Tag Archives: florida realtors

“When Waterways are Polluted Property Values Decline,” SLR/IRL

Economic Impacts
Economic Impacts of polluted water. (EF)

Just last year, Florida Realtors, “The Voice for Real Estate in Florida,” published a final report on the impacts of water quality on Florida’s home values. “March 2015 Final Report.”

The first page of the executive summary states:

“There has long been a belief that there is a connection between home values and the quality and clarity of Florida waterways. The objective of this study was to determine whether that belief is in fact true.

We examined the impact of water quality and clarity on the sale prices of homes in Martin and Lee counties over a four-year period, from 2010-2013. What was clearly found was that the ongoing problem of polluted water in the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie rivers has indeed resulted in a negative impact on home values.

In addition, the study found a significant economic impacts resulting from improved water quality and clarity. Lee County’s aggregate property values increase by an estimated $541 million while Marin County’s aggregate property values increase by an estimated $428 million. These increased property values also provide additional revenue for city and county governments.”

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Unfortunately this report, very much like the University of Florida  Report, was basically ignored by the South Florida Water Management District and the state legislature when speakers came before them last year using this document and asking for relief.

As we enter yet another long summer of water pollution, may we re-familiarize ourselves with this report; we are going need to reference it again. Even though this is certainly “common sense,” it helps to have the formal report in hand when speaking.

Here is the full document for your reference. Reading through you will see the story of Lake Okeechobee’s worsening polluting discharges and our property values’ decline.

Full report here: http://www.sccf.org/files/content/docs/FR_WaterQuality_Final_Mar2015.pdf

Toxic Real Estate and the Loss of “Full Market Value,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Toxic real estate is not real estate at its full market value. (Google map of Stuart, Sewall's Point, and Hutchinson Island area of Martin County, words JTL)
Toxic real estate is not real estate at its full market value. (Google map of Stuart, Rio, Sewall’s Point, and Hutchinson Island- areas of Martin County, words JTL.)

Real estate taxes are paid in arrears, so one learns about the property values of a calendar year, a year later. In the Town of Sewall’s Point, the 2014 (really 2013) tax value increased .14%. This seemed low compared to other similar areas of the state. During this time,  I contacted Laurel Kelly, our Martin County property appraiser. She had her staff research the issue, and assured me that the answer to my question: “Did the toxic St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon of 2013 have anything to do with lower property values?” was a negative– or at least could not be verified.

Rather, data showed it had to do with other things like the number of homesteaded properties and a limited commercial district….I saw the picture and understood, but I was still unconvinced.

As someone who has worked in the real estate industry, as a commissioner of Sewall’s Point, as a home owner,  as someone with more than three brain cells in my head, I know that, of course, a clean, beautiful, waterway is more desirable than a toxic one. Also I know that numbers “right away” don’t show the big picture….

South Sewall's Point, January of 2015. Releases began Jan. 16th, 2015 from Lake O as lake of is"high."
South Sewall’s Point, January of 2015. Releases began Jan. 16th, 2015 from Lake O as lake of is”high.”

Yesterday, a report entitled: “The Effects of Water Quality on Housing Prices” was released by Florida Realtors, and the Everglades Foundation. The study focuses on Lee and Martin Counties with estuaries St Lucie (Martin) and Caloosahatchee (Lee) running through their boarders. These once life-filled, property-value-enhancing estuaries have reached a tipping point as the conduits for polluted water from Lake Okeechobee compounded with area growth, put them “over the edge.”

Some may say any report attached to the Everglades Foundation is biased. Here, I think not. In this case the report reflects a simple reality. People don’t pay full market value for real estate on rivers that “go toxic.” The greatest contributor to that toxicity is Lake Okeechobee’s fresh and dirty water released by the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District that destroys the salinity and visibility within these water ways.

An article today in the Palm Beach Post about the study states:

“The study found that “as water quality degrades, home values decrease and could potentially cost Florida’s real estate market nearly $1 billion in Lee and Martin County alone,” said 2015 Florida Realtors® president Andrew Barbar, in a statement released Tuesday. Barbar is a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton.

The loss is attributable to polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, according to the release put out by the Foundation and Florida Realtors® – the largest professional trade organization in the state.” (http://www.floridarealtors.org)

The 48 page study can be found here: (http://www.floridarealtors.org/ResearchAndStatistics/Other-Research-Reports/upload/FR_WaterQuality_Final_Mar2015.pdf) 

I do believe water quality affects home values. Don’t you? I believe the releases by the ACOE and SFWMD, overseen and directed by our governor, state legislature, and Congress, destroy our property values. Don’t you?

The state and federal government don’t  want to admit this openly as truly fixing the Lake Okeechobee issue is costly beyond human proportion and requires going against the seats of power and influence.  I imagine they are probably thinking “tourism is doing just fine in the great state of Florida…”

Well guess what? Florida can’t be a “great state” and America can’t be a great county with an environmental disaster on its hands for almost 500,000 people every few years. And 500,000 people won’t tolerate repeditive losses on their greatest investment. The river has reached a tipping point and its coming for the people. This problem needs a BIG FIX. Best to address the problem before it gets worse.

Releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows out of the St Lucie Inlet next to Sailfish Point, one of the areas most exclusive communities. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2013.)
Releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows out of the St Lucie Inlet next to Sailfish Point, one of the areas most exclusive communities. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2013.)
The plume from releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows south of the St Lucie Inlet in Martin County along Jupiter Island one of the most exclusive communities in the United States. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch,  2013.)
The plume from releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows south of the St Lucie Inlet in Martin County along Jupiter Island one of the most exclusive communities in the United States. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2013.)
St Lucie River middle estuary, February 2015.
St Lucie River middle estuary, February 2015.
March 18, 2015 photo of SLR/SIRL flying north over St Lucie Inlet and the east side of Sewall's Point. (JTL)
March 18, 2015 photo of SLR/SIRL flying north over St Lucie Inlet and the east side of Sewall’s Point. (JTL)

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Everglades Foundation: (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org)

DO THE ACOE AND SFWMD RELEASE TOXIC WATER INTO THE SLR/IRL? (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/07/28/do-the-acoe-and-srwmd-release-lake-okeechobee-into-the-slr-when-there-is-toxic-algae-in-the-lake-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)