Treasure Coast Sotheby’s predicts active summer on barrier island

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Things are looking up for real estate on Vero Beach’s barrier island, according to Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty Co-Owners, Broker Michael Thorpe and Realtor Kimberly Hardin.

“What buyers are looking at right now is, at the very least, the buying opportunity of their lifetime,” said Thorpe. “Real estate has recovered to an extent where I don’t know if the stock market is likely to have the same kind of run in the next few years that real estate is going to have.”

Thorpe and Hardin entered into a partnership in early 2010, and moved into an Ocean Drive location. Once a shoe store, Treasure Coast Sotheby’s location has remained a retail outlet of sorts.

“We changed the name of the firm when I became a co-owner in January of last year and we moved to this location because we realized we wanted a retail storefront location,” said Hardin. “It is an incredible opportunity for us to draw walk-in business. You never think of real estate as retail, but it really is. We don’t have shoes to sell, but we do have homes to sell.”

A 30-year veteran of the real estate market in Vero Beach, Thorpe says the early returns on the Ocean Drive office are very good.

“Our high-end buyers are eating at Bobby’s and Ocean Grill and staying right next door at Vero Beach Hotel and Spa, or down the street at Costa d’Este,” said Thorpe. “They’re walking this three or four-block strip of Ocean Drive, and we’re in the middle of all that.

“They’re seeing our displays in the windows, they’re looking at our flat-screen TVs from the window – we’ve become a retailer of real estate. That was the biggest game-changer of this location as opposed to our old location.”

“We probably get 10-times the amount of walk-ins at this location as we did before we moved,” Thorpe said. “This retail strategy is something, I think, more Realtors in more markets will go to. More online, less physical plants, more technology-driven, and more foot traffic-driven, retail store locations.”

With recent reports of Vero Beach being search engine’s top-searched beachside spring break destination this year, and signs from local retailers which speak to a rise in the local (and national) economy, all indicators point to a sizzling summer for barrier island realtors.

“The evolution of Vero Beach Hotel and Spa and Costa d’Este, and Vero Beach being named as having the most undervalued and second-most undervalued property in 2009 and 2010 (respectively) on CNNMoney. com brought of a lot of attention,” said Hardin. “We’re finding that we’re able to attract the out-of-state and out-of-country buyers. Second and third home buyers are coming here looking for a full-time residence.”

Thorpe agrees that the national media exposure has built momentum and feels everyone is talking about the island’s lifestyle and our prices.

“It has been published over, and over again that Indian River Shores area is home to more past and present CEOs of Fortune 500 companies than anywhere else,” Thorpe said. “A person of means can be relatively anonymous here. It is a low-key village for people who have worked hard, excelled and saved can come and enjoy their golden years or their next ventured. Our crime rate is low, and the gentility of the people here is legendary. People looking to move here will find a lot of people like themselves are here, and that is very energetic and empowering to them.”

“We’re seeing a pent-up demand of people (who felt) they would’ve and should’ve pulled the trigger the past three or four years but there was just one piece of bad news after another, which held them back from buying here,” Thorpe added. “Real estate is kind of like a log jam, if you will, with a slow, selective pruning of some of those logs. Now that people can sell something, they’ll replace it with whatever.”

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