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Island one of seven 'Super Zips' in Florida; Palm Beach, Naples, Sarasota miss the cut

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS (Week of January 2, 2014)

Barrier island residents aren’t shy about claiming 32963 is one of the best places anywhere to live, and the world at large seems to be coming to the same conclusion.

Going into the New Year, three objective evaluations by The Washington Post, John Sibbald Associates and Vero Beach 32963 back up the subjective sensation that Vero’s barrier island is truly exceptional.

The Washington Post recently analyzed data from all 43,000 U.S. zip codes to find the areas where people rank highest in a combination of income and education, and 32963 came out in the top 5 percent of postal zones known as Super Zips.

The ranking puts Vero’s island in the same category with Key Biscayne (33149) and Coral Gables (33158). Only 7 of Florida’s 1,469 Zip Codes were included on the elite list.

“You have to rank 95 or higher on a scale 100 to be classified as a Super Zip,” says Premier Estate Properties Broker Associate Clark French. “Vero makes the cut with a 95. Compare that to Palm Beach, which is a only 93, and Naples, which scores in the low 80s.”

Three Naples zip codes earn a score of 82, which is not bad, but there is not a single Super Zip on the entire Gulf Coast. Sarasota’s main barrier island, Longboat Key (34228), comes close with a 94, but does not quite make it into the Super Zip category.

Real estate blogger Rob Hahn says Super Zips are attracting elite Millennials nationwide, creating an upward spiral in which neighborhoods known for high levels of income and education draw people who perpetuate or increase the status of an area. Hahn sees this trend adding momentum to real estate markets in super zip code areas.

The term Super Zip was coined by author Charles Murray. In the Post’s adaptation of his concept, zip codes are ranked from 0 to 99, based the area’s median household income and the share of adults with college degrees.

Median household income in the 32963 area is $102,500, according to the Post, and 61 percent of adults have college degrees.

By comparison, Naples three highest-ranked zips (34103, 34108, 34119) have average incomes ranging from $70,000 to $74,000 with only 39-to-48 percent of adults having college degrees, while Longboat Key households have an average median income of $100,076, with 60 percent of adults holding college degrees.

Nationwide, in zips not classified as super, median household income averages $53,962 and 27 percent of adults have college degrees.

Shortly after the Washington Post came out with its analysis, the island got a second quality-of-life feather in its cap when John’s Island was ranked as the second best residential club in the country by John Sibbald Associates, a leading executive search firm that specializes in the private club and resort field and ranks clubs of all kinds according to a wide range of criteria.

Since John’s Island is 32963’s largest and most prominent neighborhood, with more than 1,300 homes, Sibbald’s high opinion of the club confers considerable luster on the island as a whole.

Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton was the only residential club community in the United States that received a higher score than John’s island.

Vero Beach 32963 uncovered a third example of the island’s exceptionalism when the paper compared the number of homes priced at $1 million or more currently available in the 32963 area to the number in other high-profile zip codes.

In December, homebuyers had 282 million-dollar-plus homes to choose from on the island. That compares to 229 in Naples’ most pricy zip code area and 205 in Palm Beach.

The 32963 area also beat Beverly Hills’ famous 90210 zip, which offered only 167 million-dollar-plus homes, and Malibu, where there were 256 properties to choose from priced at $1 million or more.

The quality of housing in a community is often considered a direct reflection of its desirability.

“I am flabbergasted!” said Moorings Realty Sales Company Broker Marsha Sherry when she heard the numbers. “That is awesome. I think this will blow people’s minds.

“It shows our little community has been discovered. The physical beauty and quality of culture here is extraordinary. The wealthy don’t need the flamboyance of Malibu or Palm Beach. They want a quiet lifestyle in a place where people respect privacy. People of wealth, and perhaps fame, are attracted by the overall quality of life here.”