Can you believe we’re closing in on the end of the first month of 2019?! This time each year, we always like to take a look at the Sanibel real estate stats in the MLS system that defined the previous year. As agents, looking at year over year data helps us plan and prepare for the coming year. As long-time Sanibel residents, we like to understand the implications for our own property value. Here’s a quick look at some highlights to give you a feel for some of the real estate trends we saw on Sanibel in 2018 and what this may mean for the market for buyers and sellers in the year ahead.

Sanibel Residential Home and Condo Sales Were Both Up

Despite Sanibel’s spot in the limelight this year due to a particularly rough red tide, both residential home sales and condo sales were up on the island last year. In 2018, 218 residential homes were sold on Sanibel. This represents a 17% increase over what we saw in 2017. If you’re thinking of buying or selling on Sanibel in 2019, it’s worth noting that 70% of residential home sales occur in the first 6 months of the year (thanks, Snowbirds!)  

Like residential sales, condo sales also increased from 140 condos sold in 2017 to 154 sold in 2018, showing a 10% increase. Also like residential homes, the majority of condo sales (about 60%) occur within the first six months of year. This is good information to be armed with when considering timing of entering the market as either a buyer or sell.

Sanibel Condo 2018

Sanibel Vacant Lot Sales Were Down

While home and condo sales both increased from 2017 to 2018, we actually saw a 33% decrease in vacant lot sales which dropped from 32 to 21. Though this may sound like a negative for the market, it is actually the result of the scarcity of land; Sanibel Island has an absolute cap on the number of partitioned lots. High demand + fixed quantity = higher prices and, in this case, fewer sales.

It appears to us that there is an especially low number of near beach lots for sale.  Quality near beach lots have seen price increases of 25%. Lots that were listed at $325,000 are now being listed in the high $400,000 range. The key takeaway? Buy now if you see a lot you like. Lot sales may have been down last year, but so is the quantity of lots left. Keep in mind that even though you may pay more than you initially desired, by building new you can actually recognize a substantial insurance and utilities savings – around $5000 annually.

Tips for Buyers in 2019

Know your negotiating power! Though you can’t control the real estate market, you can use timing and historical data to your advantage. First, be aware the average price negotiation for residential homes and condos was 5.5% and 6.1%, accordingly. Remember, also, that those are just the averages. Knowing that both condos and homes typically sell in the first half of the year (when visitor traffic is heavy), be open to looking in the latter half.

Tips for Sellers in 2019

You now know that most residential and condo sales occur January through June. Take advantage of periods that Sanibel is naturally heavy in traffic (think December through March) by having your house on the market during these times.

Looking to fix up your Sanibel home to put it on the market? Make sure you’re investing in the right changes. The best return in value comes from updated kitchens, baths, and flooring. An additional value add in Florida is wind rated windows. Educated buyers know that hurricane season in Florida means nasty winds and storms. Attempting to sell a home near the gulf with windows that are not wind rated may be a non-starter for some. Take these factors into consideration when you price your listing.

QUESTIONS?   We enjoy tracking the Sanibel Real Estate market.  Email us any question at and we will get right back to you with an answer!