September Newsletter for Sanibel and Captiva

September 2015

Buck Key Road, Sanibel Bayous
2 bedroom / 2 bath house including a fireplace, den, and two car garage. Short walk to Bowman’s Beach, and short bike ride to Ding Darling, Rec Center, and Santiva restaurants.

Captiva and Sanibel inventory of homes for sale is low.  If you are thinking of selling your home, please contact me for a market analysis of your property.

Quick Links


Sanibel Island & Captiva Island Beaches

Causeway Beaches

Lighthouse Beach & Fishing Pier

Gulfside City Park

Tarpon Beach

Bowman’s Beach

Blind Pass Beach

Captiva Beach

Chamber After Hours

The After Hours will be hosted by “Thistle Lodge” at Casa Ybel
The Sanibel & Captiva Chamber After Hours is a monthly networking opportunity held on the 3rd Monday of each month from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.

This is not intended to solicit property already listed. 


The inaugural Island Hopper Songwriter Fest was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed performances by Thompson Square, Kristian Bush, Sonia Leigh, Scotty Emerick, Wynn Varble and more. But don’t worry. We’re doing it all again this year. See you this fall for the 2015 Island Hopper Songwriter Festival.

Captiva: September 17-20th
Historic Fort Myers: September 21-24th 
Fort Myers Beach: September 25-27th

A great time for sellers: 3 reasons why

NEW YORK – Aug. 19, 2015 – Rising home prices, homebuyer demand and less competition is making 2015 a stellar year to sell for many U.S. homeowners across the country, says Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president.

Blomquist points to three major factors behind the favorable climate for sellers:

1. Stronger demand coming from buyers: Sellers in many markets see strong demand from a larger pool of buyers, including first-timers, boomerang buyers (previous owners who lost their home to foreclosure), as well as traditional owner-occupant buyers.
2. Home prices are skyrocketing: Single-family home and condo sellers in the first half of 2015 sold for an average of 13 percent above their original purchase price. “So far in 2015, [sellers] are realizing the biggest gains in home price appreciation since 2007,” Blomquist says. “In June, sellers sold above estimated market value on average for the first time in nearly two years.”
3. Sellers have less competition: Inventories of for-sale homes remain tight, forcing buyers to compete for a limited supply.
Source: “2015 Great Year to Sell,” RealtyTrac (July 22, 2015)

ROTARY HAPPENINGS: Economic Signs Strong on Sanibel
On Aug. 14 the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club got right down to business.  Instead of a speaker for Friday’s morning meeting Rotarian, it was suggested that we should have a roundtable discussion basically with the intent of examining the current business environment on Sanibel and Captiva. It’s no big secret that Sanibel-Captiva Rotary has a fairly good number of retired professionals in the club but we also have a pretty good percentage of business professionals in the club actively engaged in the business community here on our islands. 
Talking points for the round table were retail, trends in real estate, and personal and business changes seen by our island professionals.

First to speak was Scot Congress of CONGRESS JEWELERS. Being in the higher-end jeweler business, CONGRESS JEWELERS was definitely affected, like all Island businesses, by the U.S. economic downfall in recent years and although the economy is recovering, customers are slightly more conservative in their spending. The jewelry business itself has had to adjust to higher gold prices and the devaluation of diamonds. This summer the trafficcounter at the store registered an uptick in the number of people coming into the store. The average sale is up from the last few years but not back to before the economic crisis. High-end jewelry sales are down but people are still buying quality jewelry pieces. 

Trent Peake, membership services manager of SANIBEL-CAPTIVA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, spoke in general about the visitors to the Sanibel and Captiva during the summer. Businesses on the islands are reporting great numbers this summer. Room rates are less expensive during summer and that is bringing in nearby visitors from Tampa, Orlando, and Miami for family travel. They may be traveling on a budget but they still are enjoying all our islands offers… renting bikes; visiting ‘Ding’ Darling, the Shell Museum, and CROW; eating out; and retail therapy. 

There definitely is great optimism in our island business community. We have seen a number of new businesses open up on the island over the last few months and new restaurants are definitely going to increase dining options. 

Real Estate
It’s pretty much a given, most of our island residents first came to the islands as visitors. So how about the real estate market? Prices are trending up; there is an increase in new house construction starts and definitely confidence in investing in island real estate. The resale real estate market is getting stronger, particularly in the mid-range category. 

Discovering a new reality on Sanibel Island
By Lauren Kramer, San Antonio Times
Sanibel. The word dances off the tongue like a magical destination straight out of a Tinkerbell story. That is fitting, because there is something magical and fairy tale-like about Sanibel Island, one of the causeway islands in Southwest Florida. There are no high-rises on this cusp of land that extends like a big, assymetrical grin in the Gulf of Mexico. No big box stores, massive malls or even traffic lights. Drive over the graceful arched bridges that separate Fort Myers from Sanibel, and you leave reality behind, entering a community where biking trails are ubiquitous, conservation is key and pristine, shell-soaked beaches are a part of everyday life.

It’s the shell-hunting we’ve come for. The location of the causeway islands coupled with the movement of the tides means that an exquisite array of shells washes up on the beaches each day. Finding them means long walks on the soft white sand, with eyes peeled to the ground and frequent stops to unearth and inspect an eye-catching shell

Back at our hotel, we use a sheller’s identification guide to separate bivalves from univalves, conches from whelks. And later, at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, we gawk at the immaculate specimens others have foraged from Florida’s beaches: the brilliant, fiery orange hues of the lion’s paw and the graceful curvature of the lightning whelk. Behind glass cases we see the exquisitely symmetrical spots of the dubious volute, and the sharp spines of Paz’s murex. The beaches are a graveyard for offshore sea creatures uprooted by stormy seas, and any shell devoid of an occupant is fair picking.

The word paradise is tossed around a lot on Sanibel, and you don’t have to look far to see why. Twenty miles of biking trails wend around the island, past lush, tropical foliage, mom-and-pop restaurants and mangrove trees that stick hundreds of toes into the salty water. With 70 percent of the island reserved for conservation and wildlife refuge, the human footprint is relatively unobtrusive here. A family vacation here is about cavorting in the warm surf of the Gulf, building sand sculptures and hunting for the trophy shells. It’s also about wildlife watching

We drive a half-hour north to Captiva Island to board a ferry to Cabbage Key. Before we can do that, though, we’re distracted by a breathy snorting sound coming from the water lapping against the marina’s pier. Several sets of gray nostrils are visible above the surface, the only evidence of the manatee family feeding on sea grass just meters from where we’re standing. The 1,300-pound manatee cows, bulls and calves are gentle giants of the sea that spend their lives gorging on sea grass in warm water. Relatives of the elephant family, they share a gray skin and a mammoth girth. But unlike their land-based family, the manatees move slowly and cannot defend themselves. One bears scars from the boat propellers that cause the demise of many a manatee in Southwest Florida.

On board the ferry, more wildlife is minutes away as dolphins dip and dive in the vessel’s wake and a variety of seabirds flies around us. Ospreys are almost as numerous and vocal as seagulls, grabbing fish from the gulf and trailing it in their talons to their nests. We see pelicans diving headfirst into the ocean, egrets and herons standing stock-still in the shallows and giant frigate birds suspended on the thermals as if attached to the long string of a kite.

You can’t ride the Intracoastal Waterway without noticing how hurricanes have marked the landscape with their signature. A 1921 hurricane divided Captiva Island from North Captiva, a separation made permanent by another hurricane five years later. The more recent Hurricane Charlie hit North Captiva in 2004, destroying many of its trees. “Try buying home insurance on North Captiva,” our captain tells us. “Thanks to a black current that steals sand from Captiva island and deposits it on Sanibel, Captiva homeowners have to pay tax for beach renourishment. They buy their homes knowing their property could just wash away.”

Back on Sanibel, we take a guided tour through one of the nation’s busiest refuges, the 6,000-acre J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Here, we learn how mangrove trees have anchored the causeway islands in place, preventing hurricanes from tearing the islands to shreds and creating habitat and nutrients for aquatic life. We watch tree crabs scurry over mangrove branches, ospreys feed their young and egrets catch their next meal. We also learn about the 11-foot American crocodile that once called Sanibel home. “She lived quite happily in the Ding Darling refuge until folks starting feeling sorry for her,” says naturalist Barry Litofsky. “They felt she should be with other crocs, so she was caught and relocated 60 miles away.” Just months later, that old croc was back, though. “She’d swam upriver, seen the sign for Sanibel and taken a right turn,” jokes Litofsky. A popular fixture at the refuge, she stayed there until her death in 2010. Sorrowful about the croc’s departure, community members organized a memorial service in her honor. “Two-hundred-and-fifty people showed up,” Litofsky says with a wry smile. “They brought pictures and memories, toasting that old croc with Gatorade.”