Four Things to Consider When Buying an Island Home

Home on Sanibel IslandSanibel and Captiva Islands are some of the most coveted places to live in Southern Florida. The unmatched natural beauty and tight knit communities of the area are what draw people in and keep them hooked. Once you visit these islands, you’ll never want to leave. And you don’t have to! But buying an island home takes special preparation - there are a lot of things to consider before making the transition, especially for those who have never experienced island living before. Here are some tips to prepare you for the island lifestyle:

Old Fashioned Living

With fewer than 10,000 people living on the island, Sanibel offers a small town charm that cannot be missed by tourists. Even today, the island has no traffic lights and no billboards. Biking is a preferred method of transportation here, made easy by the 22 miles of traffic-less bike trails that weave around the island. Sanibel is also unique in that it has a long-standing ban on a number of chain restaurants, which helps preserve local businesses. Sanibel and its residents prioritize the preservation of the island’s natural beauty, and you should be prepared to do the same if you’re thinking of moving here. 

Local Isolation

Isolation and local-centric communities are both things you can expect to encounter when transitioning to island living. While the word “isolation” has negative connotations, residents of Sanibel Island actually appreciate the distance from the bustle of the mainland. There is a toll bridge that connects the mainland to the island, and although even year long residents are subject to fees, locals insist that it is a small price to pay for a life in paradise. Local residents have formed a very tight-knit and friendly community - the prohibition of most chain restaurants have allowed the local businesses to flourish and provide for the community. In short, locals are content with what the island provides; many have said that there is hardly anything worth leaving for anyway. 

“Island Time” 

Living on Sanibel - or any island - you should expect a change of pace from regular urban (or even rural) life. Things tend to move much slower here. In fact, the speed limit never exceeds 35 mph on the whole island. Generally, people tend to be in less of a hurry. Things like honking your horn or letting out an exasperated sigh while standing in line may be frowned upon. The island is a place of relaxation, and locals strive to maintain the serenity and beauty of the island that keeps them in constant “vacation mode”. 

Presence of Nature

Over half of the area of Sanibel and Captiva Islands are reserved for nature preserves or wildlife refuges. Many islands have their own ecosystems, which may mean that you encounter creatures you are unfamiliar with. Doing some pre-move research on the wildlife of the area is definitely a good idea. While the incredible environment offers you never-ending opportunities for exploration, it also demands a certain respect for nature that has been adopted by locals. Residents here are committed to keeping the environmental community in which they live. This means supporting conservation efforts, making sustainable lifestyle changes, and taking advantage of the man-made environment that already exists without encroaching on the natural preserves. 

Feeling ready for island living? Check out the currently available listings here or create a custom search.


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    Best Beachfront Restaurants on Sanibel

    Sanibel Florida Beachfront RestaurantsPart of the charm of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands is the ocean. Dining on the islands is one of our favorite activities. We’ve compiled a list of the best waterfront restaurants to enjoy a variety of cuisines from an incredible view.

    Thistle Lodge

    This historic beachfront restaurant features European, Asian, and Flordia style cuisine. The restaurant has a romantic atmosphere with a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Traditions on the Beach

    Traditions on the Beach is a favorite of the locals and takes pride in using fresh, local ingredients to create Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Along with the amazing beachfront view, the restaurant features live music and dancing every night. 

    Sea Breeze Cafe

    Sea Breeze Cafe is within the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. They serve a variety of sandwiches and salads, as well as signature entrees and fresh wild-caught seafood. You can enjoy your food inside or outside on a palm-lined patio overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

    The Mad Hatter

    The Mad Hatter offers American Cuisine that changes seasonally and is always prepared from scratch. This elegant restaurant is known for its beautiful sunset dinners as it overlooks the ocean.


    We hope you enjoy these suggestions. Contact Phaidra McDermott for all of your Sanibel Real Estate needs. 


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      Start Your Virtual Home Search on Sanibel Island

      Home Buyers OnlineWhile we are experiencing lots of changes and uncertainty happening all over the world, our needs to find a new home or sell a home still exists. Phaidra McDermott provides buyers and sellers with valuable resources and services. You can find the island home of your dreams in the Sanibel and Captiva area. 

      Find Your New Home Online

      Use these recommended searches to view current listings. Some of the most popular searches are below. Listings get updated daily!

      You may also like to create a custom search using this MLS tool. You can filter your search results to match the criteria for your ideal home. 

      Buyer & Seller Resources

      By working together, we’ll get through these uncertain times. If you have any questions about buying or selling, or if you’d like to learn more about our beautiful Florida islands, contact Phaidra McDermott today.

      Click to Browse Sanibel & Captiva Homes that Feature Virtual Tours


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        Sanibel Home Buyers Guide

        Buying in SanibelBuying a home is a big commitment. In addition to being one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make, it’s also one of the most complex. This is why it’s so important to find a real estate agent you’re comfortable with, and one who’s experienced and knowledgeable about the local real estate market. Here are some steps to make your buying process go as smooth as possible:

        Get Pre-Approved

        There are lots of reasons to get pre-approved with a bank or lender. Most importantly, this will give you accurate information on how much home you can afford. Having a pre-approval letter shows sellers that you’re a credible buyer who’s ready to take action. You’ll be able to act fast once you find the right home.

        Choose an Agent

        You’ll want to find an agent who can offer expert advice and help you make the best decision when buying a home. Look for an agent who is up to date on the current real estate trends in the local market and who will provide you with the highest level of service. The most important thing is for you to feel confident and comfortable working with your agent. 

        Start Your Search

        If you’re thinking about buying a home on the Sanibel & Captiva Islands, be sure to contact Phaidra McDermott. She grew up on these beautiful islands and knows the ins and outs of the local real estate market like no one else!


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          5 Romantic Restaurants on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

          Sanibel RestaurantsValentine's Day is the perfect day of the year to enjoy one of the amazing restaurants on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The island has several places to enjoy the sunset and to listen or dance to live music. Below are a few of my favorites for you and your partner to enjoy a romantic holiday dinner. 


          Cielo, Sanibel Island:

          Enjoy a locally sourced seafood dinner at this award-winning, upscale restaurant. Cielo features live piano performances from 6:00 pm to close.


          Mad Hatter Restaurant, Sanibel Island:

          What's better than a romantic sunset dinner? The Mad Hatter features world-class dining with an ever-evolving, fresh menu, that changes with the seasons, and that perfect sunset view.


          Traditions On The Beach, Sanibel Island:

          Visit this award-winning restaurant, with views of the sunset from every angle in the dining room. Traditions On The Beach also has live music and dancing.


          Old Captiva House, Captiva Island:

          Enjoy this newly renovated steak and seafood restaurant. On Valentine's Day, you can enjoy their special menu or if you'd like, the traditional menu will also be available. Reservations are required so be sure to call or book online.


          Green Flash, Captiva Island:

          This waterfront restaurant is the perfect location for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner. The Green Flash serves local seafood, as well as offering vegetarian and vegan options. 


          If you are looking to buy or sell a home on Sanibel or Captiva, contact Phaidra McDermott today. She's happy to share her local knowledge and island real estate expertise with you.


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            Moving? 5 Things to Do Before You Pack

            Moving TipsAre you planning to move in the near future? Here are some things to do before you start filling up boxes so you can make your move easier. With some planning and forethought, you can eliminate a lot of stress. 

            1. Separate your items

            Make a clean sweep through every room, closet, drawer, shelf, and cabinet in your home. Start with the biggest items first and work your way down to the smaller stuff. Categorize your belongings by things to keep, things to donate, things to sell, and things to throw away. 

            2. Get rid of items you no longer need or want

            Many charities offer free pickups for things you are going to donate. Go ahead and schedule it so you can get these items out of your way. Have a yard sale for anything you want to sell, or post it online. For the larger junk items that won’t fit into your trash bin, contact a haul away service or dumpster rental company.

            3. Make a list of the items you’ll need right away

            Once you get to your new home, think about the things you’ll need immediately. These are the items you want the movers to put on the truck last, so they are the first things to unload. Think about any essentials and important items you’ll need to get to right away. 

            4. Designate a special area for items that won’t go with the movers

            You may want to move some items in your personal vehicle. These may be things like sentimental jewelry, small heirlooms, financial documents, and small electronics. Put any of these items in a small room or closet so they don’t get mixed up with the other boxes. It’s important to know that moving companies are prohibited from moving hazardous materials. Your moving company will provide you with a list of these items. 

            5. Make sure you have the right packing supplies

            Take a look around at everything you need to pack. What box sizes do you need and how many of each size? What kinds of materials do you need to pack breakable items? Make a list so you don’t forget anything. Be sure to include tape, scissors, markers, labels, etc. If you have everything you need before you start packing, you won’t have to make any extra trips to the store.

            If you need help buying or selling a home on the Sanibel & Captiva Islands, contact Phaidra McDermott today. 


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              Home Buyer and Seller Trends in 2019

              Sanibel & Captiva Florida RealtorIn November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), released the home buyer and seller profiles report for 2019. Here are some key findings from this year’s survey.

              Home Buyers

              • 89% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent.
              • 52% of buyers said that having an agent help them find the right home was what they wanted most when choosing an agent.
              • 90% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend them.
              • 87% of buyers said their agent was a very useful information source.
              • The typical home search took 10 weeks.

              Buying a home is a major financial decision that can give you peace of mind and a great place to live. A good real estate agent will help you find just the right home for you. They will be your advocate, advisor, and guide throughout the home buying process. 

              Home Sellers

              • 89% of sellers sold their home through a real estate agent.
              • FSBOs sold for much less than homes sold with an agent. The median selling price for FSBO homes was $200,000 and the median selling price for agent-assisted homes was $280,000.
              • The typical seller lived in the home for 10 years.

              If you want to sell your home for the highest competitive price in the least amount of time, you’ll want to choose the right real estate agent. A good real estate agent will guide you through the home selling process with confidence and ease. 

              If you are looking to buy or sell a home on Sanibel or Captiva, contact Phaidra McDermott today. She’s happy to share her local knowledge and island real estate expertise with you.


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                Holiday Decorating Tips: Sanibel Style

                Sanibel Florida BeachesGetting into the holiday spirit is lots of fun! Doing it Florida style is even more exciting because you can get so creative and really think outside the box. Who needs cold weather and snow to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest? Here are some holiday decorating ideas to get you started: 

                Light Up Your Palm Trees

                Turn your palm tree into a Christmas tree by adding lights and ornaments. You can also do this with your other tropical plants, inside and out. Use solid lights, multicolored lights, flashing lights, static lights, net lights, or all of the above, it’s up to you. Feeling lazy? Light snow projectors are easy to use and offer a variety of features like music, patterns, colors, and more.

                Use Beach Inspired Decor

                A beach and ocean theme is a great way to pull Florida and the holidays together. Experiment with different shells, crafts, sand dollars, and starfish ornaments. Wrap gifts in turquoise, blue, and vibrant beach colors. Make some holiday signs out of driftwood, a wreath with starfish and shells, mini seashell trees, and beach towel stockings. Hang clear ornaments filled with sand and seashells on the tree with a sandy tree skirt underneath. And don’t forget to bake some delicious sand dollar shaped sugar cookies.

                You Don’t Need a Fireplace

                Or a mantle for that matter. You can hang stockings almost anywhere! Hang them on the staircase, in the windows, on the doorknobs, and on the walls. As long as you can fill them up with goodies, you’ve found a good spot. A lighted floor stand is another great option to consider. Add some lights and sea life garland to the window frames and staircase railings. 

                Add Faux Ice and Snow

                Think about buying or making some fake snow. You’ll find some easy DIY recipes online. Sprinkle some snow on your outside trees and plants. Add some faux icicles and snowflakes to mix things up a bit.

                If you’d like information about the Sanibel & Captiva real estate market, contact Phaidra McDermott today. She can help you find the right home on these beautiful Southwest Florida islands.


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                  5 Reasons Sanibel Home Buyers Should Use an Agent

                  Buying a Home on Sanibel IslandYou can start your Sanibel Island home search online, but you’ll never be able to replace a real estate agent’s guidance, insight, and local knowledge. Did you know that 87% of buyers used a real estate agent in 2018? This number has been increasing since 2001 when it was 69%. Here are some great reasons to use an agent when you buy your next home.

                  1. An agent provides expertise. They save you valuable time and effort. The home buying process involves lots of paperwork. A real estate agent is familiar with forms, offers, counteroffers, disclosures, addendums, and amendments. 

                  2. They supercharge your searching power. An agent has access to listings you may not be able to find online. They will find homes that are the best fit for your needs, your lifestyle, and your budget. A realtor knows the ins and outs of the local area and the price ranges for each neighborhood. 

                  3. A realtor helps keep you relaxed and calm. Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of your life, and a good real estate agent will be able to calm your nerves during the process. They will handle all communications and paperwork to give you peace of mind. Also, they can help you avoid costly mistakes and delays.

                  4. A real estate agent negotiates on your behalf. If you have questions or concerns about a home before you submit an offer, your agent will communicate with the seller. They will negotiate repairs, credits, and sales price. You’ll get a competitive market analysis for homes currently on the market and properties that have recently sold. 

                  5. They have all kinds of connections. A local realtor can connect you with mortgage lenders, home inspectors, and many other professionals you need. 

                  If you’re planning to buy a home on Sanibel & Captiva, contact Phaidra McDermott

                  Start Your Home Search


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                    Staging Your Sanibel Island Home to Sell This Fall

                    Sell Your Home on Sanibel IslandFall is officially here, even though we are still walking around in shorts and sandals on Sanibel Island. The weather is fantastic, the leaves haven’t changed or fallen, and life is great on our beautiful subtropical island in Southwest Florida. If you are thinking about selling your home this season, here are a few staging tips. 

                    Think Less

                    Remember, less is always more when it comes to staging. Buyers need to be able to see past the clutter and your personal belongings so they can imagine themselves living in your home. It’s very important to clean, declutter, and depersonalize your home. And don’t overdo it with fall decorations either. A couple of decorative containers with fall foliage, potpourri, or seasonal fruit is plenty.

                    Enhance Curb Appeal

                    If the outside of your home looks great, it will make buyers want to look inside your home. Water your yard and make sure the grass, trees, and bushes are green and trimmed. Pressure wash the exterior and consider repainting the front door, buying a new welcome mat, and hanging a seasonal wreath. If your mailbox or light fixtures need to be replaced, do it. If the numbers on your house are fading, polish them.

                    Use Warm Colors

                    Regardless of the weather or the color of the leaves in Southwest Florida, fall still brings a season of change. Make the interior of your home warm and inviting by adding a fresh coat of paint to your interior walls in warm neutral colors like caramel or cream. Use bolder fall colors for any accent walls. Then toss a couple of red or orange throw pillows on the couch.

                    Read more about home staging & preparing your home to sell.

                    If you’d like to sell your home on Sanibel Island, contact Phaidra McDermott today!


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