Potential home buyers turned away from buying waterfront property on St. Lucie River

Posted at 11:20 PM, Jun 30, 2016

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- The sight and smell of blue-green algae in the St. Lucie River is spoiling waterfront living for many Treasure Coast homeowners.

If they want to sell and leave their homes, they might also struggle to find a buyer.

Some potential home buyers say they are no longer looking to buy property along the river in Martin County because of the poor water quality.

“What’s the point of buying a place on the water if you can’t use it?” said Palm City resident Derek Ottaviano.

He and his wife, Rachel, have been renting a home in Palm City near Lighthouse Point for 8 months. They had their hearts set on buying the property.

There’s plenty of room for their boats and paddle boards. There was also once a nice view.

Would they still buy the place?

“If you asked me that a month ago, it would be a different answer than it is today. I can’t use it. The reason that we live here I don’t get to appreciate that now,” Rachel said. “There’s just depression associated with it and sadness because it’s just disappointing.”

The water behind their rental home is lime-green. Wildlife is seen swimming through the muck.

Now, they say they’re looking at properties south of Palm City, such as in Hobe Sound or Jupiter. “We’d rather pay a little more money to move to another area to have guaranteed cleaner water,” Rachel said.

Realtors fear they’re not the only potential buyers to look elsewhere.

Home owners are also watching the effects the algae blooms will have on their property values.

When the water has turned green in the past, property values have taken a temporary turn.

A Florida Realtors study showed between 2010 and 2014, Lake Okeechobee releases had a near $430 million impact on Martin County home values.

What would it take to change the Ottaviano’s minds?

“I think I would need a lot of commitment that this was going to be taken care of. Not just hope,” Rachel said. “That, or a great deal. Even that would be tough to consider right now.”