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What is 'red tide' and why is it lowering Florida home prices?

Florida has many unique natural features and weather patterns. Unfortunately, some of those can be destructive to homes and surrounding land. Of course, hurricanes can and do destroy large swaths of property. However, the culprits are often less obvious but nonetheless insidious. People with coveted waterfront properties on lakes and canals are particularly susceptible to problems like red tide.

According to the National Ocean Service (NOS), red tide refers to a "harmful algal bloom" (HAB). It can cause water quality problems that can drive down the value of Florida homes. One Florida area realtor who studied median sales prices in popular areas throughout the state found that home prices in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral region were "static" over the previous year, while they rose by more than 10 percent in other regions.

He believes that the reason is the water. He says, "We're battling this water quality problem. We've been dealing with this for several years."

A 2015 report from the Florida Realtors Trade showed that property values in Lee and Martin counties were driven down by a total of about $541 million and $428 million respectively because of poor water quality. The report stated that "while one algal bloom is not alarming in isolation, the recurrence of the algal blooms on a regular basis is showing up in the one-year models [and] is concerning home buyers and sellers."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency earlier this month for Lee and Martin counties. The Fort Myers realtor says that if Florida leaders can help resolve the problem, waterfront property values in Southwest Florida will rise by at least 50 percent.

Of course, HAB is just one example issues that current and prospective Floridians need to be aware of when they're buying a home. Experienced Florida real estate attorneys can help buyers as well as sellers avoid unwanted and costly surprises.

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