Lee Commissioners waive tolls on Sanibel Causeway for next six Sundays

August 2, 2023 | The City of Sanibel received the following information from Lee County

Information Received from Lee County:

Board votes to support “Savor the Shore” campaign to boost restaurants and attractions

Fort Myers, FL, Aug. 1, 2023 – The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to waive tolls on the Sanibel Causeway for the next six Sundays in support of the “Savor the Shore” campaign organized by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.

Tolls on the Causeway will be waived each Sunday through Sept. 10. The campaign is intended to encourage residents to enjoy access to local restaurants and attractions during the off-season. Tolls are waived each Sunday on the Causeway only, not additional Lee County bridges.

Photo courtesy of SanCap Chamber of Commerce

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Contact: Betsy Clayton, APR/CPRC

Communications Director

Lee County Government



Florida’s Property Insurance Reform is Starting to Work 

24, July, 2023 | Peter Craig, Heidrick & Company Insurance

Bottom Line:

First, the not-so-good news. No, your property insurance bill isn’t likely to come down anytime soon. Now for the better news. Yes, you are likely to have access to more property insurance options soon which will provide the potential for you to be able to save in future years as the first meaningful signs of Florida’s property insurance reforms are starting to take hold in the insurance industry. It’s been years since we’ve had any positive news on Florida’s property insurance front. And with the average windstorm policy now in the neighborhood of $2,850 per single family home per year – the need for relief is no doubt here.

Florida’s officials prepared us for the likelihood that the reforms which were passed last year would take years to fully feel the effects of. And the primary reason for that is the need for Florida’s existing claims and lawsuits to work their way out of the system. And for perspective on just how long that can be, the final deadline for 2017’s Hurricane Irma claims was June 1st of this year. But while it may take years to see and feel the full effects of the reforms, the first sign as to if we’re on the right path is stability. And that’s what we’re starting to see. 

Aon has released a mid-year report on the worldwide property insurance market. And it just so happened that Florida’s improvements were a key storyline not just for the Florida property insurance market but throughout the world. Quoting the report: While still early days, there are encouraging signs of future growth opportunities for insurers and reinsurers in Florida. As tort reform leads to lower overall loss costs, insurance and reinsurance capital is likely to flow back into the market. Florida’s windstorm insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, continues to grow, creating opportunities for profitable depopulation. 

We’ve got a long way to go but we now have our first evidence that last year’s reforms are starting to work.

Understanding Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Regular Assessment

10, July, 2023 | Peter Craig, Heidrick & Company Insurance

Citizens is responsible for paying hurricane and other covered claims to its policyholders. If Citizens funds are depleted after a catastrophic event, resulting in a deficit, assessments are levied according to Florida law. This ability to levy assessments provides Citizens with resources to pay claims after an event. 

A broad base of licensed Florida property and casualty insurance companies, including property and automobile insurers are assessed if a deficit remains. These companies are required to remit their share of the Regular Assessment to Citizens within 30 days of the levy and are permitted to recoup this amount by passing it on their policyholders at renewal. Insureds who purchase coverage from surplus lines insurers are also subject to the regular assessment. This assessment can be up to 6 percent per account of assessable premium. That means that assessable insurers, and thus their policyholders, could be assessed a maximum of 18 percent of assessable premium if there is a deficit in all 3 of Citizens’ accounts. This assessment is a one-time assessment. Citizens policyholders are not charged this assessment. If the Citizens Policyholder Surcharge and the Regular Assessment do not cure a deficit for any account, the Emergency Assessment is levied.

Emergency Assessments can be up to 10% per account per year for each of Citizens’ three accounts. It is levied on both Citizens and non-Citizens policyholders for as many years as necessary until the deficit is resolved.

What is an FHA 203K Loan?

24, May, 2023 | American Eagle Mortgage

An FHA 203K loan, also known as a rehab loan, is a type of loan offered by the Federal Housing Administration. This loan allows you to purchase or refinance a home that needs repairs or renovations. The main benefit of this loan is that you can include the cost of home renovation in the total loan amount, making it easier to finance your home improvements.

An advantage of this renovation loan is that you don’t need all the money upfront. This can be particularly helpful if you’re looking to buy a house in an area with high-priced homes or if you don’t have enough savings to cover the costs of home repairs.

Two Types of FHA 203K Loans

Standard FHA 203K

Standard 203K loans cover repairs such as structural work or extensive repairs. So, the maximum amount loaned is not capped although the minimum amount that can be collected is $5,000.

Some repairs a standard FHA 203K loan covers include:

  • Repairs or renovations that require architectural plans or engineering work
  • Improvement of health or safety concerns
  • Kitchen and bathroom remodeling
  • Improvements or additions that need an architectural plan
  • Major landscaping work
Limited FHA 203K

Limited 203K loans are used for homes that do not require many repairs. These loan types do not cover the house’s structural work. Also, limited 203K loan requirements state that the house must be livable throughout repairs and renovation. These loans are capped at a $35,000 budget.

Examples of repairs that limited FHA 203K loan covers include:

  • Replacement or repairs for heating and cooling systems
  • Plumbing and electrical fixes
  • Window or door replacements and repairs
  • Making the home more energy efficient
  • Replacement or repairs on roofing and gutters

Eligibility Requirements

Down payment, credit score, and history

As always, a low credit score will affect anything regarding loans. Your credit score, credit history, and down payment must be within acceptable limits.

If you plan on making a 3.5% down payment, you will need a minimum credit score of 580. Any score between 500-579 requires a 10% minimum. Some lenders have different minimum score requirements, so it is best to check with a loan officer first.

Mortgage insurance premiums

mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) are critical components of all FHA loans. They protect lenders if a borrower defaults on the loan. MIPs do not have a set rate, while UFMIPs do.

The MIP is paid on a monthly basis with the mortgage. UFMIP can be financed into the loan amount, so the borrower does not have to pay it out of pocket at the time of closing.

Unlike how conventional loans can be removed once the borrower reaches a certain level of equity in the home, MIPs cannot be canceled.

Lender Choice

Not all lenders can be hired when it comes to an FHA 203K loan since they must be FHA-approved. Do your research and compare rates, fees, and services among different lenders. More information or Apply now…

25 Top Interior Design Trends for 2023, According to the Pros

Design experts are sharing what’s in this year, plus what styles are on the way out.


If you’ve been searching for the right opportunity to add more style, vigor and comfort to your space, you’ll appreciate this list. We checked in with professional designers and industry players for their take on the top interior design trends for 2023.

Some of their picks confirm that certain things like: shades of blue, personality-packed rugs fit for maximalists, statement window treatments and high-style marble slabs in kitchens, stand the test of time. After all, a few of these were also highlighted in our feature on the leading design trends for 2022. But other trend predictions may surprise you: plaster walls, high-gloss wood finishes and full-on craft rooms are just a few examples to note.


All in all, use this list of the biggest design trends for 2023, including trending kitchen ideas, to bring your own space to life in the coming year. And remember that this forecast isn’t a mandate to embark on a gut renovation if that’s not in the cards for you right now. Sometimes the smallest design upgrades — the right color palette, hardware style, piece of furniture or decorative accent — are all it takes to give a room a fresh, picture-perfect look. Get started on your dream kitchenliving roombedroom retreat or just about any other space that could use a refresh.

  1. Sustainable Design Choices
  2. Indestructible Fabrics
  3. Saturated Paint Colors
  4. Plaster
  5. Micro Luxury
  6. Listening Rooms
  7. Natural Stone Slabs
  8. Muted Colors
Read More…

New changes from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac in regards to interest rate changes

by Tim Hart – VanDyk Mortgage

Some people have dubbed this the “Biden rule”, but this is really a change from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Read More…Conventional loans are the only loan program that this has happened with.

First step. It is for new mortgages only. Your existing mortgage will not be affected.

Here’s the Facts

  • Are borrowers with high credit scores going to be paying the same or higher rates than a borrower with lower credit scores? NO
  • Are borrowers with high credit scores going to be paying a higher rate than they did before these changes? YES
  • Are borrowers with lower credit scores going to be paying a lower rate than they did before these changes? YES
  • Better credit score borrowers ARE NOT paying higher rates than lower credit score buyers.

The issue many people are having is that Fannie Mae has increased the costs for higher credit scores and lowered costs for lower credit scores.

I don’t agree with this change, but I wanted to clear the air on some misinformation I have already seen. Continue to pay your bills and keep that credit score high!

Visit FreddieMac/FannieMae website for more information

Circular Design Helps Homeowners Waste Less, Preserve More

REALTOR® Magazine

Interior design experts unpack this future-minded design philosophy that centers on reducing waste.

Circular Design Helps Homeowners Waste Less, Preserve More
April 27, 2023 Design Trends By: Leandra Beabout

The word “sustainable” is an all-encompassing idea that breaks down into many parts. It could refer to anything from a product made with environmentally-friendly materials to a lifestyle that minimizes one’s carbon footprint. Within the overarching sustainability movement are specific philosophies that seek to solve the various issues facing the environment today. Circular design is one such specific philosophy that focuses on creating décor, fixtures and spaces with extended life cycles, thus reducing waste.

“In contrast to linear design, in which a material is designed, built, used, and discarded, circular design seeks to extend the lifetime of a material by ensuring multiple uses …” explains Mackenzie Collier, interior designer and founder of Mackenzie Collier Interiors(link is external) in Phoenix, Ariz. “In circular design,” she adds, “a product is designed to simplify future reuse or recycling.”

Circular Design 101

First things first: Circular design is not an aesthetic style. Unlike biophilic design or Art Deco, this refers to the philosophy and intention behind a product or space.

“In a circular model, materials and products enjoy endless, closed-loop lifecycles as they … are reused, recycled, upcycled and transformed into new products and materials,” says Laurence Carr, interior architect and designer, founder, and CEO of Laurence Carr, Inc(link is external). in New York, N.Y. In other words, waste is designed out of the equation. One example of circular design are bathroom tiles made from recycled materials, which are designed to be recycled again.

The built environment generates nearly 50% of annual global CO2 emissions …,” says Carr. “Any small efforts we can each make in our own lives add up in a big way, so please do keep circularity at the top of mind whenever making decisions about your home and lifestyle!

How Homeowners Can Incorporate Circular Design

Both design experts prefer not to call circular design a “trend.” Collier says it’s just a good, environmentally aware practice — and it’s not going away anytime soon.

  • Going vintage. “This way, our clients get something different than what everyone else is picking up at West Elm or Crate and Barrel this season,” Collier says. “It creates a gathered-over-time aesthetic, is often more cost-conscious, AND is the more environmentally sustainable choice.”
  • Prioritizing recycled and recyclable products. In circular design, it’s essential to do everything possible to eliminate waste. One way to do that? Recycling. Collier suggests buying from companies with recycling programs (like FLOR recyclable carpet tiles) or products made from recycled materials.
  • Getting pickier about building materials. For Carr, that means using certified and reclaimed woods for flooring. It also looks like using sustainable materials such as bamboo, cork or biomaterial derived from waste.
  • Sourcing “forever” pieces. This could mean quality pieces from local artists or timeless furniture styles that are made to last. Today’s circularity-minded clients are turning away from flashy trends and toward homes and products that are made to stand the test of time.
  • Reimagining the home structure itself. Homeowner clients will probably have an easier time using circular designs during room refreshes or renovations. But for those looking to build, Carr points to prefabricated homes. “[They’re] created with a focus on energy efficiency and durability, able to be disassembled and repurposed at the end of their useful life,” she says.

Depending on the client and project, circular design might look like a combination of several of the following:

Circular Design Resources for Clients

Infusing a house with circular design takes time. It happens product by product, room by room.

So, where should you and your clients start? Third-party certifications, says Carr. That means looking for products and materials verified as sustainable or circular.

Here are some of the third-party stamps of approval Carr looks for: