INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Increased demand for waterfront property coupled with the finite amount of it is pushing barrier island property values up while values elsewhere in the county continue to drop.
The 32963 zip code is the only one in the entire county to see its price-per-square-foot trend upward. Other zip codes have seen double-digit drops as much as 19 percent. “We’ve seen a big increase in demand so far this year, especially along the ocean and river,” said Kay Brown, a Premier Estate Properties Realtor. “There has been a real burst of activity, with lots of showings and strong interest from highly qualified buyers, people we know can come back the next day and make an offer.”
According to data provided by Trulia, a widely used internet source of real estate information, the price per square foot of houses and condominiums in the 32963 zip code is up 5 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same quarter a year earlier.
“There’s been an awful lot of interest in oceanfront property in the first quarter,” said Bob Gibb, owner of John’s Island Real Estate. “Some very sophisticated, high-quality buyers are coming into the market. Corporate CFOs and people like that. Prices have come down. Interest rates are low. There is a better economic feeling in general. Buyers have more confidence in the market and in their own future.”
The increase in price per square foot in 32963 is an important indicator of where the market is and where it may be headed, according Christine McLaughlin, owner of Shamrock Properties, who specializes in island real estate.
“I would have to say it is a key indicator,” McLaughlin said. “It is what appraisers look at when they are doing comparables. It also shows what part of the market is most active. Price per square foot going up means the high end is moving.”
Vero Beach Realtor Sally Daley explained that by knowing the price per square foot, buyers – and appraisers – can have a better understanding of what they are looking at.
“If you compare prices for two houses selling in the same neighborhood, it can be deceiving because they may be significantly different in size,” she said. “But the per-square-foot price is much more relatable and easy to extrapolate for buyers, sellers and agents.”
The first-quarter rise in per-square- foot price in zip code 32963 was unique in the Vero Beach area.
According to Trulia, price per square foot was flat or down by double digits in other Indian River County zip codes.
John Aliyetti, a David Walsh and Associates broker, said the price differential between the island and the mainland is due to diverging land values as well as high-end sales along the ocean.
“Land values on the island are rising, while land values on the mainland are falling,” Aliyetti said. “They aren’t making any more beachfront property, but there is a lot of vacant land west of the city where developers started and abandoned projects several years ago.
Christine McLaughlin, owner of Shamrock Properties, said between October 2010 and January 2011 there were 106 recorded sales of condominiums and single family homes in the 32963 zip code. From January through April 20, there were 161 – an increase of 55.
“There is inherent value in property on the island,” said Daley. “It is unique and people want to be able to enjoy that lifestyle.”
Indian River County home values
The price per square foot paid for Indian River County homes in the first quarter of 2011 was down across the board compared to prices in the first quarter of 2010 – except in the barrier island zip code.
On the island, which encompasses the communities of Orchid, Indian River Shores and part of Vero Beach, price per square foot was up a solid five percent.
Price Per Sq. Ft.