Another Picture-Perfect Friday on Sanibel Island


Another Friday has arrived with the islands settled into a steady post-season routine – essentially no traffic delays on Periwinkle, no lines at local restaurants, but still vacationers here enjoying summer-like weather at the beaches, on the bike paths, and outdoors in general. They are benefiting from lower off-season accommodation rates too.

dolphins 11-6-15

Overall, inventory remains fairly low and sales activity is a little slow. At our last “season” weekly Realtor® Caravan meeting yesterday, only a couple of new sales were announced and just six new listings were open for viewing.

The schedule of these Thursday morning caravan meetings has now switched to the ever-other-week summer schedule which will apply until new listing activity picks up again in the fall. The next meeting on May 12 will be an “Open Caravan” – meaning property that either east or west-end properties may be included. That “open” schedule flexibility will continue until fall.

Sanibel Inventory in Perspective

sancap GO MLS logoUsing the data from the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service as of April 29 and comparing the activity year-to-date with the sales during the same timeframe last year, here are the standings. Also included are the same statistics for 2006 – the year of the market “peak”. Though ten years ago, it is interesting how those statistics compare to the same 4-month period (January 1 through April 29).

# for Sale                         # Sold/Closed 2016  # Sold/Closed 2015   #Sold/Closed 2006

Median Asking Price     Median Sale Price     Median Sale Price     Median Sale Price

SANIBEL CONDOS:

96                                       56                                   64                                   73

$662,450                          $664,500                    $662,000                      $799,000

SANIBEL HOMES:

154                                       59                                  94                                  59

$997,000                          $795,000                    $764,000                      $899,000

What does this mean? Though inventory is low, particularly when compared to previous years, there still is a lot. At the current rate of sales, there are about seven months of condo inventory and over ten months for homes.

Typically, there are fewer island sales in the spring and summer, with more last quarter and first quarter, but this year is a bit of an anomaly. The median sale price is up, but the number of units sold is down, both for condos and homes. If election year jitters calm down, it certainly will help.

A couple of the articles below about the economy and predictions for the rest of the year offer more insight. The action posted over the last week in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service follow the news.

Work To Upgrade AT&T Signal Under Way at Donax Tower

flag cell towerAccording to an article posted in last Friday’s “Santiva Chronicle”, “AT&T appears to be getting closer to the long-awaited signal upgrade on Sanibel. Heavy equipment is presently on the site along Donax Street where the cellphone tower that doubles as a heavy-duty flagpole sits. AT&T told the city early this year that the upgrade would occur in the second quarter of 2016.

““The city issued a building permit to the AT&T subcontractor well more than a month ago and the city had been previously advised that AT&T planned to install its communications equipment during the second quarter of 2016,” City Attorney said in an e-mail on Thursday, April 21.

AT&T_logo_svg““Our understanding is that the AT&T subcontractor has now commenced construction of the ground building that will house the generator and ground equipment which supports the communications equipment to be installed within the tower,” Cuyler said.

“Finally getting the new equipment running on the Donax tower will help alleviate the frustration AT&T customers have experienced with weak signals and dropped calls….”

Islanders Briefed on Blind Pass at Stakeholders Meeting

santiva chronicleAs reported in the “Santiva Chronicle” this week – “Keep Blind Pass open and keep it open in a correct way – That was the consensus of about 100 people attending the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study meeting at The Sanctuary clubhouse Thursday evening, April 21.

“The meeting was hosted by the Lee County Natural Resources Division to discuss the status of the ongoing study of Blind Pass and to take input from stakeholders. It drew a cross section ranging from Sanibel and Captiva officials, to members and officials of island non-profits and residents of the immediate area.

““Everything is on the table. We have powerful tools to develop this model,” Steve Boutelle, operations manager of the Lee County DNR, said.

“The meeting was to take community input to supplement the vast amount of data that is being gathered to determine the best way to keep one of the key inlets open and the water within it circulating as it should be.

Blind Pass is the inlet that separates Captiva and Sanibel. Its history, which was reviewed by B&I, the consulting firm hired by the DNR, is one of closing, opening and moving around as a result of natural forces and human intervention.

BlindPass_1953_4H_75

“Michelle Pfeiffer of B&I presented a number of slides and charts, and she also had aerial shots of the various shapes the volatile inlet has taken through the years. The most dramatic was in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes marched through, “forever altering Blind Pass,” according to B&I’s Tom Pierro.

Blind pass 2002

“Blind Pass has been dredged and one more dredging is scheduled before the current permit to do so expires. Presently the pass is in extremely shallow condition with people easily wading across and causing boats with shallow drafts to struggle.

blind pass sanibel

“Ann Vanderbilt spoke for the 300 members of the Bayous Preservation Association, a citizens group that works to restore and maintain the water quality in the area, including Blind Pass. She was the first of several to point out the recent cooperation between stakeholders when it comes to Blind Pass.

“The DNR got valuable input from knowledgeable residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, including Harvey Padewer and John McCabe. Both men spoke for others in the hope that whatever decision is arrived at for Blind Pass, that it will keep the water circulating and improve water quality.

““Blind Pass has a history of opening and closing. The decision has been made to keep it open. Our goal is to determine how best to do that,” Boutelle said.

““The study is in the very early stages, so it is very important to get input from you at this time,” Pierro told the stakeholders.

“Tidal inlets that connect the ocean to estuaries are important to the ecology of estuaries. Decreased water flows in the estuaries generally lead to increased sedimentation and accumulation of nutrients.

“Thursday’s meeting was the first of three. The DNR team said it expects a second meeting in two months with a third to follow.”

4 Housing Predictions for the Rest of 2016

FreddieMacLogo_3From Monday’s “Daily Real Estate News” on line, sourced to: Freddie Mac

“Freddie Mac economists are still upbeat about the housing market’s outlook for the rest of the year, despite recent data that showed a gloomier first quarter in economic growth than originally projected. According to Freddie Mac’s April outlook, housing will “maintain its momentum in 2016 and be an economic engine of growth.”

“”We’ve revised down our forecast for economic growth to reflect the recent data for the first quarter, but our outlook for the balance of the year remains modestly optimistic for the economy,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, we maintain our positive view on housing. In fact, the declines in long-term interest rates that accompanied much of the recent news should increase mortgage market activity, particularly refinance.”

“Economists made the following predictions for the remainder of 2016:

  • Employment: The labor market is expected to stay strong. The unemployment rate is projected to drop back below 5% for 2016 and 2017. “Stronger economic growth for the remainder of 2016 and reduced slack in the labor market will drive wage gains above inflation, though the gains are likely to be modest,” Freddie’s report notes.
  • Mortgage originations: Loan originations are estimated to rise by $50 billion in 2016 and reach $1.7 billion. The forecasted boost is a result of low mortgage rates that are fueling a refinancing boom.
  • Mortgage rates: Low mortgage rates are expected to stick around longer. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.7% in the first quarter. “After lowering the forecast for subsequent quarters by a tenth of a percent, expect rates to average 4% in 2016,” Freddie Mac researchers note.
  • Housing prices: Home prices will rise by 4.8% in 2016 and by another 3.5% in 2017, Freddie Mac researchers predict. These rising home prices will lead home owners’ to see more equity gains.”

Why the Economy Is Slowing

NAR gray-logoBy my favorite economist as posted in RealtorMag” last Thursday, this article is sourced to “Forbes”, April 19, 2016:

“The economy has been on a roller coaster ride the past few years. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, points to two main reasons behind the latest slowing of the economy: Constrained homebuilding and business spending.

“Homebuilders have been slow to up their production of new homes. They’ve been plagued with labor shortages and a shortage of suitable land for development. They’re also facing new housing permit rules and new financial regulations on small-sized banks. All of these factors are contributing to an “abnormally sluggish homebuilding recovery in this cycle,” Yun notes in his column at Forbes.

“What’s more, this contraction in home building is contributing to an overall sluggishness in the economy, Yun says.

“Housing starts in March were about 1.09 million units at an annualized pace. While it is up 14.1% from a year ago, it’s still far from historical levels.  Normal activity is usually about 1.5 million housing starts a year. Yet, builders have been producing fewer than 1.1 million units since 2008. Prior to that, housing starts had not dipped below that level since 1981 and 1982, when mortgage rates were near 20%, and in 1991 when the economy was in a recession.

““Had the housing starts rebound been like in past cycles – that is, quickly getting back up to 1.5 million new units – then broad economic growth would have been markedly stronger,” Yun notes in his recent column at Forbes.

““With soft housing starts, GDP growth is similarly expected to be soft, barely above the zero growth line in the first quarter. … Had the economy moved along at the normal historical growth rate of 3% average annual GDP growth compared to what we actually experienced over this past decade, the typical American would have an additional $7,000 this year.”

“But homebuilding isn’t the only factor leading to a slowing economy. The economy also has been slowing due to “an unusual trend in recent years of business spending being below corporate profits,” Yun says.

“He explains: “For most of U.S. history, business spending (defined as the sum of spending for non-residential equipment and intellectual property products in GDP accounting) was higher than corporate profits. Borrowing, typically by new small businesses, had permitted more spending. That is, America always had more entrepreneurial ideas than money. But in recent years, ideas are apparently no longer in abundance and corporate cash is sitting on the sidelines and not doing much.”

“Yun notes that he believes an increase in homebuilding and business spending are key to getting the economy back on track.”

Turtle Nesting Season Begins Sunday

Turtle CrawlAs reported in “The News-Press” on Wednesday: “Although nesting season doesn’t start until Sunday, there have been two nests this year, on Captiva and Fort Myers Beach.

“Turtle nesting season runs from Sunday, May 1, through Oct 31.

“Turtle nesting season begins Sunday and experts are hoping the four-year trend of high nesting continues.

After almost a decade of a low count of nests, females have been coming ashore in higher numbers since 2012. But Eve Haverfield, president and founder of Turtle Time, says that doesn’t mean 2016 will be another top year.

Sea Turtle Nest

“We are hoping for the best,” she said. “Last year was a good season and we are hoping for another one.”

She said a real pattern has not been established with nesting numbers.

““They are better, but they are not out of the woods yet,” Haverfield said. “Just because you had one or two or three good years, that does not mean the species has recovered. You don’t want to draw conclusions over a few years.”

“Still Haverfield is always positive about turtles. “We are eternally optimistic,” she said.

Seaturtlehatchlings

“Last year Bonita Beach had the first nest of the season, but this year that honor goes to Captiva that had a nest laid on April 21. That is just one day short of the record for the earliest nest laid there on April 20, 2012.

“Kelly Sloan, turtle coordinator for the Sanibel/Captiva Conservation Foundation, is excited about having the first nest and also about a new program piloting on Sanibel. For the first time Sanibel will have two volunteers that patrol the beach four or five nights a week to tag the mother turtles.

“Tagging has been done for years on Keewaydin Island in Collier County and by Mote Marine. Sloan said tagging on Sanibel will add to the pool of knowledge and let researchers see if there are changes in patterns and the genetics of the turtles that come on shore. “Part of the reason is to see if there is a genetics break at San Carlos Bay,” Sloan explained. Her 120 volunteers will also be patrolling Sanibel and Captiva in the morning and putting screens around the nests to prevent coyotes from eating the eggs. Sloan said this program was very successful last year. “We are hopeful for another great year,” Sloan said.

“Maura Kraus, senior environmental specialist for Collier County Natural Resources is also hopeful for another great turtle season. “We are hoping it is all the work we have been doing all these years. Everything we have been doing, hopefully we are seeing an upward trend,” Kraus said. Kraus said for the last three decades there has been a strong push to help sea turtles, from more public awareness to turtle excluder devices on shrimp boats to the work done on beaches around the state.

loggerhead_sea_turtle_baby_blog““Loggerheads take 30 years to reach maturity. So hopefully we are seeing the results of our hard work,” she said. Kraus is feeling a lot better about turtle season now than she did in the past. “In 2002 we were getting a little nervous. It was pretty worrisome,” she said about the low number of nests then.

“Kraus said most people in Collier County comply with keeping lights from shining on the beach and pulling furniture from the sand at night. But one problem she does see is people who dig holes in the sand and then don’t fill them in. “So we want to make sure people fill in the holes,” Kraus said. “People should stay off the beach at night. Everyone has their lights on their phones and their cameras on the phones and we don’t want that on the beach at night.”

“Although nesting season doesn’t start until Sunday, volunteers have been monitoring the beaches since April 15. So far there have only been two nests this year, the one on Captiva and one laid on April 25 on Fort Myers Beach.

“Now that nesting season is beginning, Haverfield wants people living along the beach to use amber LED lighting and to close their drapes at night. Hatchlings follow the lights of the horizon to find the water and can be disoriented by unnatural light.  She said most people do comply, but there are some that still shine too much light on the beach. “People have been very supportive,” Haverfield said. “People love the fact that sea turtles nest on our beaches.”

FACT BOX

*Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida

*Adults grow to more than 3-feet long and weigh 200-350 pounds

* They may travel thousands of miles from feeding grounds to nesting beaches

* Female turtles nest on the same beaches where they were born.

* A female loggerhead may nest 1-7 times during a season at about 15 day intervals

* Incubation takes 55-65 days

* The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. Cooler sand produces mostly males, while warmer sand produces mostly females.

* Hatchlings are about 2 inches long

* Hatchlings emerge at night and are guided by the lighter Gulf horizon to the water

THE LAW

Both interior and exterior lights must not be visible on the beach.

People can explore the different options of LED fixtures at: http://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/certified

Beach furniture must be removed from the beach from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (must be behind the dunes and vegetation or up against the house)

The rule is in effect from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. May 1 to Oct. 31.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 22-29, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

2 new listings: Lighthouse Point #122 2/2 $499K, Sanibel Arms West #B8 2/2 $548.9K.

3 price changes: Beach Road Villa #105 2/2 now $424K, Blind Pass #A102 2/2 now $429K, Sanibel Surfside #127 2/2 now $1.065M.

3 new sales: Donax Village #14 2/2 listed at $529K, Sanctuary Golf Villages 1-1 2/2.5 listed at $595K (our sale), Clam Shell #E 3/2.5 listed at $995K.

3 closed sales: Sanibel Moorings #211 1/1 $365K, Shell Island Beach Club #5A 2/2 $790K, West Shore #3 3/3 $1.637M.

HOMES

5 new listings: 956 Dixie Beach Blvd 2/1 $410K, 3118 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $619.9K, 810 Elinor Way 3/2 $679K, 2313 Wulfert Rd 4/3 $1.15M, 243 Southwinds Dr 4/2.5 $1.195M.

8 price changes: 2407 Shop Rd 3/1 now $349K; 1635 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex now $464K; 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 now $499,999; 5306 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $625K; 5299 Ladyfinger Rd 3/3 now $749K; 588 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $779K; 563 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $795K; 1238 Isabel Dr 5/3/2 now $3.864M.

6 new sales: 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 listed at $529.9K, 441 Lake Murex Cir 3/3 listed at $569K, 702 Oliva St 3/2 listed at $649K, 1858 Farm Trail 3/2 listed at $649K, 676 Emeril Ct 3/2 listed at $749K, 841 Lindgren Blvd 2/2 listed at $899K.

3 closed sales: 1565 Bunting Ln 3/2 $585K, 911 Strangler Fig Ln $2.219M, 3421 West Gulf Dr 5/4.5 $6.8375M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 1329 Par View Dr $349K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: 1310 Par View Dr listed at $359,555.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Seabreeze #1251 3/3 $2.25M.

No price changes, new, or closed sales.

HOMES

1 new listing: 15 Seascape Ct (Sunset Captiva) 3/2.5 $995K.

2 price changes: 1135 Longifolia Ct 4/4.5 now $4.295M, 16560 Captiva Dr 7/7.5 now $6.5M.

1 new sale: 19 Urchin Ct 2/2.5 listed at $879K.

No closed sales.

LOTS

1 new listing: 956 S Seas Plantation Rd $2.1M.

1 price change: 16298 Captiva Dr now $5.049M.

No new or closed sales.

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

Until next Friday, Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

Sanibel’s April Flowers Waiting for May Showers


Hibiscus

The SanibelSusan Team continues to enjoy the island’s post-season limited traffic and wonderful weather. Our news this week is short due to a busy schedule in the office…showings…more showings…even more showings…lots of internet inquiries…and then a nice closing today.

Our weekly report of the activity posted over the last seven days in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service follows the below article from Sunday’s edition of the “Santiva-Chronicle” about how Sanibel fared in the recent Florida legislative session.

Sanibel Saw Success in Florida’s Legislative Session

Sanibelcityseal logo“Sanibel came away from the recently concluded session of the Florida Legislature with flying colors, Dan DeLisi, the city’s legislative consultant, told the City Council at the council’s recent meeting on April 5.

The city received funding for two projects at the Donax Wastewater Reclamation Plant on the island and, along with the rest of Florida, made great strides on broader water quality issues involving the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee.

““You won’t see a city this size get money like this,” DeLisi told the council. He noted the projects first had to clear both houses and then dodge a gubernatorial veto. Projects like Sanibel’s usually get cut at some point, he said.

“DeLisi said State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-76 which includes Sanibel, did “the heavy lifting” with a big assist from State Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-79 which includes northern Lee County.

“Sanibel received $825,000 for the two projects at the Donax plant.

“Also of major significance to Sanibel were the legislature’s handling of the Legacy Florida bill and the Water Policy bill.

“A key part of the Legacy Florida bill is getting the Amendment 1 documentary stamp revenues appropriated in the right direction. The bill requires that $100 million be dedicated to funding the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

““Segregating money for CERP helps to move forward with large construction contracts, specifically for the C-43 Reservoir, and provides a basis for our federal partners to consider how they meet their cost-share obligations through constructing other projects,” DeLisi said.

“The Water Quality Bill, which almost got through in the dysfunctional 2015 legislative session, did pass this time and addressed five major areas, among them water quality in the Lake Okeechobee watershed.

““Changes to how water quality in the Lake Okeechobee watershed will be enforced is the section that has the most impact on the City of Sanibel,” DeLisi said.

““It was an historic session,” he said. “They really got a lot done. We had tempered expectations and got historic results.””

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 15-22, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Sundial West #I207 1/1 $315K, Pointe Santo #C36 2/2 $875K, Tamarind #A102 2/2 $1.695M.

4 price changes: Donax Village #14 2/2 now $529K, Kings Crown #208 2/2 now $799K, Pointe Santo #B25 2/2 now $799K, Atrium #201 3/3 now $1.595M.

4 new sales: White Caps South #5 1/1listed at $520K, Sealoft Village #106 2/2 listed at $599K, Bayview Village #2A 3/3 listed at $693K, Sanibel Seaview #A-1 3/3 listed at $1.199M.

5 closed sales: Compass Point #221 2/2 $585K (our listing), Sundial West #A305 2/2 $799K, Kimball Lodge #306 2/2 $800K, Shorewood #2 3/3 $1.195M, Sedgemoor #102 3/3.5 $2.4M.

HOMES

2 new listings: 1112 Olga Ave 6/2.5 multi-family $885K, 276 Ferry Landing Dr 3/3 $974.9K.

13 price changes: 9292 Belding Dr 3/2.5 now $439K, 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $529K, 1410 Causey Ct 3/2 now $599K, 5279 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2 now $648K, 4648 Buck Key Rd 3/2 now $649K, 1487 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 now $799K, 1321 Par View Dr 3/2.5 now $875K, 792 Birdie View Pt 3/3.5 now $999K, 1740 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/3.5 now $1.095M, 1126 Harbour Cottage Ct 3/2 now $1.495M, 1052 Whisperwood Way 3/3 now $1.524M, 2118 Starfish Ln 4/5 now $1.799M, 584 Kinzie Island Ct 3/4 now $1.945M.

2 new sales: 9027 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 listed at $799K, 283 Ferry Landing Dr 3/2 listed at $1.995M.

5 closed sales: 656 Anchor Dr 3/2 $585K, 3301 Twin Lakes Ln 2/2 $585K, 485 Peachtree Rd 3/3 $712.5K, 345 East Gulf Dr 3/2.5 $899K, 4355 West Gulf Dr 4/3 $3.4M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 644 Sea Oats Dr $329K.

No price changes or new sales.

1 closed sale: 0 Dinkins Lake Rd $215K.

Captiva 

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Beach Villas #2517 1/1 now $497.5K.

No new or closed sales.

HOMES

2 new listings: 11411 Old Lodge Ln 4/3 $1.895M, 16163 Captiva Dr 3/2 $2.695M.

2 price changes: 11523 Wightman Ln 4/4 now $1.895M, 15161 Captiva Dr 4/4.5 now $2.295M.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: 15000 Binder Dr 3/2 $1.0325M, 11535 Wightman Ln 3/3 $1.105M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

 

Until next week, here are a few favorite blooms found on the island! TGIF!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusanfrangipaniDrift rosebougainvillea

 

What’s Happening After “High Season”


SanibelSusan Realty from Periwinkle WayWinding up the second 2016 post-season week, The SanibelSusan Team already is itching for more action. We appreciate being able to drive down Periwinkle at the end of the workday without delays, but several days this week, even the phones have been too quiet.

More of our condo listings were vacant this week, for the first time in months, so my team has held a few open houses, but very few prospects visited. Even the island Realtor® Caravan meeting yesterday was lightly attended. Details on the week’s action in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Service follow some news items below.

The below article posted in the “Santiva Chronicle” last Saturday resonates a similar tone about the market. It was written by Realtor® colleague Sarah Ashton who brought the buyer for our listing at Compass Point, scheduled to close soon. We kibitzed then about island sales.

Does The Market Seem Slow?

santiva chronicle“This is a recurring question about Island Real Estate that has been circulating for the last month or so.

“Both 2014 and 2015 saw a return to an active market and an absorption of a good deal of our outstanding inventory. At the end of 2015, we were at lows in inventory that rivaled historic for the Islands. With this reduced inventory and the economy moving into recovery, we faced the real possibility that 2016 was not only going to be another active year, but also one with some measurable price increases. We were expecting “A Pop.”

“With the first quarter of 2016 over, and these questions about the pace of the market expressed, let’s take a look at where we are, by the numbers.

“In 2015 there were 68 houses and 48 Condos that closed in the first quarter. In 2016 we have seen 44 house and 40 Condos closed. Thus far in 2016, we have experience a roughly 30% reduction in the number of closed sales as compared to the same timeframe in 2015 and prices have remained primarily flat over last year.

“Will this trend continue for the rest of 2016? Great question and a crystal ball might help. What we do know is that a confluence of El Nino warm weather produced the wettest January on record which affected the water quality. Combine that with the warmest winter in the Midwest and Northeast in many years. Combine both of these with an Early Easter and perhaps a bit of pre-presidential election jitters and we may just have created the perfect storm for a mini-pullback in our Real Estate market.

“These conditions will all pass. However it may be that until we get to the 4th quarter of 2016 we won’t experience the “Pop”.”

Here’s An Interesting Statistic

realtor logoAccording to National Association of Realtors® President Tom Salomone’s message in the March/April issue of “Realtor” magazine, “one in every 220 adults in the U.S. is a Realtor®.”

For years, some colleagues jokingly have said that when a person retires here – right after getting their Florida driver’s license, they also take the real estate exam. With this national statistic, it must be happening elsewhere too.

The Upside to a Changing Market

Florida Realtors logoAs described in the April 2016 issue of “Florida Realtor®”, there has been a change in the international buyers and sellers doing business in Florida. As the article says “the international market is changing, but there are still opportunities….”

“International buyers and sellers accounted for 11% of the state’s residential transactions in 2015. The largest countries for global buyers were Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, China, Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela….Because global buyers tend to buy higher-priced homes and condominiums, they had a 24% share of total residential sales volume.

“International buyers love Florida’s real estate market. It’s an attractive vacation destination with convenient air access from Canada, Europe, and Latin America…But Florida’s appeal to those buyers is affected by many factors, particularly changes in foreign exchange rates that can make Florida properties more expensive or reduce their cost. The recent strengthening of the U.S. dollar has slowed the pace of foreign purchases by Canadians, Europeans and residents of some Latin American countries.

“Immigration and visa restrictions can be problematic for potential buyers, who also pay close attention to U.S. attitudes toward immigrant groups….Here is a closer look at Florida’s most important global markets.

canada-flagCANADA –In 2015, Canadians were only 11% of international buyers, a steep drop from 32% the prior year, primarily because of a less favorable exchange rate. Canadian buyers in all income segments like buying homes in the Sunshine State. Traditionally, French-speaking Canadians from Quebec have bought along the I-95 corridor, while English speakers from Ontario and the western provinces have gravitated to Central Florida and the Gulf Coast….

UK FlagUNITED KINGDOM – U.K. buyers were 5% of the state’s international market in 2015, down from 7% in 2014 and 15% in 2010. A stronger U.S. dollar has led to a decline in sales to buyers from the U.K. and other northern European countries…That trend had had a greater impact on U.K. buyers investing in rental properties…But lifestyle buyers who want to spend six months in Florida are still purchasing here…U.K. buyers traditionally favor Central Florida and often buy relatively inexpensive vacation homes near Orlando’s theme parks….

Germany flagGERMANY – German buyers were 2% of the state’s international market in 2015, down from 5% in the prior year…In Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland, a real estate transaction is not valid until a notary signs the document in the presence of both parties….” So some education is involved here.

french-flag-largeFRANCE – French buyers were 3% of the state’s international market in 2015, unchanged from 2014. In the past decade, French buyers and investors have significantly increased their presence in the Florida market…When property values dropped during 2008-09, many European investors saw an opportunity here…Now, South Florida has a significant number of French, Italian, Spanish, Belgian and Swiss owners…. French buyers tend to purchase in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties….French buyers like Europeans are looking for residences with special features such as landscaping or interior design…They do not want cookie-cutter houses or condos…The quality of construction and the details of the architecture are very important.

china flagCHINA – Chinese buyers have increased their presence in recent years and now constitute 4% of international buyers, up from 1% in 2011. In the past few years, South Florida has attracted a growing number of buyers from China, as well as Korea, Vietnam, India, the Philippines and other Asian countries….In some cases,… parents will buy a home close to a campus, planning to hold it for four years or longer….Access to quality education and clean air are top priorities for Chinese buyers….

Brazil flagBRAZIL – Brazilian buyers were 9% of the state’s international market in 2015, up from 6% in 2014. For the past five years, Brazil has been one of Florida’s strongest international markets. Many affluent buyers purchased new condominiums and resales in the Miami market in all-cash transactions for personal use or investment. But the inflow of buyers from South America’s largest economy has been slowing over the past year, due to an economic recession, a political corruption scandal and the devaluation of the Brazilian real, which has fallen to record lows compared with the U.S. dollar.

Argentina flagARGENTINA – Argentine buyers were 7% of the state’s international market in 2015, up from 3% in 2014….

Flag_of_ColombiaCOLUMBIA – Columbian buyers were 7% of the state’s international market in 2015, up from 4% in 2014….

venezuela flagVENEZUELA – Venezuelan buyers were 18% of the state’s international market in 2015, up from 3% in 2014…. As Venezuela is one of the world’s major oil producers, its economy has been hit hard by the 2015 downturn in oil prices…and their recession is expected to deepen this year…”

What Does This Mean for the Sanibel/Captiva Market? And SanibelSusan Realty Associates?

Narrowing Florida’s recent international business to just the area of Sanibel and Captiva, European countries continue to dominate the islands’ buyer market. Most recent transactions with Canadians have been with them selling, usually because of the exchange rate. There is little business here with residents of Asia and South/Central America, but that could and, likely will, change.

Proxio logoProxioPro.com – SanibelSusan has a long-standing profile on www.ProxioPro.com which is a site known as the international MLS and global real estate network for referrals and sales. Comprised of mostly real estate professionals with internationally-recognized designations, through ProxioPro, I have personal connections with offers to pay referral fees to over 450 world-wide real estate professionals who have reached out to me indicating that they have buyers interested in Sanibel and Captiva.

My most recent ProxioPro out-of-country referral requests came from France and Canada, followed by Brazil, Greece, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. In-country requests have come mostly from agents on the other coast of Florida, particularly Miami. California and Texas are the two states that also have brought many recent requests.

world properties logo.jpgWorld Properties.com – Also powered by Proxio, www.WorldProperties.com is the official website of the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations – similar to a global version of www.Realtor.com. The consortium is comprised of real estate associations in 117 member countries which have set standards to facilitate real estate transactions and agreed to abide by specific codes of conduct. Here too, our listings are posted and translated into the various languages of the member countries.

juwai logoJuwai.com – This summer, my plan is to get a company profile and our listings posted on Juwai which is an international property portal for Chinese-speaking buyers looking to purchase property outside their country. On a national level, last year Chinese buyers surpassed Canadians in U.S. purchases, though most of these buys were on the west coast or in New York. Like most everywhere today, the Chinese economy is settling into a new normal. Considering that China has never been as large or powerful as it is now, my guess is that investment property here will appeal to them – if only they knew about it. Many in China are seeking not only safe monetary harbors, but also better educational opportunities for their children, so you can be sure that I will be touting the success of nearby Florida Gulf Coast University as well as other schooling opportunities here.

Why More Americans Are Heading South

From a recent posting on “Daily Real Estate News”:

RealtyTracLogo_166x32“A rising number of Americans are heading to southern states, lured by a combination of warmer weather, affordable housing, lower taxes, and less congested cities, according to a new report published by RealtyTrac called “The Next Great Migration of ‘Housing Refugees’ On the Move.”

“New census data confirm the findings. Since 2014 alone, more than 1.4 million people have moved to the Sun Belt, mostly from the Northeast and Midwest, according to Census Bureau data.

“That marks a stark difference to previous mobility trends. For more than a century, Americans predominantly headed west to cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. But lately, that migration trend is taking a turn south.

““This 20th century movement west, which has dominated American demographic patterns for decades, may now be reversing itself in the 21st century as rising housing costs, stagnant job creation, restrictive land-use laws and no-tax states, pull Californians, Midwesterners and Northeasterners eastward and southward to less costly regions and more business-friendly states in the Sun Belt,” RealtyTrac’s report notes.

“Americans are fleeing pricey coastal states like California and New York and heading to states considered more affordable, such as Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas, according to a recent United Van Lines report.

During the Great Recession, populations in the Sun Belt saw a decline, but now analysts are saying there’s a renewed “Snow Belt–to–Sun Belt migration pattern,” notes William H. Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

“Florida is especially feeling a heat wave of new residents. For the first time in nearly a decade, Florida added more people than California between July 2014 and July 2015, according to Census Bureau data. That helped Florida emerge as the third most populous U.S. state, jumping ahead of New York (and following California and Texas).”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 8-15, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Captains Walk #A8 2/2 $365K; White Caps South #5 1/1 $520K; Loggerhead Cay #373 2/2 $595,555; Sealoft Village #106 2/2 $599K.

3 price changes: Mariner Pointe #712 2/2.5 now $549K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #1-1 2/2.5 now $595K, Heron at The Sanctuary II #1B 2/2.5 now $610K.

1 new sale: Island Beach Club #330C 2/2 listed at $795K.

3 closed sales: Seawind #A101 2/2.5 $495K, Sundial West #G404 2/2 $559K, Sanibel Seaview #C3 4/4 $1.615M.

HOMES

5 new listings: 340 East Gulf Dr 2/2 $625K, 1710 Sand Pebble Way 3/2 $715K, 5749 Pine Tree Dr 3/3 $749K, 6188 Henderson Rd 3/2 $779K, 841 Lindgren Blvd 2/2 $899K.

7 price changes: 5131 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 2/2 now $465K, 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $529.9K, 1772 Serenity Ln 3/2 now $679K, 5757 Pine Tree Dr 3/2.5 now $875K, 232 Robinwood Cir 4/3 now $1.285M, 6491 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 2/2 now $1.795M, 513 Lighthouse Way 3/3 now $2.4M.

7 new sales: 848 Rabbit Rd 3/2 listed at $379.9K, 441 Lake Murex Cir 3/3 now $569K, 5303 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 listed at $649K, 3711 Agate Ct 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 2459 Harbour Ln 3/3.5 listed at $949K, 460 East Gulf Dr 2/2.5 listed at $1.289M, 882 Beach Rd 4/3 listed at $1.395M.

4 closed sales: 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 $538.5K, 557 N Yachtsman Dr 4/3 $700K, 280 Ferry Landing Dr 3/2 $875K, 169 Southwinds Dr 3/2 $1.234M.

LOTS

1 new listings: 1304 Eagle Run Dr $339K (same lot that closed earlier in the week).

2 price changes: 2486 Wulfert Rd now $189,555; 6217 Starling Way now $1.295M.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 1304 Eagle Run Dr $205K.

Captiva

CONDOS

3 new listings: Tennis Villas #3231 2/2 $405K, Sunset Beach Villas #2316 1/1 $510K, Bayside Villas #5302 3/3 $629.9K.

No price changes.

1 new sale: Bayside Villas #4302 3/3 listed at $605K.

No closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 6790 Captiva Dr 5/5  multi-family listed at $5.25M.

1 closed sale: 16251 Captiva Dr 7/4.5 $2.15M.

LOTS

Nothing to report

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

Until next Friday, here’s a photo like the one so many folks post on social media, saying “It’s the road to paradise”.

It is… TGIF, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Causeway bridge

“High” Season Over on Sanibel & Captiva Islands


Yes, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. Early Easter this year made for an early end to “high season” here. This week, several of our normally-booked condo listings were vacant – the first time in months. Once the last of the spring breaks are over, it likely will be quiet here again until schools are out and summer visitors start to arrive.

The Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday was well attended. The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® now has 31 broker offices with 284 Realtor® members. Announcements included a handful of new listings and a few sales, but mostly price reductions. The SanibelSusan Team had a new gulf-view condo listing go “live” last weekend. A few photos are below. It’s Nutmeg Village #303, top-floor, remodeled 2 bedroom 2 bath, with bright open kitchen, and views of the beach/gulf from all windows on both sides of the property!

View b

Kitchen bFront ViewMore snowbirds are departing daily and the recently-installed traffic cams are working, so roadways are easing up. I ran into the City Manager yesterday and as we were commiserating about “season”, she shared an email that she had just received from a happy winter visitor commending her and her staff and sharing some personal positive thoughts on the wonders of the island. Even in the throes of “season”, Sanibel is the “the best”. We too appreciate all the City does to make it that way.

After a couple of news items below is the activity posted in the Sanibel/Captiva Multiple Listing Service over the last seven days.

2016 Predicted to Be Housing’s Golden Year

Posted last Friday on “Realtor®Mag”:

“Officials from mortgage giant Freddie Mac have made a bold prediction: This year housing starts and home prices will reach their highest levels since 2006.

FreddieMacLogo_3 “The main reasons behind its bullish forecast is low mortgage rates, an improving job market, and a gradual increase in housing supply. “Housing markets are poised for their best year in a decade,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “In our latest forecast, total home sales, housing starts, and home prices will reach their highest levels since 2006.”

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains well-below 4% this year. This week it averaged 3.71%. “Expect the 30-year mortgage rate to remain very attractive throughout the spring home-buying season, staying below 4% until the second half of the year,” according to Freddie Mac’s monthly Outlook for March.

“For home sellers, they’ll be able to enjoy more home price increases. “In 2015, house prices increased about 6% on a year-over-year basis,” Freddie notes in its outlook. “Expect house prices to continue to rise, but at a moderating pace, with annual price appreciation slowing to 4.8% in 2016.”

“Also, gains in employment across the country will help to fuel hotter housing markets, according to Freddie Mac. The unemployment rate dropped below 5%.

That said, challenges remain for the housing market, particularly with wage growth. Wages remain “anemic, barely keeping pace with inflation,” Freddie Mac officials caution. “If wages and incomes do not start rising, then rising interest rates, home prices, and rents will squeeze households and ultimately slow housing markets,” Freddie Mac notes.

“Despite some headwinds, officials remain mostly upbeat. The “nation’s housing markets should sustain their momentum from 2015 into 2016 and 2017,” the outlook notes.”

Flood Insurance Rates Up April 1

NationalFloodInsuranceProgrThe below article was posted last week in the “Sun Sentinel” Fort Lauderdale and reprinted in FloridaRealtors® on-line last Friday, April 1. It’s long, but a good explanation of the changes this month in flood insurance rates.

“Flood insurance rates are set to increase for all policyholders today as the National Flood Insurance Program continues to dig itself out of $24 billion in debt incurred in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and other recent emergencies.

“That means policyholders and their insurance agents will once again be forced to wade through a bewildering barrage of bureaucratic lingo like “Lapsed and reinstated pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (Pre-FIRM) policies,” “Pre-FIRM primary residences,” “preferred risk,” “standard rated,” “Biggert-Waters” and “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.”

“And those phrases are from just two paragraphs of a news release Thursday from state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s office alerting Florida residents of the coming rate increases. McCarty says it’s important for Florida residents to carry flood insurance on their property. Of the National Flood Insurance Program’s 5.1 million policies, about 1.8 million are in Florida.

“”Although Florida’s hurricane season has been mild over the last 10 years, it is important that we not forget how easy it is for one storm to cause a great deal of damage and destruction from flooding,” the news release quoted McCarty as saying. “Tropical Storm Fay is a good example of a storm that made slow progress through the state leading to massive flooding problems for several Florida counties back in 2008.”

“Flood insurance premiums will increase an average of 9% nationwide, excluding some surcharges and fees, said Susan Hendrick, spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“But those increases will vary depending on whether buildings are primary homes, built prior to the 1980s, in flood hazard zones, or have been paying artificially low premiums since flood zone maps were first created in the 1980s.

“Flood insurance rates are based on flood zone maps developed and revised by FEMA for each county in the U.S. The maps estimate how high flood waters will rise after a storm likely to occur once every 100 years.

Homeowners with mortgages backed by a federal lending guarantor such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are required to carry flood insurance if they live in a special flood hazard zone. Flood hazard zones are typically near the ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway or canals, or in low-lying areas….

“In 2012, after hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and other major storms plunged the flood program deeply into debt, Congress enacted the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which was intended to remove government discounts and bring insurance rates charged for risky properties up to levels reflecting actual risk. But many owners of those risky properties were enraged by the increases in their renewal notices in 2014, and they pressured Congress to throttle back on the rate of increases.

“The result was a 25% annual limit on rate increases for properties in flood hazard zones, paid for with a new surcharge imposed on all property owners.

“Here’s a breakdown of the most-common property types and rate increases their owners will face as of Friday:

“Properties in flood hazard zones that were grandfathered into the program with subsidized rates will see premiums increased by 25% this year – and each year into the future until they are no longer paying subsidized rates.

“Totaling roughly 20% of the 5 million properties insured by the National Flood Insurance Program, these grandfathered, subsidized properties are called “pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (pre-FIRM)” properties because they were built before their communities’ first FEMA flood zone maps were created in the 1980s.

“”When the program first started, the government decided not to penalize homes built before the 1980s” by forcing them to pay actuarially sound (or fair market) rates, FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said. Instead, the government allowed them to pay discounted rates until 2012.

“Properties subject to 25% increases include non-primary residences and business properties. Grandfathered-in primary homes will see increases up to 18%, as will properties that are neither homes nor businesses – such as churches, non-profits and schools.

“Preferred-risk policies – which are policies written for properties within moderate- or low-risk zones B, C or X zones and not required with government-backed mortgages – will see premium increases of up to 15%.

“The Federal Policy Fee introduced last year will increase from $22 to $25 for preferred-risk policies and from $45 to $50 for standard-risk policies, which are policies in flood hazard zones.

“Another charge known as the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act Surcharge will remain at $25 for houses, townhomes and condo units used as primary residences by their owners and $250 for all other buildings, including vacation homes and businesses. This is the surcharge approved in 2014 to help offset the cost of distributing policy rate hikes over several years for properties in flood hazard zones.

“The Reserve Fund Assessment will increase from 10% to 15% for Preferred Risk Policies. The assessment is already at 15% for all other types of policies.

“Property owners should purchase insurance by May 1 if they want to be covered at the start of hurricane season on June 1, according to the news release from the state insurance commissioner. Coverage is now offered by several private insurers at rates comparable to the National Flood Insurance Program, and to cover values exceeding the federal program’s limit of $250,000 per home and $500,000 per business, the release said.

“For more information, flood insurance customers are urged to contact their agents or go to floodsmart.gov.”

The Dunes Will Get Four Speed Bumps

DunesEntrySignAs described in Tuesday’s “Santiva Chronicle”

“Sand Castle Road in The Dunes neighborhood of Sanibel will have four speed bumps on it next tourist season following a request by the Dunes Board of Directors and action by the Sanibel City Council on Tuesday, April 5.

The removable speed bumps are the second tier of traffic control recommended to the city and they will be in place during the peak tourist and traffic season. The Dunes is used as an alternate route off and on the island during peak traffic times via Dixie Beach Road on one end and Bailey Road on the other end….

“The city identified the problem of motorists cutting through The Dunes and contracted with Johnson Engineering to gather data and recommend solutions. Johnson recommended two tiers of traffic control. The city implemented Tier 1 in January 2015 by reducing The Dunes speed limit from 25 to 20 mph and reducing the speed in the curves on Sand Castle from 20 to 15 mph.

“Increased police patrols were part of Tier 1. Police Chief Bill Tomlinson said that in 14 months since the reduction in the speed limit that his department has spent about 10 hours a week patrolling traffic in The Dunes and has issued 206 traffic citations.

“The four speed bumps will be 14 feet long and will rise to a height of 4 inches above the road surface. On each side of the bumps will be a 2.5-foot buffer to allow passage of pedestrian and bicycle traffic….At its junction with Albatross and Bailey roads, Sand Castle goes both directions in a circle. Motorists can go either way and two speed bumps will be installed on each of the north and south portions of Sand Castle.”

Sanibel Farmers’ Market To Stay Open Through May

Sanibel Farmers MktFarmers Market Brussels SproutsBy unanimous vote on Tuesday, Sanibel City Council voted to allow the Sanibel Farmers’ Market to stay open this season through the last Sunday in May.

The popular market was slated to close down for the season at the end of April, but owners of market operator Local Roots, asked the city to extend to May 31 due to its great success this season.

The market is open Sundays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. See you there!

Stage a Baby Boomer Home the Millennial Way

The Washington PostAn article posted on “Daily Real Estate News” this week was sourced to “The Washington Post”, March 31, 2016. It has some good tips.

“Like every generation, millennials’ needs and tastes differ from their parents’ generation, as plenty of surveys have attested to. But as millennials become home owners, how can your baby boomer home sellers amp up their homes’ appeal to this younger generation’s tastes?

“David Charron, president and chief executive of the multiple listing service MRIS, offered up a few tips on presenting a home to appeal to millennials in a recent column in The Washington Post. Here are a few of his suggestions:

Entryway: “Millennials prefer their living spaces to be streamlined,” Charron notes. “A home’s entryway is one of the easiest places to make a good first impression.” For example, builders are adding shelves next to electrical outlets for charging stations in new construction. Sellers can do the same. Set up a dedicated command center near the door with a place to stow keys, mail, coats, and bags, and add a tastefully styled power strip or charging center.

“Common areas: Millennials place a high emphasis on socializing, so make sure the kitchen and living room show the spaces as great places to host a party. For example, a taller-than-usual kitchen table with bar chairs may offer up that picture. An open layout arranged with several seating areas also can help buyers visualize how the home can accommodate big group gatherings without feeling too crowded. For an open house, offer up a beverage and snacks station so that visitors can see and experience the entertaining aspect of the home.

“Children areas: Millennials span the ages of 20 to 35, and many are starting families or plan to soon. They are looking for places where they can keep an eye on young children as they play indoors along with kid-friendly areas. Display maps with nearby playgrounds, parks, and bike paths outlined to show the area has plenty to offer children.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity April 1-8, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

Spa

Beachside amenities at Nutmeg Village on Sanibel

 

3 new listings: Nutmeg Village #303 2/2 $799K (our listing), Clam Shell #E 3/2.5 $995K, Pointe Santo #E6 2/2 $1.25M.

4 price changes: Mariner Pointe #522 2/2 now $499K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #3-3 2/2.5 now $675K, Surfside 12 #B1 3/2 now $999K, Sanbel Surfside #127 2/2 now $1.095M.

4 new sales: Coquina Beach #5D 2/2 listed at $375K, Sundial West #B207 1/1 listed at $489.9K, Sanibel Siesta #402 2/2 listed at $559K, Shorewood #2B 3/3 listed at $1.349M.

7 closed sales: Sundial West #H408 1/1 $385K, Mariner Pointe #1073 2/2 $425K, Sunset South #6B 2/2 $477.5K, Sunset South #4C 2/2 $750K, Sundial West #E205 2/2 $764K, St. Croix #4 2/2.5 $890K, High Tide #A301 2/2 $1.895M.

HOMES

6 new listings: 1722 Serenity Ln 3/3 $525K, 980 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 half-duplex $525K, 702 Oliva St 3/2 $649K, 4760 Rue Helene 3/2 $1.1M, 1360 Eagle Run Dr 5/3.5 $2.495M, 900 Snowberry Ln 4/3 $3.595M.

5 price changes: 1635 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex now $469K, 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $534.9K, 1024 S Yachtsman Dr 3/2 multi-family now $569K, 2311 Starfish Ln 4/3 now $1.299M, 2405 Blue Crab Ct 4/4.5 now $2.595M.

7 new sales: 575 Piedmont Rd 3/2 listed at $425K, 1631 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex listed at $479K, 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 listed at $535K, 1125 Captains Walk St 3/3 listed at $649.9K, 5753 Pine Tree Dr 3/4 listed at $998K, 746 Windlass Way 4/3 listed at $1.149M, 819 Lindgren Blvd 4/3.5 listed at $1.295M.

5 closed sales: 3870 Coquina Dr 3/2 $575K, 2499 Harbour Ln 3/3 $675K, 1259 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 $840K, 532 Sea Oats Dr 3/4 $1.2M, 1688 Hibiscus Dr 3/4 $1.82M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 690 Birdie View Pt $399.9K.

No price changes or new sales.

2 closed sales: 2933 Wulfert Rd $260K, 5407 Osprey Ct $465K.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings or price changes.

2 new sales: with contingencies: Bayside Villas #5208 1/2 listed at $287K, Beach Villas #2632 2/2 listed at $710K.

1 closed sale: Beach Homes #27 5/3 $2.395M.

HOMES

1 new listing: 11537 Laika Ln 4/3 $1.695M.

2 price changes: 15161 Captiva Dr 4/4.5 now $2.495M, 11530 Paige Ct 4/5.5 now $3.585M.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 11525 Chapin Ln 4/4 $1.4M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

Until next Friday, Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Singing, Selling, & Other Fun on Sanibel Island


It has been a busy week on the islands and for The SanibelSusan Team.

Occupancy is high with it being the last real week of “season”. Many accommodations also are booked for the next two weeks, but some winter residents already have headed home.

We had busy days in the office and SanibelSusan made it through our three BIG ARTS Community Chorus performances too. Tuesday was an especially productive day with another nice closing, an offer negotiated on a listing, and an offer written and accepted on a replacement property.

Teammate Dave held an open house all day on Wednesday, I showed property Thursday, and on various days Dave opened listings for showings too. All-in-all, a great week. I won’t mention the traffic.

Below are a few news items followed by the activity posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing service this week.

PAWS (Protection of Animal Welfare Society)

PAWS quiltWednesday evening was a fundraiser for PAWS (Protection of Animal Welfare Society) at The Community House. PAWS is a non-profit that cares for stray and abandoned animals on Sanibel and Captiva.

Next time you at SanibelSusan Realty, check out the colorful beach-scene quilt hanging near our entry. I was the successful bidder for that piece which was made and donated by our friend, Sheila Rodriguez.

PAWS has cared for over 1000 animals (mostly cats and dogs) since it began in 1987. If you are interested in helping them too, call Pam 239-472-4823 or Diane at 484-574-6419. They are always happy to accept donations and looking for those willing to foster and/or adopt.

Upcoming Island Events

CROW Mason-Jars-2CROW’s Southern Comfort Benefit – Tomorrow night (Sat, April 2) from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Community House.

SCCF’s Beer in the Bushes Fundraiser – Next Sat (April 9) from 6 to 10 p.m. on the grounds of SCCF’s new Nature Center.

Lighthouse Day Celebration at Sanibel Historical Village – Wed (Apr 13) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Civic & Cultural Core Project (CCP) Community Working Group Presents Plans at City Council

Artist concept of civic core project

Good news here…the below press release was issued on Monday.

“A volunteer community working group comprised of leaders from the following organizations presented  updated plans for the creation of a new Civic and Cultural Core campus and community green at a special workshop of the Sanibel City Council on March 28, 2016:  The Sanibel Community House/Community Association (SCA), represented by Board members Tom Sharbaugh and Richard Johnson; Katie Reid and Shirley Schulz of Island Seniors, Inc.; and Ralph Clark and Chuck Ketteman, Board members of BIG ARTS.  The volunteer group worked closely with City staff in developing the proposal.

“The vision of the CCP is to create a place consistent with the Sanibel Plan where people of all ages can gather to celebrate community, the arts, culture, life-long learning and healthy living.

“The Civic Core project is an extremely positive move by major non-profit organizations working together, to provide a better quality of life for all Sanibel residents and visitors.  It will meet the social, educational, cultural and recreational needs of the total community,” said Katie Reid of Island Seniors, Inc.

“The civic and cultural core campus would be constructed on approximately 25 acres of land owned by the City of Sanibel and other participants, stretching east and south of The Sanibel Library.

“Under the current design concept, the new Center 4 Life building, the performance hall, theater, and learning center would be inter-connected to the existing Library, City Hall and Sanibel Historical Museum by meandering walkways and generous  bike and pedestrian paths. It includes additional green space and a large community green for public gatherings.

“The inter-connected campus design creates new and easier access to all these public facilities, significantly increased parking and much-needed new homes for BIG ARTS and The Center 4 Life, whose current buildings have exhausted their useful life and are incurring increasing annual maintenance costs in the face of growing  community need for services.  Two new outdoor pavilions on the community green will allow SCA’s major outdoor events to be moved away from Periwinkle Way, resulting in improved pedestrian and vehicular safety.

““One of the challenges we face as a community is congestion during our peak season. The Civic and Cultural Core design addresses this issue by moving traffic off Periwinkle Way to convenient, shared parking.  Without pedestrian crossings, traffic will flow effectively and safely for all our residents and guests,” said Richard Johnson, SCA Board member.

“The current CCP construction cost is projected at $42M, not including the value of land being designated to the project by the City. The construction cost of the new facilities would be paid for from public and private sector funding and, once built, would be owned by the City and leased to the nonprofit organizations.

“The CCP vision, concept, budgets and design have been honed over a two and ½ year period marked by multiple public workshops and numerous revisions in response to community comments, City requirements, and sensitivity to smart traffic planning and safety. Multiple site access points, as well as ongoing comprehensive and detailed analysis of current and projected attendance and traffic patterns at all times of year and in all parts of the day, have been integral to the design.

““The working group of the Civic Core has been carefully listening to our residents every step of the way as we work together. We are convinced that what is developing is a community resource that will help solve serious existing problems and provide a wonderful gathering place for citizens and visitors,” said Ralph Clark, Vice President of the BIG ARTS Board of Directors

“The purpose of the March 28 special workshop was to afford Council members and the community a chance to learn more about and discuss the project. Next steps include approval of the revised project master plan at the Council’s planned April meeting, and pursuit of additional funding partners. The project will require a referendum vote by Sanibel citizens for final approval.”

End of Internet Tax Will Boost Real Estate

Recently posted on “Daily Real Estate News” on line:

“Ten states today levy what are known as Internet access taxes.

“That might come as a surprise to many people, since the taxes are largely invisible. They’re levied on companies like Verizon and Comcast, the Internet service providers (ISP) that manage the infrastructure through which Internet traffic flows. These companies pass the taxes on to consumers in the form of higher fees.

“Back in 1998, Congress limited the taxes to just the 10 states—Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin—by passing the Internet Tax Freedom Act. Since then, Congress has gone back and reauthorized the law every few years, because the original ban was only temporary.

“That will change now. Congress just a few weeks ago passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, and, as the name implies, makes further bans unnecessary. What’s more, the 10 states that levy the taxes will have to stop by June 30, 2020. The National Association of REALTORS® has been one of the biggest advocates for making the ban permanent and ending the taxes because of the importance of the Internet to the industry.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity March 25-April 1, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Sanibel Arms West #L4 2/2 $524.9K, Atrium #201 3/3 $1.695M, Atrium #203 3/2 $1.795M.

7 price changes: Sandpebble #2B 2/2 now $424.9K (our listing), Coquina Beach #4C 2/2 now $489.9K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #1-1 2/2.5 now $635K, Bayview Village #2A 3/3 now $693K, Sundial East #S404 3/2 now $825K, Tanglewood #1A 3/2 now $1.1999M, Shorewood #2B 3/3 now $1.349M.

Front View b.jpg

At Sandpebble overlooking the Sanibel River

 

4 new sales: Cottage Colony West #126 1/1 listed at $649K (our buyer), Sanctuary Golf Villages I #2-2 3/3 listed at $710K, Nutmeg Village #309 2/2 listed at $799K.

BeachPath

View of the gulf from Cottage Colony West at Casa Ybel Resort

 

5 closed sales: Sundial East #O402 2/2 $615K, Surfside 12 #A2 3/2 $632K, Wedgewood #306 3/3.5 $1.28M, Gulfside Place #317 2/2 $1.4M, Atrium #302 2/2 $1.5575M.

HOMES

4 new listings: 2114 Egret Cir 3/2 $498K, 9468 Peaceful Dr 3/2 $769K, 500 Periwinkle Way 3/3 $1.248M, 4449 Waters Edge Ln 3/2/3 $4.795M.

16 price changes: 575 Piedmont Rd 3/2 now $425K, 9292 Belding Dr 3/2.5 now $449K, 535 Birdsong Pl 3/2 now $535K, 1602 Serenity Ln 4/2 now $539K, 1410 Causey Ct 3/2 now $649K, 5303 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $649K, 1125 Captains Walk St 3/3 now $649.9K, 1133 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $679K, 677 Durion Ct 3/2 now $748K, 2549 Harbour Ln 3/2 now $779K, 3335 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $779K, 9027 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 now $799K, 1121 Skiff Pl 3/3 now $949K, 1317 Eagle Run Dr 4/3.5 now $1.195M, 932 Whelk Dr 3/3 now $1.495M, 513 Lighthouse Way 3/3 now $2.26M.

4 new sales: 1258 Par View Dr 3/2 listed at $749K, 557 N Yachtsman Dr 4/3 listed at $749K, 645 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 listed at $789K, 4355 West Gulf Dr 4/3 listed at $3.8M.

5 closed sales: 847 Casa Ybel Rd 2/2 $395K, 9012 Mockingbird Dr 3/2 $492K, 1065 Fish Crow Rd 2/2 $655K, 5743 Baltusrol Ct 3/3/2 $1.35M (our listing), 1656 Hibiscus Dr 4/3.5 $2.1M.

20150813_140700.jpg

Home sold at Augusta Greens in The Sanctuary

 

LOTS

1 new listing: 1837 Buckthorn Ln $439.9K.

No price changes.

2 new sales: 6159 Starling Way listed at $619K, 837 Limpet Dr listed at $749K (our listing).

straight view.jpg

View from 837 Limpet Dr

 

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: Beach Homes #20 3/3 listed at $2.499M.

No closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 16979 Captiva Dr 7/6.5 now $4.485M.

No new or closed sales.

LOTS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: 16297 Captiva Dr $1.4M.

(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.)

tgif 2.jpgHappy Friday!

Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

Sanibel/Captiva Real Estate Scoop, Easter 2016


WildFlower

Just a little beach flower by our photographer pal, Jim Anderson, JMA Photography

After a chilly Monday and Tuesday, likely the last days to wear light jackets until next winter, island weather this week has been almost picture-perfect – bright sunny days and moonlight nights. A little shower and a few clouds today is what similarly is expected Forecast 3-25-16through the holiday weekend with daytime temperatures reaching the low to mid 80’s.

 

There have been some complaints this week about traffic. We view that as an inconvenience that should disappear the snowbird head north.  It might be worse next week when Lee County Schools are out for spring break.

Sanibel traffic directors’ work is compounded when there are heavy bike-path traffic and joggers. Now is a good time to be extra vigilant on the roadways.

SanibelSusan Realty & Real Estate Happenings

SanibelSusan Realty from Periwinkle WayThis week, I heard more chatter from colleagues about sales slowing down and them not working with as many buyers this year. Others complained about their listings occupied with renters who have extended their 2016 stay because of the tough winter weather in 2015. Seems that many were not happy that it wasn’t spring when they went home.

The good news is that usually after “season”, many of those serious buyers return – those wanting investment property and were unable to view properties during the winter months of heavy rentals. In the meantime, here’s a quick update of Sanibel’s residential inventory today. Prices continue to swing up and the amount of inventory continues to swing down.

# For Sale: Condos = 102; Homes = 160

Average Asking Price:  Condo = $741,609; Home = $1,342,327

# Sales Pending: Condos = 36; Homes = 45

Average Asking Price Units Pending: Condos = $959,253; Homes = $1,108,893

# Sold & Closed This Year: Condos = 33; Homes = 37

Average Sale Price Sold This Year: Condos = $680,875; Homes = $957,740

#Sold & Closed in 2015: Condos = 160; Homes = 236

Average Sale Price Sold Last Year: Condos = $701,088; Homes = $912,744

The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple System action this week follows a few news items below.

A Troubling Shortage of Homes

realtor logoAs a long-time fan of Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS®, here’s his take on the housing as posted in his March column in “Realtor®Mag”:

“Inflation may be in check, but the lack of inventory around the country is fueling a sharp rise in housing cost.

“There is no inflation, says the federal government. The consumer price index rose by only 0.4% in 2015 so there will be no cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security checks this year. However, as most real estate professionals know, housing costs are still climbing. Rents rose at their highest pace in seven years and home prices nationally increased by 6%. That would be three times the pace of average wage growth. Housing costs are expected to keep rising in 2016 simply because not enough homes are being built.

“From 2009 to today, new construction of single-family homes, condominiums, and apartment units totaled 5.6 million. Over the same period, approximately 1.7 million housing units were deemed uninhabitable or obsolete and were demolished and removed from the housing stock. These two figures result in a net addition of 3.9 million housing units to the country’s stock. Is that adequate in light of 17.3 million additional people living in the country over the same period?

“Clearly, the answer is no. Given the average household size of 2.5 persons, a total of 6.9 million new housing units would be needed to accommodate the country’s rising population. The 3.9 million units that were actually created fall far short of the demand—by some 3 million homes.

“That explains why rental vacancies are falling and housing inventories are shrinking. Of course, local market conditions vary. States with declining populations, including Connecticut, Illinois, and West Virginia, may have a less pressing need for additional home construction. But those places are exceptions. Housing shortages are the rule in most states and there’s no reason to expect anything to change this year.

“There are essentially two major consequences of a persistent housing shortage: a continuing steep rise in housing costs and people needing to double or triple up to afford a home. Young adults may have to find multiple roommates or else live with their parents.

“That latter scenario is probably not what most young people dream about, but it’s what the American dream of home ownership could turn into if we don’t spur more housing development in the country soon.”

6 Ways to Explain Low Inventory

houses-clipartfree-christian-clip-art--image-of-a-house-a-home---cropped-image-xoshp3lsFrom “Daily Real Estate News” on Wednesday, this is a good summary about inventory:

“Everywhere you turn, there’s a new story about how the lack of homes on the market is driving up prices and driving buyers crazy. But what’s the reason behind this trend? There are a number of factors, according to a recent article at Real Estate Economy Watch….

“Many home owners are still underwater. One of five homeowners with a mortgage still doesn’t have enough equity to sell. This isn’t the same situation as we saw during the depths of the housing crisis, but it’s still making its mark on inventory levels. Although rising prices may slowly reduce the number of home owners who owe more than their property is worth, Real Estate Economy Watch predicts that significant numbers will continue to be equity-challenged for several years to come, especially in Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada.

“Boom buyers are still holding out. About 16 million families bought homes in the peak of the boom around a decade ago, and many are still waiting around to make a profit, even if they aren’t underwater. Even if CoreLogic’s prediction that the national median price will reach the peak of 2007 in the next year or so does come to fruition, Real Estate Economy Watch says many of these peak buyers will have to wait another five years or more before they realize much profit on their homes.

“The inventory shortage is squeezing move-ups. Owners who may be ready to move into a larger or more expensive home are often considered hidden drivers of the market. But right now, price instability and the lack of available homes is causing this group to hold off. But Real Estate Economy Watch says that stability is coming, despite the inflationary impact of market shortages, and predicts that this “vicious cycle” will ease.

“Investors aren’t ready to sell single-family homes they’re renting. They’re making money from both rising rents and home price appreciation. And that’s why Real Estate Economy Watch cautions against assuming they’ll “sell their mini gold mines to homeowners anytime soon.” The upside? At least some young prospective owners have access to a relatively affordable alternative to apartments, where they can start families while they wait for entry-level homes to come on the market.

“New-home construction is still very low. It may be tempting to blame this on the builders, but Real Estate Economy Watch points out that after the crash in 2007, thousands of smaller builders closed down, and many of those who survived did so by selling off their inventories of prime real estate earmarked for future construction. They predict that builders will make a dent in the higher-tier housing soon, but that they would help the inventory problem more if they concentrated on the lower-end demand.

“Baby boomers are running behind. Everything from later retirement ages, longer careers, better health, and loss of household wealth/equity during the Great Recession have contributed to a slower-than-expected timeline for this generation. But Real Estate Economy Watch predicts that this will change as many must convert their equity into cash while they can still enjoy it, and says others won’t be able to afford the costs to retrofit current homes in order to age in place.”

Home Features Most Desired by Age

baby boomersThis article from the March 8, 2016 “Daily Real Estate News” has a few interesting tidbits. Nice also to know that a baby boomer is not a senior.

“Home buyers are demanding more home features that help them save energy and keep the home organized, a new study released by the National Association of Home Builders, “Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers” reveals.”

“However, the generations – millennials (born 1980 or later); Gen X’ers (born 1965-1979); baby boomers (born 1946-1964); and seniors (born 1945 or earlier) – do show some differences in what home features they value the most. In a nationwide survey.., NAHB pinpointed those differences and which features each generation most desires.

energy starThe following are the home features most wanted by each generation:

Millennials

  • Laundry room
  • Exterior lighting
  • Living room
  • Patio
  • Front porch
  • Both shower stall and tub in master bathroom
  • Ceiling fan
  • Hardwood on main floor
  • Deck
  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Dining room

Gen X

  • Laundry room
  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Exterior lighting
  • Energy Star rating for entire home
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Ceiling fans
  • Front porch
  • Hardwood on main floor
  • Patio
  • Living room

Baby boomers

  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Energy Star rating for entire home
  • Laundry room
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Exterior lighting
  • A full bath on the main level
  • Ceiling fan
  • Insulation higher than required by code
  • Patio
  • Hardwood on the main floor

Seniors

  • Laundry room
  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Energy Star rating for entire home
  • A full bath on the main level
  • Table space for eating in the kitchen
  • Ceiling fan
  • Double kitchen sink (side-by-side)
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Insulation higher than required by code”

Source: “Housing Preferences Across Generations (Part I),” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing Blog (March 7, 2016)

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity March 18-25, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

1 new listing: Seashells #14 2/2 $385K.

3 price changes: Donax Village #14 2/2 now $549K, Sunset South #15B 2/2 now $999K, Tanglewood #1A 3/2 now $1.247M.

7 new sales: Kimball Lodge #244 1/1.5 listed at $349K, Sunset South #4C 2/2 listed at $784K, Pointe Santo #C41 2/2 listed at $815K, Kimball Lodge #306 2/2 listed at $989K, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 listed at $1.285M, Kings Crown #105 3/2 listed at $1.289M, Gulfside Place #306 3/2 listed at $1.395M.

2 closed sales: Loggerhead Cay #202 2/2 $530K, Loggerhead Cay #223 2/2 $530K.

HOMES

6 new listings: 1772 Serenity Ln 3/2 $699K, 975 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $769K, 998 Beach Rd 3/3 $929.9K, 2459 Harbour Ln $949K, 4155 Dingman Dr 3/3 $1.099M (short sale), 4995 Joewood Dr 4/3 $3.175M.

7 price changes: 9292 Belding Dr 3/2.5 now $459K, 5303 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $679K, 4215 Old Banyan Way 3/3 now $795K, 4775 Rue Helene 4/3 now $849K, 2010 Sunrise Cir 5/3 now $949.9K, 1665 Sabal Palm Dr 3/2 now $1.195M, 739 Pyrula Ave 3/3 now $1.245M.

5 new sales: 748 Martha’s Ln 3/2 listed at $509K, 656 Anchor Dr 3/2 listed at $595K, 958 Cabbage Palm Ct 2/2 listed at $599K, 1139 Buttonwood Ln 2/1 listed at $625K, 2518 Tropical Way Ct 3/3.5 listed at $2.395M.

2 closed sales: 1328 Seaspray Ln 4/4 $780K, 411 Lighthouse Way 4/3 $1.445M.

LOTS

1 new listing: 3965 Coquina Dr $399K.

3 price changes: 2400 Blue Crab Ct now $299K, 6505 Pine Ave now $895K, 6519 Pine Ave now $925K.

No new or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings.

1 price change: Beach Homes #20 3/3 now $2.499M.

No new or closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 11530 Paige Ct 4/5.5 now $3.68M.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: 11461 Dickey Ln 3/2 $1.2M, 11521 Laika Ln 3/3 $1.25M.

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.)

happy easterHappy Easter!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Spring Is Busting Out All Over on Sanibel


It’s another quiet Friday for the SanibelSusan Team. With the Lion’s Annual Arts & Crafts Fair beginning today at The Community House across the street, there is plenty of traffic traveling by, but with it being another bright sunny beach day, so far phone traffic is light.

Again this week, the weather has been been spectacular. Here are two photos showing what it has been like. The first was taken at West Wind Inn on Wednesday midday. The second taken this morning as I was heading out to the office. Spring is busting out all over!

West Wind Inn wed

Susan Yard 03-18-16

Indicative of “season” wrapping up, there were quite a few price reductions announced at our Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday. Before a summary of the real estate action posted in the Sanibel and Captiva Multiple Listing Service this week, here are a few other news items.

Sanibel Mayor Speaks on Water Quality at Realtor® Membership Meeting

Sanibel realtors logoThe Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® was happy to welcome Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane as the guest speaker at our monthly membership breakfast meeting yesterday.

Updating the group on water quality, when Mayor Ruane spoke of how water quality locally affects $3 billion in tourism and $90 billion in real estate, he got everyones’ attention.

Kevin Ruane 03-17-18Most have heard about the cooperative efforts by the Lee County governments and mayors’ recent trips to Tallahassee and Washington. Mayor Ruane advised that these group efforts now also include the twelve counties in Florida affected by Lake Okeechobee releases and run-offs. These counties equate to $1.5 trillion in real estate.

He reminded attendees that there is no “silver bullet” instant fix to the issues, but said the most important component is to accelerate funding for the dike. He recognized the long-time efforts by our organization toward improving water quality here and encouraged Realtors® to stay involved.

Of course, Realtors® know that it’s always easier to sell when the water is crystal clear and bright blue. We also know that just because it looks good today, doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be another unexpected rainy month so it could change. This is an issue that requires constant attention and many more years of work. If you want to stay up-to-date, there is good info at Sanibel H20 Matters, here’s the link: http://www.mysanibel.com/Departments/Natural-Resources/Protecting-Our-Water-Quality/Sanibel-H2O-Matters

Mayor Ruane deserves a big thank you from all of us. We are lucky to have such a strong businessman, financial and insurance expert at the helm. Good things are happening here and when he talks, people listen.

Real-Time “Sanibel Street Cams” Activated Through Pilot Project

Sanibelcityseal logoThe SanibelSusan Team is happy to share the below press release issued from the Sanibel City Manager’s Office yesterday.

“The newest component of the City of Sanibel’s 2016 Traffic Communications Strategy has been launched. Residents and visitors to Sanibel now have access to real-time road conditions on Span C of the Sanibel Causeway, and both east and west bound Periwinkle Way at the Casa Ybel intersection http://www.mysanibel.us/traffic/ .

“Upon the activation of the pilot project, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane stated, “We have dedicated 2016 to testing a number of pilot traffic management strategies including investigating hardscape improvements, behavior modifications and technology deployment to determine where we see our best return on investment.  We look forward to hearing feedback from our citizens if live streaming of current traffic conditions is helpful as we plan our days during peak season.”

“Additional information on the City of Sanibel’s 2016 Traffic Communications Strategy is available here:

Traffic Mitigation Strategy

Traffic Message from the Mayor

Important Peak Season Traffic Information

“Cycling on Sanibel” Video

Kitchen Remodeling Projects That Pay Off

free-kitchen-clip-artI got another call last week from an owner asking if they would get back the cost of putting in a new kitchen. Well, there are new kitchens and then there are new kitchens. It is easy to say that you usually will get back most of your money if the renovation is tasteful, but we know how tasteful can vary with the eyes of the beholder.

Below is a different slant on the same question. It was posted on “Daily Real Estate News” online and talks about the kitchen projects that can pay off.

“Kitchen re-dos can be pricey. That means homeowners on a budget must be choosy when trying to decide what kitchen projects to spend money on and what improvements can wait.

realtor.com“Realtor.com® recently launched a new series “Renovations That Really Pay Off,” and their first article focuses on kitchen projects that have the best return on investment and won’t be too much of a financial burden….

“Here are a few of the kitchen projects highlighted:

Amped Up” Appliances – New appliances like a refrigerator, stainless-steel dishwasher, and stove can have a strong pull with home buyers, says real estate pro Al Cannistra. For example, Cannistra says he had a listing that lingered on the market with outdated appliances but as soon as the owners updated the appliances, the home received two offers in the first week and the home ended up selling above asking price. Just be sure to “keep the appliances and plumbing where they are because the rule of thumb is to add $5,000 each time you relocate either,” suggests Justin Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency.

Spruce Up The Cabinets – New cabinets can range from $3,900 and $12,000. That’s why home owners may be better off trying to give a face-lift to what they already have, such as replacing the cabinet hardware or painting the cabinets. “If you have existing wood cabinets that are still in decent shape, instead of completely re-facing them, give them a fresh coat of paint,” says Tracy Kay Griffin, designer for HGTV’s “Get It Sold.” For example, Rust-Oleum offers a Cabinet Transformation kit.

Add a Charging Station – Everyone is looking for a plug to charge for their smartphones, tablets, and electronics. Nearly two-thirds of remodelers say they’ve added a charging station in the kitchen for the gadgets, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s annual trend report. Cabinets and drawers can be modified to add hidden power strips, for example.

New Countertops – A new countertop can have a big impact on the look of the kitchen. And don’t assume granite. NKBA says quartz countertops are gaining popularity. A new countertop “provides an opportunity to install a new glass or subway backsplash for additional punch,” says designer Erin Davis, co-owner of Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, Ore. “A budget-friendly option is to install a 4-inch-high splash out of the same countertop material.”

Wood Floors – NKBA’s latest report shows that wood floors are the most popular kitchen flooring. Plus, averaging $9 to $12 a square foot, wood flooring tends to be cheaper than tile too.”

View more details about top kitchen renovations at realtor.com®.

Source: “6 Kitchen Renovations That Really Pay Off,” realtor.com® (March 2, 2016)

Sanibel Bicycle Club Named 2015 Club of the Year

Sanibel bike clubAs posted on line on the Santiva-Chronicle this week:

“The Sanibel Bicycle Club has been named 2015 Club of the Year by the Florida Bicycle Association for its contributions to bicycling – an award the club also earned in 2011….

“Since 2010, the City of Sanibel has been designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community, one of four Florida communities elevated to “Silver” status by League of American Bicyclists. The city has launched a traffic communications strategy focused on reaching peak season visitors, including a key message about biking or walking. Those efforts are yielding results.

“Part of the Sanibel success is the continuous involvement of the Sanibel Bicycle Club. In March 2015, the club worked with the city to produce the educational video “Cycling on Sanibel.” It’s had more than 4,000 views on You Tube and slides are being used around Sanibel to amplify its message.

““The video caught our attention. It speaks to people,” said FBA Executive Director Becky Afonso, who presented the Bike Club with the award. “This club is a strong advocate for cycling safety and has maintained a steady message – exactly what we are looking for in Club of the Year.”

“The award’s purpose is to bring attention to the efforts and achievements of groups, organizations and individuals that help shape FBA’s vision for all Florida bicyclists to be safe, respected and encouraged to bicycle for transportation and recreation….”

How I Stay Sane Selling Real Estate in Season

2016 Spring Concert FlierSanibelSusan is off to sing with the BIG ARTS Ensemble at a freebie concert at Faith United Methodist Church on McGregor Blvd, just off island, tonight at 7 p.m. The Ensemble is a small group from the Sanibel Community Chorus. We usually perform just a few songs at venues where there is not enough room for the full chorus, but for this event we were asked to sing a full concert.

The music will include most of the songs that the big chorus performs later this month at Schein Performance Hall, including tunes from West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate. It is definitely not a religious program and it will have not just singing, but some tap dancing, kazoo playing, and calypso too.

If you can’t make a Community Chorus performance at BIG ARTS on Mar 29 at 7 p.m., Mar 30 at 2 p.m., or Mar 31 at 7 p.m. (where tickets are needed, but just $10), you might enjoy hearing the smaller group tonight. It will be good practice for us and the price is right – open to the public and free!

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity March 11-18, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

9 new listings: Sundial #B108 1/1 $369K, Sundial F103 2/2 $475K, Sundial #B207 1/1 $489.9K, Loggerhead Cay #211 2/2 $629K, Oceans Reach #4B1 1/1 $799.9K, Oceans Reach #1A1 2/2 $999.9K, Island Beach Club #220E 2/2 $1.089M, Gulfside Place #306 3/2 $1.395M, Moonshadows #2G 3/3 $2.395M.

4 price changes: Villa Sanibel #1B 2/2 now $595K, Sandalfoot #4C3 2/2 now $669K, Surfside 12 #A2 3/2 now $674K, Sanctuary Golf Village #2-2 2/2 now $710K.

5 new sales: Sundial #G404 2/2 listed at $559K, Compass Point #203 2/2 listed at $639K, Yacht Haven #2 3/2 listed at $949K, Kimball Lodge #306 2/2 listed at $989K, Seascape #301 3/3 listed at $1.195M.

1 closed sale: Loggerhead Cay #351 2/2 $495K.

HOMES

4 new listings: 2115 Sunset Cir 3/2 $459K, 656 Anchor Dr 3/2 $595K, 734 Anchor Dr 3/2 $999K (our listing), 1501 Sand Castle Rd 5/3.5 $1.095M.

10 price changes: 1717 Sand Pebble Way 3/2 now $449K, 1211 Periwinkle Way 3/2 now $489K, 5303 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2.5 now $599K, 676 Emeril Ct 3/2 now $749K, 5299 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/3 now $768.5K, 588 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $799K, 563 Hideaway Ct 3/2 now $839K, 3402 West Gulf Dr 3/2 now $1.95M, 4731 Rue Belle Mer 3/3 now $2.849M, 1238 Isabel Dr 5/3.5.5 now $3.865M.

12 new sales: 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 listed at $575K, 1380 Jamaica Dr 2/2 listed at $580K, 746 Cardium St 4/2 duplex listed at $599.9K, 1410 Causey Ct 3/2 listed at $679K, 600 E Rocks Dr  3/2 listed at $685K, 1438 Albatross Rd 4/3 listed at $779K, 4215 Old Banyan Way 3/3 listed at $825K, 169 Southwinds Dr 3/2 listed at $1.249M, 4353 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2.5 listed at $1.479M, 907 Kings Crown Dr 4/3 listed at $2.295M, 911 Stangler Fig Ln 4/3 listed at $2.695M, 1196 Bay Dr 4/4.5 listed at $2.995M.

5 closed sales: 1576 Wilton Ln 3/2 $435K, 1490 Sand Castle Rd 2/2 $475K, 1113 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $575K, 1148 Shell Basket Ln 4/2 duplex $699K, 904 Almas Ct 3/2.5 $1M.

LOTS

No new listings.

4 price changes: 978 Main St now $219K, 1204 Par View Dr now $359K, 5821 Pine Tree Dr now $549K, 6159 Starling Way now $619K.

1 new sale: Dinkins Lake Rd, lot 28 listed at $238K.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes or closed sales.

1 new sale: Lands End #1641 2/2 listed at $1.35M.

HOMES

1 new listing: 35 Sea Hibiscus Ct 3/2 $975K.

1 price change: 16500 Captiva Dr 5/5 now $4.85M.

No new closed sales.

1 closed sale: 11515 Murmond Ln 3/3 $1.37M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

Until next Friday, here’s hoping spring is springing where you are too!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Savoring Another Sunny Sanibel Day


SanibelSusan here reporting more beautiful weather on sunny Sanibel Island. The beaches, bike paths, roadways, shops and restaurants continue to be filled with happy visitors and vacationers. Families on spring break are on the island this week, with more to arrive over the weekend as other states begin their school vacations. There are a few weary business folks looking forward to Easter being early this year, but at SanibelSusan Realty, we have our second wind and look forward to more “season” action.

The beach looks great and many were out enjoying it today. On my way back to the office this afternoon I stopped to take these photos at the Fulgur Street beach access. It was a breezy 81 degrees at 1 p.m.

Fulgur 1Fulgur 2Fulgur 3Fulgur 4Fulgur 5Fulgur 6Fulgur 7Fulgur 8

Where Is the Great White Pelican Now?

Great White PelicanAs follow-up to last week’s blog, this week it was reported that The Great White Pelican spotted at “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge from Feb 28 to Mar 1 has not been seen since. It may still be there, or moved on.

Congratulations to the birders and photographers that did capture sight of what they say is the “rarest” bird ever spotted at the refuge. It was ~4000 miles away from its native range.

 

Sanibel – The Smartest City in Florida

Sanibelcityseal logoI almost hesitate to write that the island made it to the “top” of another list, but why not. Sanibel Land Development Code only allows so much building and the infra-structure can only support so many vehicles, so why not toot Sanibel’s horn again?

Sanibel not only tops international and national lists for best family vacations, shelling, beaches, biking, healthy living, and schools, but now it also is Florida’s smartest city – or so says an article posted on Zippia zippia_logo_headerwhich is a career oriented web site (https://www.zippia.com/advice/smartest-cities-in-florida/). According to their recent article:

“These Are The 10 Smartest Cities In Florida…

  1. Sanibel
  2. Neptune Beach
  3. Gulf Breeze
  4. Key Biscayne
  5. Palm Beach
  6. Longboat Key
  7. Islamorada
  8. Cocoa Beach
  9. Parkland
  10. Maitland”

Robots Can’t Replace REALTORS®

realtor logoGood article posted on line at Realtor®Mag on Tuesday – sums my thoughts about the new wave in this real estate business.

“New technological advancements will never supply the human factor consumers need in the transaction.

“Every day, there’s a new threat to the way real estate professionals do business. There’s always a startup looking to rope in a chunk of the home-buying market by promising to undercut standard agent commission rates or even offering an online transaction platform that bypasses the need for an agent altogether….

“And there’s the advent of virtual reality in the real estate space, which has designs on offering consumers a fuller home-shopping experience with a virtual guide online.

“We’re only at the beginning of this transformative age where new technology and business models seek to reform the traditional real estate industry, hoping to gain the first mover advantage that comes with being the latest innovative brand. The rise of Redfin and even newer startups boasting other revolutionary models is an indication that the ranks of disruptors aiming to be game changers in the real estate space is only increasing.

“Despite their strong efforts, a total reboot of how real estate is done won’t happen quickly, and today’s top real estate companies won’t lose their command of market share anytime soon. But these newer “Walmart brokerages” — which grab attention with low prices and buyer kickbacks and operate with the advantage of a monstrous scale of resources — are putting change in the air and luring market share. How long can individual agents and brokers compete? Will they eventually have to throw in the towel? … New technology will only be able to make limited inroads into gaining consumer trust in managing the most important transaction of their lives.

“That’s where REALTORS® have won the game for years.

“Real estate continues to be — and will always be — a relationship-centric business. So practitioners must never underestimate the importance of the human factor in the transaction, and that’s where we need to master our skills the most. That cannot be replaced by algorithms and technology platforms, and drastic discounts on commissions aren’t enough to maintain a high quality of service. The professionals who will adapt most successfully to the changing landscape will be the ones who fulfill their role as a trusted guide and fierce guardian of their clients’ interests, not simply as a salesperson who just happens to be administering a transaction. These are some of the most crucial skills we need to master right now:

“High ethical standards: The Code of Ethics is the most powerful tool we have to differentiate ourselves from the competition today. Purchasing real estate will continue to be the most important transaction in the lives of consumers, so convincing to them to work with you requires demonstrating a strong sense of integrity and loyalty. You must fulfill a crucial role acting as both an honest professional to the public as well as a trusted guardian of your clients’ core interests. Now is an important time to live by the Code more than ever.

“Beyond fact and figures: Consumers are better informed about the real estate process than ever before because of the availability of information online. So while it’s even more necessary for you to know market statistics like the back of your hand in order to compete, you also have to focus on the skills that a computer can’t perform for a consumer: negotiating, understanding the nuances of sensitive situations, and conflict resolution. We have to be better at the relationship-building part to show our clients that a positive transaction requires some with social intuition, which cannot be replaces by technology.

“Understanding the technology that threatens us: Technology is changing the way everyone lives, and we can’t continue operating our businesses like it’s not. We must understand that the magnitude of change that we have seen in the industry is only beginning. So we need to be better prepared for it by continually updating our knowledge of new technologies and concepts, and finding the piece of the puzzle these advancements can’t perform better than a human. By understanding the methods and incentives which are driving these new challenges, we can adapt our business models to address new demands and survive in the industry of tomorrow.

“None of this is to say that a portion of us won’t lose to new technology. Part-time agents who don’t commit themselves to education and keeping their business up-to-date will likely fall to the wayside and be unable to sustain a business. Those who lack a strong work ethic or fail to focus on self-improvement will face increasing difficulties in earning a living as the traditional industry model faces an increasing barrage of threats.

Those of you who manage to survive and thrive in the real estate industry of the future will be the ones who have earned it.”

Sea School’s Octifest Celebrates 10 Years of Ocean Education

Sanibel Sea SchoolThe “Santiva Chronicle” recently posted the below article about Sanibel Sea School. That was a fast 10 years!

“Octifest on the Beach, Sanibel Sea School’s annual ocean celebration and fundraiser, will once again be held bayside on Causeway Island A on Saturday, March 19.

“This year’s celebration marks 10 years of ocean education and outreach on Sanibel by the nonprofit marine conservation foundation.

““It’s really incredible to look back at the past decade and consider how much our organization has grown,” says Dr. Bruce Neill, who opened Sanibel Sea School in 2006 with his wife, Evelyn Monroe Neill.

“What started as a tiny school offering ocean-themed day classes for kids now also offers summer camps, boat trips, adult programs, and more – and all outings are field-based, so students build meaningful connections with the marine environment while getting their feet wet, and leave feeling inspired to be better stewards of our seas.

“Sanibel Sea School has also forged strong partnerships with local organizations including the Heights Foundation, Pine Manor Improvement Association, and Gladiolus Center for Learning and Development, bringing hundreds of at-risk kids to experience the wonders of the ocean and its inhabitants each year.

““We call them our landlocked kids,” says Neill, “they live just a few miles from the coast, but some have never set foot on the beach. Showing these kids a seahorse or a manatee for the first time is pure magic – it opens their minds to a whole new world.”

“It is thanks to support from the local community that Sanibel Sea School is able to provide these outreach programs, which are fully funded by donors. Octifest is the largest source of funds for the organization each year.

““We hope you will come out to enjoy the sunset, eat a delicious meal, and help us continue to do great things for our oceans and our kids,” Neill says.

“Sanibel Sea School is a marine conservation nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more about Octifest or to purchase tickets, visit octifest.org or call 239-472-8585.”

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity March 4-11, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Sundial West #G404 2/2 $559K, Sundial West $A205 2/2 $829K, Tanglewood #1A 3/2 $1.299M.

8 price changes: Sanibel Arms #F2 1/1 now $559K, Sanibel Siesta #402 2/2 now $559K, Coquina Beach #2C 2/2 now $659.9K, Heron at The Sanctuary II #2B 3/3.5 now $665K, Sanddollar #A104 2/2 now $779K, Pointe Santo #C41 2/2 now $815K, Pointe Santo #B25 2/2 now $819K, Sanibel Seaview #A1 3/3 now $1.199M.

3 new sales: Sanibel Arms West #J4 2/2 listed at $429K, Sunset South #4C 2/2 listed at $784K, West Shore #3 3/3 listed at $1.699M.

3 closed sales: Sandpiper Beach 3101 2/2 $765K (our listing), Heron at The Sanctuary II #3B 3/2.5 $825K, Island Beach Club #350D 2/2 $1.025M.

HOMES

10 new listings: 1631 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 half-duplex $479K, 693 Rabbit Rd 3/2 $589.9K, 5306 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 $635K, 1858 Farm Trail 3/2.5 $649K, 1478 Albatross Rd 3/2 $689K, 5279 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2 $695K, 526 N Yachtsman Dr 2/2 $1.079M, 169 Southwinds Dr 3/2 $1.249M, 2311 Starfish Ln 4/3 $1.395M, 6192 Henderson Rd 4/4 $2.05M.

13 price changes: 848 Rabbit Rd 3/2 now $379.9K; 9292 Belding Dr 3/2.5 now $464K; 1322 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 now $539K; 4452 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2 now $639,999; 887 Casa Ybel Rd 5/3 duplex now $675K; 5303 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $699K; 1258 Par View Dr 3/2 now $749K; 1429 Jamaica Dr 3/3 now $799K; 1121 Skiff Pl 3/3 now $995K; 1740 Dixie Beach Blvd 3/3.5 now $1.16M; 830 Limpet Dr 4/4.5 now $1.545M; 513 Lighthouse Way 3/3 now $2.297M; 5125 Joewood Dr 3/4 now $2.95M.

7 new sales: 3870 Coquina Dr 3/2 listed at $585K, 1216 Par View Dr 3/2 listed at $779K, 5267 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 listed at $794K, 249 Daniel Dr 2/2.5 listed at $814.9K, 1270 Bay Dr 3/2 listed at $1.35M, 6011 Clam Bayou Ln 3/3 listed at $1.395M, 1688 Hibiscus Dr 3/4 listed at $1.849M.

7 closed sales: 9455 Calla Ct 3/3 $750K, 1525 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $755K, 979 Oyster Ct 2/2 $800K, 437 Lake Murex Cir 4/3 $852.5K, 3724 Agate Ct 3/3 $922K, 1555 San Carlos Bay Dr 3/2.5 $862.5K, 1503 San Carlos Bay Dr 4/4.5 $3.4M.

LOTS

2 new listings: 5847 Pine Tree Dr $379K, 6159 Starling Way $619K.

1 price change: 2626 Coconut Dr now $297K.

2 new sales: 255 Hurricane Ln listed at $339K, 3723 West Gulf Dr listed at $2.775M.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Bayside Villas #4102 1/2 $305K.

1 price change: Gulf Beach Villas #2127 2/2 now $720K.

No new or closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 11535 Wightman Ln 3/3 listed at $1.175M.

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.)

Here’s to another weekend of great beach weather!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Great Weather, Great Traffic, Great White Pelican, & Great Leaders


Great weather, great traffic, a Great White Pelican, and great effort by Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and other Southwest Florida leaders. Read about it all here this week.

Below are a few news items collected by SanibelSusan, followed by the action this week in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service.

Sanibel & Captiva Real Estate

Only two sales were announced at our Realtor® Caravan Meeting yesterday, but many price reductions. It’s that time of the year. Here’s a summary of Sanibel’s residential inventory today. Sales are chugging along nicely.

CONDOS – No. – Average Price – Average DOM

For Sale – 101 – $745,450 – 242

Under Contract – 29 – $930,824 – 205

Sold/Closed To-date 2016 – 27 – $677,736 – 228

Sold/Closed in 2015 – 160 – $701,088 – 298

Sold/Closed in 2014 – 164 – $650,418 – 286

HOMES – No. – Average Price – Average DOM

For Sale – 157 – $1,373,993 – 225

Under Contract – 39 – $1,026,413 – 163

Sold/Closed To-date 2016 – 23 – $952,727 – 214

Sold/Closed in 2015 – 236 – $912,744 – 255

Sold/Closed in 2014 – 206 – $838,672 – 265

Note:    DOM = days on market

Sanibel & Captiva Weather Today

Sun clip artYes, the weather has been extraordinary – sunny days with mid to high 70-degree temperatures during the day with more of the same expected in the days to come.

The forecast for the next week has daytimes as warm as 81 degrees and evenings as cool as 61 degrees. How perfect is that?

79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival

HeatherYes, it has contributed to traffic delays yesterday and today, but the 79th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival is well worth it.

MindyRecord crowds are attending the event at The Community House across the street from Sanibel Square and our office. It winds up tomorrow (Sat) from 9 to 4 p.m.  If you are on the island be sure to get there before it closes.

Congratulations to our friends who have garnered ribbons. You know who you are.

Great White Pelican Sightings

Our photographer friend, Roberta Schuldenfrei, was beside herself this week after seeing the ‘Ding” Darling refuge’s newest visitor, a Great White Pelican. It was reported that when this pelican appeared on Sunday, it may have been the first North American sighting of this bird which usually is found only in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Word of its arrival spread quickly through the birding community with the refuge reporting record numbers of visitors as a result. Park rangers say that they don’t know why the Great White Pelican is here or where it came from. They say that it has not been banded or clipped which would indicate that it escaped from somewhere. They don’t know where it came from. Maybe it took a vacation – we know lots of snowbirds do that.

The Great White Pelican looks somewhat like the White Pelican that is a common winter resident at the refuge, but it is much larger. It feeds the same way as the White Pelicans and mingles with them. It has been seen at various points along Wildlife Drive at low tide.

The Great White is a bit pinker or rosier than the White Pelicans, according to Wikipedia, and their wing span can be from 7 to almost 12 feet.

Great White Pelican

Photo from Facebook page of Ding Darling Wildlife Society – Friends of the Refuge with photo credit to Tammy McQuade

Mayors’ Progress on Water Releases

Sanibelcityseal logoAs reported in the “Island Sun” today, “Less than 24 hours after returning from Washington D.C., Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and two of his fellow mayors – Marni Sawicki of Cape Coral and Randy Henderson of Fort Myers – joined three additional Southwest Florida leaders for a 2-hour workshop to discuss the progress they made in the nation’s capital regarding ongoing water issues.

“On Feb 26, Ruane, Sawicki and Henderson were joined by mayors Ben Nelson of Bonita Springs, Anita Cereceda of Fort Myers Beach and Nick Batos of Estero at MacKenzie Hall, Sanibel, where the group – along with Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman – talked about the 19 meetings they had over the course of three days in Washington….

“The trio of Lee County mayors met with Florida’s congressional delegation – including local representative Curt Clawson – as well as Senator Bill Nelson, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

“We are committed to global solutions across geographic and partisan barriers. We continue to coalesce around long-term solutions that acquire land and move waters from Lake Okeechobee south,” Ruane reported after the 2nd day of meetings in Washington. “All of our meetings have been very productive and interactive. We are meeting in round-table formats with congressional members and their staffs. Our goal is not to just be heard but to obtain commitments to fund long-term solutions.”…

“Statement of the Problem

“The coastal communities of Lee County are once again being devastated by freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee watershed. Damaging high-volume freshwater releases are impacting the ecology of local waters, the quality of life for its citizens, the strength of area businesses, and it continues to have a lasting effect on the local economy.

“According to the mayors, these impacts are occurring as a direct result of inadequate water storage within the Kissimmee, Lake Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee watersheds and the inability to effectively move water south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

“Record rainfall throughout South Florida associated with strong El Nino conditions this winter have resulted in the level of Lake Okeechobee approaching 16.5 feet. To protect the communities that surround Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting high-volume regulatory releases from the lake to the coastal estuaries, with the Caloosahatchee on the west coast and the St. Lucie on the east.

“For nearly a month, weekly average freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee have been more than three times the high-flow harm threshold (9,000 cubic feet per second) and are producing lethal conditions for oysters and other economically important fish species within the estuary. The discharges are also generating a freshwater plume extends throughout Pine Island Sound and into the Gulf of Mexico, blanketing Lee County’s beaches and coastal communities with dark,, nutrient-laden water that is devastating the local tourism-based economy.

“At the workshop, each of the mayors made a pledge to inform their respective council members to ensure that everyone is “on the same page”….

“Environmental Impacts

“James Evans, Sanibel’s department of natural resources director, reported that as of Friday morning, Lake Okeechobee stood at 16.36 feet. With the freshwater flows out of the lake, ordered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake level dropped approximately 1.4 feet over the last week. However, 77% of the water coming out of the lake is directed toward the Caloosahatchee.

“Evans also noted that those freshwater releases will harm the upcoming spawning season for several marine species. However, this year’s plume only extends about one mile offshore from Lighthouse Beach towards Fort Myers Beach. The freshwater plume which occurred in the summer of 2013 extended more than 12 miles out into the gulf.

“Our goal is to find every opportunity for land to store water,” said Evans. “We need to be planning 10 years in advance for what happened this year….”

Lake O Releases Being Reduced

US Army Corps logoGood news on The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website yesterday:

‘The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee beginning this weekend.

“Starting Friday (March 4), the new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary is 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at Moore Haven Lock (S-77) located in the southwest part of the lake.  The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary is 1,800 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart. Additional runoff from rain in the St. Lucie basin could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets.

““Lake levels have been falling as a result of water releases, decreased inflows, and drier conditions,” said Jim Jeffords, Jacksonville District Operations Division Chief.  “Although the lake is still uncomfortably high for this time of year, our water control plan calls for lower flows based on current conditions.  If the lake starts rising again, we may have to increase flows; it all depends on the weather.”

“Today, the lake stage is 15.83 feet, down more than a half foot since it peaked at 16.40 feet on February 8.  The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary to balance the competing needs and purposes for water in Lake Okeechobee.

“Additionally, Jacksonville District water managers are updating the formula used to calculate water flows through the spillway gates at the St. Lucie Lock structure.  When drier conditions took hold during the latter part of February, water managers noticed an anomaly.  In working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), engineers determined that the reported flows through the spillway exceeded actual flows by 1,500-2,500 cfs.

“Our reported flows exceeded what was actually passing through the spillway gates,” said Jeffords. “At our request, the USGS conducted downstream measurements at St. Lucie and we have updated our formulas for computing discharge rates accordingly.  We recognize the importance of this information and want to be sure it’s as accurate as possible.”

“For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx. “

Surprising Tax Credits for Homeowners

From Realtor®Mag on-line yesterday. Also on www.energy.gov :

Homeselfe - Logo

About Homeselfe: Homeselfe is the most comprehensive and innovative do-it-yourself home energy evaluation in the marketplace allowing energy conscious homeowners to reduce their overall consumption. Homeselfe is the number-one tool in leading America’s progression towards combating rising energy costs, cleaner sources of energy, and protecting the environment. Founded in 2014, Homeselfe was created as a patent pending technology from Energy Datametrics, one the leading providers of cutting-edge energy efficient software and technology services. Website: http://www.homeselfe.com, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/homeselfe, Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/homeselfe (PRNewsFoto/Homeselfe)

“Homeselfe, a home energy assessment app and web service for homeowners, recently released a list of several significant tax credits available to those who made energy efficiency upgrades to their homes in the 2015 tax year.

““If you upgraded your home in 2015 by adding insulation, one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make, you already know you are saving on your utility bills every month plus you may be eligible for a tax credit on that investment,” said Ameeta Jain, co-founder and spokesperson of Homeselfe.

“The company says homeowners can earn up to $500 on their return by taking into account small upgrades made last year, including:

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Advanced main air-circulating fans (tax credit amount of $50)
  • Insulation (10% of the cost, up to $500)
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar earns a tax credit of $300)
  • Windows, doors and skylights (tax credit amount is 10% of the cost excluding labor)

“Homeselfe includes flowcharts and other information to help homeowners determine whether they qualify for energy-related tax credits. “Not taking advantage of that is throwing away your hard-earned cash. We want to empower families to receive the maximum refund allowed on their tax returns by providing them insight into the energy credits that are available,” says Jain.”

Source: “Do You Qualify for A Home Energy Tax Credit?” Homeselfe (Feb. 10, 2016)

The Power of Pets

PetsAs a dog lover and because it was my grand-dog’s birthday this week, I got a kick out of reading this article in Wednesday’s Realtor®Mag. We recently had a home listing go under contract to a condo owner who wanted to move to a home so that she could get a dog. This article describes how times are changing.

“The real estate business traditionally has shown scant love for pets. The conventional wisdom held that sellers should conceal all traces of their dogs or cats—the toys, bowls, beds, even the animals themselves—when prepping a home for sale. But those hardline messages are clearly softening, as pets become a plus in the marketing of homes for sale.

“The reason for the shift has a lot to do with the numbers: Pet power is rising. Currently 65% of households own a pet, up from 56% in 1988. A record-breaking 79 million U.S. households now own a pet, according to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association. Indeed, 83% of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family, according to a Packaged Facts research report.

“For real estate practitioners, addressing that pet love means helping buyers scout for homes that meet the needs of their pets or working with sellers to leverage their home’s pet appeal.

“In fact, pet-friendly agents have found one another—and consumers—on a growing national social platform called the Pet Realty Network. The network, launched in 1997, now boasts about 300 members who pay $30 annually to be included in the directory and can add to its pet-friendly listings.

““I think the days of hiding your pet are over,” says Rhona Sutter, sales associate with Downing Frye Realty Inc. in Naples, Fla., and founder of the network. “You may not want the boisterous Labrador running to the door to greet a home buyer, but quite honestly, a home that is pet-friendly is an advantage for a house nowadays.”

“The pet advantage is notable at every price point. For a $5 million listing in 2013, the Boutique Real Estate Group in Corona Del Mar, Calif., produced a video showing off a luxury 6,300-square-foot, six-bedroom home all from the perspective of a French bulldog named Rocco. The bulldog even wore a custom-made suede collar in the video, inscribed with the property’s URL,49GoldenEagle.com. Raj Qsar, owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, says the idea to star Rocco in the video, which came about after the dog took a liking to his team as they toured the space, helped him secure the listing. “They loved the idea,” he says.

“Joining the pet craze, home builders are touting pet-accommodating floor plans, such as those with pet nooks in mudrooms. Also, luxury condo buildings are marketing amenities to pet-loving households, offering rooftop pet parks and spas (complete with “pawdicures”), dog-bone-shaped swimming pools, pet fitness yoga classes and treadmill sessions, and even “yappy hours” social mixers.

“Coldwell Banker last year launched a national campaign called “home’s best friend,” teaming up with AdoptAPet.com. Its brokerages partnered with shelters and rescue groups to hold events nationwide in an effort to find homes for 20,000 adoptable dogs.”

8 Bad ‘Home Improvement’ Habits

This Old House logoThis was posted on “Daily Real Estate News” last Friday.

“Home owners can overdo it when it comes to the upkeep of their home. This Old House recently spotlighted several ways that home owners’ enthusiasm for home ownership may actually harm the house.

  1. Having light bulbs that are too bright. You want a well-lit home, but exceeding a lamp or light fixture’s recommended wattage can be dangerous, particularly with incandescent or halogen lights, says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories. “Using a bulb with too-high wattage will cause the fixture and its wiring to overheat,” he notes, which could then allow the heat to travel to the wall or erode the insulation on the wires and lead to a house fire. Check the fixtures label to make sure you use the correct wattage.
  2. Planting trees near driveways or walkways. A line of trees to the house may up its curb appeal but adding young trees near driveways or walkways could be putting your slab at risk. As these trees grow taller, their roots will go outward, potentially pushing up the paving and causing it to buckle or crack. This Old House recommends planting small trees that will remain under 20 feet at maturity and that are at least 10 feet from paved areas. For larger trees, leave at least a 20-foot radius.
  3. Over scrubbing a sink. Don’t overdo it with abrasive cleaners; they can scratch the sink. “Cleaners with a grit or grain to them will wear away at the finish and dull it,” Kohler‘s Mike Marbuch told This Old House. “That will make the sink more prone to gunk sticking to it—actually making it look dirtier.” Try a liquid cleanser like vinegar or lemon juice on the sink and avoid scrubbing it every day.
  4. Overdoing it with can lights. Excessive recessed lighting in a home can cause a lot of air leaks. Recessed lighting is known as causing heat-sucking air leaks, especially when the fixtures are unsealed in vaulted ceilings. Airtight recessed lighting fixtures are available that are rated for insulation contact (IC). Also, use as few recessed lights as you can, especially when it comes to adding them to cathedral ceilings or in rooms directly below unconditioned attics.
  5. Spreading too much mulch outside. “Over-mulching will suffocate plants, confuse their root systems, and prevent water from percolating into the soil,” notes the article at This Old House. “If you’ve mulched so much that tree trunks and flowers’ and shrubs’ lower branches are covered by or dragging in it, you’ve gone overboard.” Have mulch no thicker than 3 inches.
  6. Using glass cleaner on mirrors. Watch out for store-bought sprays that promise to make your glass sparkle. “A drop of liquid running around the mirror’s edge can cause the reflective backing to lift or craze,” This Old House notes. The black edge can occur from using ammonia- or vinegar-based cleaners. This Old House recommends using warm water and a soft, lint-free cloth to clean mirrors. Or if you do use the sprays, spray it onto a dry cloth first and not directly onto the glass.
  7. Repainting too much. “Excessive paint is detrimental – especially on an older house, which may have layers of thicker oil-based paint, which becomes brittle with age,” notes This Old House. To avoid thick, cracked, or peeling paint, be sure to carefully power-wash prior to painting, sand areas that need it, and then use 100% acrylic-resin exterior paint.
  8. Fertilizing too much. Fertilizing too often can spur more weeds to grow. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency warns over-fertilizing can cause “nutrient pollution,” which is when nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from lawn fertilizers and then leads to an overgrowth of algae that can even pollute local waterways. Some lawn experts recommend only fertilizing twice a year, late summer and fall only.”

Source: “19 Ways You’re Killing Your Home With Kindness,” This Old House (February 2016)

Tickets for BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concerts

BIG Arts logoIf you are looking for a little listening pleasure at the end of the month, the time is now to get your tickets for the BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concert. Since the group’s two evening performances have sold out in recent years, this year an afternoon matinee has been added to the schedule.

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare, the program includes tunes from Broadway to merry old England with songs from around the world including selections from West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, and a special commissioned piece by composer Gregory Brown.

Tickets are available now at the BIG ARTS Box Office. $10 for adults. Kids and students are free. Performances are in BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall on Mar 29 at 7 p.m., Mar 30 at 2 p.m., and Mar 31 at 7 p.m. SanibelSusan sings with the altos and with the Ensemble too. Hope to see you there!

2016 Spring Concert Flier

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity February 26 – March 4, 2016

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Mariner Pointe #733 2/2 $529K, Loggerhead Cay #402 2/2 $595K, Donax Village #14 2/2 $569K, Loggerhead Cay #181 2/2 $725K.

9 price changes: Seashells #38 2/2 now $375K, Mariner Pointe #813 2/2 now $449K, Coquina Beach #4C 2/2 now $499.9K, Blind Pass #B209 2/2 now $539K, Surfside 12 #A2 3/2 now $699K, Sunset South #12C 2/2 now $784K, Sanibel Surfside #117 2/2 now $965K, Sanibel Seaview #A1 3/3 now $1.249M, Gulfside Place #117 2/2 now $1.285M.

4 new sales: Sanibel Arms West #A6 2/2 listed at $539K, Sundial East #O402 2/2 listed at $655K, Snug Harbor #113 2/2 listed at $985K, Wedgewood #306 3/3.5 listed at $1.379M.

4 closed sales: Seashells #33 2/2 $270K (short sale); Mariner Pointe #411 3/2 $519.75K (our listing & sale); Lighthouse Point #113 3/2 $634K; High Tide #B101 2/2.5 $1,750,125.

MP Bayside Pool

Bayside pool at Mariner Pointe just outside #411

 

HOMES

14 new listings: 748 Marthas Ln 3/2 $509K, 1521 Wilton Ln 3/2 $575K, 5105 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 4/3 $699K, 1052 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 $749K, 1438 Albatross Rd 4/3 $779K, 676 Emeril Ct 3/3 $789K, 1487 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $814K, 1429 Jamaica Dr 3/3 $829K, 9027 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 $839K, 792 Birdie View Pt 3/3.5 $1.119M, 3386 West Gulf Dr 3/3.5 $1.349M, 824 Limpet Dr 3/3 $1.395M, 5771 Baltusrol Ct 3/4 $1.398M.

14 price changes: 1390 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 half-duplex now $549K; 746 Cardium St 4/2 now $599,998; 1125 Captains Walk St 3/3 now $699.9K; 3850 Coquina Dr 3/3 now $899K; 1314 Par View Dr 4/3 now $945K; 232 Robinwood Cir 4/3 now $1.389M; 4353 Gulf Pines Dr 3/2.5 now $1.479M; 4014 West Gulf Dr 3/2/2 now $1.595M; 1743 Venus Dr 4/3.5 now $1.795M; 1688 Hibiscus Dr 3/4 now $1.849M; 626 Kinzie Island Ct 3/2.5 now $1.899M; 2451 Blind Pass Ct 4/4.5 now $2.299M; 2518 Tropical Way Ct 3/3.5 now $2.395M; 911 Strangler Fig Ln 4/3 now $2.695M.

7 new sales: 3301 Twin Lakes Ln 2/2 listed at $599K, 689 East Rocks Dr 3/3 listed at $759K, 5757 Pine Tree Dr 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 345 East Gulf Dr 3/2.5 listed at $899K, 979 Oyster Ct 2/2 listed at $940K, 1111 Schooner Pl 3/3 listed at $949.5K, 411 Lighthouse Way 4/3 listed at $1.445M.

6 closed sales: 1653 Bunting Ln 3/2.5 $434,716; 450 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $505K; 2079 Wild Lime Dr 3/2 $570K; 1224 Par View Dr 3/3 $905K; 6015 Clam Bayou Ln 4/3.5 $2.05M; 3911 West Gulf Dr 5/5.5 $4.3M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

Captiva

CONDOS

1 new listing: Tennis Villas #3227 1/1 $287K.

3 price changes: Tennis Villas #3111 1/1 now $244K, Bayside Villas #4202 1/2 now $310K, Tennis Villas #3131 2/2 now $410K.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: Ventura Captiva #1B 3/3 $1.1M.

HOMES

No new listings.

2 price changes: 14980 Binder Dr 4/3 now $1.378M, 14860 Mango Ct 5/4 now $2.344M.

1 new sale: 15000 Binder Dr 3/2 listed at $1.049M.

No closed sales.

LOTS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: with contingencies: 16297 Captiva Dr listed at $1.549M.

No new or closed sales.

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

Until next Friday, here’s hoping great things continue!

Happy weekend, Susan Andrews aka SanibelSusan

TGIF – The Last One in February 2016


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

Beach

Beach in front of Olde Middle Gulf Dr

 

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

Island Weather

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

Beaches

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

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

Sanibel sunset 2011

Upcoming Island Events

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

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

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

Sales Make Gains, Prices ‘Rising Too Fast’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regional Breakdown

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

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

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

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

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

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanibel

CONDOS

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

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

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

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

HOMES

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

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

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

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

LOTS

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

No price changes, new, or closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

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

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

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

No closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings.

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

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

No closed sales.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

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

Enjoy your weekend, folks, wherever you are!

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

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Canalside docks from website

Canal side at Sanibel Moorings