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Stepping up

By Staff | Apr 1, 2015

A good turnout for the first of many outreach programs planned by island Realtors. CRAIG GARRETT

Giving is as important as receiving. Sometimes more.

An islands’ business group is portraying itself as more than steering buyers to the closing desk.

The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors has launched the “Realtors Make a Difference” campaign in the islands. The effort started March 25 with a workshop on insurance, risk management, industry trends and updates. It was intended to help educate, featuring experts like Chris Heidrick, Dawn Zettler, Dave Arter and Angela Roehl.

The morning event at the Sanibel Community House was open to the public, and was the first in workshops, nonprofit outreach, food and toy drives, scholarship and public awareness efforts sponsored by the group with some 250 island agents and brokers, Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors president Eric Pfeifer said.

“Our goal,” Pfeifer said, “is to demonstrate that realtors care, that we make a difference in Sanibel and Captiva.”

The insurance workshop was likely a good starting point. Home and business owners in southwest Florida are in a dubious grouping of paying the highest premiums in the nation. An average property policy in Florida is around $2,000, much higher in coastal cities, according to a survey of the national Association of Insurance Commissioners. That’s about twice the national average.

More importantly, home sellers are moving more towards the web to drive potential buyer interest, skirt agent fees, surveys suggest. Realtor associations, agencies and agents are turning more to social media, technology and imaging to help cork the movement away from licensed agents.

The Sanibel & Captiva Association plans a number of activities and outreach efforts in the coming months, Pfeifer said, including sponsorship of a Habitat for Humanity build, toy and food drives with FISH of Sanibel and other agencies, animal rescue assistance and volunteerism with CROW and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, of SCCF, community housing support, scholarships in real estate-related fields, other outreach. That’s not including team, scouting and youth sponsorships realtors had long supported.

“We’re going to volunteer on these islands,” said Pfeifer, whose brokerage has funded the documentaries “Growing Up on Sanibel” and “7 Sanibel Artists” in the last year. The films depict life in the islands. Two other films sponsored by Pfeifer premiere in November.

Licensed island agents are pleased with the Association’s outreach campaign.

“We want more awareness,” said VIP Realty Group agent Deb Gleason, who is heavily involved in the Sanibel Historical Village. “It’s good for everyone.

Details about the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors is at sanibelrealtors.com.