Fall Brings Farmers Market, Cooler Weather, & Real Estate Action With Vacation Homes HOT

Susan here, reporting another week of nice sunny island weather with lower humidity and little rain. On my street, the first snowbirds have returned, a predictor of what usually occurs in October as weather starts to turn up north too.

Teammate Dave who wears many hats including handling our off-island listings and sales, had a nice Estero listing close on Monday. We also received a new Sanibel listing Thursday. It’s a unique one – the last vacant near-beach canal-front lot in Shell Harbor. With long water view down the widest east-end canal toward sunrises, our professional photographer just filmed it, including aerial pictures.(View picture below.)

Last night, I attended the City Council meeting where the candidate who will be offered the City Manager position was selected to replace long-time Manager Judie Zimomra who retired this week. It always is inspiring to personally hear the results of the hard work done by these caring elected volunteers. They are a fine example of how islanders live in harmony, with smart citizens making thoughtful unanimous decisions to benefit all. Islanders are very lucky in so many ways.

Sanibel Farmers Market Begins Again

Going into its 14th season, Sanibel Farmers Market reopens this Sunday, October 3 and runs every Sunday through May 29 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., offering goodies from fresh fruit and vegetables, honey and cut flowers, to meats, seafood, prepared meals, cupcakes, bagels, fresh guacamole, native plants, and more.

New Sanibel vendors this year include Mangia Meatballs, Pickles & Olive Garden, Sage & Indigo Juices, Key Lime Pies, Simply Savory Dips, Ackermann Syrups, Courageous Seeds with kava chai, herbal teas, honey elixirs and cedar burning bundles, and Karina’s Kitchen with German food, plus Divine Tea for the month of October.

Local Roots, founded in 2008 by islanders Jean Baer and Betsy Ventura, started on Sanibel and is the owner of the ten most well-known farmers markets in Southwest Florida. It began here at Tahitian Gardens when it was open for just five weeks and with just 15 vendors. Now on the grounds of City Hall, it has about 50 vendors with parking nearby, at the Library, and at BIG ARTS. More info at http://BuyLocalLee.com

Other Openings/Re-openings

Now that October has rolled around, restaurants that took short breaks in September have reopened and ready for “season”. Exceptions are Traders 2 (T2) and Traders. They respectively re-open October 5 and 6.

The Fig East End – mid-October watch for the grand opening of The Fig East End in the former location of the East End Deli, across the street from Lighthouse Café. Owned by The Paper Fig (in Tahitian Gardens) and 400 Rabbits (on Rabbit Rd) folks, The Fig East End will offer “beach eats, market, and take along.” East-enders look forward to their opening.

Permitted Schedule for Irrigation

With the rainy season wrapping up, Island Water in their recent fall newsletter “IWA Pipeline” posted a reminder of the irrigation days/times allowed on the islands. On the allowed days, irrigation is permitted from 12 a.m. – 9 a.m. and/or 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. No watering is allowed any day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The days permitted are:

  • Sanibel: Addresses ending in even number: Tuesdays & Fridays.
  • Sanibel: Addresses ending in odd number: Mondays & Thursdays.
  • Captiva: Addresses ending in even number: Thursdays & Sundays.
  • Captiva: Addresses ending in odd number: Wednesdays & Saturdays.

Please check your sprinkling system and help conserve water.

Vacation Homes Will Defy Any Market Slowdown

Posted Monday Sep 28 on FloridaRealtors® on-line: “While overall home sales show signs of cooling as prices rise and buyers step back, NAR Economist Yun doesn’t see that reflected in sales of vacation homes.

“CHICAGO – The vacation-home market has boomed over the past year and is not likely to slow any time soon, even as the rest of the housing market starts to cool, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), in an interview for The Escape Home, a newsletter for second-home owners.

“Even as companies bring employees back to the office, vacation homes will remain in demand, Yun said, though part of vacation homes’ rise in popularity has been attributed to the growth in remote work.

“Overall, home sales show some signs of cooling, with many first-time homebuyers getting priced out of the market, Yun says. The median existing-home price for all housing types was $359,900 in July, nearly an 18% increase from a year ago. Mortgage rates are also likely to increase, which could make buying even more expensive. NAR predicts that mortgage rates will rise to 3.5% by mid-2022, as the Federal Reserve likely begins to reduce its bond purchases before the end of 2021.

But vacation homes will remain a hot commodity. Rental prices for vacation homes will likely continue to rise too, Yun says. “One near-certain aspect of the post-pandemic economy, when it comes, is the flexible work schedule,” Yun told The Escape Home. “It is very hard to envision five days a week in the office. Therefore, vacation-home sales will continue to move higher this year, next year and for the foreseeable future.””

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® September Membership Meeting

NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 Affecting Flood Insurance – Yesterday, at the Association’s September membership meeting, affiliate business members David Arter with Private Client Insurance Services and Chris Heidrick with Heidrick & Company spoke about the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) changes that become effective today with the introduction of their new Risk Rating 2.0 system. Government reauthorization yesterday, means that NFIP is funded until December 3.

The new Risk Rating 2.0 methodology was created so FEMA could deliver flood insurance rates that are actuarially sound, more equitable, easier to understand, and better reflect a property flood risk. As the speakers described this new rating process, under it, each structure is rated individually, rather than having those side-by-side structures in a particular flood zone having the same rating/cost.

With Risk Rating 2.0, flood maps are not a major factor used for rating. Elevation certificates are no longer required because base flood elevation also is no longer a factor. Grandfathering goes away. Policies are easier to assume. The bad news is that premiums for Sanibel/Captiva properties will be significantly higher. Limits on premium increases, however, require that most rates not increase more than 18% per year.

New policies beginning today (October 1, 2021) will be subject to the new rating methodology. Also beginning today, existing policy holders eligible for renewal will be able to take advantage of immediate decreases in their premiums. All remaining policies renewing on or after April 1, 2022 will be subject to the new rating methodology.

As background, since the flood insurance program began, rates have largely been based on a property elevation within a flood map. Those flood maps have changed through the years. Under the new rating system consideration is taken into what it costs to rebuild a particular structure, more equitably premium costs now will be based on a home value and its unique flood risk.

In general terms, on Sanibel, pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) properties are those constructed before 1980. On Captiva, it is those built before 1985. The speakers recommended that with new listings, Realtors® get the Flood Declaration Page if that seller has flood insurance. With pre-FIRM properties, occupancy no longer matters, but premiums likely will be in the $4K-$5K range. They recommended continuing to ask for Elevation Certificates too, though the info those provide will only be helpful in rating piling homes.

Caravan Listing Announcements – Interestingly during the Caravan portion of the meeting, no new listings were open for viewing. I was happy to announce our two new listings and gladly thanked the agents who recently put two of our listings under contract.

All the action posted since last Friday in the island MLS is below.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity September 24 – October 1, 2021

Sanibel

CONDOS

1 new listing: Sandpiper Beach #404 2/2 $929K.

1 price change: Sundial #D304 1/1 now $579K.

1 new sale: Junonia #101 listed at $1.579M.

5 closed sales: Sanibel Inn #3532 2/2 $750K, Pointe Santo #B33 2/2 $841K, Oceans Reach #3A1 2/2 $870K, Tantara #102 2/2 $1.039M, Island Beach Club #330E 2/2 $1.225M.

HOMES

5 new listings: 4221 Old Banyan Way 3/2 $1.279M, 941 Kings Crown Dr 4/3 $1.35M, 1437 Causey Ct 3/2.5 $1.395M, 1585 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $1.5M, 2379 Wulfert Rd 4/4.5 2.495M.

3 price changes: 1294 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $975K, 930 Kings Crown Dr 3/2 now $1.795M, 1349 Bay Dr 4/4 now $6.395M.

4 new sales: 328 Palm Lake Dr 3/2 listed at $899K, 1434 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $899K, 1294 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $949K, 4601 Rue Belle Mer 3/2 listed at $3.65M.

6 closed sales: 5802 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 3/3.5 $981K, 3010 West Gulf Dr 3/2 $1.25M, 9464 Calla Ct 3/2.5 $1.45M, 5747 Pine Tree Dr 3/3 $1.475M, 509 Lagoon Dr 3/2 $1.65M, 518 N. Yachtsman Dr 3/3 $2.795M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 860 Lindgren Blvd $1.2M (our listing).

860 Lindgren Blvd & Shell Harbor  beach access with parking

1 price change: 0 Rue Bayou now $699K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Beach Villas #2626 1/1 $684K.

No price changes, new or closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings or price changes.

2 new sales: 14865 Captiva Dr 4/4 listed at $1.699M, 11559 Laika Ln 4/3.5 listed at $6.9M.

1 closed sale: 10 Sunset Captiva Ln 2/2.5 $1.395M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

Until next Friday, be well, safe, & enjoy your fall!

Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

A Critical Look at Sanibel’s Real Estate Market

If you are lucky enough to be here this week, I bet you are enjoying the fabulous weather, yet occasionally grumbling about the traffic. It has remained remarkably summer-like for days. A mini-cool front is here today (has already cooled into the 60’s), but it will be back into the 70’s tomorrow and expected to continue like that until the end of next week when another cool front is expected. More about that then.

The extra visitors from the Monday holiday have made it challenging for those coming on-island in the morning and traveling off- in the afternoon. Periwinkle Way has not been our friend, but those directing traffic at the 4-ways should be commended for keeping things moving even when it is at a crawl. Seriously, the great weather makes up for it. Nothing like having the sunroof open to a bright blue sky in February.

Beach

Mayor Ruane Speaks at Association of Realtors® Membership Meeting

Yesterday, was the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® February Membership Meeting and breakfast. Those events usually are held in the Association’s building, but this one was hosted by The Community House (Sanibel Community Association.

2020-02-20 Membership Mtg

Community House logoThe Community House – has been serving the islands since 1927 as a gathering place for social events. It was there that many island organizations and non-profits began – and where the City incorporation vote took place in 1974. Remodeled just three years ago, the new historic Community House today is a meeting place for many island clubs and the venue for island events, like the Shell Fair. Classes are held there, the facility rooms are available for rent, and the new Culinary Education Center of Sanibel is there with resident chef and cooking classes offered. The buffet breakfast spread put out yesterday was amazing.

Sancapbank logoSanibel-Captiva Community Bank – Big thanks to David Wright and the Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank for sponsoring the breakfast. If you don’t know David, he is the bank Senior Vice President and heads their lending department. His segue into telling attendees about the bank was without a doubt the best segue ever. It is a great bank providing funding for many local businesses, renovations, mortgages, and more.

Sanibelcityseal logoMayor Kevin Ruane – This is the Mayor’s last term (his 11th) as he is running for a Lee County Commissioner seat. His speech on “the State of the City” included such tidbits as Sanibel’s millage rate now being the lowest in its history and how he has become a “professional beggar” to be successful in getting state and national attention and funding for the island’s biggest and most important resource – water quality. Not only are the City’s finances now in excellent order (as an accountant that’s what he knows best), but his leadership as President of Florida League of Cities (412 cities) continues to help us. He threw out such statistics as the real estate and tourism value of Florida cities affected by water quality. That number is mind-boggling at $2 trillion. Another excellent tidbit he mentioned is a quote that he remembers from Florida’s former Governor Scott: “One out of every ten visitors to Florida, eventually lives here.” That’s music to Realtors®’ ears. (Though I try to keep my Friday updates free from politics, I hope you vote for Kevin Ruane for County Commissioner. After cutting Sanibel’s taxes by 24% and increasing City reserves while reducing City debt by nearly 74%, it sure would be great for the county to also benefit from his financial prowess.)

Caravan Meeting – During the Caravan portion of these Thursday meetings is when Realtors® announce new listings, new sales, price reductions, and changes in homeowner and condo associations fees and assessments. The postings since last Friday in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follow a couple of news items below. The first one may shed some light on why few sales were announced.

How’s The Market on Sanibel?

Realtors® are frequently asked “how’s the market”, so we often quiz each other with that very same question, comparing notes and trying to figure out why some properties are selling, and others are not. Is it easy to say, “business is always off a little in an election year”? Sure, and it usually is. But another complication is that the islands still are recovering from the effects of red tide in 2018/2019.

As a statistics-loving gal, I always find that trends also pop up when you least expect them.

The first table below confirms that home sales continue to outpace condo sales. It also shows that both condo and home sale prices over the last 12 months, as compared to the last election year (2016), are less than they were then. Exceptions are near-beach homes where the average sale price is up 5% and inland homes, where average sale price is up 25%, compared to four years ago. Other home category locations like gulf-front, bay-front, and canal-front show average sale prices down compared to 2016.

Looking at Sanibel condos, average sale prices are down when looking at total condo sales, especially those in residential complexes.

ON
SANIBEL
Sold in Last 12 Months
For Sale 2/20/2020
Sold Last Election Year, 2016
#
Avg $
#
Avg $
#
Avg $
All Homes
221
920,715
209
1,473,571
181
979,576
Homes on Gulf
3
3,033,333
12
5,902,833
7
3,604,500
Homes on Bay
4
1,708,625
11
3,646,909
2
2,132,500
Homes on Canals
40
1,177,078
40
1,315,162
38
1,232,362
Homes Near-Beach
101
827,585
78
999,398
83
788,889
Homes Inland
40
719,237
38
740,452
34
570,029
All Condos
136
699,373
140
819,776
143
717,768
 Residential Condos
16
866,615
22
1,019,172
32
931,230
Income-Producing Condos
120
677,074
118
781,736
111
656,229

The next table looks strictly at the number of Sanibel sales. There is about a year’s worth of inventory in homes and condos. Considering vacant lots, there is more like a four- to five-year supply.

Was there a dip in the number of sales during the 2016 election year? Absolutely. Was the market rebounding at a healthy pace when the red tide arrived in the summer of 2018? That analysis involves digging in the number of sales by month, but I can tell you that 2018 was a very good year until that happened. Then heavy red tide effects were felt last year. Since the water cleared last October, sales have been good – not excellent – but good.

crystal ballThe crystal ball (which I now keep on my desk) says that 2019, even with the upcoming election year, but barring an unforeseen international event, will continue to show market improvement on the islands, though supply and demand, as always, will rule. With inventory high for the time of the year and just eight weeks of high season left, it is going to be interesting to see how this year compares to 2016.

SanibelSusan always is optimistic, but cautiously this year.

# for
Sale
# Sold
2020 to-date
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
All Homes
209
24
211
218
186
181
236
206
197
183
180
Homes >$2M
35
2
10
23
12
14
14
7
18
12
13
Homes <$600K
28
7
51
57
49
50
81
81
83
101
91
All Condos
140
20
127
155
140
143
160
164
162
151
141
Condos >$1M
36
3
21
27
22
23
29
22
12
11
15
Condos <$500K
52
12
44
48
49
47
71
71
82
79
67
All Lots
74
2
15
21
32
25
43
27
26
33
19

Thinking of Retiring to Southwest Florida & Wondering About Health Care Here?

lee_health_logo_masterHere is an article I saw on the internet this week: “Six Southwest Florida hospitals are among the top 250 hospitals in the nation for overall clinical excellence, according to Healthgrades. The private rating firm in Denver, Colorado, has released its report cards for the top performers among 4,500 hospitals nationwide.

“All four acute care hospitals run by Lee Health in Lee County are among the top 250 hospitals, or best 5%. (Lee Memorial Hospital, Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center and HealthPark Medical Center)

“Dr. Larry Antonucci, President and CEO of Lee Health, said in a statement the system is proud its four acute-care hospitals are among the best 250 hospitals. “Over the last few months our hospitals have received superior marks from the most-respected hospital-rating organizations in the country, and the consistency of these scores show that we are providing exceptional care to Southwest Florida,” he said in a statement.

“Overall, patients treated in top-performing hospitals have a nearly 27% lower risk of dying than if treated at a hospital that are not among the best, according to Healthgrades. Data used in the analysis is from the three years from 2016 through 2018 and involves Medicare data only.”

Gov. DeSantis Launches $8M Initiative To Make It Easier for Veterans To Buy Homes

pensacola news journal logoPublished February 19, 2020 in the “Pensacola News Journal”: Gov Ron DeSantis announced a new $8 million initiative to provide veterans with down payment and closing costs assistance to purchase new homes in Florida, part of a broader effort to ease veterans’ transition from active duty service to civilian life and attract more veterans to the state.

“The governor announced the initiative, officially called the “Salute Our Soldiers Military Housing Loan Program,” at the University of West Florida on Wednesday. The announcement came just hours after he was at the Pensacola International Airport to announce a $4.8 million grant for the expansion of ST Engineering’s new campus in Pensacola.

“The military housing loan program will take effect March 2, the governor told reporters, veterans and UWF staff gathered in the president’s office building on Wednesday. It will be available to both active duty military personnel and veterans, and will be administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. The plan will also offer assistance for securing low-interest mortgages.

“”These funds will assist over 1,000 veterans and active duty members by making the home buying process easier and more affordable. … More veterans calling Florida home is good for our state,” DeSantis said. “We look forward to the positive impacts that this program will have on the lives of our veterans. But this is also a selfish thing, because the veterans have a very positive impact on communities here in the state of Florida.””

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Sanibel realtors logoActivity February 14-21, 2020

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Tennisplace #B24 2/1.5 $339K, Casa Blanca #4 1/1 $360K, White Sands #23 2/2 $1.199M (our listing), La Playa #B3 3/2 $1.595M.

White Sands Aerial With Yellow Arrow on 23

The yellow arrow points to White Sands #23 where the gulf view is fantastic!

 

10 price changes: Mariner Pointe #952 1/1 now $389K; Sundial #I405 1/1 now $419K; Pointe Santo #D21 2/2 now $569K; Loggerhead Cay #263 2/2 now $628K; Compass Point #222 2/2 now $649K; Villa Sanibel #2H 2/2 now $717,007; Heron at The Sanctuary #3B 3/2.5 now $799K; Sanibel Surfside #126 2/2 now $824K; Gulfside Place #222 2/2 now $1.195M (our listing); Atrium 103 2/2 now $1.248M.

IMG_7811

This view at Gulfside Place #222.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: Sandpebble #1A 2/2 $400K, Surfside 12 #A1 3/2 $690K.

HOMES

6 new listings: 2150 Egret Cir 3/2 $678K, 1021 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 $710K, 975 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $789K, 1761 Venus Dr 4/4 $2.3M, 1558 San Carlos Bay Dr 3/3.5 $2.989M, 4381 West Gulf Dr 5/5.5 $11.5M.

20 price changes: 730 Cardium St 2/2 now $549K, 970 Palm St 3/2 now $559K, 1973 Wild Lime Dr 4/3 now $574.9K, 1954 Roseate Ln 3/2 now $579.9K, 550 Leather Fern Pl 3/2 now $629K, 1014 S.Yachtsman Dr 3/3 now $710K, 701 Nerita St 3/2 now $712K, 1085 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $719K, 1978 Roseate Ln 3/2 now $730K, 1285 Par View Dr 4/2.5 now $839K, 1501 Sand Castle Rd 5/3.5 now $879K, 401 Lagoon Dr 4/4 now $920K, 979 Whelk Dr 3/2.5 now $969K, 792 Birdie View Pt 3/3.5 now $1.027M, 3358 St.Kilda Rd 3/3 now $1.047M, 6425 Pine Ave 4/3 now $1.395M, 2391 Shop Rd 3/2.5 now $1.799M, 1323 Seaspray Ln 4/4.5 now $1.975M, 2964 Wulfert Rd 5/5.5 now $3.35M, 4014 West Gulf Dr 4/3 now $3.499M

10 new sales: 430 Old Trail Rd 3/2.5 listed at $547K, 1717 Sand Pebble Way 3/2 listed at $609K, 5303 Lady Finger Lake Rd 3/2 listed at $679K, 1410 Albatross Rd 3/3 listed at $779K, 822 Beach Rd 4/4 duplex listed at $819K, 1283 Isabel Dr 3/2 listed at $1.1M, 532 Sea Oats Dr 3/4 listed at $1.195M, 637 Lighthouse Way 3/4 listed at $1.2799M, 4630 Rue Bayou 4/4.5 listed at $1.389M, 5044 Joewood Dr 4/4.5 listed at $2.15M.

2 closed sales: 1851 Farm Trl 3/2 $545K, 1414 Causey Ct 3/2 $851K.

LOTS

2 new listings: 971 Main St $205K, 5749 Sanibel-Captiva Rd $672K.

No price changes, new, or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Bayside Villas #5110 1/2 $369.5K.

No price changes.

3 new sales: Tennis Villas #3119 1/1 listed at $285K, Tennis Villas #3220 1/1 listed at $329.9K, Lands End Village #1619 2/2 listed at $1.549M.

2 closed sales: Tennis Villas #3137 2/2 $465K, Beach Cottages #1404 2/2 $1.245M.

HOMES

1 new listing: 11542 Wightman Ln 5/5 $3.2M.

No price changes, new, or closed sales.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

Until next Friday, here’s hoping your weather is like Southwest Florida, where it’s fantastic even when the sun isn’t out! Enjoy your weekend,

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

“High Season” Is Winding Down on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

sunset from master“Season” must be winding down. There were lots of empty seats yesterday at our Thursday Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of Realtor® Caravan meeting.

Island traffic has eased up some too, but the bike paths, causeway, and beaches remain busy with lots of families continuing to enjoy the islands’ early summer-like weather.

Rumor has it that reservations are dropping from 100% occupancy to about 75% tomorrow. But, many of us still have buyers arriving – mostly those looking for investment properties that are hard to view in “season”.

Several states continue to have spring school breaks right through the end of the month, so the islands “shoulder” weeks this year should remain busy.

The action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows a couple of news items. This week, we got a new home listing that went under contract in record-time. As the MLS report shows, over the last seven days, home sales outnumbered condo sales three to one.

141 Sanibel homes have already sold or are under contract this year, with just 135 remaining on the market. With Sanibel condos, 77 have sold and 112 are for sale. Lot sales are picking up some too; but 77 Sanibel lots remain for sale, with 24 sold/under contract this year to-date.

Below are a couple of photos thanks to teammate Realtor® Dave:

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Special SanibelSusan Gift

Old OfficeI got a great surprise Tuesday night after sponsoring the BIG ARTS 3rd Annual Photography Scavenger Hunt to benefit BIG ARTS scholarships. Island artist and BIG ARTS instructor, Bea Pappas, presented me with a thank you collage that she made. It includes an old Sanibel post card of our office building back in the days of City incorporation (1974). It was a gift shop then, called “The Last Straw”. Next time you are in the office, check it out. We have it proudly displayed by the front door, next to our antique Sanibel map from 1833.

Photo Scavenger HuntNext year’s Photo Scavenger Hunt already is in the planning stages, so if you will be on the island at this time next year, plan to join in the fun. After receiving just five clues, teams of two to four, with digital cameras in hand, scour the island to take pictures that they think best describe each clue. Some teams walk or bike, others ride. This year, the clues included: “warped”, “prickly”, “going up”, and “layered”.

Two hours later, the teams return to BIG ARTS and submit their photos. The pictures then are combined into a video showcase and judged, all while the teams enjoy a gourmet boxed dinner. After dessert, the video is featured during the awards show in Schein Performance Hall.

ButterflyScavengerHuntPrickly Scavenger HuntThis year, seven great gift basket prizes were awarded, one for each clue, a People’s choice award, plus the “best in show”. There were some creative entries.

Judges were Pam Broderson, well-known island artist and resident (www.PamBroderson.com), who for 24 years had a commercial photography studio in Chicago; island photographer David Meardon (www.SanibelPhoto.com) whose work is seen in many publications, including National Geographic; and long-time Fort Myers “News Press” photographer, Andrews West (www.AndrewPWest.com).

Steve Greenstein, Executive VP at the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, was the emcee again this year and only lobbed a couple of Realtor® jokes my way. Thanks to all who participated and contributed! And to Bea, we love the collage!

Nesting Alert

Ding Darling Society logoBorrowed this from the April 2, 2015 issue of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Newsletter:

snowy plovers“Spring means wildlife nesting season! Please be mindful of snowy plovers nesting on the beach. Click here for a bulletin about giving nesting shorebirds space. Please avoid areas on Sanibel beaches roped off to protect our plovers.

Alligators too are laying and hatching eggs this time of year. Mother gators can be very protective and aggressive, so avoid getting near their nesting areas and be extra observant out in the Refuge.”

The New Hot Housing Market: Vacation Homes

realtor logoTuesday’s “REALTOR®Mag” on line offered the following:

“It’s a good time to have a vacation real estate niche. Vacation home sales jumped to a record high in 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey. Vacation home sales climbed to an estimated 1.13 million last year, the highest since NAR began its survey in 2003.

“Sales of vacation homes rose 57% compared to the 717,000 tally in 2013. Vacation sales in 2014 nearly doubled the combined total of the previous two years. “Affluent households have greatly benefited from strong growth in the stock market in recent years, and the steady rise in home prices has likely given them reassurance that real estate remains an attractive long-term investments,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Furthermore, last year’s impressive increase also reflects long-term growth in the numbers of baby boomers moving closer to retirement and buying second homes to convert into their primary home in a few years.”

Vacation home sales comprised 21% of all transactions in 2014 – the highest market share since NAR began conducting its survey.

“As vacation home sales soared, investment purchases dropped for the fourth consecutive year, the report showed. Investment home sales in 2014 fell 7.4% to an estimated 10.2 million in 2014 compared to 1.1 million in 2013. The market share of investment sales dropped to 19% in 2014 from 20% in 2013.

“”Despite strong rental demand in many markets, investment property sales have declined four consecutive years to their lowest share since 2010 as rising home prices and fewer distressed properties coming onto the market have further reduced the number of bargains available to turn into profitable rentals,” Yun says….”

Upbeat Economic Forecast for Realtors®: It’s No Joke

Florida Realtors logoYesterday’s FloridaRealtors® on-line, posted a summary of the recent Economic Summit in Naples (sourced to the “Naples Daily News”). The Naples market is much like that here on Sanibel and Captiva:

“Have you heard the one about two economists and an appraiser? Bearing happy national and regional forecasts, all three killed it before a cheering crowd of about 400 real estate agents at the annual outlook summit of the Naples Area Board of Realtors Tuesday afternoon at the Naples Grande Beach Resort.

“The jolly tone was largely set by Elliott Eisenberg, former senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C., who now runs his own firm called Graphs & Laughs. He brought out the lighter side of household deleveraging, yield curve inversions and the quirky global dance between the dollar and deflation.

“Pointing out that lower energy prices and interest rates have allowed households to pay down debt and put an extra $1,600 in family budgets, he noted that this has allowed people to spend more on “stupid stuff, which is the American way – and this is good for the economy.”

“But while having more money to spend, coupled with a strong dollar abroad, has made it easier to buy pricey imported fripperies like red-soled Louboutin shoes and sporty BMWs, as well as cheap European vacations, there are some downsides, he said. That’s because a strong dollar makes it harder for American manufacturers to compete internationally, he said.

“”When it comes to manufacturing, things kind of suck,” said Eisenberg, noting that improvements in that sector are what pull an economy in and out of a recession.

“And because “corporations have become tightwads” and aren’t putting as much money as they could into new plants and their employees’ paychecks, the economy isn’t rebounding as quickly as it could, Eisenberg said.

That’s put a damper on homeownership among first-time buyers, who are just starting to emerge from their parents’ basements and form households.

“Nevertheless, on balance, the future is rosy, he predicted.

“Hiring is up and new unemployment claims down, which should put consumers on a strong footing in the future. While seven would-be workers pursued every job opening during the recession, now fewer than two do, he said.

“You can sleep with the boss’s wife and not get fired,” Eisenberg joked.

“Moreover, he expects the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise short-term interest rates before the fall, and won’t do it quickly partly because it doesn’t want to spark deflation and partly because the “rest of the world is in the garbage can” and the global economy may suffer as a result.

“He expects rates will rise slowly from its current near-zero level to about 3.2% by the end of 2017.

“Eisenberg also doesn’t expect a return of the dreaded yield curve inversion, where short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates like mortgages, which generally presages a recession.

“”No recession is in the cards unless something external happens,” like a war or other unanticipated event, he said, exhorting the crowd of entrepreneurs to begin to take “prudent risks in your business – but don’t go nuts.”

“While he took a less jocular tone, Florida Realtors chief economist John Tuccillo drew smiles when he noted that “short sales have become museum pieces” and that the issues that once dominated the market – namely foreclosures and huge backlogs of unsold supply – are no longer the bugbears they were a few years ago.

“What seemed like a mountain has turned into a ski run,” he said.

“Negative equity loans – also known as underwater mortgages – have also declined to about 30% statewide from about 50% five years ago.

“Predicting positive effects on the state’s economy from the opening of Cuba and the expansion of the Panama Canal, as well as continued population and job growth, he expects home sales statewide will rise 10% year-over-year in the near future.

“Home prices also will grow, he said, albeit at a slower pace than in the past. Values should rise about 4.5% annually, he said, which are close to historical norms.

“Naples-based appraiser Cindy Carroll remarked that on a local level, both price growth and inventory levels vary markedly by location and neighborhood.

“For instance, some places, like Port Royal, may have already reached the top of their economic cycle and now have an oversupply of inventory, while others, like Royal Harbor and the Vanderbilt Beach area, still have room to run.

“But she still expects a long-term appreciation rate of about 6% in most neighborhoods.

“While that’s not a return to the go-go years of the housing boom, Carroll is still bullish about the region’s overall growth prospects.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 3-10 

Sanibel
CONDOS
4 new listings: Mariner Pointe #121 1/1 $369K, Sundial #J401 1/1 $499K, Sanibel Surfside #117 2/2 $995K, Dosinia #2B 3/2 $1.299M.
2 price changes: Sundial #A305 2/2 now $799K, Seascape #105 3/3 now $1.825M.
3 new sales: Sundial #F306 1/1 listed for $379K, Ibis at The Sanctuary #201 2/2 listed for $459.5K, White Pelican #123 2/2 listed for $799.9K.
3 closed sales: Colonnades #44 1/1 $189.5K, Tennisplace #B23 2/1.5 $285K, Sedgemoor #206 3/3.5 $2.1M.
HOMES
5 new listings: 1593 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $529K, 4515 Bowen Bayou Rd 3/2 $585K, 238 Southwinds Dr 3/3 $625K, 554 East Rocks Dr 3/2 $699K, 1525 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $829K.
12 price changes: 982 Main St 3/2.5 now $439K, 9106 Mockingbird Dr 2/2 now $525K, 220 Palm Lake Dr 3/3 now $565K, 741 Nerita St 3/2 now $639.9K, 4241 Old Banyan Way 3/2 now $759K, 3364 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $799K, 489 Lake Murex Cir 4/2 now $899K, 518 N Yachtsman Dr 3/3 now $1.099M, 1245 Isabel Dr 3/3.5 now $1.695M, 4206 Dingman Dr 4/3 now $2.695M, 1204 Isabel Dr 3/3.5 now $3.795M, 3911 West Gulf Dr 5/5.5 now $4.895M.
12 new sales: 1938 Roseate Ln 3/2 listed for $329K; 766 Donax St 2/2 duplex listed for $415K; 659 Donax St 2/2 $499K (our listing); 3724 Agate Ct 2/2 listed for $549K; 542 Chert Ct 3/2 listed for $549.9K; 1347 Jamaica Dr 2/2 listed for $550K; 2984 Island Inn Rd 3/2 listed for $599,999; 1209 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 listed for $789.9K; 4458 Waters Edge Ln 3/2 listed for $829K; 667 Anchor Dr 4/3.5 listed for $1.1M; 2514 Blind Pass Ct 4/3/2 listed for $1.425M; 821 Sand Dollar Dr 4/4 listed for $1.589M.
6 closed sales: 1063 Blue Heron Dr 3/2 $475K, 4037 Coquina Dr 3/3 $800K, 201 Violet Dr 3/2 $850K, 261 Ferry Landing Dr 2/2 half-duplex $918K, 819 Lindgren Blvd 4/3.5 $1.09M, 1309 Seaspray Ln 5/5 $1.835M.
659 Donax St

659 Donax St

LOTS
1 new listing: 2453/2441 Los Colony Rd $225K.
1 price change: 0 Pine Ave now $248.5K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: 4019 Coquina Dr $200K.
Captiva
CONDOS
3 new listings: Bayside Villas #5310 3/3 $595K, Beach Villas #2414 2/2 $610K, Beach Homes #19 3/3 $2.695M.
2 price changes: Bayside Villas #414 1/2 now $265K, Marina Villas #707 2/2 now $595K.
1 new sale: Marina Villas #902 2/2 listed for $650K.
1 closed sale: Lands End Village #1654 3/3 $1.6M.
HOMES
No new listings.
2 price changes: 14981 Binder Dr 3/3 now $1.049M, 13550 Palmflower Ln 4/3.5 now $4.97M.
2 new sales: 19 Urchin Ct 2/2.5 listed for $889K, 16183 Captiva Dr 4/3.5 listed for $3.985M.
No closed sales.
LOTS
Nothing to report.

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

TGIFHAPPY FRIDAY! SanibelSusan (Susan Andrews)