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Happy Thanksgiving 2016
By Valerie
December 7, 2017

Posted by Valerie Tutor on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 at 10:18pm.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  November already and the season is gearing up.  Wow.  It has been a long time since I posted something.  Every month I meant to write the blog & things would get so busy!  That is a happy problem to have though.  Then there is the fact that this is paradise and it is very easy to get distracted. Sigh.   We had a busy summer with most of the action occurring in our off-island communities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral.   Overall this year, sales volume has declined but pricing has not leveled off.  Properties continue to appreciate in value although at a more gradual rate than the past three years when prices soared.  So we have a healthy balanced market that works for both sellers and buyers. 

 Homes and condos in the $200,000 to $300,000 range off -island have been the hot sellers this year, especially over the summer & fall.  Paseo fits that profile.  What an incredible community!  Located in SW Fort Myers, it is convenient to the airport, shopping and both Jet Blue Park and Hammond Stadium.  Jet Blue Park is the spring training home for the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins call Hammond Stadium home.  I had the good fortune of assisting a couple find their dream home here this summer.  Paseo is its own little city in many ways.  The town center is the focal point of this gated community with a pool worthy of Disney World, a private movie theater, bistro, ice cream shop, restaurant, beauty salon, library and a fitness center that rivals the big health clubs.  Lots more amenities, too.  Definitely one of my new favorite communities.  With pricing in the $200,000 - $350,000 range and only 30 minutes to the beaches, it is a great buy! 

For the golf enthusiast who wants to be near the water and have a vibrant social life, Gulf Harbour is really worth discovering.  Only 15 minutes to the beaches, Gulf Harbour has several communities to pick from, you can purchase a starter condo villa home in the $200,000 range or a spectacular estate style mansion on the river for $3M to $6M. Don’t worry - they have lots of other condos and homes priced in between. 

On the islands, early bird buyers have been keeping many of us busy as they look to pick out their ideal beach home before winter settles in and the rest of our snowbirds arrive.  While the inventory has increased some, we still do not have a lot of properties for sale.   Who wants to leave here, after all? 

Right now we only have about 190 homes & 136 condos listed on Sanibel and Captiva. We have over 3,000 condo units on the islands so that should put it in perspective.  These numbers are about what we have seen at any given time over the past three years so our inventory remains low.  

This is an exciting time of the year with our seasonal residents and visitors returning and Thanksgiving and Christmas upon us.  Many of them are visiting the long awaited new Doc Ford’s Bar & Grill located across the street from Bailey’s on Sanibel.  The new building is an outstanding example of Old Florida finishes and architecture and it is just gorgeous.  Make it a must on your list next time you are here.  

We are supposed to have a chilly Thanksgiving with a low of 65 & a high of 79 this week so we might have to get the fire pit going by the pool for our annual Thanksgiving party.  The Tree Lighting at Tween Waters in Captiva usually draws about 700 people to celebrate the official beginning of the Christmas season here and to enjoy the fireworks show over the Gulf that is the highlight of the evening.   The Sanibel Captiva Luminary weekend is the first weekend in December and this year it will be a “Luminary Stroll” with all the decorations on display and the stores and restaurants opening their doors in the evening with Christmas goodies, music, giveaways and tempting gifts. 

If you have any questions about Sanibel-Captiva or SW Florida in general, please feel free to email or call me.  As a native Floridian, it is my pleasure to share information and help people fall in love with my wonderful state.  Have a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving, y’all.

Happy Summer & Happy Father\'s Day!
By Valerie
December 7, 2017

Posted by Valerie Tutor on Sunday, June 19th, 2016 at 6:26pm.

It is June already and the SW Florida summer tourist season is poised to begin.  Summer afternoon rains are the norm and we have been getting more than our share lately but we still have loads of sunshine! 

Father’s Day was Sunday and the Causeway Islands were jumping with families and friends rocking the islands with cookouts, jet skis, boats, and folks celebrating Dad on this beautiful day. 

I hosted an open house that day in Fort Myers at a gorgeous community, called Harbour Isle Yacht & Racquet Club with luxury villas & condos designed for those who love to boat and/or play tennis.  The condo I have listed there overlooks the marina and private island this gated community offers and it has a spectacular view of the Caloosahatchee River!  I could think of worse ways to spend my afternoon than hanging out in this spacious condo that is bigger than my island house – and looking at the great water views down the river!!   I love the Fort Myers area as much as I do the islands.  There is such a wide variety of communities available - historic, waterfront, golf, tennis, resort-style "have it all,"  great family communities, you name it we have it (except ski resorts & snow).  I recently visited a couple that are selling their townhome in Paseo, one of the newest communities here. Wow.  It is close to I-75, the airport & both the Minnesota Twins & Boston Red Sox training facilities.  It is stunning, done by Stock Development, and boasts Italian- Tuscany style architecture in single family homes and townhome/villas (or casitas, as they call them).  It is one of those resort style communities that work for both vacation homes and families here full time.  Within their gates they have a town center with a movie theater, a library, a hair salon, bistro, coffee bar, ice cream shop & a huge fitness center with all the latest stuff. Their pools look like they came right from Disney World with waterfalls and bubbling streams, a kiddie pool and more.  It is huge - oh, I don't want to forget the incredible Tiki Bar (heaven's no).  All of this and the prices for the casitas are in the low 200's for the most part!  What a great value and only 25 minutes to the beaches too.    

Real estate has entered a balanced market as I said last month.  Prices are stabilizing and more inventory (although not a plethora) is hitting the market.  Homes or condos in the $250,000 range seem to be the most popular as well as high-end property over $1,000,000 - which sold briskly the first half of the year.  Both buyers and sellers need to take advantage of this opportunity to make that move, get that vacation home, or invest in the best of all investments – real estate.  The rental market is so strong here that good rental income is well within reach. 

I celebrated my birthday the other day by doing my favorite thing - going out on the boat, fishing and cruising around stopping at great pool bars & restaurants on the water.  What a day!  Sun shining & a breeze blowing that kept it from being too hot.  It was so pretty.  Motoring along the shoreline, you view the gorgeous homes that make Sanibel and Captiva islands a sought-after getaway for folks from all over the world.  We stopped for lunch at one of our favorites – the Green Flash on Captiva Island.  The owners are dear friends.  We also like to boat over to Useppa Island from time to time for a relaxing lunch or just cocktails sometimes at the historic Collier Inn.  The homes there are straight out of a Hemingway novel & a make a great getaway from the mainstream.   Another great trip is a leisurely ride up the Caloosahatchee to either Tarpon Point in Cape Coral or sightseeing the spectacular estates, including the Edison & Ford estates, on your way to Pinchers or Joe’s Crab Shack on the water.  If you are a boater, you need to come see me – I am your waterfront expert!  

The US Open was played this past weekend – so for you avid golfers out there …well, this is just paradise.  We have three golf courses on the islands themselves and oodles of awesome courses and golf communities off island throughout SW Florida.  I sell quite a bit in the golf communities from Fort Myers down to Naples.  My hubby loves summer because he and his friends play a different course each week at discounted rates.  They sure have a super time.

Time to end this day with a glass of wine by my pool watching the sunset over the islands and SW Florida and thanking God for this magical place & my wonderful friends and customers – to all of you, I saved you a seat!!

Happy May! Blessed Memorial Day!
By Valerie
December 7, 2017

Posted by Valerie Tutor on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 at 10:54pm.

Happy May!  Well, spring fever got me and so an April blog never happened.  I would like to give a shout out to the Levetts who purchased a beautiful condo last month in their favorite Sanibel complex.  I meet the best people.   Speaking of which, I stand in admiration and deep gratitude to the men and women who have lost their lives defending our freedom and this nation.   This Memorial Day, remember the sacrifices they - and their families – made to ensure we enjoy the blessings we have today.   Thank you so very much. 

May is my favorite month on Sanibel.  The water turns a gorgeous turquoise blue, the fishing gets great with tarpon, trout, redfish and snook, the sun stays up gleaming & yellow past  8 PM, the tides get super low revealing a treasure trove of shells  - and then just when you think it is just too hot, the sea breeze blows in and cools things off.  As an avid boater/fisherman and a sheller, I always look forward to this time of the year. 

One of the great places here on our paradise coast is Useppa Island.  An historic private island, home to the famous Collier Inn, boasts amazing Key West style homes and cottages throughout the island.  Owners and guests get there by boat and enjoy an island straight out of yesteryear.  The island club membership is also available to residents of Sanibel and Captiva.  As members, we have docking privileges at the marina and can enjoy the dining options on the island including the Inn, the Izaak Walton bar & the Tarpon “Watering Hole.” 

On the real estate front:   there are some excellent options to buy on our fabulous islands right now.  Inventory is up about 15% over one year ago.  Most of the gains are in the residential home market with vacant land and condos remaining about the same.  Sanibel started 2016 with little gain in inventory, while Ft Myers and Naples had been recording increases since October 2015.  In March 2016, Sanibel finally caught up… with a 22% surge in listings.  Finally, more properties to show!  

 Having said that, as of May year-to-date, sales units are down 43% on Sanibel but the sales volume is up 23%.   First quarter numbers show that sales were down 52% but up in volume 9%.  Comparing the two sets of numbers indicates that properties that are more expensive are selling and the pace has picked up. The buyer’s trend this year is that they are looking for homes that are “done”…no renovation needed and like new.   Those homes are selling well and at much higher prices.   Condo sales are down a bit and remaining the same on volume, though most of the Sanibel condos are renting at fabulous prices that make them more valuable and good buys.

 So if you have been waiting to buy here on the islands – or anywhere in Southwest Florida, now might be the time.  We are in a balanced market, prices are stable and there is more inventory overall.  C’mon down and see how much fun it is in the summer and pick your property before the others all get down here.   I saved you a seat, as always…..  God bless.

Happy St. Patrick\'s Day & A Blessed Easter March 2016
By Valerie
December 7, 2017

Posted by Valerie Tutor on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 at 10:26pm.

Happy St. Patricks Day to you from our SW Florida paradise! The weather has been spectacular here in March and the island and SW Florida area are busy again.  This has been a slower season with the colder weather here in January and part of February and the warmer weather in the northern states.  However, March is business as usual with our seasonal residents and new visitors flocking to the area.  Buyers are here and inventory is actually rising in some part of our coastal areas.  Sanibel and Captiva have seen more property coming on the market each day, but we were so low that there is still keen competition for homes and condos with views or updates.  Fort Myers has seen an increase in attractive properties hitting the market as well.  We are beginning to enter what is called a “balanced” market with prices becoming stable rather than rising at the levels they have for the last three years.  This is good news for buyers.  The good news for sellers is that many have recovered the equity they lost through the recession since prices are near 2005/2006 levels.  Average home/condo prices in Fort Myers are hovering in the $300,000 range and $700,000 to $800,000 on the islands of Sanibel/Captiva. 

Our wonderful weather with temps in the 70’s and 80’s brings us a great opportunity for biking throughDing Darling Wildlife Refuge, or enjoying the beach and maybe a cocktail on the patio at Doc Ford’s Captiva – a favorite place of mine.  Lots of St. Patty’s Day parties are planned all around the islands and at our outstanding restaurants such as Traditions on the Beach, the Sanibel Fish House and the Sanibel Seafood Grille. This month, the evening’s entertainment includes our newest production, Musical of Musicals, a hilarious spoof of famous Broadway musicals.  It opens on March 18 at the Herb Strauss Theater & runs through April 16.    

Easter is early this year – March 27 – and the churches throughout the islands and the SW Florida area have services and joyous events scheduled throughout the next two weeks.  Sunrise services on the island are especially well attended and just incredible.  My church, Captiva Chapel by the Sea, is such a grace-filled place in this historic chapel that includes outdoor seating under the sea grapes with the sound of the waves as background music.  This is a wonderful time and my prayer for you is one of hope, peace and a blessed spring!   I will be right here - your paradise fairy godmother – waiting to help you realize your goals and dreams in the beauty of the SW Florida coast.

Happy Valentine\'s Day 2016
By Valerie
December 7, 2017

Posted by Valerie Tutor on Saturday, February 13th, 2016 at 4:11pm.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  The sun has come out and the weather is wonderful now – so we appreciate that Valentine from Mother Nature!  This winter has been an unusual one all over the country and for us as well.  El Nino is finally running out of steam though, at least down here, and the rains have stopped, the sun is shining and the weather forecast for the rest of February is for gorgeous days in the mid to high 70’s!  Our winter residents and visitors have returned although some later than usual since y’all had such good weather up north for some time.  

So what is happening here in SW Florida on the islands and off island as well?  This weekend is the Arts and Crafts Fair of Sanibel-Captiva; a must-attend event with artists from all over the country that come to display their work.  Last night I went to the opening night of our newest play at Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater.  The play, Stepping Outis hilarious!  What a great show – I am going again and inviting friends and clients to join me.  It is about a diverse group of people who meet each week in a church basement to take a tap dance class.     In town, the annual Edison Festival of Light events are in full swing culminating in the Grand Parade on February 20th.  It is a wonderful event you must see if you are ever here in February.  Big news yesterday was the arrival of the Boston Red Sox truck with all the spring training equipment – it is a very exciting thing here in Fort Myers since we are the spring training home to both the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins.  

Real estate continues to be strong and the latest information shows that home sales here and across Florida increased by 12% in 2015!  Our inventory is low and prices have continued to rise.  We saw another substantial increase in prices (also about 12%) on Sanibel & Captiva and across SW Florida last year.  We are expecting to see prices leveling off this year with a more sustainable appreciate of 5% or so…we said that last year & we were wrong.  We need more properties to come on the market and then we can balance values better.  I am proud to say our office had the largest sale this month in Lee County in some years.  A gorgeous Captiva beachfront estate that sold for $16.6 million dollars!  Of course, most of our sales are not nearly that price point and there are still wonderful dream home or vacation properties at attractive price points here on the island and our great off island communities.  There are several beautiful home and condo communities off island that are near to the beaches and offer great amenities and values from $200,000 to $600,000.  I showed a lovely person from Massachusetts some super cute condos in great complexes just 10-15 minutes to the beach and close to shopping, restaurants and health care all for under $200,000! They are out there.  You just need someone like me to guide you J 

Lastly, congratulations to the Levett’s who are realizing their long time goal of owning a Gulf front condo at their favorite condo building on Sanibel.  I am so thrilled for them and honored to help them realize their island dreams!  They found their seat here – how about you?  I am saving you one - Call me.  239-834-8141

VALERIE TUTOR

I am a true Florida native and proud of my heritage growing up in South Florida on an 80 acre cattle ranch only two hours from Sanibel. Since the early 1960s, my family loved to spend our free time on Sanibel and Captiva, so I pretty much grew up here. After living and working all over South and Central Florida, my husband and I were thrilled to be able to move home to Sanibel Island.

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Kingfisher Real Estate Inc National Association of Realtors Sanibel & Captiva Islands Specialist
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