VERO BEACH — Those looking for beachside real estate at a discount might consider shopping in Vero Beach.
At least that's what a recent report from market research firm RealtyTrac says. The report named Vero Beach as the No. 1 place to look for a beachtown bargain when buying foreclosures. Foreclosures in the city have an average discount of 45 percent compared with a traditional sale, according to the report.
RealtyTrac ranked the top 10 beach towns in its June issue of the Foreclosure News Report, which was released Monday. Other Treasure Coast communities were not listed in the report.
"No surprise," said Vero Beach attorney Barry Segal, who specializes in real estate. "There are plenty of bargains going right now. There are plenty of aggressive banks trying to unload their properties, and they're also being very forthcoming with short sales.
"None of that changes the allure of Vero Beach."
During the first quarter of this year, there were 227 foreclosure sales in Vero Beach, a 20 percent increase from the end of 2011. The average sales price for a Vero Beach foreclosure was $93,188, compared to the average sales price of about $200,000 for a non-foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.
Adam Preuss, president of Sebastian-based Adam Preuss Appraisal Services Inc., said he has noticed attractive prices in the area.
"This is an area that I think most people know is going to be a strong area in the long run just because of the fact that we've got the ocean and the river and golf courses and weather and everything going for us," Preuss said.
The report listed Naples as the only other Florida town among its top 10, ranked third. Corpus Christi, Texas came in second; Santa Barbara, Calif. was fourth; and Charleston, S.C. took fifth.
"We think we're the top beach spot to live in anyway," said Vero Beach City Manager Jim O'Connor. "What I'm being told is the foreclosure market is really decreasing and that the number of available units is just not there like it was at the peak."
Segal said he's starting to see more competition for the foreclosed homes when it comes to short sales.
"We are now at a point where we are starting to see more than one party interested in a particular property or we're starting to see a little more competitive bidding for a property," Segal said. "It's not just the seller taking the first deal that comes along and sticking with it."
Although foreclosure filings were in decline for much of last year, there has been an increase in recent months. In May, there were 14,768 foreclosures filed in Florida, an 83 percent increase from the same time last year.
According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure notices rose sharply in May in Indian River County. St. Lucie County also has seen an increase. According to data from the St. Lucie County Clerk of Courts Office, 337 new foreclosure cases were filed in May, more than double the number from May 2011.
Part of the reason why homes are selling for bargains is that homeowners in stable situations aren't selling unless they need to relocate, Segal said.
"I don't see many people selling that don't have to sell," Segal said. "If someone's relocating, they may be selling even though they're not in distress. But I don't see a lot of people selling now to see if this is a good time to sell. What they're competing with is a lot of bank-owned properties or distressed properties, and it's tough for them to get any kind of fair market value right now.
"It's a good time for a buyer right now."
The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.