Friday, November 9, 2018

More to Enjoy - Amenities on Useppa Island

Just in time for all to enjoy, beautifully resurfaced Pool Deck and Patio at the Collier Inn, along with a casual bar for lounging on the dock.

And, in case you were wondering...the Weather is Fantastic! 

Big Water Views - 320 Useppa Island

Big Water Views - This is What Dreams are Made of

4 Bedroom  3.5 Bath  Over 4,000 SF  $2.1M
High on a ridge, spectacular 270 degree views, open living design on the main floor that is extended outside with large lanai and a 2-bedroom guest suite/private deck at ground level. For the boater, there is an industrial strength dock with a lift for up to a 50’ watercraft…beautiful design and performance. Property Details

Big Water Views

Adjacent Lot Now Available - 319 Useppa Island $350,000

Property Details

Saturday, September 22, 2018


510 Useppa Island "Barefoot Pelican"

For those of you that have met Dawn and Andy, you know they’ve never met a stranger.  We are thrilled to welcome them (again) to our community and are tickled they have put their “mark” on Useppa!



Other Happy Hotchkiss touches...

Every time we passed Dawn and Andy’s new place, they were outside, in their yard, up to their knees and elbows in sand, dirt, rock and plants, beautifying their yard.  And, every time I raised my camera, I got looks to kill.  So….no photographic proof they really did all this, themselves…but plenty of eye witnesses.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

5 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Vacation Home

Vacation Homes on Useppa Island

You've just returned from a trip to the beach. You ask yourself: Why should I continue to pay rental fees when I could own a vacation home and rent it out? Unless you're fairly wealthy, you'll need to make sure you can commit to buying a seasonal home before you start shopping around. 

Here are five indications that you're ready to take the plunge:

1. You can afford one
Can you afford to own a vacation home? If the answer to that question is yes, that's probably the most obvious sign that buying a seasonal home is something you should consider. You never want to buy a home that will leave you drowning in debt.

Remember, the purchase price is only part of the cost of owning a vacation home. You'll have to pay utility bills, maintenance fees and insurance premiums. And depending on where your home is located, you could also be responsible for paying homeowners association fees.

To decide whether you have enough money in the bank for a vacation home, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have emergency savings (at least three to six months' worth of take-home pay)?
  • Can you make a 20 percent down payment?
  • If you have kids, have you already put aside enough money for a college fund?
  • Can you still put away enough money for retirement?
  • Have you paid off your existing home?
  • Have you calculated the potential return on your investment?
  • Does it fit in with your long-term investment strategy and financial goals?
Everyone's situation is different. If you can answer yes to most of these questions, there's a good chance that there's room in your budget for a vacation home.

2. You've done your research
If you've done your homework, that's another good sign that you're prepared to purchase a vacation home. When you're visiting an area that might become the location of your future home, there's nothing wrong with enjoying yourself; however, doing your research and taking the time to understand what the surrounding area has to offer is important. You'll also want to make sure you visit during different parts of the year. That way, you can get a feel for what it's like to live there during different seasons.

Think about the short- and long-term implications of buying a seasonal home, especially if you plan to spend plenty of time there. When you retire, for example, the amenities included in a vacation home may take a backseat. Having access to a hospital and activities that improve your overall health and well-being may be critical.

3. You know what's happening in the market
If you can keep up with what's going on in the housing market, buying a vacation home might make sense. If you analyze changes in sales prices, you'll be able to time your home purchase carefully, and you'll be able to make the most appropriate decision based on seasonal demand, which drives home prices.

In 2016, new, single-family home sales reached their highest level in a decade, although there was a decline in home-buying activity among vacation homebuyers, according to a survey from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). A rising demand for housing and a shrinking supply of options has pushed up prices, making it more difficult for many people to purchase a vacation home. In 2016, the median vacation-home sales price was $200,000, up from $192,000 the previous year.

4. You have a plan
Buying a seasonal home could be worth considering if you know how you're going to use it. Maybe you view the home as an investment property that can serve as an additional source of income. Maybe you've decided that you're going to find guests online through a website like Airbnb or Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO).

Keep in mind that if you intend to rent out a vacation home, you'll need to think about advertising and logistics. You'll need photos of your rental property and a detailed description of its amenities. You'll also need a rental agreement and a plan for how you're going to accept payments. Will you use a service like Venmo or PayPal, or ask guests to mail you a check?

You'll probably need to hire someone to clean your home and check for signs of damage and theft before new guests arrive. Hiring a property management company might make your life easier, but agencies often charge between 25 and 50 percent of your rental income.

5. You're prepared to pay taxes
Rental income must be included on both state and federal tax returns. If you are renting out your vacation home or even a portion of your vacation home (e.g., a bedroom), you might be considered an innkeeper. That means you might be expected to collect the same lodging taxes that hotels collect and make payments to your county, city and/or state. In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for example, among tourists who pay for lodging, a 12 percent tax is due.

For many people, the decision to purchase a vacation home is serious. If you decide to take that leap of faith and you already have homeowners insurance, make sure you find out whether your current policy will cover a second home. Also, if you intend to rent out the property, consider purchasing rent loss insurance. It covers the loss of rental income following natural disasters and catastrophic incidents.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


The preservation of human history and the environment that shaped it is a fascination to most people. Proof of that is found in the dedication of many volunteers and a few professionals to building and maintaining museums, even for the smallest of communities. Useppa is certainly one of the smallest, with our 100 acre, 1 ¼ mile long island occupied by just 115 homes, a club, and the Barbara Sumwalt Museum of the Useppa Island Historical Society.

Created by passionate residents and a supportive island management, the museum harbors 10,000 years of history. Open the door and enter a panoply of those years, from a dusty hill with a fresh water spring, miles from the Gulf of Mexico, to the founding of the modern day, water wrapped community in Pine Island Sound. Through the intervening millennia’s, Useppa was home to ancient animals and peoples, Calusa, Old World explorers, Cubans, Seminole, tax collectors, US infantry and Navy forces, CIA, real estate developers, fishing fanatics, benefactors and rogues.

History is a bonding compound for people of the present, and Useppa is no exception. Our museum is a gathering place: to celebrate, experience, learn and share. Every season we are treated to several up close and personal experiences, with authors, photographers, entertainers and artists.

Just a sample of recent events are authors Craig Pittman “Oh, Florida!”; Maritime author Robert Macomber, “The Honor Series,” Doc Anna, Swamp Doctor; “The Florida Grand Canyon,” a photo exhibit “Everglades: America’s Wetland,” with conservation photographer Mac Stone, co-sponsored with The Everglades Foundation.

Our Historical Society is able to bring the broad range of art forms to the residents and members of Useppa Island due to the efforts of director Rona Stage. She networks with similar small museum directors and taps the best venues from the artistry of the Florida Humanities Council. Never will you find so much to offer, in such a small and personal place. 

Except on Useppa Island.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Waterfront Value

Southwest Florida national housing news continues to report the rapidly escalating prices of waterfront homes. The Useppa People have the wise alternative offering tremendous waterfront value. 

Priced from $529,000, our private island inventory offers fee simple Townhouse style attached Villas that offer the best value for waterfront living. Boasting BIG views across Pine Island Sound, the ICW or Charlotte Harbor, with free dockage for boats to 24 feet. Here, you’re not on a canal or back bay mangrove.

Homes on Useppa Island
Useppa Island homes sparkle in the sun with architectural covenants that require Old Florida design, creating a metal-roofed village with style and charm. Features vary from home to home, but you’ll find extensive updates and renovations. Hardwood, travertine, granite, stainless, impact glass, storm shutters and other features of new homes are largely available. Three bedrooms are typical for the larger homes, while smaller homes feature 2 bedrooms. Soaring ceilings, custom cabinetry, chiseled stone and other fine features are unique to many, while most are furnished and ready for immediate occupancy

Access to every home is a pure delight. Meander walking or cart paths, the historic Pink Promenade that extends the length of Useppa, or from your dock. There are no cars and no stop lights, just turtle crossings. While air traffic is limited to the feathered kind, there is the occasional sea plane or helicopter.

Island Amenities
Enjoy the island amenities of the Useppa Island Club. Fine dining, tennis, bocce, pool and croquet are common pursuits, while water sports are a favorite. Choose sailing with the Useppa Yacht Club in your 15-foot Sandpiper, fish the flats offshore, or right from your dock. Zip to mainland services in a 15-minute boat ride, and experience zero encounters with stressful traffic.

Your Neighbors

Best of all, settle in to a welcoming community where you will know your neighbors; where your children or grandchildren will grow up with the other lucky kids that know the wonder and freedom of this unique and beautiful island. There is nothing that compares.

Make your escape to Useppa Island.
Paradise Without A Passport!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Homes More Affordable Today Than 1985-2000

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of home ownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.

This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.

Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:

Affordable Homes - Useppa Island Real Estate

What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?

Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:

Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.

Bottom Line
Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.

Keeping Current Matters July 5, 2018