Housing prices on the Treasure Coast have skyrocketed amid the area’s unprecedented real estate market, fueled by out-of-towners seeking prime property across the tri-country region — heightening demand and rapidly diminishing supply.
The area continues to set record-high median sale prices for its single-family homes. In April, these prices reached:
* $619,900: Martin
* $386,940: Indian River
* $380,000: St. Lucie
Since the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, single-family median sale prices have jumped:
* 65.3%: Martin
* 56.5%: St. Lucie
* 44.7%: Indian River
It begs the questions: What house can the average Treasure Coast resident afford to buy in the current market? Here’s what market data shows.
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Treasure Coast properties under $500,000
There were fewer than 1,000 residential properties with an asking price under $500,000, according to market listing service data provided by industry professionals.
* Martin: 129 single-family homes, 85 condominiums
* St. Lucie: 379 single-family homes, 75 condominiums
* Indian River: 181 single-family homes, 73 condominiums
Those numbers drop further when excluding sale “restrictions” such as equity buy-ins, homeowners association fees or age-restricted communities:
* Martin: 35 single-family homes, 1 condominium
* St. Lucie: 277 single-family homes, 0 condominiums
* Indian River: 148 single-family homes, 14 condominiums
There are even more caveats, said Msebenzi “Ben” Masondo, a real estate broker with Engels & Volker Stuart.
Many single-family properties are manufactured homes — or factory-built homes that can be placed on a piece of land. Those can’t be financed and are often uninsurable, Masondo said. Plus, the homeowner typically doesn’t own that land and also must pay rent.
Even the most “affordable” homes are unattainable for many Treasure Coast residents right now because of these sale stipulations, Masondo said.
“As a result, (working-class residents) leave the area which, over the long run, will drive down the quality of life for middle class locals,” he said. “It directly impacts more people and most of the people impacted are in already vulnerable populations.”
The least-expensive, non-manufactured home without requirements listed in each of the counties were:
* Martin: $187,500 for a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom Hibiscus Park home built in 1955
* St. Lucie: $59,000 for a 936-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bathroom Fort Pierce home built in 1953 that needs a “complete rehab”
* Indian River: $185,000 for a 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom Fellsmere home built in 1940.
Affordability: More than just sale price
There’s much more that goes into affordable housing than the sale price, Masondo said, including homeowners insurance and loan types.
Florida homeowner insurance premiums have skyrocketed this year and are expected to continue increasing for the foreseeable future — with industry experts predicting a roughly $1,100 hike in the average premium this year alone.
Residents and industry professionals alike were hopeful the Legislature would pass reforms stabilizing the insurance market in a special session held May 23, but Florida lawmakers said it’s not a quick fix and don’t expect any changes in the next 18 months.
Moreover, mortgage rates are likely to continue to rise throughout the year.
A conventional, 30-year fixed mortgage rate in Florida was 5.24% as of May 25, according to financial services company Bankrate. That’s already up nearly 2% since the start of the year.
“To throw my two cents in, there are no quick solutions,” Masondo said. “Regulators need to look at our area’s comprehensive plans and make affordability an important factor when approving the plans.”
Catie Wegman is TCPalm’s housing and real estate reporter. You can keep up with Catie on Twitter @Catie_Wegman, on Facebook @catiewegman1 and email her [email protected].
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