Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Captiva Island Unites to create Captiva Holiday Village

Captiva Island businesses including restaurants, art galleries, shops, real estate offices, tour operators andresorts will introduce the Captiva Holiday Village beginning Friday, November 26 and continuing every weekend through December 19. Offering an array of events, holiday shopping, entertainment, parades, live music and decorations, the village will be a winter wonderland in a subtropical paradise.
“The Captiva Holiday Village is the result of local businesses coming together to offer our guests an unforgettable island holiday experience,” said Paul McCarthy, co-chair of the village committee.
Captiva Holiday Village begins at ‘Tween Waters Inn, continues to Andy Rosse Lane (extending between the gulf and the bay) and proceeds down to Chadwick’s Square, located across from South Seas Island Resort.
For more information visit

Friday, October 15, 2010

2nd Annual 10K Race for FISH

2nd Annual Sanibel 10K Race 4 FISH
Saturday October 16, 2010Introduction Friends In Service Here (FISH) is the leading non-profit, non-sectarian, human services organization focused on “neighbors helping neighbors” on Sanibel and Captiva. The 10K Race 4 FISH on October 16th is our key fundraising event for 2010. The race will be held on Sanibel and is run in conjunction with the Fort Myers Track Club. We are expecting over 500 runners this year, most of the runners will be from South West Florida, including a significant number of Sanibel and Captiva residents who will be taking part. We have even had some early entries from as far away as Indiana!
We serve over 900 clients on Sanibel and Captiva, and in 2009 with our 195 FISH volunteers we delivered the following services:
Provided 9,475 miles of transportation on 304 medical related appointments
Delivered 1,906 hot meals to the housebound or those living alone
Provided 237 pieces of medical equipment
Collected and distributed 31,574 lbs of food from our Food Pantry to 60 families
Provided $74,025 of emergency financial assistance to 75 families/ individuals
Made 699 daily reassurance phone calls with investigative follow up if no answer
Made 225 client visits for those housebound needing interactive conversation
Encouraged 320 participants to come to our monthly ‘Friendly Faces Luncheon’
Helped 552 walk in clients at the Walk-In-Center
Provided 56 holiday meals
Helped 17 young people with Youth Scholarships, including lunch.

Monday, September 6, 2010

10 tips for hiring a home remodeling contractor

YORK, Pa., – Sept. 3, 2010 – An uptick in homeowners are opting to remodel to increase a potential sales price or just upgrade their living space. According to, remodelers should keep the following in mind:
Tip No. 1: Does your contractor have proof of insurance?Ask the contractor to have his insurance company mail or fax a copy of his current contractor insurance card to you. If the contractor can’t do this – stay away. Why? If there is an accident at your home, you are then liable. This also applies to any sub-contractor or employee that the contractor may use – those individuals should have active insurance cards faxed or mailed to you as well.
Tip No. 2: Check references and see photos Ask for at least three references with two for the same type of project you’re planning – and call the references. Additionally, ask the contractor to provide photos of previous work, especially for the same type of project. If he produces lawn and garden photos and you’re planning a bathroom remodel, you may want to check with another contractor.
Tip No. 3: Does your contractor take debit or credit cards?Besides your ability to earn a few points, bonus miles or cash back, credit card acceptance is a good sign that a contractor is financially savvy and has a bank behind his business. Even many small, one-man shops take cards if they have a good relationship with their business bank or credit union.
Tip No. 4: Manners and appearance If the contractor drove his vehicle to your home to give you an estimate, take a look at the way he keeps the equipment and vehicle. Are things clean? Neatly arranged? The way a contractor treats his tools is a direct connection to how he’ll treat your home. During the initial meeting, does the contractor present himself in a professional way? Do you feel comfortable around him or his employees? They will be working in your home.
Tip No. 5: Clean up policy If your improvement is a multi-day project, will the contractor clean up at the end of every day or will he leave the dust, wood chips and other mess lying there for day No. 2?
Tip No. 6: Will the contractor put it in writing? Is your contractor willing to put both his bid and the scope of work in writing? If not – walk away immediately. Many homeowners have been duped by contractors who verbally say what’s included, but, in the middle of the job, require extra money to finish, effectively holding the owner hostage with an uncompleted home project.
Tip No. 7: Availability Can the contractor get the job done in your timeline rather than his timeline? On the flip side, if you can’t find a good contractor that’s willing to commit to your timeline, your expectations may be too high and you may need to adjust your timeline.
Tip No. 8: The use of subcontractors Does your contractor do everything himself or will he subcontract work? For example, if remodeling a bathroom, you may need a plumber, electrician and carpenter. It’s okay if the contractor subcontracts work out to these specific trades – it shows he wants the work done right – and it’s standard practice for the contractor to mark up the services to earn a profit. To save money, owners can subcontract the work themselves, but managing a total project brings its own challenges.
Tip No. 9: Quoting and billing procedure Ask the contractor about his quoting procedure. Will it contain general information, or will it be specific? For example, most contractors will charge a fuel surcharge, material up-charges, waste removal, labor, etc. Some will show you these exact costs in a line item invoice, but others roll it up into one big bill. How much detail do you want? Clarify that with your contractor upfront. Also: What is the payment or billing policy? If money is required upfront, go back to No. 1 and No. 2 above to make sure you have the contractor’s references checked and have a copy of his contractor’s insurance.
Tip No. 10: Did your contractor get the permits? Ask your contractor to take care of the permits. Although permits cost money, the inspection process also protects you from poor workmanship and makes sure everything is being built to code.
© 2010 Florida Realtors®

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sanibel/Captiva Ten Year Real Estate Market Analysis

CLICK TO ENLARGE GRAPHS Attached are two sets of bar graphs: One for single family homes, the other for condominiums. The top graph shows the number of closed sales each year, since 2001. The bottom graph shows the average closed sales price for each of those years. For 2010, it is for the number sales and the average closed sales price, through August 11th.

Number of Closed Sales. For both homes and condos, the peak in the number of sales was reached in 2004/2005. In 2006, the number of sales dropped precipitously by about 42%. Since that time, the number of sales has remained fairly steady. However, we do note that the number of home sales in 2010 should be about equal to 2009 (and the three previous years), since we're about 7.5 months into the year and the seasonal sales are behind us. However, condo sales seem to have picked up quite a bit. We are in mid-August, 2010, and we are only 8 sales short of 2009 sales. As you can see, condo sales over the past four years dropped further than the single family home sales, so we needed this portion of our market to make a rebound - of sorts.

Average Sale Prices. The average sale price of SF homes continued to surge upward into 2007, even though the number of sales had slowed in 2006. The same is true for condominiums, with average sales price rising through 2006, even though the number of sales had dropped, starting in that year. When we look at the rise and fall of the average sale prices, it shows that for single family homes, the increases from 2001 through 2007 were at an average of 10.6% per year. For the three years since, the average price declines were at an average of 11% per year - almost exactly the same rate. No precipitous rise or fall, which we feel speaks strongly of the Sanibel/Captiva market. On the condominium side, the average rise in sales price was 11.4% per year and the average decline was 9.4%. Again, no precipitous rise or fall in these average sales prices.
To see everything thats for sale on Sanibel and Captiva please visit my website at

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Single Family Housing Permit Applications on Sanibel Exceed Four Previous Years -20th Permit Application for Current Fiscal Year-

Kathy Carik
07/29/2010 09:28 am
Today Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra announced that the City has received the 20th single-family home permit application for the current Fiscal Year, which started October 1, 2009.
In comparison, for the entire Fiscal Year of 2005, 16 single family home permits were issued on Sanibel; in 2006, 19 single family home permits were issued for the entire year; in Fiscal Year 2007, 17 single family homes were constructed; and in 2008, 11 permits were issued for new single family homes on Sanibel Island.
Upon releasing the statistics, Zimomra stated, "As a community Sanibel offers an excellent quality of life to our residents. As our City continues to reach build-out the remaining lots on the Island are very desirable, perhaps even more so during the current economic climate. We are especially pleased that our new construction is not confined to a single neighborhood but is occurring Island-wide.”
For information on property for sale in Sanibel or Captiva please see my website at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Paradise.........for buyers

"It's Paradise … for buyers"headlined a recent Fort Myers News Press article
We all know what the big news is in the Gulf. And it doesn't just concern vacationers. We'd be naïve not to realize that homebuyers, although they have a longer horizon of interest, would be wondering about the effect of the BIG Spill on property values on Sanibel and Captiva.
Since we had planned to dedicate this issue of the Islands Telegraph to the local real estate scene anyway, let's launch right into it.
The article referenced above is accompanied by a photograph of a Periwinkle Way motel, recently sold for $1.75 million. (Unstated in the article is the fact that the sale of the motel was brokered by Royal Shell Real Estate.)
We are on the leading edge when it comes to knowing what is happening on the islands and making it happen. We've seen average prices for single family homes on Sanibel recede to 2004 levels. Single family homes on Captiva are at 2001 levels. Condo prices on both Sanibel and Captiva are back to those of 2002.
At Royal Shell Real Estate, we are seeing generally good news on Sanibel and Captiva. Cases in point: For 2010 year to date, listings sold are up 40% over the same period in 2009. The total dollar volume of sales YTD 2010 is up 10.37%, while the average sale price is down 21.15%.
Analysis: This is a superb time to buy real estate on Sanibel and Captiva. Real Estate sales are up; Real estate prices are down. Average prices are down to where they were well before the real estate "bubble" drove them up.
Case in point: Royal Shell Real Estate has current condo listings as low as $185,000.
And the larger, more luxurious homes on the islands are moving well. A Captiva 3/3/1 bayfront private home sold for $2,500.000, 20% below the listed price. A 3/3/0 Beach Villas condo on Captiva sold for $780,000, about 6% below listed price. A sweet 2/2/0 condo unit at Sanibel's Loggerhead Key sold for $416,000, almost 13% below the listed price.
Here's one waiting to be snapped up: $2,350,000 on Captiva's Roosevelt Channel, after a $100,000 price reduction. Check with our Captiva office for details.
As you can see, the prices are good, the values are great, the traffic is active. Local mortgage brokers are placing loans on all types of properties and 30-year fixed rate mortgages are at the lowest since they started tracking them decades ago. This is an excellent time to tap into a deal on your home, second home or investment home on Sanibel-Captiva.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oil Free Sanibel chosen for the release of Pelicans, Gannets

By Anne Mitchell
A large number of brown pelicans and northern gannets rescued from the oil spill along the Louisiana coast were transported to Sanibel Monday and released at an oil-free island beach.
Twenty-one brown pelicans and 11 northern gannets were airlifted in transport crates aboard a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from New Orleans Airport to Page Field General Aviation Airport in Fort Myers. They made the trip to Sanibel in four rented vans. The birds, which had been rescued and rehabilitated after being oiled in the Gulf Coast waters, were set free before a crowd of onlookers at Gulfside City Park. The release was authorized and coordinated under the direction of the Unified Commands in New Orleans, Houma, Mobile and Miami with assistance from the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the City of Sanibel.
Officials chose Sanibel as a release site based on three criteria, said Dr. Jenny Powers, the NPS wildlife veterinarian who accompanied the birds from New Orleans. “First is the suitability of habitat and then the oil trajectory and weather,” she said. “The release site also needs to be close to an airport.”
Because Sanibel Island lies well outside the area that will likely be affected by oil-spill impact (experts predict a one percent likelihood of impact) and is similar in environment
to the birds’ homelands along the Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi coast, and within the species’ home range, it made an ideal release spot.
The birds had been rescued and treated by various agencies in the Gulf Coast states. They were in rehabilitation for 10 to 14 days, according to Dr. Powers. Pelicans have among the best recovery rates among birds impacted by oil, she added. On Sanibel, the pelicans were released at water’s edge following the release of the gannets directly into the water. A crowd of media, refuge staff, and beach-goers gathered to applaud their flawless release.
Rehabilitation center staff banded the birds’ legs with alpha-numeric red bands, as
well as traditional aluminum bands. The red bands allow birdwatchers to more easily identify the birds and the public is requested to help in reporting any sightings to the refuge or at 800-327-BAND. “We’ve only released immature birds up to this point, and they often return to near the vicinity they came from,” said Dr. Powers. “We don’t know what the adults will do.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NOAA Predicts Oil will NOT Impact Lee County Coastline and Beaches

NOAA Predicts Oil Will Not Impact Lee County Coastline and Beaches

Updated Oil Spill Map: Miami and South Florida Could Get Hit, But Less Than 1% Chance It Will Hit Southwest Florida

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated its map of where the BP Gulf oil spill may be heading. It appears the crude has almost NO chance of reaching the coast of Lee County. But it is expected to affect much more distant areas of Florida, including the Florida Keys and Miami, according to computer model projections. Albeit less than (<) 1% probability of hitting southwest Florida along the Lee and Collier coastlines, the same NOAA forecast from Friday, July 1 shows a 61% to 80% chance of sheen, tar balls or other oil remnants coming within 20 miles of Florida's east coast, from the Keys north to the Fort Lauderdale area, by Aug. 18, the Associated Press reported. See the NOAA Threat Map below. Unfortunately, other much more distant areas of Florida, including the Florida Panhandle, have already seen beaches littered with tar balls. The agency predicts a low probability of "oiling," for these areas. We in Lee County have sympathy and great concern for our fellow Floridians who have not been so lucky. Most parts of southwest Florida, fortunately, will have less than (<) a 1% chance of oil impact, NOAA said.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sanibel Beaches June 2010 Attendance Breaks All Previous Years' Levels

Today the City of Sanibel announced that the June 2010 attendance at the public beaches on Sanibel exceeded all previous years' monthly activity for June. Sanibel City Manager Judith Zimomra reported that "Our beaches are pristine and in excellent condition...and our summer visitors are here." The public parking lots at Sanibel's beaches generated $132,822 for the period between June 1 and June 30th, 2010.

Zimomra went on to state, "These numbers are very important to us inasmuch as the unseasonable cold winter deflated beach parking revenues for First Quarter 2010 by 24%, which was approximately $82,100. "Activity at Sanibel's beaches is a major economic indicator for our community and our region" Zimomra concluded, "Thus, we are committed to maintaining this great asset to world-class destination standards."

The City of Sanibel maintains 24.5 miles of shoreline, of which 11.75 is direct Gulf of Mexico shoreline and can be accessed from 7 public parking lots. All funds generated from the public beach parking lots are utilized exclusively for maintaining the beaches, Fishing Pier, dune vegetation, trails, bathrooms and parking lots. In addition to the revenue generated at the public parking lot, the City receives an annual grant from the Lee County Tourist Development Council to maintain the Beaches.

Sanibel's natural beaches provide habitat for a number of listed and endangered species including least terns, snowy plovers, gopher tortoises and sea turtles. In addition to being maintained in a natural state, Sanibel's beaches are noted for receiving the following recognitions:

2010 Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Destination Awards - #6, Top 10 Beach & Sun Destinations in the United States
Fodor's Travel - #1, Best Beaches for Seashells
CNN Travel - #1, Best Beaches for Shells
Travel + Leisure Magazine - Top Shelling Beach - #1, Best Florida Beaches for Kids
Women's Health Magazine - Best Beachcombing
Florida Beaches Guide - Florida Best Beaches for Weddings
Florida Beaches Guide - Florida Best Snowbird Beaches - Best Shelling Beach
Shermans Travel - #10, Top 10 Family Beaches
2008 Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Award - #10, Island Destination - North America

Click here to view a map of all Sanibel's public beaches and parking lots.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Big Changes to Condo Laws Take Effect

ORLANDO, Fla. – July 1, 2010 – A massive condominium bill addressing everything from fire sprinkler retrofits to incentives for moving excess condo inventory is among the real estate-related legislation taking effect today. “Legislators introduced more than 50 bills this session dealing with some aspect of condominiums and condominium associations,” says John Sebree, vice president of public policy for the Florida Realtors®. “At the end of the day, there was one – SB 1196 by Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey). We worked hard to make sure this 103-page bill contained at least two of the many changes sought by Realtors: incentives for buyers of multiple condo units and repealing the requirement that individual owners carry hazard insurance.” The “bulk buyer” provision seeks to stimulate condo sales by enabling investors to purchase condo units in bulk (seven-plus units) without incurring the legal and financial liabilities of the original developer. The hazard insurance provision repeals a 2008 law requiring unit owners to provide proof of insurance every year. If a unit owner failed to provide a certificate of insurance, the association was allowed to purchase insurance on the owner’s behalf and assess the unit owner for the cost of the insurance. SB 1196 also specifies that: • Florida law no longer requires owners to purchase individual unit owner insurance coverage, though it could still be required by lenders or through the Declaration of Condominium;• Associations of condos over 75 feet high aren’t required to retrofit sprinkler systems;• Lenders must pay more of past-due assessments on foreclosed properties;• Associations may deny owners or occupants the use of common areas and recreational amenities when the owner is more than 90 days delinquent in paying financial obligations due to the association; and• Associations may divert tenant rents to pay for delinquent assessments owed by unit owners. Other laws taking effect today that impact real estate transactions or real estate practitioners provide that: • Documentary stamp taxes on short sales are based on the purchase price, not on the amount of the outstanding mortgage balance. HB 109 by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Fort Lauderdale) codifies into law a similar ruling in 2008 by the Florida Department of Revenue. • Real estate and appraiser instructors and real estate school permit holders may serve on the Florida Real Estate Commission and the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board under HB 713 by Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne).• Home inspectors, mold assessors and mold remediators must be licensed by the state effective July 1, 2010. All applicants are required to complete a 120-hour course. But the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) lacked authority to approve the course until July 1. Consequently, the DBPR says it won’t enforce the licensing requirements until July 1, 2011. Visit the department website [] for details. On a related note, HB 663 by Rep. Gary Aubuchon (R-Coral Springs) allows these inspectors, as well as appraisers and real estate brokers and sales associates, to take distance learning courses to satisfy pre-license and post-license requirements. A grandfather clause allows some inspectors to get a license without taking the course, providing they’ve conducted at least 120 previous inspections over the past three years.• More housing choices for individuals with disabilities. SB 1166 by Sen. Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) removes, among other things, a requirement that community residential homes for disabled persons be located 1,000 feet from each other within planned residential communities.© 2010 Florida Realtors®

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When did the Islands (Sanibel & Captiva) Officially become Special???

by Barbara Joy Cooley,
President, Committee of the Islands
Just about everyone seems to acknowledge that Sanibel is special and unique. Have you ever wondered when this notion of Sanibel’s special nature began?
Teddy Roosevelt seemed to be aware of it, because he first came to Sanibel and Captiva to join a fishing party in 1914. In the 1930s, the secluded, natural setting of Sanibel and Captiva attracted famous people such as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anne and Charles Lindbergh, and violinist Albert Spalding, among others.
In 1937, the cartoonist J. N. “Ding” Darling gave a speech to a large audience at a place called Fisherman’s Lodge. Historian Elinore Dormer describes this as the “turn of the road” for Sanibel and Captiva. In her book The Sea Shell Islands, Dormer wrote that, “With a sense of history, The Islander of the following week bore a cover sketch by Matt Clapp of two faces, the Spirit of Captiva and the Spirit of Sanibel, between them the lighted candle, ‘Conservation’.”
Official recognition of Sanibel and Captiva’s uniqueness came in 1939, when, largely through the efforts of “Ding” Darling helping islanders, the
Florida Legislature passed a Special Act (Chapter 19936) to establish a “game and fish refuge” encompassing the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. The act made it illegal for anyone to “catch, hunt, trap or take any wild game, game animals, game birds, or game fish” except those that needed to be removed “in order to maintain a normal biological balance.”
Original Refuge Included Entire
Following the state designation, the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge was designated in 1945. Its boundaries then included the southwestern part of Captiva and all of Sanibel Island. Nevertheless, Florida continued to sell off pieces of the nearly 2,000 acres of state-owned land on Sanibel for development. “Ding” Darling protested strongly against these sales, and tried to have a more permanent refuge established on the island. Eventually he gave up and sold his Sanibel property. That left the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society to take up the cause in the late 1950s. Progress was made, bit by bit. After Darling died in 1962, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Darling Memorial Committee worked along with the Audubon group to establish a National Preserve in 1967. Finally the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge was dedicated on February 4, 1978. It is this legacy as a special, sanctuary island that eventually propelled Sanibel residents into incorporating as a city – to protect the island from overdevelopment. And it is why codes on Sanibel are particularly restrictive when it comes to development, to protect the natural environment and wildlife.
This is what the Committee of the Islands is all about; its mission is “To
develop and promote policies and positions designed to maintain and enhance the quality of life on the islands and to preserve their unique and natural characteristics.”
If you have stories to share about the legacy of Sanibel and Captiva as special and unique places, we encourage you to send them to the Committee of the Islands at PO Box 88 on Sanibel, 33957, or to For more information about the Committee of the Islands, visit

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Foreclosure rescue scam reports increase, new study says

VIENNA, Va. – June 22, 2010 – The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released its first analysis of suspicious activity reports containing information about potential foreclosure rescue scams. The report, “Loan Modification and Foreclosure Rescue Scams – Evolving Trends and Patterns in Bank Secrecy Act Reporting,” analyzed more than 3,500 SARs filed from 2004 through 2009, with the great majority of those reports (3,000) filed last year.“The increase in reporting of suspected foreclosure rescue scam activity could mean that there is an increase in fraudulent activity, but it also reflects an increase in awareness among financial institutions of the fraud perpetrated,” said FinCEN Director James H. Freis Jr.Along with the increase in reported activity, the analysis found that the nature of foreclosure rescue scams shifted too. The latest scams reflect more advance-fee schemes, in which the alleged loan modification or foreclosure rescue specialists say they’ll arrange modification of a homeowner’s mortgage for more favorable repayment terms. Once the scammers receive large advance fees, they rarely, if ever, provide any service.A variation of the advance fee scam involves phony debt elimination programs, in which the homeowners paid advance fees and are given bogus documents or instructed to contact their lenders with specious assertions that the original mortgage debt is illegal.According to the latest FinCEN analysis, the top 10 metropolitan regions, ranked by the concentration of local subjects of all mortgage loan fraud suspicious activity reports tracked between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 10, 2010, are:Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL, came in ranked as No. 1; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA, No. 2; New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA, No. 3; Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI, No. 4; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, No. 5; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA, No. 6; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, No. 7; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA, No. 8; San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA, No. 9; and Orlando-Kissimmee, FL, No. 10.© 2010 Florida Realtors®

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oil Spill Update: Island Beaches Remain Clear

Last Thursday, Governor Charlie Crist extended the state of emergency regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to include Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The beaches and shorelines of Sanibel remain in pristine condition with no impact or imminent threat from the oil spill, say city officials. At this time, there is no smell or presence of oil on our local beaches. City staff continues to closely monitor the situation and coordinate planning efforts with local, state and federal partners. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) has been working on several fronts in preparation for the possibility of oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig landing on the islands.
• SCCF is registered with the St. Petersburg Unified Command Center as an affiliated volunteer organization.
• In terms of wildlife impacts, since oil or tarballs are considered a hazardous material, SCCF is keeping tabs on when and where training certification opportunities, accepted by the coast guard and BP, will be offered.
• SCCF is working closely with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission on sea turtle and shorebird protocols involving nesting females, nest protection and hatchling survival. They have tasked the foundation with protocols or the potential of oil or tarballs on our beaches.
• SCCF has worked with the City of Sanibel, the J.N.”Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Captiva Erosion Prevention District and the Captiva Community Panel to supply data and revise geographic response maps and area contingency plans in order to provide
the St. Petersburg Unified Command Center with up to date resource information for protection efforts.
“The level of involvement by local volunteers should the oil reach us is still being clarified but we are keeping a list of people who have called in to volunteer,”
said Erick Lindblad, executive director. To be added to that list, e-mail
“Realistically, the threat from this incident will probably remain a concern through the summer and into the fall. One major unknown is the possible role of hurricanes,” said Lindblad. “All forecasters acknowledge that a major storm in the gulf could greatly impact how and where the oil or tarballs spread. As we learn more, we will keep you posted.”

Friday, May 7, 2010

City of Sanibel Plans to use Booms to Protect Shores from Oil

The continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential to wash up on local beaches weighed heavily Tuesday on the Sanibel City Council and staff. However, city officials are already making plans to place booms along the beaches and mangroves to keep the crude oil from damaging Sanibel’s environment and its tourism industry. Mayor Kevin Ruane said, “We are continuing to work with our partners, both federal and state, as well as local... (in) planning and preparing for this event.” After the Florida governor’s office on Monday extended the state of emergency from the Panhandle to Sarasota, Ruane and City Manager Judie Zimomra participated in a conference call with the governor. So far the city manager has ordered the finance director to prepare cost tracking forms and has met with representatives of the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to coordinate efforts and documentation of pre-disaster conditions. Additionally, the city is coordinating with local partners to document pre-disaster conditions and coordinating identification of environmentally sensitive areas. At the council meeting, Ruane held up various maps as Zimomra described the potential movements of the oil slick and how to combat it. Natural Resources Director Rob Loflin said the gulf loop current is 20 to 80 miles offshore. If oil were to get into the current it would move quickly down the coast, Loflin said. He recommended that Sanibel place booms along 30 miles of beaches and about eight miles of mangroves and openings to the refuge. “If you get this (oil) in the mangroves, there is nothing you can do,” he added. “We have snowy plovers nesting on the beaches and it’s the start of turtle nesting season.” Ric Base, executive director of the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, is stressing to the public that “there is little chance of the spill coming this far east and south. Our beaches are open and clean.” Meanwhile council members were wondering why oil companies drilling in the U.S. are not required to use cut-off valves to stop the oil from spewing out of the sea bed.Vice Mayor Mick Denham said such valves have been mandatory in Norway since 1993 and are required in most other countries. He said Sanibel should lobby elected officials and send a letter to Senator Bill Nelson, who is encouraging communication. “We as a council should begin to lobby for the ultimate in safeguards,” Denham added.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


UF: Florida real estate market has hit bottom
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – April 29, 2010 – Florida real estate markets show the first tentative signs of recovering from the most painful recession in the state's history, according to the latest University of Florida (UF) report.
"Results of our first quarter survey indicate that the real estate market in Florida has hit bottom and is in the process of stabilizing across most property types," says Timothy Becker, director of UF's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies.
But while most of the survey respondents report the market probably won't get any worse, few say it has actually begun to improve yet, Becker says. "One of our respondents summed it up by stating that 'if anything, we will get less bad.'"
On the positive side, private capital – both foreign and domestic – is continuing to enter the state in search of quality investment deals. As banks start to deal with their problem assets, more deals will come to market.
Another good sign: Life insurance companies have started to re-invest in commercial properties after backing off for the last year and a half, Becker says. Because these companies use premiums from life insurance policies to make investments, they are not deterred by the lack of available bank financing.
"(Life insurance companies) see the fundamentals of the economy stabilizing and they see the opportunity to get quality assets at a good price," Becker says. "So if they think things aren't going to get worse and they may actually get better, it follows that they're going to want to start investing again."
On the negative side, unemployment continues to be one of the state's biggest problems, edging up to 12.3 percent in March, its highest level since the state began keeping count in the 1970s. Florida has lost more than 880,000 jobs since 2007.
Although there is a potential for job growth later in the year, even under the most optimistic assumptions it will take three to four years to return to 2006 levels, Becker says.
Also of concern is the continued reluctance of commercial banks to lend money because of pressure from regulators to manage risks along with depressed values that make it difficult to refinance mortgages.
The retail and office markets are the worst off, Becker says. "Until there is an increase in job growth, there is no need for more office space, and people aren't spending as much money as they used to."
Apartments continue to be the best market in the state due to high demand from people moving out of foreclosed homes. "More people are going to be living in temporary spaces than trying to buy homes just because it's gotten a lot more difficult to buy homes from a financing perspective," Becker says.
Statewide, Florida's new housing market will continue to be slow, a result of more foreclosed homes becoming available. "That competition makes it very difficult for new homes to get built and purchased because buyers can often get an equal or nicer home for a much cheaper price on the foreclosure market," Becker says.
One of the strongest areas of the state is South Florida, especially Miami-Dade and Broward counties, with their diverse economies, steady migration and influx of foreign capital. "The glut of condos in South Florida is actually starting to change hands – they're beginning to rent them – and I think there is more life in downtown Miami than there has been in a long time," Becker says.
Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville also are picking up. "Florida's big cities – those four areas – are less bad off than the rest of the state, and they're going to recover quicker than other places," Becker says.
Jacksonville, in particular, is in a good position because its housing market never got as hot as other markets; and, as a result, it doesn't have as many foreclosures. "I think Jacksonville is primed to really take off, and with the expansion of the port is going to have a lot of jobs coming into the marketplace," Becker says.
A positive note overall is that survey respondents' confidence in their own business has risen for the fifth consecutive quarter. In previous breakdowns by profession, developers and lenders had extremely low expectations for their own businesses, and that has grown substantially in the last few surveys.
"It's always a good sign for us that the lenders think their business is going to get better," Becker says. "Maybe it means there is some light at the end of the tunnel, even though we're still not at a great spot."
© 2010 Florida Realtors®

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Congress Extends flood insurance to May 31

WASHINGTON – April 16, 2010 – Congress approved an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) yesterday and President Obama signed it into law within the hour. The change, part of a larger bill that covered unemployment, extends the flood insurance program to May 31, 2010; and coverage is retroactive to March 28 when the current program ran out.The extension is a patch for the program, and current bills in Congress would solidify the flood program and extend coverage beyond a few months. H.R. 4213, if passed, would extend flood insurance coverage through Dec. 31, 2010.“In theory, the NFIP will now return to normal operations and, since the extension is also retroactive, any new policy applications or renewals that were signed and submitted during the hiatus will be effective from the date of application (or in the case of waiting periods, the waiting period will start from the date of application),” say officials of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.The flood insurance extension was part of a larger bill that extends unemployment insurance benefits to June 2.Source: National Underwriter, Arthur D. Postal, April 16, 2010© 2010 Florida Realtors®

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homebuyers' Top Questions about the Tax Credit

WASHINGTON – March 30, 2010 – The Florida Open House Weekend, April 10-11, is the last, best opportunity to secure up to $8,000 in tax credits for first-time homebuyers (up to $6,500 for move-up buyers).
According to the National Association of Home Builders, the following are top questions asked by prospective homebuyers. In all cases, buyers should check with the IRS or a qualified financial advisor for specific personal advice.
How does a homebuyer claim the tax credit?
The credit is claimed when the homebuyer files or amends his or her federal income taxes. For qualifying homes purchased in 2009 or 2010, the taxpayer must complete IRS Form 5405 and attach a copy of the settlement statement. In most cases, the settlement statement is a properly executed Form HUD-1.
In circumstances where a HUD-1 is not provided, such as purchasing a mobile home or a newly constructed home, the IRS will accept an executed retail sales contract (mobile homes) or a copy of the certificate of occupancy (new homes).
Does the homebuyer have to sell their current home in order to qualify for the $6,500 repeat homebuyer tax credit?
No – a homebuyer does not need to sell their current home in order to be eligible for the repeat buyer credit. They can continue to own both homes and rent or use the former home for something else providing it no longer serves as their principal residence. The taxpayer is required to use the new home as their principal residence and live in it for at least 36 months; otherwise, they must repay the credit.
Do married couples both have to meet the eligibility requirements in order to claim the credit – even if they file taxes separately?
Both spouses must fully meet all the eligibility requirements for either the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit or the $6,500 repeat buyer tax credit, regardless of whether they file joint or separate tax returns. However, if an unmarried couple purchases a home and only one person qualifies, the eligible person may claim the full credit.
Do all home purchases need to be completed by April 30, 2010, in order to be eligible for the credit?
There are two exceptions to the April 30 deadline. If the buyer enters into a binding contract by the deadline, they have until June 30, 2010, to complete the purchase. The deadline has been extended a year, to April 30, 2011, for members of the uniformed services, Foreign Service or employees of the intelligence community who have been on qualified extended duty outside the United States for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010.
For more information on the tax credit and the Florida Open House Weekend, visit Florida Realtors website at:
© 2010 Florida Realtors®

Sunday, March 28, 2010

1st Annual Edible Molusk Oyster Eating Contest to be held on Sanibel!
When: Saturday, April 17th 2010, 11am - 1pm.
Where: The Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market
Why: To celebrate "Oyster Love" and to raise money for the Bailey- Matthews Shell Museum Mollusk Exhibit.
Rules: Individuals have 90 seconnds to eat as many oysters as possible. Each contestant will receive a tray filled with 30 pre-shucked oysters on the half shell. Supplemental oysters will be given if needed. Each individual may have someone behind them cheering them on and each contestant will be assigned an individual judge to ensure all the oysters are swallowed. The judges will be the ones responsible for counting oyster shells to determine the number eaten. Contestants will be allowed to "flavor or dress" each oyster before the competition begins, but are not allowed to remove the oyster out of their shell prior to the start of the competition. For an oyster to be counted in the final total, it must be in the contestant's mouth at the end of the time limit.
All's Fair: Oysters can be slurped from the shell, hands-on grabbing and throwing them in the mouth or even dumping them in a pint glass and guzzling them. We don't care as song as they end up in the mouth and swallowed within the time limit!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sugar Contract
Extended For U.S.

On March 11 South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board cast a unanimous vote to extend the agency’s contract terms with U.S. Sugar Corp. over the pending acquisition of land that will be used to save the Everglades.
The contract extension was required to secure the acquisition of 73,000 acres of much-needed land that will be the cornerstone of a cost-effective water management initiative designed to sustain the water supply of millions of people and rescue the treasured Everglades ecosystem from certain peril.
“The members of the governing board demonstrated considerable leadership today by committing to this vitally important land acquisition within the Everglades Agricultural Area. This is the best opportunity we will have in our lifetimes to sustain our water supply and build the foundation for all future Everglades restoration projects,” said Kirk Fordham, CEO, Everglades Foundation.
“This land acquisition will save taxpayers money in the long term and provide the South Florida Water Management District an opportunity to prioritize projects around a water treatment and storage footprint that will provide the maximum benefits to residents and the environment.”
The Everglades Foundation has long advocated land acquisition in the Everglades Agricultural Area as the most cost-effective option available for Florida to fulfill its commitment to Everglades restoration. In addition, the foundation expects the revised proposal for U.S. Sugar Corp. land to provide the initial acreage to launch promising water quality projects and allows for the acquisition of additional land for restoration purposes in the near future.
The foundation’s position is that the health of the Everglades is not only vital
to the environment, but also to the economy and quality of life in South Florida.
The organization has assembled a team of scientists, policy experts and communications
professionals and works with partners on several fronts to educate, advocate and litigate -- when necessary -- to advance Everglades restoration. In addition, the foundation provides grants to like-minded local, national and international organizations and collaborates with other business, civic and environmental groups to form coalitions and set priorities to move restoration initiatives forward.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Insurance mitigation forms for Sanibel & Captiva High Value Homes

Insurance Tip:
High Value Homes
Mitigation Forms
by Marge Meek
Since all the Citizens wind policies had to be rewritten last year, many policy holders had homes just under the $750,000 rule for mandatory opening protection to get wind insurance.
Please note this refers to the value of the "building only", not the total property including the lot.
Many other customers had an additional year to comply. This is the year that everyone must
make the decision on how to meet the opening protection rules. And there are options, not always with Citizens, not always as expensive as people think. Opening protection means all windows, doors, sky lights, etc. must meet the guidelines covered on #8 of the uniform
mitigation form. Citizens will only accept the box marked “basic” or better in providing wind insurance to high value homes. By looking at the form’s explanations of what each category means, the typical customer has no idea which opening protections will satisfy the requirement. Therefore, a contractor or other licensed individual is brought in to fill out
the form. Even then, there is disagreement, as these individuals have been to different classes to get certified and the issue goes on.
Shutters, impact glass and even certain rated films will allow a home to be insured with Citizens. However, there are companies who don’t require those same rules be followed on opening protection to get coverage, thus giving the insured more options. Additionally, homes over $2 million are going to be non-renewed this year as well, unless the agent fills out
documents showing no other coverage is available, and then up to a three-year extension will be given. Once again, there are options. Too often high value homeowners are self insuring when alternatives haven’t been explained to them. Be informed before you discontinue such
important coverage. Take the time to ask your agent to explain the various options available, ask your neighbors what they are doing and ask local suppliers what different types of
opening protection they provide. This is an expensive decision that also affects the
ability to sell your home, if that is your goal.
Marge Meek is a local Sanibel-Captiva insurance agent, who can be reached at mmeek@rosierinsurance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barron's Magazine -10 best places for Second Homes

Sanibel & Captiva Islands rated #8!!!!!

"8. Captiva/Sanibel Island, Fla. Sitting off the coast of Fort Myers, a nerve center of America's foreclosure crisis, the barrier islands of Captiva and Sanibel are the very picture of laid-back living. Linked by a bridge at Sanibel's northern point, the islands are renowned for their pristine beaches and abundant seashells. Then there are the hiking trails; half the island is a nature preserve. The late Robert Rauschenberg is, even in death, one of the largest landowners. His 35-acre spread, complete with studio, is intact on Captiva's northern end.Median Price: $3.5 million Drop From Peak: 40% "

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So there is is this little white egret that has been having trouble deciding which side of Periwinkle he prefers. Completely oblivious to the VERY confused drivers, he has been dashing from one side of the road to the other, only to change course mid stream and dash back the other way!. It's the funniest thing you ever saw and has the motorists in turmoil, bringing the already slowed traffic to a complete stand still as he darts left and right.
Periwinkle Way, the heart of Sanibel is usually busy at this time of year and as residents we allow an extra 20 minutes of journey time "just in case" So imagine the impact this little bird is having..............VERY funny if you're not in a hurry to reach your destination. Perhaps we should take this as a message from Mother nature to slow down and enjoy each day to the fullest!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


So I'm sitting here on sunny Captiva Island in an open house. It's a beautiful sunny breezy day with a clear blue sky. The temp however is very un-Florida like -downright cool if you ask me. I just took a walk through the property and on my way passed a lady in a swimsuit!!! (I have on two shirts, socks and a sweater) Come on people, buy this lovely house!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sanibel Farmers Market

Today as I was munching on my "roasted veggie cous cous" I wondered to myself why last Sunday was my FIRST visit to the Sanibel Farmers Market! The market is held at the Tahitian Gardens shopping center every Sunday from November thru the end of "season". A visit to the market had always been on my "to do" list but my Sundays are busy. I try to get in a swim at the REC center if possible, then if I'm not sitting in open houses I'm often scheduled to man the offices of Royal Shell Preferred Properties, either at the Sanibel or Captiva locations. Anyway, I finally made it to the market this week. Apart from the wonderful fresh veggies, there are also cheeses, fresh fish, sauces and salsa, delightful pastries and the list goes on and on. It's a wonderful place to catch up with friends since almost everyone you know WILL be there! I'm thankful to the organizers of this weekly event -you will be seing me again sooon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

I just had to ask!
For the past week or so I have been hearing English voices from the house next door on Rabbit Rd. Tonight when I returned from the office by way of Baileys Store, there they were again! Three men, with three of the BIGGEST cameras I have ever seen, all pointing towards an electric pole. Turns out they are on "holiday" from the UK where bird watching is a hugely popular pastime. Apparently every three hours or so an Osprey flies in with a large fish, lands on top of the telegraph pole and eats. These three guys are blown away by the fact that they are able to get within two miles of such an event. It reminded me just how lucky I am to live in a place where Osprey sightings are commonplace.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finally our normal balmy winter temps have returned and we are able to retire our socks, hopefully until next year. 60's at night and close to 80 during the day for the next week or so. Click here to see all the real esate for sale in this little island paradise I call home.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Blind Pass Ecosystem Partnership Cordially Invites You to Attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Blind Pass Ecosystem Restoration Project, on Friday, January 15, 2010, 10:00 AM, at Turner Beach Regional Park.
It's been almost two weeks now that I turned the heat on! This is NOT what I signed up for when I moved to tropical Sanibel & Captiva Islands. Thankfully the weatherman says we should be back to almost 80 degrees by the weekend. It's been really rough on our wildlife. The fish are dying and I hear iguanas are literally dropping out of the trees from the cold.