Rising Tide of Non-Waterfront Real Estate


Don’t get me wrong. Living directly on the water—either on the beach or on the Intracoastal—is just about as good as it gets. But, with escalating prices, the scarcity of waterfront listings and increased maintenance costs, living “near” the water, as opposed to directly on it, has become a lot more attractive. That is especially true in Indian Rocks Beach. With a beach access at nearly every avenue, a resident boat ramp and community boat docks, the “waterfront lifestyle” is available to all IRB residents–regardless of address. 

Of the 38 single-family waterfront homes sold in IRB last year, 14 were priced above $900,000. And, of the 25 waterfront homes currently listed or pending as of mid-February (2019), nearly half are in that price range. When you stop to think that only .5% of all homes nationally are located on a waterway and only 4% of U.S. homes top the $1 million mark, you are probably not the only guy looking at waterfront and mumbling “Well maybe not.” 

What happens if we lower the bar to $500,000? Approximately 95% of all IRB’s waterfront sales last year were above a half mill, which would have given you a choice of two single-family properties. When you take into consideration that only about 6% of mortgages nationwide are over $500,000, 94% of the country (not paying cash) sees even the low end of the waterfront spectrum to be a stretch. The lowest priced IRB waterfront single-family home sold last year for $460,000. Roll the calendar forward to this year and the lowest waterfront listing is $690,000…50% higher than last year’s waterfront “cheapie”! According to Zillow, the Tampa Bay area waterfront commands a 39% premium above their non-waterfront counterparts. 

Florida’s 8,000 miles of coastline ranks the state #6 in waterfront real estate listings. About 3% of the Tampa Bay area’s properties are waterfront. For comparison, 6% of Miami’s are. When comparing the per-square-foot price of waterfront homes sold Feb 2017-Feb 2018 to those sold Feb 2018-Feb 2019, IRB waterfront increased 4% per square foot but non-waterfront is up 14%! IRB homes OFF THE WATER have been appreciating at a somewhat faster pace than waterfront. However, if the new waterfront available listings (only 17!) sell anywhere close to their asking prices, that trend could reverse in the near future. 

Some of you already own waterfront property that you’ve long ago outgrown. You’re packed into your “view” house like sardines but at least you have the option of using them for bait off your dock, so you stay put. You are content to sacrifice space and amenities because (a) you can’t find another waterfront house you like better and (b) when you do, it’s out of the price range. For most of us, living on the water is more about deciding how much you are willing to give up for a glimpse of H2O. And it’s considerable! Predictions are that by 2020—whether waterfront or non-waterfront—over 40% of the U.S. population will live in a county with a shoreline! 

Source: My Florida Regional MLS, Single family homes sales/listings