There is relatively little housing available in Martin County, where the average single-family home sale price is nearly $100,000 higher than elsewhere on the Treasure Coast yet where about half as many homes have been built since 2000.
The trends could impact Martin County's future population numbers. Growth in the past decade has been the slightest on the Treasure Coast, and experts predict it will continue to slow. Available housing stock is at an "all-time low," according to John Slivon, the Stuart-based treasurer of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
There were 1,000 homes for sale in Martin County at the end of August - about 30 percent fewer than one year ago, Slivon said.
Meanwhile, the average sale price rose nearly 12 percent, to $364,000, according to Realtors of the Palm Beaches. "Buyers must be aware that we are firmly in a seller's market," Slivon said about Martin County.
Data indicate that available housing in Martin·County could become even scarcer in coming years.
Martin County had the fewest homes built on the Treasure Coast between 2000 and 2014. Indian River County –where the population is slightly less than Martin's – had about twice as many single-family housing units built than Martin, and St. Lucie County built about 30 times as many. These housing trends could be affecting demographics now and in the future.
Among the Treasure Coast counties, Martin has the oldest median age and the lowest percentage of families living with children 18 and younger, according to data from the Shimberg Center for Housing at the University of Florida. Experts predict Martin County's estimated 18 percent population growth between 2014 and 2040 will be the lowest on the Treasure Coast; Indian River County is predicted to increase by about 34 percent; St. Lucie by about 56 percent.
Martin County's housing trends may be at least partially propelled by its strict· slow-growth regulations, including large tracts of low-density and conservation lands. Available land for single-family home building is scarce in Martin County possibly ensuring the continued strong valuation of Martin County residential properties. Condos and town houses - not single-family homes - could even become increasingly popular for developers in the future with the lack of buildable single-family home sites locally.
Families, in particular, may struggle to find housing in Martin County where the average per capita income is about $39,000. Statewide, it's about $44,800, according to the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
But the average home in Martin County is valued much higher than the average home in Florida. Last year, the average Martin home was valued at about $290,000, while statewide that figure was about $185,000, according to property appraiser data. St. Lucie County-where the average home value was about $108,500, according to the property appraiser - may be the wiser choice for buyers trying to avoid Martin County's high demand and low inventory.
Martin County has about 10 times more houses valued at more than $300,000 as does Indian River County and about twice as many as St. Lucie County.
BY THE NUMBERS
2014 population: 153,391
2020 population: 157,451
2040 population: 181,558
Predicted population increase: 18.4 percent
2014 median single-family home value: $167,000
2014 median single-family home sales price: $260,000
Number of units created since 2000: 12,300
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
2014 population: 291,028
2020 population: 330,374
2040 population: 454,077
Predicted population increase: 56 percent
2014 median single-family home value: $88,636
2014 median single-family home sales price: $138,000
Number of units created since 2000: 43,700
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
2014 population: 144,755
2020 population: 155,602
2040 population: 193,700
Predicted population increase: 33.8 percent
2014 median single-family home value: $102,500
2014 median single-family home sales price: $177,500
Number of units created since 2000: 21,500
Source: Shimberg Housing Research Center, University of Florida