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®