An island in the sun

Castles in the Sand

I clearly remember traveling to the Caribbean islands when I was still living in the cold northeast and wondering what it would be like to live and work in such a beautiful place. Do high heel shoes become a thing of the past, to be replaced by flip flops, and do you immediately discard anything that says 100% wool, not to mention pantyhose? I did all of this and never looked back except to be grateful that I found this particular Island when I did.

Don’t misunderstand; I am very pro-real estate and most of the homes on Anna Maria Island are tasteful, new and built to current hurricane building codes, making them safer than their one-level ranch ancestors. Nevertheless, these days if I visit a small island, I can’t help comparing it to Anna Maria Island and can’t even imagine what the next 10 years will bring.

For now, let’s see what the December sales statistics for Manatee County have to say, reported by the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee:

Single-family homes closed 29.7% fewer properties from December of last year. The median selling price was $507,000, up 10.2% from last year, but the average selling price was $610,237, down 0.6% from last year. The median time to contract was 27 days this December compared to six days last December, and the month’s supply of available properties is three months this year compared to 0.6 last year.

Condos closed 24.2% fewer properties from December of last year. The median selling price was $344,475, up 13.7% from last year, but the average selling price was $364,057, down 3.6% from last year. The median time to contract was 19 days compared to six days last year, and the month’s supply of available properties was 2.7 months this December compared to 0.5 last year.

The consensus of opinion is that 2022 has been a change or shift in the market and we are seeing that as well. Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, indicates that inflation has been dropping and consumers can expect mortgage rates will likely fall as well.

In addition, although there are fewer sales, we have a significant increase in listings, making more properties available. Our market is still, however, considered a seller’s market per the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

An island – really just a spit of sand in the Atlantic Ocean – that made all these feelings come roaring back was a one-day stop at a totally undeveloped island called Half Moon Cay, a private island owned by one of the major cruise companies. The actual name for this dot of paradise is Little San Salvador Island 100 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. Half Moon Cay’s size is close to Anna Maria Island’s, but you would never know it driving around. There are only a handful of homes, a beautiful lagoon, a tourist center with shops and a spectacular unspoiled beach.

That said, based on a recent profile of Anna Maria in the Wall Street Journal, Anna Maria, “a tropical oasis,” is Florida’s second-most expensive zip code (34216) as ranked by median listing price, according to realtor.com. Anna Maria city is topped by Miami’s Fisher Island, pretty good company.

As Anna Maria keeps growing and property values keep going up, I wonder what would happen to lovely Little San Salvador if civilization invaded their beach. Every time I read a profile of Anna Maria in a national publication it leaves me shaking in my flip-flops, but that’s progress and this is an island in the sun.