Gulf of Mexico
Wikimedia Commons, / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2012-07-31). "Federal Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida."

Florida's algae crisis and lingering red tide hurt waterfront home sales

Water quality problems from algae and red tide not only cause some buyers to back out of Southwest Florida home purchases; they also appear to dampen sales values, local real estate agents say.

Earlier this year, Brett Ellis looked at median sales prices for a half-dozen leading areas for home sales across the state.

While prices in Fort Myers-Cape Coral area were “static,” prices in the other areas rose from 4.8 percent to more than 10 percent higher year-over-year.

“People started asking me why,” said Ellis, a sales agent with Keller Williams Realty of Fort Myers & The Islands.

He can’t prove cause-and-effect, but recalled: “We’re battling this water quality problem. We’ve been dealing with this for several years.

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“And, the rest of the state is not.”

Well, perhaps most of the state isn’t as burdened with the polluted water stigma.

However, a 2015 report by the Florida Realtors Trade association analyzed property values in Lee and Martin counties, which receive algae-laden discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

That report said poor water quality suppressed property values in Lee County by an estimated $541 million a year and those in Martin County by an estimated $428 million annually. The St. Lucie River and its estuary ends at Martin County and the Atlantic Ocean.

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