Saturday.

“Starting in 2014, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 will phase out grandfathering practices for changes to Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Currently, some policyholders can keep their old flood insurance rates if changes to the Flood Insurance Rate Maps impact them negatively. According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency fact sheet, this practice will be phased out gradually.

“Some Southwest Florida property owners are going to see drastic increases in their flood insurance rates. A law passed by Congress in 2012 is working to phase out many of the nation’s subsidized flood insurance policies – which in Southwest Florida tend to be older houses in flood-prone coastal areas like Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach. The law’s goal, in part, is to make the National Flood Insurance Program financially stable and to have subsidized properties reflect their true flood risk.

“However, this law is especially troublesome for Southwest Florida residents who bought subsidized flood insurance policies after the law went into effect July 6. These policyholders will incur the full rate increase at once on October 1 when policies need to be renewed – despite many having purchased these policies before the Federal Emergency Management Agency began to understand the law’s impact. As of December 31, Lee County had 30,631 flood insurance policies affected by the 2012 legislation. Collier County had 17,224, according to a FEMA spreadsheet….

“According to a fact sheet from FEMA, the law known as Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 will affect subsidized properties first. Subsidized policies are on properties built before Flood Insurance Rate Maps were put in place, and different communities adopted these maps at different times. Sanibel, for example, adopted the maps in 1979 while Fort Myers Beach adopted them in 1984 when part of unincorporated Lee County.

“About 20% of flood policies nationwide receive subsidies. The immediate impact of the law is on vacation homes in areas defined by FEMA as having at least a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. These properties began seeing 25% annual increases on renewals following January 1. Likewise, properties with repeated or severe flooding and businesses located in flood zones will see 25% increases on renewals following October 1. These increases will continue until rates are high enough to cover the property’s risk.

“Primary residences won’t be hit as hard. These policyholders will continue to receive subsidized rates unless or until: the property is sold, the policy lapses, the property suffers severe or repeated flood loss, or a new policy is purchased. These policyholders may still see rate increases….”

5 Mistakes Foreign Buyers Make

FLRealtors_newlogo“Florida Realtor®” June magazine had a good article about the mistakes foreign buyers often make when investing in U.S. real estate. Though most of our sellers are U.S. citizens, it has some good advice for those who are not. Here’s a synopsis:

“Mistake #1 – I don’t need to worry about estate taxes, I’m in good health – …The U.S. imposes an estate tax at a rate of up to 40% on the portion of a foreign individual’s gross estate (assets controlled by taxpayer) situated in the U.S. that exceeds $60K….” It is best to consult a tax attorney/certified public accountant.

“Mistake #2 – Believing that use of a foreign corporation will offer protection from U.S. estate tax – This may be true if it’s done correctly. In general, purchasing U.S. real property through a foreign corporation can shield a foreigner from the U.S. estate tax. The shares of a foreign corporation are considered non-U.S. situs property, which means the shares of the foreign corporation are considered as being situated outside the United States. As such, they are not subject to U.S. estate tax upon the foreigner’s death. However, for such corporate ownership to be respected for tax purposes, it is important that the foreign owner of the foreign corporation enter into a lease agreement with the foreign corporation any time that foreign owner uses the underlying real estate for personal purposes. Adequate rent for such personal use should be paid to the foreign corporation, which may have U.S. income tax consequences as well as require the filing of both a federal and a Florida corporate income tax return. Otherwise, the Internal Revenue Service could assert that the foreign corporation lacks substance and that the underlying U.S. real property is owned directly by the foreigner, thereby subjecting that U.S. property to estate taxation.”

“Mistake #3 – Deciding to use the same structure used by a friend – Buying U.S. real estate through a foreign corporation can potentially insulate a foreigner from U.S. estate tax if the sale is structured properly. However, this structure will result in significantly higher income tax when the foreigner sells the property. A foreign corporation’s capital gains from the sale of real estate is subject to combined U.S. federal and Florida corporate income tax rates totaling up to 38%. There is also the potential of an additional 30% U.S. branch profits tax, which is an extra income tax that the U.S. imposes on a foreign corporation’s earnings. On the other hand, capital gains earned by an individual or pass through entity, such as a limited liability company, are subject to capital gains tax of up to 20% in 2013. Accordingly, if a foreigner intends to invest in U.S. real estate and sell it for profit, a foreign corporation is clearly not a good ownership vehicle.”

“Mistake #4 – Transferring one’s U.S. real estate to someone else – A foreigner’s gift, sale or other transfer of U.S. real estate is generally subject to U.S. income tax under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). The federal government collects this income tax (or at least a portion of it) by requiring the recipient (e.g. the buyer) of the U.S. real estate to withhold 10% of its gross proceeds or fair market value…Further, in 2013 the federal government imposed a gift tax on the transfer of U.S. real estate to the extent that the gift exceeds $14K (or $143K if the gift is made to a spouse)…Finally, Florida imposes a documentary stamp tax on the sale of real estate in Florida and certain other transfers to the extent that the real estate is mortgaged….”

“Mistake #5 – Thinking “I am fine as long as I don’t stay in the U.S. for more than six months in a year” – Many foreigners believe that they can be physically present in the U.S. up to six months each year without becoming a U.S. tax resident for income tax purposes. However, this is technically incorrect. A foreigner is deemed to be a U.S. resident for income tax purposes if the average number of days spent in the U.S. over a 3-year period equals or exceeds 183 per year. Under this “substantial presence” test, a foreigner will generally become a tax resident if he or she is physically present in the U.S. for more than 120 days per year….”

Again, early planning whether buying or selling, including consulting a U.S. tax professional who specializes in international taxation is best!

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity May 31 – June 7

3 new listings: Duggers Tropical Cottages #2 1/1 $249K, Cottage Colony West #103 1/1 $538.9K, Heron at The Sanctuary II #2-A 3/2.5 $609K.
4 price changes: Sundial #G401 2/2 now $459K, Tarpon Beach #206 2/2 $667K, Sayana #103 2/2 now $769K, Seascape #104 3/3 now $2.495M.
5 new sales: Sanibel Arms West #M3 2/2 listed for $395K, Sanibel Arms West #M2 2/2 listed for $395.9K, Sanibel Arms #A1 2/2 listed for $420K, Sanibel Arms West #H2 2/2 listed for $469K, Pointe Santo #A22 2/2 listed for $759K.
8 closed sales: Captains Walk #D5 2/1 $195K, Lake Palms #7 2/2.5 $229K, Sundial #F307 1/1 $274K, Loggerhead Cay #432 2/2 $415K, Sundial #J107 2/2 $445K, Loggerhead Cay #583 2/2 $510K, Heron at The Sanctuary III #1B 3/2.5 $550K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #5-2 3/3 $535K.

2 new listings: 1549 Wilton Ln 3/3 $499K, 236 Hurricane Ln 3/3 $555K.
5 price changes: 1021 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 now $409K (short sale), 1667 Sabal Sands Rd 3/3 now $450K, 1364 Jamaica Dr 2/2 now $499K, 5423 Osprey Ct 3/2.5 now $1.595M, 4717 Rue Belle Mer 3/3 now $2.45M (short sale).
4 new sales: 2560 Coconut Dr listed for $495K, 9319 Kincaid Ct 3/2 listed for $525K, 1316 Eagle Run Dr 4/3 listed for $899K, 1550 Angel Dr 3/2.5 listed for $995K.
5 closed sales: 531 Birdsong Place 2/2 $300K, 9484 Peaceful Dr 3/3.5 $565K, 1511 Angel Dr 2/2 $590K, 4207 Gulf Pines Dr 4/4.5 $870K, 4949 Joewood Dr 5/5 $2.3M.

No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: 1503 San Carlos Bay Dr listed for $1.295M.
No closed sales.

1 new listing: Marina Villas #710 2/2 $559K.
3 price changes: Tennis Villas #3110 1/1 now $225K, Bayside Villas #5208 1/2 now $255K, Lands End Village #1665 2/2 now $1.225M.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: Beach Villas #2534 3/3 $738K.

1 new listing: 14980 Binder Dr 3/3 $1.465M.
1 price change: 15631 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 now $2.175M.
No new or closed sales.

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, Bring on the Sun!

Gulf of Mexico beach in front of Loggerhead Cay condominiums on Sanibel Island, pix by Jim Anderson, JMA Photography

Gulf of Mexico beach in front of Loggerhead Cay condominiums on Sanibel Island, pix by Jim Anderson, JMA Photography

Sunny Memorial Day Weekend on Sanibel & Captiva Islands


What’s Happening at SanibelSusan Realty

SanibelSusanLogoEven before the arrival of the holiday weekend visitors today, we had a fairly active week at SanibelSusan Realty. The office fielded several listing inquiries, had some showings, got a new lot listing, and I was out showing property several days to both prospective condo and home owners.

One of these buyers was interested in beach turtle nesting and heard that the islands had not had any nests this year. I referred him to my blog last week and said that nesting may be a little late this year, much like the rainy season which has not really begun yet. Florida has been getting rain on the east coast and inland, but the islands need rain. Sunny days are expected right into next week, with temperatures up to 90 degrees – perfect for the incoming vacationers!

sundial-logoSpeaking of vacationers, when I was at Sundial Resort mid-week, they said that they have over 150 check-ins expected today. Their new front lobby area has now been fully remodeled and it reopened this week, as did the new restaurant and bar. The open balcony for alfresco dining is complete too, while work is continuing on the upper conference room level balcony.

Sanibel Moorings Condominium ResortAt Sanibel Moorings, this morning, their reservationist told me that they are “full” for the weekend. All good news for businesses on the islands!

Teammate Dave was out photographing our new listing on Buck Key Road yesterday and snapped a few photos of a soft shelled Florida turtle in the bayou and the below bird’s nest with babies (possibly anhinga). (Look carefully to see them through the vegetation.)

Birds nest on Sanibel Bayou (photo by David Anderson)

Birds nest on Sanibel Bayou (photo by David Anderson, May 2013)

Regarding turtle nests and as follow-up to last week’s blog, more nests were reported today by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s (SCCF) turtle patrol. There now are two on the east end, 24 west end, and seven on Captiva, plus a total of 51 false crawls.

Snowy Plover chick (photo by Roberta Schuldenfrei May 19, 2012)

Snowy Plover chick (photo by Roberta Schuldenfrei May 19, 2012)

SCCF also posted that another Snowy Plover nest was laid this week, for a total of nine this season. If you are on the beach, watch out for these tiny chicks. The photo above by our photographer pal, Roberta Schuldenfrei, shows just how small these babies are.

Four of the Snowy Plover nests have hatched so far and a Wilson’s Plover nest also hatched this week.

Here are a few other island news items followed by the activity posted over the last seven days in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

City Enhances Lightning Prediction System at Island Parks

Sanibelcityseal logoTeammate Elise jumped this week when the new audible horn which is part of the City Lightning Prediction System was tested at the Community Park across the street from our office. Another horn has been installed at the Ball Field Complex on Sanibel Captiva Road next to the school.

As a storm is approaching a visual warning (orange flashing strobes) and an audible warning (horn will sound once for 15 seconds for “red alert” and will sound three times for 5 seconds for “all clear”). The system operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Upgrading Sanibel’s Commercial Properties

croppedfrontSanibel City Council held a workshop this week about its ongoing concern about redevelopment and upgrading of the island’s commercial districts. Currently any business use that is not specifically listed in Sanibel’s code is prohibited from opening on the island – or at least without a variance or amendment. That restriction has posed problems for Council as it works on ways to stimulate the island’s commercial areas and encourage owners to renovate.

Council began by looking at permitted uses, non-conforming structures and uses, on-site parking requirements, and interconnectivity between commercial areas and setbacks. Prior to 1985, only 26 permitted uses in commercial districts were listed as part of the land use plan. If a use was not listed, the planning commission could approve the use provided it was found to be similar in character, size, intensity and impact to those listed.

With the adoption of the land development code in 1985, the list of permitted uses was expanded to 100 and the Planning Commission no longer could approve uses not listed. Today, there are businesses that were not envisioned back then and the process to define a new use for a specific property is both time-consuming and expensive. For example, recently an applicant wanting to teach ballet classes, which is not a listed use, was discouraged because of the high cost (as much as $7,000) of the long (5- to 6-month) process. Other examples of non-permitted uses that have been abandoned include a doggy day care and a micro-brewery.

Commercial redevelopment is a challenge because major issues are involved. Some older structures are nonconforming under current codes, and some are hampered by setback rules. Council members want to streamline the application process and lower the cost, but indicated that they do not want to give carte blanche for all business uses. Some, particularly those with outside impact, could require public hearings.

Council also is considering parking space requirements and seeking ways to encourage connectivity between commercial centers. The topic will be discussed further during Council’s June 4 meeting.

Is a Central Civic Core in Sanibel’s Future?

Farmers marketA Tampa-based consultant recently performed a study to determine the potential for creating a core civic area on Sanibel. It would encompass the library, town hall (farmer’s market area), BIG ARTS, and the historic village. A survey determined that there is the potential for 30-some acres of developable land.

Sanibel library signThis project is not budgeted and will need City Council approval before going further, but initial talks include moving the Community House as part of the plan and relocating the City’s Public Work’s Department. The Center 4 Life, on Library Way and in need of renovation of expansion, also is being considered for relocation to the civic core. Stay tuned on this subject, it also will be discussed at the June 4 City Council Meeting.

Senator Hopes To Delay Flood Insurance Increases

AssociatedPressLogo-largeAn Associated Press article posted yesterday and sourced to “The Advocate” provided follow-up on my blog posting last week about flood insurance. It says:

“Sen. Mary Landrieu filed legislation this week to delay flood insurance increases for many residents and businesses in southern Louisiana that officials fear could begin skyrocketing at the end of the year. The National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization was approved last year. Landrieu, D-La., had an amendment that was defeated that would have stalled premium increases of 20% or more annually for some residents in the program.

“The new “Strengthen, Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program Act” would indefinitely delay the hikes until six months after Congress receives an affordability study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The bill also protects properties that are currently “grandfathered.” Landrieu tells The Advocate she has not yet decided on how she will try to move the bill forward. “It could be stand alone. It could be amended onto another bill,” she said. “It could be part of the appropriations process, of which I’d have a good bit of influence on since I chair the committee.” Landrieu chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA’s funding.

“The insurance fear is that proposed flood maps will cost residents and business owners a lot more in the congressional effort to make the flood insurance program more self-sustainable. The proposed flood maps are still under federal review but more parts of the state’s coast are becoming high-risk velocity zones, or V-zones, where insurance rates increase more. The program also is going to start phasing out “grandfathered” rates next year. The NFIP allows homeowners and businesses in flood zones that have trouble getting private insurance to obtain policies backed by the federal government.

“Nearly 500,000 people in Louisiana participate in the NFIP. The program has been in financial distress with a loss of more than $20 billion, largely due to payments made after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Landrieu said balances must be found to ensure the insurance is “affordable, accessible and self-sustainable.””

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity May 17-24

2 new listings: Sanibel Moorings #241 1/1 $309.9K, Pointe Santo #D24 2/2 $635K.
2 price changes: Sundial #G205 1/1 now $315K, Sanddollar #B104 2/2 now $869K.
9 new sales: Blind Pass #E201 2/2 listed for $399K, Ibis at The Sanctuary #A102 2/2 listed for $399K, Island Beach Club #P3A 2/2 listed for $460K, Sandpiper Beach #103 2/2 listed for $595K, Pointe Santo #C32 2/2 listed for $599.9K, Loggerhead Cay #133 2/2 listed for $649K, Pointe Santo #C26 2/2 listed for $669K, Pelicans Roost #206 2/2 listed for $799K, Nutmeg Village #101 2/2 listed for $919K.
6 closed sales: Sundial #G104 2/2 $412K, Island Beach Club #P1A 2/2 $438K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #6-2 2/2.5 $455K, Oceans Reach #1B4 1/1 $595K, Pointe Santo #C3 3/2 $800K, Compass Point #183 2/2 $1M.

1 new listing: 1066 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $550K.
2 price changes: 261 Ferry Landing Dr 2/2 half-duplex now $1.02M, 2520 Harbour Ln 3/2.5 now $1.421M.
4 new sales: 1409 Sandpiper Cir 2/2 half-duplex listed for $299K, 966 Greenwood Ct S 3/2.5 half-duplex listed for $349K, 696 Durion Ct 3/2.5 listed for $635K, 919 Almas Ct 3/2.5 listed for $1.049M.
4 closed sales: 1639 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $360K, 1342 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $550K, 1339 Par View Dr 3/2 $625K, 6009 Clam Bayou Rd 4/3 $750K.

1 new listing: 4626 Buck Key Rd $199.9K (our listing).
2 price changes: 1118 Sand Castle Rd now $199K (our listing), 1540 San Carlos Bay Dr now $1.35M.
1 new sale: 4309 Gulf Pines Dr listed for $299K.
1 closed sale: 6141 Starling Way $410K.

No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: Tennis Villas #3138 2/2 listed for $395K.
1 closed sale: Bayside Villas #5308 3/3 $504,999.

No new listings.
1 price change: 16645 Captiva Dr 8/9/2 now $3.749M.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: 59 Sandpiper Ct 3/2 $735K.

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.

VeteransHappy Memorial Day Weekend!

from The SanibelSusan Team (Susan, Dave, Elise, & Lisa)

Last Sanibel Farmers Market Until Fall & Real Estate Scoop

It has been another week of glorious spring weather on the islands. The Gulf of Mexico is turning into that bright aqua color that we love to see in the summer!

Nutmeg106 View 04-26-13

Here are a few news items, followed by the activity posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Service over the last seven days.

Last Sanibel Farmers Market Until Fall

Talk about fresh! Here's market organizer, Jean Baer, with Brussel sprouts still on the stalk!

Talk about fresh! Here’s market organizer, Jean Baer, with Brussel sprouts still on the stalk! I sure hope they have more this week!

Expect to see Sanibel Farmers Market aficionados at the last one of the season on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. With 46 vendors this year, in addition to being a terrific source for fresh fruits, veggies, seafood, baked goods, other dining delights, and more, the Market is the go-to spot to mingle with neighbors and friends, and a favorite with vacationing visitors. After this weekend, many will be counting down until November when it starts up again. Thanks for another great season, Sanibel Farmers Market organizers!

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors

rpacAs another week comes to an end and high season winds down, our weekly Realtor® Caravan Meetings are changing from weekly to the summer schedule of every other Thursday morning. May also brings our annual end-of-season Realtor® fundraising event which still is often referred to as “The Over-the-Hump Party”. It includes a golf tournament plus social with RPAC auctions.

RPAC (or Realtors® Political Action Committee) is the voice of Realtors® on Capital Hill. Since 1969, RPAC has promoted the election of pro-personal-property-rights candidates across the U.S.  During the last federal election cycle alone, RPAC contributed more than $12 million, making it the number one trade association political action committee in the nation. On the local level our RPAC Committee is active both in Tallahassee and Lee County, involved in such issues as water quality, the home mortgage and appraisal processes, affordable housing, sales tax initiatives, and more.

For several years, The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® has won the state award for raising the most funds by a small board. Our intention is to make it happen again in 2013! More to follow on how much SanibelSusan’s donation garners this year!

How About Some Mulch?

Playground, "Island Reporter" photo
Playground, “Island Reporter” photo

Another upcoming Realtor® event in May is one of our give-back-to-the-community efforts. On May 4, Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® members will spend the morning laying mulch at this new Community Housing playground on Mahogany Way. Thanks to our Communications and Public Relations Committee for making this happen!

Why Zillow Often Is Wrong

One of my favorite real estate educators, Melanie Jackson McLane from Williamsport, PA, posted the following on her ActiveRain blog this week. I couldn’t agree more. (Thanks for allowing me to share this with my readers too, Melanie!) Her article says:


“This blog was inspired by a cartoon which shows a couple sitting with a real estate agent. The agent says: “Based on comps, I suggest listing at $350K.” Wife: “But we paid $650,000 for it!” Husband: “And Zillow says it’s worth $675,000!” I found the cartoon on Facebook and reposted. The sad truth is that most consumers do not understand Zillow—or House Values, or even their county assessment office—all of which use Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) to price property.   The boring stuff first: AVMs use mathematical formulae, including multiple linear regression, to assign values to certain features of houses to come up with a value.  As with any program, GIGO applies (Garbage In, Garbage Out).  The AVMs out there for use today by consumers, of which Zillow is probably the best known, rely on reported and recorded sales data. This is why, if you live in one of the fourteen states in the US which does not record sales prices, the information you find may be sketchy, and derived from Multiple Listing Services (MLS).  You may be thinking: “Well, what’s better than that? A recorded sales price tells me what that house down the street sold for.”

“Well, yes and no. A recorded price will tell you the amount they put in the deed as the transfer amount. It will not tell you:

  • If there were any “side deals” or cash under the table
  • If the seller paid closing costs or other fees on behalf of the buyer, known as “seller concessions”
  • If it was an “arms-length sale”, or one under duress, or between related parties, or any other sale which an appraiser would not usually consider.

“This is where the AVMs fall apart.  As I always say when teaching pricing and valuation: “All comparables are sales; all sales are not comparables.” Here’s what I mean: in order for any real estate professional to use a comparable (“comp”) to compare to your home to establish a price or value, it needs to have sold.  Houses that are listed and don’t sell indicate what the market won’t pay. Houses that are listed and sold indicate what the market will pay.  However, not all sales are comparables. Here are some examples of houses I would not use for comps, as an appraiser:

  • The sale between two parties with the same last name, and it is verified that they are related by blood or marriage
  • The sale between two parties with different last names, but verification of the data revealed that the party selling the property was acting as executor of her mother’s estate, selling the 2/3 interest she and her sister had to their brother, who already owned a 1/3 interest
  • The property that did not sell at auction, and the next week the owner sold it for 20% below my appraised value to a neighbor, who was a friend
  • The property that sold for at least 20% higher than market, and upon verification, the buyer was not represented by an agent, was from out of town, and was unfamiliar with the market

“You will notice the same word in all four scenarios: “verification”. As an appraiser, I verify data. I’m required to. But any real estate professional who is good at his or her profession will verify data, and will only use data which is germane and pertains to the property. Zillow, and other AVMs, don’t verify data. They throw it all into the mix. Some is high, some is low, and some is just irrational.   So, before you decide to sell your house based on a “zestimate”, do yourself a favor and get an opinion from a qualified real estate professional.”

20th Annual Sam Bailey’s Island Night

BaseballWednesday, May 15 is the date for the 20th Annual Sam Bailey’s Island Night at the Lee County Sports Complex where the Ft. Myers Miracle will play the Dunedin Blue Jays. The gates are open at 5:30 p.m. The parades will start at 6:15 p.m. The Game begins at 7:05 p.m.

Free tickets are available at Bailey’s General Store, The Sanibel Rec Center, and sponsoring businesses.

‘Ding’ Darling To Celebrate “National Trails Day”
Ding Darling Society logoTake a hike, play Animal Olympics, and learn more about Refuge creatures and the “fingerprints” they leave on Refuge trails at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge during National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1. Indigo Trail and the Bailey Tract will be open all day free to hikers and bikers, who will be able to also experience the new Children’s Education Boardwalk trail. Wildlife Drive will remain closed for maintenance. Activities will include:
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Animal Olympics: Test your abilities against the elite Olympians of the animal world. This fun, interactive program runs all day along the Indigo Trail.
10 a.m. Indigo Trail Hike: Join naturalists as they lead a one-hour tour identifying the ecosystem’s plants, animals, birds, reptiles, and more. Explore the Children’s Birding Trail and its two-story observation deck. Bring water and bus spray, and meet at the flagpole in front of the Education Center.
11 a.m. Reading in the Refuge: Oh Scat & Animal Tracks: Whose scat is that? Whose tracks are those? Learn about the wondrous world of animal tracking from a refuge naturalist in this fun, 30-minute interactive program in the Education Center Classroom.
1 p.m. Wildlife Wonders: What makes a bird a bird? Why is a manatee called a sea cow? Is that a crocodile or alligator? Find the answers to these questions and more as you join a naturalist in exploring the refuge’s unique ecosystem. The 30-minute program takes place in the Education Center Classroom.
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge co-hosts the 2013 National Trails Day activities to educate about wildlife and opportunities on getting outdoors at the refuge.

Hard Working Water: Did You Know?

SCCF logoA news item that I read this week in the May-June SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Member Update is worth repeating:

“For every gallon of water used in an average household, five times more water (40,000 gallons each month) is used to provide that home with electricity via hydropower turbines and fossil fuel power plants.

You can get a conservation three-fer – healthier rivers, fewer greenhouse emissions and cleaner air – by redoubling your energy conservation efforts! April is Water Conservation Month, let’s conserve!”

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity April 19-26 

2 new listings: Loggerhead Cay #331 2/2 $489K, Loggerhead Cay #133 2/2 $649K.
2 price changes: Coquina Beach #2E 2/2 now $599K, Tarpon Beach #203 2/2 now $675K.
6 new sales: Captains Walk #D5 2/1 listed for $213.9K, Island Beach Club #P1A 2/2 listed for $449.5K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #6-2 2/2.5 listed for $455K, Lighthouse Point #230 2/2 listed for $495K, Surfside 12 #B4 3/2 listed for $869K.
3 closed sales: Tennisplace #E33 2/1.5 $245.5K, Captains Walk #B5 2/1 $307K, Loggerhead Cay #521 2/2 $510K.

2 new listings: 720 Periwinkle Way 3/3.5 $1.429M, 1838 Buckthorn Ln 3/2 $1.45M.
7 price changes: 5650 SanCap Rd 2/2 now $524K, 3131 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $694K, 1225 Junonia St 3/2 now $699K, 1300 Par View Dr 3/2 now $769K, 1130 Seagrape Ln 4/3 now $945K, 5418 Osprey Ct 4/3.5 now $995K, 912 Almas Ct 3/2.5 now $1.1M.
9 new sales: 1350 Middle Gulf Dr #1E 3/3 half-duplex listed for $669K, 1206 Par View Dr 3/2 listed for $699K, 701 Heather Ln 4/3.5 listed for $750K, 1255 Isabel Dr 3/3 listed for $889K, 479 Lagoon Dr 3/3 listed for $1.0945M, 1694 Dixie Beach Bldv 3/2 listed for $1.095M, 2429 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 listed for $1.395M, 444 Lighthouse Way 5/4.5 listed for $2.395M, 3441 West Gulf Dr 5/4/2 listed for $4.9995M.
9 closed sales: 1639 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $360K, 1609 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $370K, 1414 Causey Ct 3/2 $499K, 9224 Dimmick Dr 4/2 $645K, 9470 Balsa Ct 3/2 $669K, 1507 Angel Dr 3/2 $675K, 1230 Par View Dr 3/2.5 $657.5K, 872 Limpet Dr 3/3 $1.475M, 2963 Wulfert Rd 4/6.5 $2.65M.

No new listings.
1 price change: 9426 Sage Ct now $229,555.
No new or closed sales.

No new listings.
1 price change: Tennis Villas #3138 2/2 now $395K.
1 new sale: Marina Villas #903 2/2 listed for $620K.
No closed sales.

No new listings or price changes.
1 new sale: 16623 Captiva Dr 9/9 listed for $4.895M.
1 closed sale: 11490 Old Lodge Ln 3/3 $979K.

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.

Another weekend of terrific weather is expected here on sunny Sanibel & Captiva Islands. Here’s hoping that it is sunny in your neck of the woods too!


Beautiful Beach Days Help Real Estate Sales on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Another Friday has rolled around and The SanibelSusan Team and I have seen the island start to return to a more normal off-season traffic pattern. A few snowbirds have headed north; but with more schools on spring break in the upcoming days, accommodations managers tell us that more vacationers will arrive tomorrow.

A few sales were announced at our Realtor Caravan Meeting yesterday and we often remind island property owners, move-up buyers, and new island visitors that spring is a great time to buy.

Here are a few news items, before our weekly report showing the activity posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service over the last seven days.

Sanibel Spring Weather

Temperatures this week jumped up into what is typically the summer range. With off-shore breezes, it made for beautiful beach weather. These photos were taken today at Sanibel’s West Gulf Drive at Beach Access #1. Island temperatures are expected to continue to range from the mid to high 80’s for the next seven days.

Sanibel Beach Access #1

Sanibel Beach Access #1 West

Here are a few weather statistics from the Weather Channel ( The highest recorded Sanibel temperature was 103 degrees F in June 1981. The lowest was 24 degrees F in December 1894. June is the warmest month. January is the coolest. August is the wettest month and December is the driest.

It Was More Than a Rally in Tally – Florida Realtors®, Chase Donate Home to Wounded Vet

Rally-Crowd_1On Wednesday, Florida Realtors® surprised attendees at their first-ever “Rally for Homeownership” in Tallahassee by donating a remodeled, mortgage-free home to a wounded Florida veteran and his family.

A large crowd of Realtors® from across the state was on hand at the Florida Capitol for the event. We had two board members there from the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association.

FLRealtors_newlogoRetired Army Sgt. Michael Burke, his wife, and two children were presented with a newly remodeled, mortgage-free home in Port St. Lucie through a program offered by the Military Warriors Support Foundation. Florida Realtors® partnered with the foundation and Chase Bank to make the American Dream of homeownership possible for Burke and his family. “Florida Realtors is proud to forge this partnership with Chase Bank and the Military Warriors Support Foundation to honor a military hero who has bravely served us,” said 2013 Florida Realtors® President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “We are happy to help Sgt. Burke and his family fulfill the American Dream of lifelong homeownership.” Led by Asher and State Rep. Matt Hudson (R-Naples), a real estate broker, the Rally took place as part of Great American Realtor Days – a two-day annual event during which Realtors® from around Florida travel to Tallahassee to meet with their elected officials about legislation concerning affordable housing, property insurance, property taxes and business and regulatory issues that affect Floridians and visitors.

A Deserving Military Hero – Burke, a native of Fort Pierce, always dreamed of being a soldier and defending his country. After Sept. 11, 2001, Burke enlisted “as quick and fast as I could,” he says. After basic training, Burke joined the Army Infantry in 2005 and trained in Fort Hood, Texas. A year later, he deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. There only a week, Burke’s Humvee drove over and detonated a roadside bomb during his first mission, ejecting him from the vehicle. Burke was airlifted to a Baghdad hospital with massive injuries: a swollen brain, shrapnel wounds to the left arm, plus burns and injuries to his back muscles. After two months in rehab, Burke was ready to go back to combat, but the Army had a different idea. “They [the Army] wanted to send me back home,” Burke explains. “I refused. I had only been in Iraq a couple of weeks. I needed to get back to my squadron … to my friends and fellow soldiers. Eventually I convinced them I deserved to stay.” After 14 months of service, Burke’s tour ended and he returned to Fort Hood. He was promoted to sergeant and started training for another tour in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Burke started having seizures due to the traumatic brain injury suffered in Baghdad. His military career over, he returned to Florida in September 2009. Burke received a Purple Heart for his service and is immensely proud to have served on behalf of the country he loves.

Homes For Wounded Warriors – Florida Realtors® donated $20,000 to provide a three-year mentoring program and made arrangements to present the home to Sgt. Burke and his family. The association partnered with Chase Bank and the Military Warriors Support Foundation, a nonprofit that supports combat-wounded veterans during their transition to civilian life, to provide the Port St. Lucie home. Established in 2007, the foundation awards mortgage-free homes to wounded heroes injured during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of its Homes4WoundedHeroes program. Home recipients are veterans who have severe injuries and/or unique circumstances due to injuries received during active duty. The families receive three years of family and financial mentoring before obtaining the deed to the house. For Burke’s home, Chase Bank donated the three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot property and Home Depot handled the renovations. Since the start of the Homes4WoundedHeroes program in 2010, the Military Warriors Support Foundation has coordinated the donation of 300 homes to wounded military veterans in the continental United States, including 56 in Florida. There are 12 homes currently available for donation to wounded veterans in Florida and 42 nationwide, with more homes coming into the program every day. The program is almost a third of the way to its goal of awarding 1,000 homes by the end of 2015.

Message to Lawmakers: Florida’s Housing Market Revitalizing State’s Economy
– In meeting with Florida Representatives and Senators, Realtors® stressed that housing and homeownership remain critical to a strong and prosperous state economy. According to the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, real estate remains the No. 1 economic generator in the state. Real estate, rentals and leasing accounted for $117.4 billion, or 15.6%, of Florida’s Gross Domestic Product in 2011. Add in construction, and it accounts for $147.4 billion, or 19.6%, of the state’s GDP in 2011. As homeownership increases, Florida’s economy strengthens with it.

“Realtors® across Florida continue to advocate for legislation that supports economic development, strengthens our state’s economic recovery and helps the housing market rebound,” Asher says. “Housing creates jobs and jobs create housing opportunities – every additional 1,000 home sales means nearly 500 new jobs, while each home purchase pumps $60,000 into our economy. A stable and growing real estate market is vital to putting our citizens back to work, revitalizing our communities and preserving Florida’s future.”
© 2013 Florida Realtors®

More Sanibel Bike Path Improvements Coming

Sanibelcityseal logoLast week, the City of Sanibel Public Works Department hosted an event to share the details of their upcoming East Periwinkle Shared Use Path and Road Improvement Project. The project calls for widening the shared use path to 10′ along Periwinkle Way, starting at the intersection of King’s Crown Drive and ending at the parking area for Lighthouse Beach. Expected to be done by the end of the year, it is intended to improve both the safety and appearance of the island bike paths on Sanibel’s east-end.

Upcoming Island Events – All on Saturday, April 20th

refugeweblogoEarth Day at The Refuge – celebrating the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day at JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Day-long free events beginning at 7 a.m. More info at

Sanibel Island Golf Clublogo copyCROW logoClinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) Classic – at Sanibel Island Gulf Club. Golf tournament with light breakfast, lunch, and silent auction begins at 8:30 a.m. and will support direct patient care in CROW’s wildlife hospital. Contact CROW at 472-3644 or to register.

shell museumtimbers logoBailey-Matthews Shell Museum 4th Annual Oyster-Eating Contest – now renamed Oyster-lympics 2013 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Timbers, has been expanded to include not only an oyster-eating contest but also an oyster shucking contest, an oyster dive, and other activities designed to help raise funds to support the museum’s educational and exhibitions. Our teller pal, Heather, who works the drive-thru at The Bank of the Islands, came in 2nd place last year in the “female” division (downing 32 oysters in one minute). We are rooting for her to come in 1st this year. Last year, the “male” division had a 3-way tie (all eating 48 oysters). A 30-second tiebreaker, with the winner downing another 37 oysters, brought lots of cheers from the spectators. More info at

SCCF logoSanibel & Captiva Conservation Foundation’s (SCCF) 2nd Annual Beer in the Bushes – from 7 to 9 p.m. on the grounds of SCCF’s Nature Center. Includes craft beer tasting, barbeque, live music, dancing, and games.

Proceeds support SCCF’s mission of conserving coastal habitats and aquatic resources on and around the islands. More info at

18 Ways to Prep Your Home’s Exterior for the Spring Market

tulipsThough our island weather can be much the same year-’round, I found the below blog suggestions by Charlene Storozuk, Dezigner Digz, posted on-line at to be helpful even on sunny Sanibel and Captiva Islands. It is always a good idea to do spring spruce-ups, wherever you may live. Charlene’s recent blog said: (SanibelSusan comments are posted in parentheses.)

“Spring is in the air in some parts of Canada and the U.S…. This is the time of year when thoughts turn to spring cleaning; whether or not you’re selling your home. Of course, if you are listing anytime soon, you’ll want to be even more meticulous. The busy spring market will be upon us before you know it, so here are some tips for getting the exterior of your home shipshape:

1. Remove glass from light fixtures and take out any little critters that may have found a home over the winter.  Be sure to use glass cleaner on the panes before replacing them in your fixtures.

2. Clean your mailbox.  If it hasn’t weathered well over the winter, it’s probably time to replace it.

3. Clean and polish, if necessary, your front door’s hardware. Replace it as well if necessary.

4. Check your house numbers.  Are they still in good shape and visible from the street?  If not, replace them.

5. Wash down your front door and garage door.  If you find that the previous summer’s sun has faded the paint, consider repainting.  Your garage door should be painted a color that blends in with the brick or vinyl siding on your home. Before painting, check with the paint manufacturer to see what the optimal outdoor temperature should be. You don’t want to paint when it’s still too cold outside. (Probably don’t have to worry about that on Sanibel & Captiva)

6. Wash the windows.  If this isn’t your strong suit, hire a professional.

7. Hose down the porch and driveway to remove any excess salt left over from de-icing.

8. Sweep the porch, driveway and patio to get rid of any rogue leaves etc. left over from the fall.

9. Check your porch, driveway, and patio for any cracking or lifting of patio stones that may have taken place during a deep freeze. (Good to check even if you didn’t have a freeze.)

10. Check your roof to make sure no shingles are missing or were damaged during the winter.

11. Remove debris from your gutters and drain spouts.

12. Rake the lawn.  However, before doing that it’s very important to check with your local garden center first to be sure it’s not too early.  If raked too soon before the ground thoroughly dries, you could potentially damage your lawn.

13. Remove winter displays from your urns.  For a burst of color, plant spring flowers as soon as weather permits.

14. Tidy up your gardens in preparation for (spring/summer) planting season.

15. Organize the garage. Put away shovels, snow blowers, toboggans, and any other items that made their way into your garage over the winter. (You probably don’t have these items on Sanibel/Captiva, but an annual garage re-organization is always good.)

16. If you don’t use your barbeque year round, it’s time to bring it out.  If it’s a built-in unit that will be staying with the house, be sure to clean the grills and wash down the lid.  If you have a cover for it, replace it if it’s worn.

17. Remove the cover from your swimming pool and clean your pool as soon as your pool service company advises that it’s OK to do so. (You’ve probably been using your pool all winter, but give it a once over to be sure all equipment is AOK.)

18. Bring out your patio furniture and set it up.  Although it may be too cold to sit outside just yet, you want potential buyers to see your outdoor living space’s potential. (In our case, this could be your annual, patio furniture scrub-down & overhaul.)

These are some suggestions to get you started.  What else am I missing?  Feel free to add to the list!”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 5-12
4 new listings: Captains Walk #A2 1/1 $175K, Sundial #G206 1/1 $299K, Loggerhead Cay #202 2/2 $599.9K (our listing), Loggerhead Cay #223 2/2 for $599.9K (our listing).
Loggerhead Cay pool

Loggerhead Cay pool

View from our new Loggerhead Cay listing #223

View from our new Loggerhead Cay listing #223

Beach at Loggerhead Cay

Beach at Loggerhead Cay

Loggerhead Cay office

Loggerhead Cay office

4 price changes: Captains Walk #D5 2/1 now $221.9K, Spanish Cay #A6 1/1 now $379.9K, Coquina Beach #2E 2/2 now $629K, Atrium #101 3/3 now $1,099,555.
5 new sales: with contingencies: Sundial #C201 1/1 listed for $225K, Sundial #F307 1/1 listed for $299K, Pelicans Roost #206 2/2 listed for $799K, Pointe Santo #C3 3/2 listed for $899K, Gulfside Place #209 2/2 listed for $955K.
2 closed sales: Colonnades #C18 1/1 $110K, Seascape #302 3/3.5 $1.25M.


2 new listings: 4515 Bowen Bayou Rd 3/2 $569K, 734 Pyrula Ave 3/2.5 $889K.

8 price changes: 1941 Roseate Ln 3/2 now $449.9K, 1667 Sabal Sands Rd 3/3 now $469K, 5742 Pine Tree Dr 4/2 now $749K, 1163 Seagrape Ln 4/4 now $749.9K, 1056 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $789K, 657 Birdie View Pt 3/3 now $899K, 2255 Troon Ct 4/5.5 now $1.595M, 1272 Isabel Dr 4/4.5 now $3.75M. 

7 new sales: with contingencies: 1846 Ardsley Way 2/2 listed for $319.9K, 1401 Sandpiper Cir 3/2.5 half-duplex listed for $375K, 945 Main St 3/3 listed for $435K (short sale), 220 Palm Lake Dr 3/3 listed for $524K, 9484 Peaceful Dr 3/3.5 listed for $639K. Without contingencies: 630 Hideaway Ct 2/2 listed for $499K, 1339 Par View Dr 3/2 listed for $674.9K.

8 closed sales: 966 Fitzhugh St 2/1 $277K, 1394 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex $397.6K, 1599 Sandcastle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $400K, 9106 Mockingbird Dr 2/2 $425K, 1216 Par View Dr 3/2 $625K, 4041 Coquina Dr 3/3 $757.5K, 985 Oyster Ct 4/4 $1.1M, 3635 West Gulf Dr 4/4.5 $3.85M.

No new listings.
5 price changes: 4538 Bowen Bayou Rd now $299K; 2323 Starfish Ln now $349K; 5830 SanCap Rd now $380,555; 412 Tiree Cir now $380,555;  0 Island Inn Rd now $1,360,555.
1 new sales: with contingencies: Lots 1-6, 17-20 Tarpon Bay Rd listed for $199K.
No closed sales.


No new listings.
4 price changes: Bayside Villas #5308 3/3 now $529K, Sunset Beach Villas #2328 2/2 now $599K, Captiva Bay Villas #2 3/3.5 now $1.875M, Beach Homes #6 3/3 now $2.05M.
No new or closed sales.

No new listings.

2 price changes: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 now $1.495M, 15631 Captiva Dr 5/4.5 now $2.395M.
No new or closed sales.

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.

2013-04-03 CausewayHere’s to a weekend filled with delightful weather!

The SanibelSusan Team – Susan, David, Elise & Lisa

Real Estate Happenings on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It is SanibelSusan, once again posting the The SanibelSusan Team weekly report of the real estate activity on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. First here are a few photos taken by teammate, Dave, while he and Lisa were off viewing properties on Realtor® Caravan yesterday. They were taken from Beach Access #7 on West Gulf Drive.

w gulf dr sanibel beach path

w gulf dr sanibel beach with people

w gulf dr sanibel beach with more people

High season seems to be flying by. At our weekly Realtor® Meeting yesterday another flurry of sales were announced. Again, they were mostly Sanibel homes. (See below for the details.) I was out showing homes and condos again last weekend and put another condo under contract as a result.

In the real estate business, particularly in a resort/vacation home environment like Sanibel and Captiva Islands, it is not unusual to year-after-year show property to the same prospective buyers, before they eventually make a purchase. 2013 for me, so far has been the exception. Hooray for that!

Four weekends of showings have resulted in sales every weekend, some weekends more than one! Sure wish I had some lookers for this weekend too – or my streak may end. Teammate Dave was out looking for buyers Wednesday when he held an Open House at our canal-front listing on Beach Road in Shell Harbor (photo below). He had good traffic.


Just four weeks of high season remain, also illustrated by the number of price reductions posted in our local Multiple Listing Service this week (also in the report below). It is typical for us to see more price reductions as “season” winds down.

Tooting Our Own Horn

SANSLogoWhat a wonderful surprise this week to receive a letter from an island client who just completed his family’s fifth real estate transaction with me and The SanibelSusan Team. As a long-time broker himself in another state, it was especially meaningful to me for him to write:

“Seldom, if ever, have I experienced the level of professionalism, trust, and confidence that I have in you and your staff. Your knowledge of Sanibel real estate and the current market is unsurpassed. The dedication you provide to your clients is absolutely the pinnacle in the real estate industry…There is a specific set of core values that your firm demonstrates that is very comforting to clients such as ourselves…We also appreciate how your “team” is working so well together.”

Dave, Elise, Lisa, and I certainly appreciate his kindness. The letter definitely brightened our day. We are grateful for our clients. When they are happy, it makes us happy too!

76th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival

1stPrizeShellFairThe Sanibel Community House across the street and adjacent to SanibelSusan Realty Associates has been a beehive of activity this week, preparing for the 76th Annual Sanibel Shell Fair which began yesterday. Again this year, SanibelSusan sponsored the “Best Flower Exhibit” in the Professional Artistic Division.

If you are in town now, the festival runs through 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) with the exhibits available for viewing. It’s a terrific annual event, but be warned, traffic is heavy.

News from the “Sanctuary Sound”

The Sanctuary Sign2July08The March issue of The Sanctuary Golf Club newsletter says: “The Board of Governors of The Sanctuary Golf Club has approved an increase in the price of the Equity Membership to $110,000, effective July 1, 2013. If you join now as an Introductory Member and pay the $10,000 membership fee and annual dues, the advantages are plenty. The $100,000 membership fee will be locked in. You will have full access to the Club and its facilities, and save $10,000. If you were planning on joining The Sanctuary next fall, and will not be using the Club until then, considering paying the $10,000 Introductory fee now to lock in the $100,000 Equity membership price. Your membership will start on Oct 1, 2013. (There are a limited number of Equity and Social Memberships.)”

2013 ChorusAtFISHThis photo above was taken last week at the entrance to The Sanctuary Clubhouse. These are two of my pals from the BIG ARTS Community Chorus singers who performed at the F.I.S.H. (Friends in Service Here) Annual Membership Meeting and Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. Love those orchids! Chorus got kudos for singing too!

Watch for Fake Cashier’s Checks

FLRealtors_newlogoThis is not the type of article I enjoy reading, but it has good info, nonetheless. It is from the March issue of “FloridaRealtor®”:

“A rash of fake cashier’s checks has closing agents now requiring closing funds to be paid by wire transfer or other “collected” funds. In the past, cashier’s checks carried limited risk, so a closing agent typically disbursed funds at closing based on receipt of a cashier’s check – even when the closing agent had not verified that the funds had been collected. Things have changed. Counterfeiters can now create excellent cashier’s checks, and these counterfeit checks are being presented for payment nationwide and internationally in connection with a variety of real estate scams.

“Recent frauds in Florida have involved fraudsters using the names of real doctors or other professionals living in the United Kingdom and other foreign countries. These fraudsters, posing as the professionals, contacted real estate brokers asking for assistance in buying properties. Then they entered into sale and purchase contracts and asked the brokers to put them in touch with real estate attorneys to assist with the transactions. The real estate brokers, who were not involved in the scam, put these “buyers” together with attorneys with whom they already had relationships. The fraudsters then sent larger-than-necessary sums via counterfeit checks and requested the excess funds be wired to a third party for contrived reasons, such as the purchase of furniture.

“Although attorneys were targeted, these types of scams result in real estate licensee’s wasting their time and energy on transactions that won’t close. What can you do? When dealing with an unknown foreign buyer, verify that the person with whom you are working is actually the person he or she claims to be.”

Fraud has happened on Sanibel too. Some months ago, I had a buyer for a vacant residential parcel that was listed for sale in our local Multiple Listing Service. The German Seller’s listing documents and my Buyer’s offer to purchase were all delivered and signed via e-mail through the listing company. Having recently heard of a listing scam with another foreign owner, I asked the title company, processing the closing, to call the European Seller. When they did, they found out that he had no intention of selling. It seems that the listing and sale documents were all signed by a fraud with a bogus e-mail address (that was surprisingly similar to the Seller’s name). If that call to the “real” Seller had not been made, my Buyer’s funds could have been wired to a scammer. Sometimes, intuition pays off. Through further investigation, I learned that this has happened often in Florida.

Finding Homeownership Tax Deductions

realtor logoFloridaRealtors® on-line posted the following on Wednesday:

“Tax season is underway, and homeowners gearing up to meet the April 15 filing deadline can find the tax tips and insights they need at, a consumer website created by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). An overview of the tax benefits of homeownership, HouseLogic’s Homeowner’s Guide to Taxes helps filers get a general understanding and avoid common home-related tax mistakes.

““From the mortgage interest deduction to energy tax credits, many homeowners can take advantage of a variety of tax strategies that can lower their tax bill,” says Pamela Kabati, NAR senior vice president of communications and HouseLogic spokesperson. “For example, a family who bought a home last year with a $200,000, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, assuming an interest rate of 4.5 percent, could save nearly $3,500 in federal taxes when they file this year.”

“HouseLogic also offers tips to avoid unnecessary tax mistakes in 9 Easy Mistakes Home Owners Make on Their Taxes, which identifies common errors, such as deducting the wrong year for property taxes, confusing the escrow amount for actual property taxes paid and neglecting to take the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction.

“Other possible deductions: Homeowners who make certain energy-efficient home improvements may be eligible for tax credits. Also, owners who had a portion of their mortgage forgiven as part of a workout plan, short sale or foreclosure don’t have to pay income tax on the forgiven debt, provided the mortgage was secured by a principal residence and the total amount of the outstanding debt is not more than the original purchase price plus improvements.

“Other HouseLogic articles:
How to Deduct PMI
How to Deduct Mortgage Interest and Equity Loan Costs
How to Amend Your Tax Return
How to Claim Your 2012 Energy Tax Credits

“Homeowners should consult a tax professional for specific advice about their own transactions or circumstances. Information on HouseLogic should not be relied on as tax or legal advice.”

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump

I got a chuckle from this quote, also from the March “FloridaRealtor®” magazine. It is by American businesswoman and daughter of real estate mogul Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump.

She said, “Real estate is my life. It is my day job, if you will. But it consumes my nights and weekends, too.”

We know the feeling, Ivanka; but it’s all good!

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity March 1-8

2 new listings: Sanibel Arms West #G7 2/2 $499K, White Pelican #112 2/2 $850K.
7 price changes: Casa Blanca #6 1/1 now $264.9K, Sundial #L202 2/2 now $499K (short sale), Sanddollar #B104 2/2 now $889K, White Pelican #111 2/2 now $899K, High Tide #A101 2/2 now $1.225M, Pine Cove #104 3/2 now $1.25M, Seascape #104 3/3 now $2.595M.
5 new sales: Lake Palms #2 2/2.5 listed for $259K (our sale), Villa Sanibel #2H 2/2 listed for $520K, Sundial #J207 2/2 listed for $529K, Seascape #302 3/3.5 listed for $1.324M, Golden Beach #2 3/2.5 listed for $1.395M.
2 closed sales: Heron at The Sanctuary #1A 2/2.5 $465K, Sunset South #6B 2/2 $425K.

6 new listings: 1609 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $415K, 1290 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $449K, 9484 Peaceful Dr 3/3.5 $639K, 4279 Gulf Pines Dr 4/3 $835K, 657 Birdie View Pt 3/3 $989K, 1444 Causey Ct 4/4 $1.199M, 1748 Jewel Box Dr 4/4 $1.55M.
12 price changes: 1639 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 now $399K, 945 Main St 3/3 now $435K (short sale), 2027 Sunrise Cir 4/4 duplex now $474.9K, 1667 Sabal Sands Rd 3/3 now $499K, 398 Old Trail Rd 3/3 now $549K, 9470 Balsa Ct 3/2 now $699K, 701 Heather Ln 4/3.5 now $750K, 1694 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/2 now $1.095M, 789 Pyrula Ave 4/2.5 now $1.165M, 1520 San Carlos Bay Dr 4/3.5 now $2.25M, 4949 Joewood Dr 5/5 now $2.649M, 1310 Seaspray Ln 5/4.5 now $3.195M.
10 new sales: 1394 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex listed for $449K, 1414 Causey Ct 3/2 listed for $499K, 9224 Dimmick Dr 4/2 listed for $699K, 1066 Bailey Rd 3/3 listed for $824.5K (short sale), 1662 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/2 listed for $839K, 1141 Paper Fig Ct 3/3.5 listed for $1.495M, 413 Bella Vista Way E 4/4 listed for $1.849M, 3615 West Gulf Dr 3/2 listed for $2.495M, 5071 Joewood Dr 4/4.5 listed for $3.99M.
7 closed sales: 3344 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $490K, 1807 Serenity Ln 3/2 $532.5K, 3311 Twin Lakes Ln 3/3 $540K, 6138 Castaways Ln 3/2.5 $600K, 1031 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $625K, 1323 Seaspray Ln 4/4.5 $2.2M, 5035 Joewood Dr 4/4.5 $3,322,625.

No new listings.
1 price change: 708 Durion Ct now $349K.
2 new sales: 1450 Tahiti Dr listed for $199,555; 6401 Pine Ave listed for $699K.
No closed sales.

No new listings.
3 price changes: Tennis Villas #3139 2/2 now $385K, Bayside Villas #4302 3/3 now $625K, Sunset Beach Villas #2338 3/3 now $850K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: Lands End Village #1609 2/2 $1.175M.

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.

Happy Weekend, all.

If you are coming to Sanibel & Captiva Islands soon & are wondering about our March weather. High today is 77 degrees, with more of the same over the next five days (highs of 82 forecast for Monday & Tuesday). Sure beats snow & ice!

A Summer-Like September On Sanibel & Captiva Islands

It has been another quiet week on the islands – good weather but not many visitors and vacationers. Our local bird life is having fun though.

East End Happenings

Below is a photo taken as I was heading to work one morning. This Norfolk pine near the end of Anchor Drive is also very close to an osprey nest that I also check out every morning. I haven’t seen any activity in the nest for a few weeks.

Surprisingly on this tall tall tree, I saw a white ibis alight near the very top, followed by three juveniles. Appeared to be a mama taking her young ones on a flying lesson.

The young ibis have brown feathers, while the adult looked more like the photo to the left.

Two babies landed near mama on the top, while the third was a few branches below. I have seen a similar family several times in the last few days snacking in my yard. Made me wonder if they are the same birds.

West End Happenings

Here is another snapshot I captured this week. If you remember me remarking in an earlier post, after Tropical Storm Debbie passed us by earlier this summer, that a huge tree at the West Wind Inn was uprooted in that storm, here is what that spot looks like now. The tree could not be saved, but in its place the West Wind added this charming tropical garden. It will be fun to watch it grow and develop – it’s already beautiful.

If you haven’t dined at The Normandie Seaside Pub at The West Wind, it’s open to the public when there’s room. It’s a local favorite for breakfast and lunch, also open for dinner.

Florida’s Amendment 4

Several passers-by have asked about the posters that we have in our office windows saying “Vote Yes on Amendment 4”. Here’s a write-up about Amendment 4 from the September issue of “FloridaRealtors®” magazine.

“If passed this proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot would create Florida jobs, grown Florida’s GDP and increase the personal income of Floridians, according to an independent economic and fiscal analysis by Florida TaxWatch.

“Amendment 4, which would take effect on January 1, 2013, proposes:

  • an additional homestead exemption for first-time Florida home-buyers;
  • reduction in the non-homestead maximum annual assessed value increase cap from the current 10% (on nonschool levies) to a new level of 5% and an extension of non-homestead assessed value caps through the 2022 tax year (which also does not apply to school levies); and
  • provision of legislative authority to eliminate the Save Our Homes “Recapture Rule”.

“Florida TaxWatch estimates that the passage of Amendment 4 would result in the creation of 19,483 private nonfarm jobs over the 10-year period of the analysis (2013-2022), an increase in Florida GDP by approximately $1.1 billion and an increase in personal income by more than $5.3 billion.

“The analysis also estimates that between 319,861 and 383,810 additional homes sales would occur due to the effects of Amendment 4 during the 10-year period following its passage and implementation.”

Vegetation Reminders

Island property owners recently received a mailing with a variety of informational pamphlets for homeowners. Here are a few highlights from the flier about vegetation. 

  • Native plants are protected by law on Sanibel. If you want to remove or move a native tree or shrub, a vegetation permit is required.
  • A vegetation permit is ALWAYS required prior to trimming mangroves and trimming the beach dune.
  • The City requires all landscape contractors, or persons hired to plant, transplant, prune, trim, or remove plants, to have a Vegetation Competency Card. Those who apply fertilizer must also have a Vegetation Endorsement.
  • For new or substantially improved properties, at least 75% of the vegetation in each plant category – trees, shrubs, and groundcover – must be native. This ratio of native plants to exotics is to be maintained in perpetuity.
  • To allow native plants to develop to maturity and provide food and shelter for wildlife, the City requires that pruning be limited to 25% of the leaf area in any one year.
  • The Brazilian Pepper Eradication Program is nearing completion. Removal of pepper from ALL residential and commercial properties is now MANADATORY.
  • In addition to pepper, the City encourages, and in some cases requires, the removal of seven additional exotic plants: air potato, earleaf acacia, exotic inkberry, melaleuca, Java plum, lead tree, and mother-in-law’s tongue.
  • Application of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus is prohibited from July 1 to September 30.

More info at and

Sanibel Beach Parking Permits

Beach parking permits expire on November 30, 2012. Renew your permit at the Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel-Captiva Rd, beginning October 15. A valid vehicle registration for each vehicle and a valid state-issued identification or driver’s license are required. The Rec Center is open Mondays thru Thursdays 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.

Sanibel Center 4 Life

Located at 2401 Library Way, “Sanibel Fit 4 Life”, is also part of the Sanibel Recreation Department and offers a variety of courses, group outings, fitness classes, and book/game/food fun. They are open Mondays thru Fridays 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (May thru October) and until 5 p.m. (November through April).

Will the Presidential Election Affect Real Estate?

A posting in “Daily Real Estate News” on Wednesday, sourced “The Washington Post” August 30, saying:

“The next president of the United States — whether Democratic incumbent Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney — could have a big influence over the recovery taking shape in the real estate market, according to political pundits. “The next president, whoever it turns out to be, is going to have a couple of big housing issues to address,” Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America, told The Washington Post. For example, “What is the government’s role in housing finance, and will consumers have access to mortgages at affordable rates?”

“Neither candidate so far has outlined a specific proposal for the housing market or mortgage lending. However, if re-elected, President Obama is expected to continue adding to his existing programs, such as in foreclosure relief, loan modifications, and by expanding refinancing options for home owners. He is also expected to continue to push for new housing finance rules under the Dodd-Frank Act, The Washington Post reports. If elected, Romney is expected to repeal Dodd-Frank. He also would likely replace it with regulations that would make it easier for the private sector to be a stronger player in the mortgage market, The Washington Post reports. 

“Housing analysts say that the next president will likely have a big influence over the mortgage market, such as determining how much of the real estate market could continue to be subsidized by the federal government. “The decision will have a huge influence on the housing market and the price of real estate, both for the lower end of the market that competes with affordable rental housing and the higher end that has lagged, partly because of lower limits for the size of mortgages that can be purchased and resold by Fannie and Freddie,” The Washington Post reports.

 “Also, the next president will also have to decide whether to ease up lending standards to make it easier for more people to qualify for a loan and the amount of down payment needed to buy a home.”

 Patients at CROW

I am always amazed to read the variety of animals that are treated at Sanibel’s CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife). There are 138 patients at the Clinic pending release now. Here’s the list: 1 Anhinga, 3 Eastern Cottontails, 12 Mourning Doves, 2 Mottled Ducks, 1 Common Grackle, 1 Common Ground Dove, 1 Herring Gull, 9 Virginia Opossum, 1 Osprey, 3 Great Horned Owls, 6 Brown Pelicans, 28 Northern Raccoons, 66 Eastern Gray Squirrels, 1 Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle, 1 Eastern Box Turtle, and 2 Eastern Mud Turtles. If you haven’t visited the new CROW facility, be sure to do it. It is facinating!

“Ding” Darling Days Coming Up

Yesterday, I ran into Birgie Vertesch, Executive Director of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society. In talking about the upcoming 2012 “Ding” Darling Days, October 14-20, she reminded a local family that the first day of this now annual celebration, Sunday, October 14, is a FREE Family Fun Day. If you know a family on Sanibel that day, please be sure to tell them about this event for all ages. Schedule of events on

Sanibel and Captiva Multiples Listing Service Activity August 31-September 7

4 new listings: Sundial #F105 1/1 $295K, Sundial #G401 2/2 $495K, Sundial #E308 2/2 $835K, High Tide #A101 2/2 $1.35M.
3 price changes: Pointe Santo #C4 1/1 now $489.9K, Sundial #L202 2/2 now $625K, Shell Island Beach Club #5D 2/2 now $889K.
1 new sale: Sundial #H306 2/2 listed for $549K.
2 closed sales: Sundial #C206 1/1 $244.9K, Sandpiper Beach #105 2/2 $560K.
2 new listings: 0 Tarpon Bay Rd 3/2 $599K, 1188 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/3 $629K.
2 price changes: 3002 Poinciana Cir 3/2 now $359K, 569 Lighthouse Way 3/3 now $890K.
3 new sales : 293 Palm Lake 3/2 listed for $430K; 660/664 Periwinkle Way 4/2/2 duplex listed for $575,999; 760 Birdie View Pt 4/3.5 listed for $849K.
2 closed sales: 1702 Sand Pebble Way 3/2.5 $385K, 2228 Starfish Ln 3/2.5 $1.1M.

3 new listings: 1340 Eagle Run Dr $279K, 255 Hurricane Ln $339K, 1028 Bayview Dr $1.795M.
No price changes or new sales.
1 closed sale: 925 Whelk Dr $739K.
1 new listing:  Beach Homes #11 3/3 $2.28M.
2 price changes: Tennis Villas #3110 1/1 now $275K, Tennis Villas #3139 2/2 now $405K.
No new or 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.

Waiting for Spring Showers on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Osprey nest in Sanibel Highlands

We are officially in the “almost” off-season with island traffic getting lighter by the day all week. The ride from the office to the toll bridge is back to15-20 minutes, rather than the hour plus that it sometimes takes in February and March. Though a couple of the New England states have visitors arriving for spring breaks, a few slow business weeks are expected until schools are out for the summer and those longer vacations begin.

Dave and I were out looking at a house in Sanibel Highlands this week & noticed the above osprey nest. Look closely and you can see the bird. There is lots of activity in these nests this time of the year. Fun to watch!

SanibelSusan had lunch yesterday with a pal who runs the rental division at VIP Vacation Rentals and he told me that they are ahead of their 2011 bookings for May and into the summer (probably thanks again to Frommer’s high rating), but he concurred that the rest of April is expected to be fairly quiet. 

Here are a few island news items, followed by the week’s Multiple Listing Service activity.

Captiva Nominated for Restored Beaches Award

Photo of Captiva beach from Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

In celebration of the Best Restored Beaches Award’s 10th anniversary in 2012, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) is requesting your votes to help them identify the Best of the Best Restored Beaches. Captiva is among the nominees in the category – Community Beaches. You may vote once per day between now and Friday, April 27, on-line at Voters may also leave a comment about what makes their favorite beach so special to them.

Shell Museum Now in Reciprocal Membership Program

Along with The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum announcing its recent inclusion into the North American Reciprocal Museums Program, the museum now also announces its participation in the Southeastern Reciprocal Membership Program (SERM). This means if you join the museum at the $50 level or above, you automatically become a member of SERM which entitles you to free admission as well as program, lecture, and store discounts and other benefits at nearly 100 museums in 15 states. Some of the participating Florida institutions include Art Center Sarasota, Orlando Museum of Art, and Tampa Museum of Art. To see a list of participating museums, visit the membership page at

3rd Annual Shell Museum Oyster Eating Contest

Team from Doc Ford's Restaurant with author Randy Wayne White at the 2011 Oyster-Eating Contest with our pal, Cindy Porter, who made a grand entrance & then gave it a noble try. (That's Laurie in the back on the stilts.)

In other Shell Museum news, a fundraiser for them is coming up on Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market. Although the contest is the main attraction, the event includes food and drinks from The Timbers, plus shell crafting, face painting for the kids, and a raffle for a Lily & Co. watch. Last year, there were 23 contestants with the winner downing four dozen oysters. For sponsorships or to participate as a contestant, go to

U.S. Visa Programs

There was a good article in the new FloridaRealtors® magazine this month that covered some of the same information that I learned when I was in Orlando in January attending the meeting of our state Resort and Second Home Specialist Forum. Important info for those expanding into the international real estate market and worth sharing:

“Understand U.S. Visa Programs

“Since one of the issues facing international buyers is the amount of time they can spend in Florida, it’s important to understand current and pending U.S. visa programs. In general, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages foreign visitation and foreign investment, but imposes strict rules and requirements that vary from country to country….look at the USCIS website,, or …speak with an immigration attorney.

“In recent years, many international investors have taken advantage of the EB-5 visa program, which is designed to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment. A foreign national who invests $1 million directly into a business that creates at least 20 jobs or invests $500,000 in a regional center that creates new jobs can get a green card and become a permanent U.S. resident.

“The U.S. Congress is now considering the VISIT-USA Act, which is designed to make it easier for some foreign nationals to obtain visas. Called Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America (S.1746), the act has several important provisions including:

Home purchases.  The bill creates a nonimmigrant visa, renewable every three years, for an individual who spends at least $500,000 to purchase single-family homes in the United States. At least $250,000 must be spent on a primary residence where the visa holder will reside for at least 180 days out of the year while paying taxes to the U.S.

Canadian tourism. A new “Canadian retiree visa” (nonimmigrant visa) would be created that would last 240 days and be renewable every three years for Canadians over age 50 who have visited the United States or own a U.S. residence.

Premium visa process.  Visitors could pay a higher visa-processing fee in order to receive a visa interview within three business days, reducing long wait times in countries like Brazil and China.

Videoconference pilot program. A secure videoconferencing pilot program would be authorized for conducting visa interviews, making it easier for applicants to obtain a U.S. visa. Currently, an in-person interview is required.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 6-13:

Deeded beach access path for Sanibel River Estates


3 new listings: Captains Walk #D5 2/1 $224.9K, Tennisplace #B32 2/1 $254K, Spanish Cay #F6 1/1 $299K.
3 price changes: Blind Pass #D205 2/2 now $296.5K, Lighthouse Point #217 3/2 now $349K, Ibis at The Sanctuary #A102 2/2 now $399K.
6 new sales: Sundial #G207 1/1 listed for $245.9K, Mariner Pointe #1043 2/2 listed for $299.9K (our listing), Tarpon Beach #308 2/2 listed for $615K, Kings Crown #215 2/2 listed for $669.9K, Sayana #202 2/2 listed for $849K, Sundial #K208 2/2 listed for $890K.
3 closed sales: Sundial #C204 1/1 $250K, Mariner Pointe #142 2/2 $380K, Sundial #T403 2/2 $485K.
3 new listings: 744 Martha’s Ln 2/2 $459K, 591 Boulder Dr 4/3 $629K, 1274 Par View Dr 3/3 $674K.
5 price changes: 9440 Begonia Ct 3/2 now $499.9K, 1507 Angel Dr 3/2 now $699K, 1244 Par View Dr 4/3 now $858.9K, 1102 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/2 now $1.384M, 1520 Angel Dr 3/3 now $1.598M.
5 new sales: 3812 Coquina Dr 3/2 listed for $425K, 1429 Jamaica Dr 4/3 listed for $495K, 1750 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/2.5 listed for $549K (short sale), 4570 Bowen Bayou Rd 2/2 listed for $699K, 4630 Rue Bayou 4/4.5 listed for $1.249M.
3 closed sales: 661 Cardium St 2/1.5 $325K, 733 Durion Ct 3/2 $550K, 927 Limpet Dr 3/3 $645K (foreclosure).
1 new listing: 218 Violet Dr $579,975.
3 new sales: 2418 Blue Crab Ct listed for $164.9K, 4077 Coquina Dr listed for $224.9K, 2251 Starfish Ln listed for $339K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale:  2423 Blue Crab Ct $220K.
No new listings, price changes, or new sales.
2 closed sales: Tennis Villas #3219 1/1 $210K, Sunset Beach Villas #2323 1/1 $414K.
1 new listing: 15172 Wiles Dr 14/10 mulit-family $10.9M.
4 price changes: 11521 Wightman Ln 4/3 now $1.549M, 11523 Wightman Ln 4/4 now $1.565M, 15009 Binder Dr 4/5.5 now $3.695M, 15747 Captiva Dr 5/6.5 now $7.995M.
No new or closed sales.
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.

Best Weather Comes Right After Summer

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What a quick week. How can it already be Friday? Below are a few news items followed by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands MLS activity for the past week. Lisa will be in the office tomorrow updating our inventory lists. Be sure and let us know anytime you would like an update. They continue to be “best sellers”.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

There was no Realtor Caravan meeting this week, but next Thursday is our monthly Membership Meeting with breakfast and speaker (talking about our canals and waterways). I will be monitoring our Orientation Session for new Realtors® on Tuesday morning (yes, there really are new agents still joining this profession) and was just advised of our annual Professionals Standards training in November. Our Realtor® organization requires that each Association have trained representatives to handle arbitration and ethics complaints. I have been part of that group for years and may eventually qualify as an official Mediator.

Island Weather

After seeing what has been happening around the nation this week, I am almost embarrassed to report how wonderful the weather has been here on the islands. We have had mostly sunny bright days with occasional showers, just enough to keep the temperatures down and the sunsets magnificent. The views driving over the causeway on the Labor Day weekend were postcard picture- perfect, though the beaches and waterways were not very busy. September truly is a wonderful time to be here. Traffic is light and it is a fun-time for the locals to enjoy the islands.

Planning Ahead

If you are thinking about what will be happening on the islands between now and the end of the year and when you should plan your next visits, keep these dates in mind. These are a few of my favorites:

Oct 16-22 – “Ding” Darling Days (we again are sponsors this year)

Oct 23 – 26th Annual Bailey Fest (with a few tunes by the Sanibel Community Chorus – tra-la)

Nov 4 – Sanibel Cracker Fest 2011 by START (Solutions to Avoid Red Tide)

Nov 6 – Sanibel Farmers Market reopens (Sunday mornings on City Hall grounds)

Nov 13 – CROW’s 30th Annual Taste of the Islands (across the street from our office)

Nov 26 – Livingston Taylor at BIG ARTS

Dec 2 – Sanibel Luminary

Dec 4 – Gulf Coast Symphony at BIG ARTS

Dec 8 – BIG ARTS Holiday Concert (with your favorite Realtor® again in the alto section)

Dec 17 – Clyde Butcher Photographer “Adventures in the Swamp) at BIG ARTS

Flooding Affects All of Us

A call to action by our National Association of Realtors® President yesterday was a strong reminder that this year flood insurance has become more important on the national level, as the Eastern seaboard faces the aftermaths of incredible storms. While wind and erosion were issues, the lasting legacy and real expense is related to flooding. Every state has flooding at some time or another, but Congress has yet to extend the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires on September 30. If there is no program, buyers cannot get insurance. They cannot get a mortgage. They cannot close.

Personally, I think it is ridiculous that every year this program goes through the same gyrations and often expires before the program is eventually extended. It is about time for the program to be changed to “natural disaster” insurance, Realtors® have been lobbying for that for years. In the meantime if you are inclined, please write to your congressmen. It might help. We do not want settlements delayed because buyers cannot get insurance.

High-End Still Selling Best

I just did a quick MLS search to confirm recent comments that it is the “high-end” that remains the top commodity on the islands. Here are the results:

Median Asking Price Today – on Sanibel $599,000 – on Captiva $1,295,000

Median Sale Price – 1/1 to 9/9/2010 – on Sanibel $1,608,000 – on Captiva $1,335,000

Median Sale Price – 1/1 to 9/9/2011 – on Sanibel $2,450,000 – on Captiva $2,936,250

What does all of this really mean? There still is a lot of island property for sale – over 500 listings on Sanibel and nearly 150 on Captiva. This year has had more sales over $2M than in many years, but like the lower-end, the well-priced properties are selling to astute cash buyers. We still have a long way to go with most properties selling at 2000 to 2003 prices.

Sanibel & Captiva MLS Activity September 2 to 9

3 new listings: Mariner Pointe #1082 2/2 $349.9K, Seashells #6 2/2 $359K, Sand Pointe #211 2/2 $669K.
2 price changes: Colonnades #47 1/1 now $155K (our listing), Tarpon Beach #201 2/2 now $639K.
4 new sales: Colonnades #10 1/1 listed for $175K, Sundial #C201 1/1 listed for $269K (short sale), Spanish Cay #B1 2/2 listed for $299K, Gulfside Place #128 3/2.5 listed for $1.895M.
2 closed sales: Seashells #35 2/2 $200K, Heron at The Sanctuary II #2B 3/3.5 $599K.

2 new listings: 9454 Cotten Ct 3/3 $619K, 1516 Angel Dr 3/2.5 $1.095M (foreclosure).
3 price changes: 766 Donax St 2/2 duplex now $320K, 4210 Old Banyan Way 3/2 now $599K, 1817 Buckthorn Ln 4/3.5 now $1.16M.
3 new sales: 3808 West Gulf Dr 3/2 listed for $425K, 4248 Old Banyan Way 3/2 listed for $479K, 533 N Yachtsman Dr 3/2 listed for $499K.
2 closed listings: 1615 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex $360K, 720 Birdie View Pt 3/3 $900K.
No new listings.
1 price change: Periwinkle Way now $310K.
No new or closed sales.

1 new listing: Bayside Villas #5228 1/2 $299K.
1 price change: Seabreeze #1251 3/3 now $1.695M.
No new or 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.