After spending a few days on the beautiful Sanibel beaches, many visitors are hooked on the Sanibel lifestyle and spend part of their vacation looking for a condo to purchase. In the past, severe sticker shock sets in with asking prices often beyond the means of most visitors. If you passed on a purchase during prior visits, it just might be time to take another look as prices have dropped across all sectors of the Sanibel condo inventory.
Sanibel avoided much of the draconian valuation reductions that areas surrounding it including Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers experienced in the post bubble years. Key factors that have aided the Sanibel in only experiencing modest price reductions include minimal speculative new construction, wealthier investors able to ride out the downturn and healthy in-season rental income streams. These factors, coupled with a limited availability of vacant land on Sanibel contribute to the health of the Sanibel real estate market.
While Sanibel remains much healthier than its surrounding neighbors, the market has experienced an overall decline in property valuations. Factors contributing to this decline include an abundance of available inventory, tighter restrictions on second home mortgages and the global recession which has impacted the liquidity of wealthy second home buyers, who have traditionally dominated the Sanibel condo market. As the inventory of available condo listings has grown, sellers are aggressively reducing prices to attract a buyer.
In today’s market, Sanibel condos at prices under $300,000, a dramatic shift lower than prices during the real estate bubble years. Condos in this price range have generally not been upgraded with modern finishes like granite and cherry cabinets, but certainly these enhancements can be made down the road after a purchase. Most entry-level Sanibel condos are not beachfront, but the beauty of the island lifestyle is that most are within walking distance or a short bike ride of a Sanibel gulf-front beach.
With over 50 different developments, the process of shopping for a Sanibel condo can be both intimidating and confusing. A good first step to narrow the field is to decide the area on Sanibel where you would like to live. Many find it helpful to segment the island into thirds: the East End; Mid Island and the West End and focus on developments in one of these areas. Another tip for Sanibel condo buyers is to look off-season, as fewer others are looking at this time and it is easier to gain access to units as fewer are rented in the off-season.