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Morse: Palm Beach County sends out new look preliminary property tax notices August 23, 2019

An example of the Truth in Millage notice sent to Palm Beach County property owners on Aug. 19, 2019 [Provided by Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office]

Palm Beach County property owners can expect to receive some pretty important snail mail from the property appraiser’s office, as 660,270 letters giving each of them a preliminary breakdown of their tax bills were sent out on Monday.

This year, though, what’s known as the Truth in Millage notice was colorfully redesigned to make it easier to read. An explainer will be sent with the mailing, and an online interactive guide for the notice can be found at

>>RELATED: Palm Beach County commission votes to maintain tax rate

Property values throughout Palm Beach County continue to rise. Municipalities throughout the county could see a taxable value increase of 6.37 percent, based off the 2018 final taxable value and the 2019 preliminary values. When property value increases in unincorporated areas are added, the total increase is 6.2 percent.

Newly minted municipality Westlake is likely to have a 140 percent growth in taxable value, growing from $45.3 million to $108.8 million. Its proposed tax rate is about $22.88 per $1,000 in taxable value.

>>RELATED: Town of Palm Beach’s estimated real estate values on the rise

Boca Raton remains the leader in taxable property values with an estimated $25 billion, nearly a 5 percent increase from 2018, with a proposed tax rate of $18.58 per $1,000 taxable value.

West estimated total of $13.6 billion. The city’s proposed tax rate is about $22.18 per $1,000 in taxable value.

Every taxing authority saw a net increase except for Palm Beach Shores, which could see slight dip in taxable value of 0.2 percent.

>>MORE: See values of the 10 priciest properties in Palm Beach County

Municipalities will finalize their tax rates by September. Official bills will be sent in November.

If a taxpayer disagrees with the property appraiser’s office’s assessment of a property’s market value, or the notice did not include an exemption or classification, they can contact the office at 561-355-3230 to address concerns.

If the issue is not resolved, the taxpayer can file a petition for adjustment through the Value Adjustment Board until 5 p.m. Sept. 13.

Read more at The Palm Beach Post

Cerabino: And on the northern border, New Yorkers seeking asylum in Florida May 15, 2019

The U.S. Census Bureau’s data revealed this week that Florida is being inundated with New Yorkers.

I’m not sure why this qualifies as news.

In a one-year period ending in July, the Census reported that 63,722 New Yorkers moved to Florida. More New York refugees ended up here than any other state.

I’m not surprised. If you told me 63,722 New Yorkers moved to Boca Raton last year, I would believe it.

I’m not complaining. I like New Yorkers. I used to be one of them. We’re noted for our gracious, shy, and gentle mannerisms — at least during those times when we’re not suggesting that you take a (insert name of bulky household appliance) and shove it up your (insert name of body orifice.)

And we adapt well to our new surroundings by always reminding the locals that if they were smarter, they’d do things our way.

In short, we’re a pleasure to be around.

But for some, I expect, the Census numbers may been seen as evidence of a New Yorker border crisis, and that it would be best if we separated parents in Florida from their adult children in Long Island.

It’s not that we’re cruel and inhumane. It’s just that we may not be equipped to handle this influx.

Do we have enough restaurant reservation slots or New York Jets jerseys at Dick’s Sporting Goods? Should we build a wall and start metering New Yorkers by evaluating their Florida asylum claims?

“You say you’re coming to Florida for family unification? That your Aunt Cookie is already here? Well, that sounds a lot like ‘chain migration.’ And what exactly are your skills, other than evaluating the flaws on a non-New-York pizza, and wearing makeup and jewelry on the beach?”

In a way, it’s amazing that people still want to come here, considering the inexhaustible supply of Floridians who are doing their very best to make the state appear to be a giant outdoor crime-based reality show.

Here’s an actual news headline from Florida this year: “Florida man in dog costume arrested for sex with dog.” I guess he thought the costume would get the dog in the mood.

People all over the country are taking the “Florida Man Challenge”, which involves typing the words “Florida Man” and your birthday into a Google search, which then spits out a real-life Florida misdeed that happened on your birthday.

My Florida Man birthday story has the headline: “Armless Florida man charged after allegedly using feet to stab tourist.”

Theoretically, people from out of state read stories like these and still move to Florida. Talk about desperate refugees.

And many of those people are from New York. Why?

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a white-collar grifter who migrated here from Texas, says it’s because of high taxes in New York.

“There’s a reason Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s mom left New York for Florida,” Scott wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March. “And there’s a reason companies are fleeing high-tax states, bringing jobs with them to Florida, Tennessee and Texas.”

That might be true for some people. But it doesn’t fully explain what’s going on. After all, if low-tax Texas is so wonderful, why didn’t Scott just stay there?

And it turns out a lot of New Yorkers who don’t go to Florida end up in California, which is another high-tax state.

A more authoritative source may be the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which did phone surveys with 6,000 Floridians, asking transplants why they moved here.

That survey found that the most popular reason why New Yorkers moved here was to be closer to family members who were already here. So, there may be no way to break this cycle of chain migration. So here’s my advice.


Read more at The Palm Beach Post

Florida voters pass Amendment 2 on non-homestead property tax cap November 30, 2018

As of Jan. 1, 2019, annual increases in the taxable value of all non-homestead property will permanently be capped at 10 percent.

About 67 percent of Floridians voted for Amendment 2 in Tuesday’s midterm election, a proposal put forward by the Florida Legislature. Lawmakers proposed to cement a 2008 policy that placed a 10 percent cap on the taxable value of a non-homestead property, even if its actual value increased by more than 10 percent.

Non-homestead properties include rental properties, vacation homes, vacant land and commercial property.

The vote also removed the scheduled repeal of the cap, which was set to take place later in 2019. School district levies are not included in the assessment caps.

The 10 percent cap was put in place to protect taxpayers from large increases in property taxes in the future.

Read more at The Miami Herald

Mapping Manalapan August 6, 2018

The 15-acre property known as Gemini is currently listed for $139 million by Cristina Condon and Todd Peter of Sotheby’s International Realty.

In Manalapan, there are no ordinary beachfront homes, brokers say. Offering unique ocean-to-Intracoastal lots, many of the houses are sprawling megamansions replete with lush lawns, yacht docks and endless water views.

But despite the singular inventory, owners still have to do what it takes to sell their mansions, and sometimes that means drastically slashing prices. One home now on the market in Manalapan — a 15-acre, 33-bedroom oceanfront estate known as Gemini — was originally listed for $195 million in 2015, reduced to $165 million and is now listed by Sotheby’s International Realty for $139 million, which still makes it one of the most expensive homes in the U.S.

The entire town of Manalapan (about 10 miles south of the town of Palm Beach) is only about 2.5 square miles and has 426 residents. Manalapan took the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ 2016 list of America’s most expensive zip codes, with a median listing price of $7.86 million for homes on the market at the time. In 2017 it fell to second place on the Forbes list with an $8.37 million median sales price, behind Atherton, California.

In Manalapan, price reductions are spurring sales, brokers said. According to recent sale records, the last four home sales on the barrier island have ranged in price from a little over $1 million for a two-bedroom villa on Point Manalapan to a five-bedroom home on South Ocean Boulevard, originally listed for $24.5 million, that sold in March for $18.5 million. As of press time, 32 properties in town were on the market.

Although prices are being reduced, “for what you get, Manalapan is almost undervalued,” said Jennifer Spitznagel, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens in Palm Beach. “It’s rare to find a luxury resort community that has ocean and Intracoastal access. If you drive on A1A, you will see large yachts parked behind many of the homes.”

The ocean access, along with the seclusion many of the Manalapan lots offer, has attracted celebrities and billionaires (see sidebar on page 48). Motivational guru Tony Robbins and New Age musician Yanni own homes in Manalapan, as did boxing promoter Don King and famed criminal defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey. Billy Joel, a brief resident of the area, purchased a 13,000-square-foot house in Manalapan for $11.8 million in 2014 and listed it for $19.5 million in 2015. He lowered the asking price in April to $16.9 million and has included the furnishings in the deal.

As The Real Deal reported in December, in this real estate cycle to that point, spanning the years 2011 to 2017, buyers invested more than $540 million in Palm Beach County’s 10 priciest home sales alone. One of those sales was 1370 South Ocean Boulevard in Manalapan, which sold for $40 million in March 2017.

The well-heeled buyers in Manalapan don’t just get an estate. There’s another perk to ownership in the area: All town residents receive membership in La Coquille Club at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (formerly the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach), which sits on 7 acres of private beach and has a fitness facility and a private beachfront dining room for members.

Near the hotel are La Coquille Villas luxury condo co-ops, villas and townhomes. The units for sale are priced between $700,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit to more than $1 million for a three-bedroom.

Reached by a bridge, Point Manalapan — the tip of the barrier island — has smaller homes and villas with Intracoastal views, priced slightly lower than larger homes on Manalapan.

Those with less cash on hand can also, surprisingly, find rental opportunities. Single-family homes for rent in Manalapan range from a Colonial-style four-bedroom house for $7,500 a month to a $65,000-a-month seven-bedroom, eight-bath home with ocean and Intracoastal views and private dockage. Town Manager Linda Stumpf said Manalapan does have restrictions on renting: An owner cannot rent for less than three months or more than three times a year.

Having suffered in Florida’s real estate downturn, Spitznagel said, Manalapan has firmly rebounded. “The price per square foot is rising, and there definitely is room to go up,” she said.

For those who can’t afford Manalapan, the small beachside community has Boynton Beach, Hypoluxo, Lantana and South Palm Beach as neighbors. Patricia Sousa, an agent with Lang Realty, described the local market as competitive for real estate agents and said that rather than focus solely on Manalapan, most agents selling in the town also serve these surrounding waterfront areas.

In Hypoluxo, the two most recent single-family home sales closed in the $700,000 range. Both were three-bedroom, two-bath homes without water frontage.

For buyers who want new construction, two condo buildings are rising in the area. The first, in South Palm Beach — 3550 South Ocean — is a luxury high-rise on the ocean with 30 units of about 3,000 square feet starting at $2 million; the other is the Bristol Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, a 25-story building with 69 units starting at $5 million for a 3,500-square-foot unit.

The lay of the land

Manalapan’s history dates back to its incorporation as a town in 1931. It’s a true residential community, with only 4 percent of the town’s land area designated as commercial.

Stumpf said there are no areas of Manalapan undeveloped, and the small amount of commercial use has been intentional; the only commercial zoning is for the hotel and one shopping plaza, the 103,000-square-foot Plaza del Mar.

When a Publix opens this fall in Manalapan’s Plaza Del Mar, the event will mark the culmination of years of effort to bring the supermarket to the town, which has only had specialty markets in the center in the past.

Palm Beach Gardens-based Kitson & Partners added the 27,881-square-foot Publix as part of the redevelopment of the Plaza del Mar shopping center and has ensured that the signage will be discreet to reflect the feel of the upscale coastal community.

Real estate agents said the grocery store should prove attractive for homebuyers.

“It will be very beneficial, because residents don’t have to leave the community anymore to do their grocery shopping,” Stumpf said.

Read more at The Real Deal

Tax h(e)aven: SoFla brokerages are targeting out-of-state buyers looking to escape new, larger tax burdens July 9, 2018

(Illustration by Neil Webb)

Ultra-wealthy out-of-state buyers are flocking en masse to South Florida, scooping up multimillion-dollar homes and condos with plans to establish residency in order to avoid shelling out money to the government as a result of last year’s tax reform, brokers and developers told The Real Deal. The influx has local brokerages doing everything they can to capitalize on the  trend, using their partnerships with far-flung firms to grow their client rosters ahead of the competition.

The out-of-staters are largely top-earning hedge funders, real estate bigwigs, big-time entrepreneurs and CEOs from states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois — places with state income taxes as high as 13.3 percent, and even city taxes in the case of New York City. Florida, on the other hand, has no state income tax.

“It’s one thing when the tax reform gets passed, and it’s another thing when you’re sitting with your accountant and you say, ‘Shit, I could just to move to Miami,”’ said Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman.

Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realty International calls the new buyers “tax refugees,” and said they account for 90 percent of those looking at his high-end listings. He has shown properties priced over $10 million or $15 million to at least 40 such ultra-wealthy buyers in the past few months, he said.

When Gonzalez showed a unit at luxury condo building Apogee South Beach to three different buyers who were all in the elevator together, Gonzalez asked, ‘“Why Miami, why are you moving from New York?’ One said ‘Taxes,’ and the others said, ‘That’s why I’m here,’ ‘That’s why I’m here.’”

“Hedge fund guys make $50 to $150 million a year, and these guys can come down here and buy a $10 to $20 million house, and with the tax savings, they get a free house in two to five years, and they get to live in paradise,”Gonzalez said.

Real estate insiders point to Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group as a leader of the trend. In 2015, the mogul bought a waterfront vacant lot on Miami Beach’s North Bay Road and built a mansion for his permanent residence, then later moved his company’s headquarters from Greenwich, Connecticut to Miami Beach. During a keynote session at a University of Miami real estate event in 2014, Sternlicht said, “My generation, which is the tail end of baby boomers, we’re coming. We’re changing our addresses and we’re coming to low-tax states.”

In the U.S., the vast majority of states levy income taxes. For those earning at the top level, the state taxes can be as high as 8.82 percent in New York; 8.97 percent in New Jersey; 6.99 percent in Connecticut; and 4.95 percent in Illinois. California has the highest state income tax in the nation, topping out at 13.3 percent for those earning more than $1 million.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December 2017, limited the ability of taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes (SALT) from their federal taxable income in 2018. That has dealt a significant blow, experts said.

Changing state residencies to avoid these taxes is not an easy task. You must provide proof that you are not in your former home state for more than 180 days a year. And to establish residency in Florida, you must secure a driver’s license and follow other legal requirements. Florida also has property taxes of about 2 percent of the assessed value, which is a lower rate than that of about half of the states in the country.

It’s “really a no-brainer,” said Camille Douglas, senior managing director at LeFrak, the co-developer of 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach and the future North Miami mixed-use project SoLe Mia. “If you already think it’s nice to have a place in Miami, you’re now hugely motivated to pull the trigger. And it is almost free to become a Florida resident because your tax savings will support it.”

For Eloy Carmenate of Douglas Elliman, the volume of out-of-state residents earning tens and hundreds of millions of dollars who are looking at Miami properties is unprecedented. “I’ve never seen this super wealth come into town like this year,” he said. They’re looking at both condos and houses, Carmenate said, often from Miami Beach’s North Bay Road to the Sunset and Venetian islands.

“They’re pretty down to earth and unassuming,” he said. “They want to be able to walk down the street without bodyguards, go to restaurants.”

According to April figures from the Miami Association of Realtors, people from New York City ranked first among all cities searching for properties on California ranked as the top state.

Developer Jules Trump of the Trump Group (no relation to the president) has watched wealthy families come down from the Northeast to vacation at his Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles and become buyers at his Mansions at Acqualina and Estates at Acqualina intending to stay.

“After a few days at the hotel, the kids start pressuring, and the wife starts pressuring, and from a little thought in the back of their heads, it becomes a thought that ‘I’ve got to be crazy not to do it,’” said Trump. “They see that the living here is a much nicer lifestyle than what they could ever have in the Northeast.”

Real estate insiders say that while a handful of other states — including Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming — do not currently have an income tax, Florida is often viewed as the most desirable residence.

Reaching the out-of-staters

Some brokerages are shifting their strategies to reach buyers from high-tax states. Cervera Real Estate, which has a partnership with Stribling & Associates, held a seminar in New York to educate agents on how to purchase real estate and establish residency in Florida, said Alexandra Goeseke, Cervera’s director of general real estate. Cervera, which in the past typically received several referrals a month from Stribling, is now seeing many more referrals out of New York, she said.   

Douglas Elliman is taking advantage of the presence it has in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California, said Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage. “We’re at a point where the Trump tax plan has paid into our strategy perfectly, because we have agents in those markets that are already comfortable on referral business, and have a client pool that is now motivated and forming inquiries about that transfer [of residency].”

Agents like Elliman’s Carmenate say they are traveling to the Hamptons and New York City repeatedly to market properties and make presentations to prospective buyers.

One Sotheby’s International Realty is also working with its affiliates in markets such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California, according to the firm’s president, Daniel de la Vega. Over the summer, its agents will host events in the Hamptons. “Our strategies include traveling to these markets and hosting events where both brokers and clients alike can learn more about South Florida real estate,” de la Vega said.

Brown Harris Stevens is using its internal referral network and sending agents from Florida to New York to give presentations to agents, said BHS Miami President Phil Gutman. Social media is also being targeted to the Northeast, highlighting property listings and the South Florida lifestyle. It’s helping drive viewers to the brokerage’s website, where traffic has spiked about 25 percent from Northeast buyers, he said.

And Beth Butler, general manager of Compass Florida, said agents in South Florida “are relying on agents in other parts of the country to work their databases and send people our way, and that has been working effectively.” In the $3 to $5 million range, families are gravitating to secondary markets like Naples and Jupiter, she added.

For the Keyes Company, CEO Michael Pappas said sales have skyrocketed in the million-dollar-and-up sector of the market — up 35 percent in the first quarter, year-over-year. “These are sophisticated buyers. Many times, [a purchase] is the beginning of their move,” he said.

Keyes’ commercial brokerage is also hearing from a number of financial firms that want to relocate to Palm Beach County or open branches in the state to escape onerous taxes.

Financial firms are mostly looking at Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, said David Joseph, director of Keyes’ commercial division. Biltmore Capital Advisors, an investment adviser based in Princeton, New Jersey, opened an office in Boca Raton. The firm purchased three office condos in February. Atlantic Street Capital Management, a Stamford, Connecticut-based private equity firm, leased nearly 4,000 square feet at 515 North Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach in April. Parker of Douglas Elliman attributed the increase in high-end residential sales to tax reform, but he said they are also being driven by the “strong maturation of our market.”

“A lot of people are able to make the move, but now we have a product and a market that can substantiate their tastes,” Parker said.

Taxes aren’t the only thing drawing out-of-staters to South Florida, according to de la Vega of One Sotheby’s. Sellers are slashing their prices, especially on the high end of the market, where inventory is excessive. “As you go up in price point, days on the market are increasing and months of inventory are increasing pretty significantly,” de la Vega said. “Everything is price-sensitive and everything becomes a comparable.”

In May, AQR Capital Management co-founder Cliff Asness paid $26 million for a penthouse at 321 Ocean, marking the most expensive condo sale of the year. But the five-bedroom unit actually sold at a 51 percent discount off the $53 million asking price in 2015.

And about a month earlier, Asness’ business partner John Liew picked up a unit at the nearby Apogee in Miami Beach for $13.5 million, $1 million off the ask. Both Liew and Asness are billionaires who live in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Common concessions

Incentives are also a factor for sales. On the new construction side, developers are offering buyers sweeteners to close deals.

For projects that are nearly or just completed, developers are including the finishing touches for buyers — offering to throw in flooring and wall treatments that wouldn’t normally come with a new unit, said Edgardo Defortuna, president and CEO of Fortune International Realty.

Of the six units remaining at Fortune’s Jade Signature, a luxury condo tower in Sunny Isles Beach, Defortuna said he is “finishing” three units. At other projects, he’s seen developers offer the same for units on the less popular configurations for a limited period of time.

That means the developer is eating the cost, which typically ranges from $100 to $150 a foot to “finish a unit well.” The Estates at Acqualina and Turnberry Ocean Club are among those delivering units finished.

For buildings that aren’t as close to opening, developers are still reducing deposit requirements and offering discounts on a per-square-foot basis “if the price is right,” Defortuna said.

While Elliman’s Parker said the firm isn’t “engaged in any sort of incentive-based draws,” some projects Elliman is marketing are now offering furniture packages to buyers for an extra fee.

As the flow of out-of-staters continues, certainly one thing is changing for brokers, according Danny Hertzberg of Coldwell Banker’s the Jills: “We’re all becoming a bit of tax experts.”

Read more at The Real Deal

Season in Review: Why was real estate market so busy in Palm Beach? June 20, 2018

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi paid a recorded $10 millon for a Palm Beach house with ocean views built in 1985 at 230 N. Ocean Blvd. The lot measures about a third of an acre. (Meghan McCarthy/Daily News)

If the Palm Beach real estate market were a magnum of Dom Perignon, you would surely have heard a loud “pop” this season.

That’s because the bottleneck holding back single-family sales over the past couple of years finally broke with a rush of closings, especially after the first of the year, real estate brokers and analysts agree.

“There’s no doubt we’re in a very strong uptick,” said Brown Harris Stevens broker Ava Van de Water. “And I think it’s going to be a strong summer, at least through May and June, based on what’s under contract.”

Palm Beach Board of Realtors President Suzanne Frisbie echoes Van de Water. Just in the first three months of the year, there were 47 single-family real estate transactions in town — a 62-percent hike over closings in the first quarter of last year, said Frisbie, an agent at the Corcoran Group. Her figures included closed sales of single-family properties in the island’s multiple listing service as well as those that changed hands privately but were recorded at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.

The dollar volume of those transactions during the first quarter totaled $328 million, a 28-percent jump over the first three months of 2017, Frisbie added. In fact, single-family sales this year generated the highest first-quarter dollar volume ever recorded in Palm Beach, according to the research prepared by her family’s company, The Frisbie Group.

Frisbie’s findings generally echoed the favorable sales picture for single-family houses and land painted by other first-quarter sales reports released by real estate agencies that do business on the island. Those reports also showed, however, that sales in the island’s condominium market have not been nearly as robust as those in for single-family properties.

The single-family sales numbers were particularly impressive in the upper price brackets. Last season, from October to May, seven real estate sales recorded at more than $17 million. This season, there were a dozen. And as of last week in the local MLS, five properties were under contract with asking prices of $15 million or more, including a $59.5 million listing for a lakefront estate at 1485 S. Ocean Blvd., marketed by broker Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate.

In the lower end of the market, the first quarter also saw robust sales of MLS-listed single-family properties, said Van de Water. The number of houses that sold for between $5 million and $10 million, for instance, totaled 14 in the first three months of this year versus eight in the first quarter of 2017, Van de Water said. Among those buyers was rocker Jon Bon Jovi, who in April paid a recorded $10 million for an oceanfront house at 230 N. Ocean Blvd. Angle handled the buyer’s end of that deal opposite the listing agent, Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates.

Tax-reform and sales

In the last couple of seasons, the real estate scene was marked by a fitful start-and-stop-and-start-again rhythm. Many would-be buyers sat on the sidelines in the year leading up the 2016 presidential election, uncertain what the outcome would bring. The shake-ups accompanying President Donald Trump’s first months in office didn’t do much to ease the uncertainty, even as the buoyant stock market continued to fatten portfolios.

But by the time the season kicked off in October, many brokers were optimistic that the tide finally had turned. Angle echoed many of his colleagues when he told the Daily News last fall that “the velocity of transactions in 2017 has been far stronger than what I saw last year.”

And then came December and the long-awaited Congressional tax overhaul, which generally favors business, industry and the wealthy, thanks to changes to the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

Add in a robust economy, and even February’s stock-market correction couldn’t dampen sales in Palm Beach, where there’s no state income tax, a relatively low sales tax and a limited tax on intangible personal property. The Wall Street dip may have actually encouraged some buyers to invest in real estate rather than in a volatile stock market, some brokers have speculated.

“We have the perfect storm, with the tax changes that are driving people here,” said broker Bill Yahn of the Corcoran Group, where his duties as senior regional vice president have included overseeing the island brokerage.

More residents of high-tax states — think New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and California — are looking to establish a homestead here to boost their bottom lines through tax advantages, Yahn said.

And many of those buyers are younger and work in the financial, investment or technology fields. They are realizing that a primary home here won’t hinder their ability to do business elsewhere, thanks to the internet and the proximity of Palm Beach International Airport, Angle said.

“The world has become a smaller place, and the desire to live in South Florida — and particularly in Palm Beach — continues to increase every day,” Angle said, noting the growth over the past decade of academic, health-care and cultural institutions in Palm Beach County.

“We’re becoming more of an established community, a place that many people are going to use as their home base,” Angle adds.

That famous snowbird

Also playing a role in attracting new residents, brokers say, are the traditional selling points, including its natural beauty, security, handsome architecture and warm climate. The latter may have played a strong role in Palm Beach’s go-go market this season, considering that many northern cities were walloped this winter by a series of snowstorms. Weather-weary residents there may have given the island a second look, especially amid the international news coverage that accompanied Trump — the town’s most famous snowbird — on his frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago.

Even the landscape damage and power outages left after Hurricane Irma’s outer winds hit on Sept. 9 appear not to have had a lasting impact on buyers’ willingness invest in Palm Beach real estate.

Indeed, some properties that had been on the market for a year or even longer finally found buyers this season. That doesn’t surprise real estate analyst Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants, based in New York City. Miller prepares detailed quarterly sales reports for the markets where Douglas Elliman Real Estate does business, including greater New York City and South Florida.

“Palm Beach is a national outlier,” Miller said, noting that many other upscale markets have not experienced such “an expansion of luxury sales.”

Miller is particularly impressed that the sales on the island, for the most part, haven’t been driven by drastic price reductions, even as the market has surged, according to his analysis of MLS figures.

“We just haven’t seen a significant discount of the asking prices,” Miller said, adding that buyers and sellers seem to be meeting in the middle from the get-go. That’s not the case in other affluent markets he studies, such as Greenwich, Conn.

“In Greenwich, for example, we are seeing much larger discounts,” he added. “In Palm Beach, the surge wasn’t about the pricing itself. It was about buyers who had been in a holding pattern finally getting the signal last fall” to take the plunge and sign contracts.

And that has left buyers facing an inventory crunch that ultimately may boost prices, based on the laws of supply and demand, he added.

“Sales are way up but pricing was flat and inventory hasn’t really risen,” Miller said. “It suggests to me that at least there’s a potential for (upward) price pressure going forward.”

How big is too big?

Because Palm Beach is built-out, buyers looking for a new or newer house — as many are, brokers agree — often find that the selection is limited. No wonder some would-be home buyers have opted to forgo the island entirely, instead paying millions for condominiums in The Bristol, the under-construction, ultra-luxury tower under construction in West Palm Beach, just across the Royal Park Bridge.

And that means developers who build houses on speculation are continuing their scramble to keep up with the demand, even as land on the island fetches historic highs. Prices for even smaller lots begin at $250 per square foot these days, said Yahn. Do the math and a 100-by-100 foot lot, the standard minimum for a house, is typically selling for least $2.5 million.

The North End, in fact, has become a construction zone for houses offering the sort of features buyers want — open floor plans with plenty of natural light and fine interior finishes. And their demand for higher ceilings — coupled with higher elevations to meet new flood-plane requirements — can result in taller houses.

That’s been a sore spot for neighbors who have complained vigorously to the Architectural Commission about projects they view are simply too large for their lots. The board this season regularly faced that issue and as a result, the approval process from some projects took six months, or even longer, as commissioners demanded multiple revisions.

Subdividing large estates

Complicating the picture is a trend to knock down aging larger estate houses and subdivide the land or resale as vacant lots. The Architectural Commission this season wrestled with the scale of spec houses proposed for newly subdivided lots on the North End at 446 N. Lake Way, 901 N. Ocean Blvd. and 535 N. County Road. So far, only the contemporary-style house proposed for the latter lot has won approval and only after multiple revisions by developer Mark Pulte of Mark Timothy Inc.

In the Estate Section, developer Sir Peter Wood in October sold for $7 million the first of five vacant lots he carved from the 4.2-acre former estate of the late John Kluge at the corner of South County Road and El Bravo Way. In April, Wood also sold, for a recorded $18.25 million, a landmarked 1921 oceanfront house at 89 Middle Road that Kluge had used as a guesthouse. Angle brokered both deals.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of town, billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin took a completely different tack. Since late 2012 with the help of Moens, Griffin has spent more than $230 million assembling properties for his ocean-to-lake estate at 1265 S. Ocean Blvd. It could total more than 17 acres, once a pending sale is finalized.

By the beginning of this season, Griffin had cleared his oceanfront land of several houses and began excavating the basement for his house, which was designed to stretch longer than a football field.

But in early April, Griffin astounded real estate observers by pulling the plug on the project and sent word to town officials that budget overruns had caused him to abort the planned house. A spokesman told the Daily News Griffin plans to head back to the drawing board at some point with a new design team. Griffin still owns a house on the estate at 70 Blossom Way that he uses when he visits Palm Beach.

His abrupt decision to regroup gave brokers and their agents plenty to talk about, even as they uncorked another bottle of champagne to celebrate their latest deals.

Read more at Palm Beach Daily News

U.S. Housing Prices Return to Peak Levels March 1, 2018

65 Curlew Road

After plummeting 33% during the recession a decade ago, U.S. house prices have returned to peak levels, bouncing back 51% nationally, according to a report Thursday from global property analysts CoreLogic.

A combination of favorable interest rates and relaxed standards for mortgage loans resulted in peak residential home prices across the country in 2006, the report said. But by 2007, prices had collapsed and continued to log steady declines through 2011.

The average home price is now 1% higher than it was in 2006, the report said, and the average year-over-year home equity gain was $14,888 in the third quarter of 2017, indicating that the housing market has widely recovered since “the trough,” an expression used in the report to describe the bottoming out of the market.

“West Coast states, such as California, Washington and Oregon are seeing some of largest trough-to-current growth rates in home prices,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, in the report. “Greater demand and lower supply–as well as booming job markets–have given some of the hardest-hit housing markets a boost in home prices. Yet, many are still not back to pre-crash levels.”

Nevada suffered the biggest drop during the recession—which lasted from 2007 to 2009—with a 60% decline in home prices between the peak in 2006 to bottoming out in 2011. Arizona and Florida followed, with declines of 51% and 50% respectively, the report said. But in Nevada, home prices are still 23% below their pre-recession peak, while Arizona and Florida are both still 16% below peak.

Some states have fared much better though. Prices in North Dakota, which had the lowest recorded price drop of 2% during the recession, now stand 48% higher than the previous 2006 peak, the highest rise recorded in the report.

Colorado logged the second highest price gains, rising 44%, after dropping 14% during the recession.

Read more at Mansion Global

Palm Beach County, Florida Home Prices Continue to Rise October 18, 2017

1245 Lands End Road

Home prices in Florida’s Palm Beach County continued their upward trend in May, reaching another post-crash high.

The median price of a single-family home sold in Palm Beach County in May rose to $335,000, a 7.9 percent increase from a year ago and up slightly from April’s $327,000, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.

Drastic year-over- year increases in home sales were of particular interest; 45.1% increase in the sale of homes between $600,000 – $999,999, 19.8% increase in homes over one million dollars and 18.6% increase in homes between $400,000 – $599,999. Additionally, there was a 4.3% year-over- year increase in closed sales to 1,768 with a 14.3% increase in cash sales.

“Statistics for May reflect double digit increases in closed sales above $300,000 which contributed to the rise in our median sale price,” said Jeffrey Levine, President-Elect of the Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB). “Meanwhile, we ended May with 4.9 months’ of inventory, the same as last year.”

Palm Beach County has long been one of the most sought-after places to own real estate in the country. The county is home to a broad range of boldface names including pop star Ariana Grande, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and basketball legend Michael Jordan. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is also in Palm Beach.

The town — located on a 16-mile-long barrier island — has long ranked near the top of quality-of-life surveys thanks to an abundance of natural beauty and an upscale lifestyle and social scene.

In winter, the calendar of social engagements rivals New York’s Hamptons in summer, with polo and equestrian events sprinkled among dozens of glitzy fundraisers and art fairs. Palm Beach County has more than 140 golf courses — more than any other county in the US.

There is also no individual income taxes, no estate taxes and no capital gains taxes, which offers moneyed retirees an alluring measure of wealth protection. Just over half of the town’s population (55.8 per cent) are aged 65 or older, according to the US Census. That ranks the town of more than 8,500 inhabitants among the most densely populated locations for retirement-age individuals in the country.

Read more at Forbes


Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on February 5. Once known as a major stop on America’s ‘cocaine highway,’ West Palm Beach is quickly turning into a new center of money and power.


The night I flew into West Palm Beach, a string of deadly tornadoes ripped across Florida. High winds pounded surf against jagged coastline and whipsawed the 100-foot-tall trees along Royal Palm Way—what locals call Bankers’ Row.It was just a few days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. A couple of miles down the road, seemingly oblivious to the approaching storm, hundreds of revelers packed Mar-a-Lago, the Great Gatsby–esque private resort Trump has dubbed his “Winter White House,” to fete their new king. The private event, attended by Palm Beach’s billionaires, entrepreneurs, and socialites, featured dinner and dancing, a replay of Trump’s swearing-in ceremony and a mammoth ice sculpture of the American flag with “President Trump” emblazoned on the base in red.

Read more at Newsweek
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Ahead of the pack: Florida leads nation in home-price gains over past year November 30, 2016

Florida led the nation in home-price gains in the year ending Sept. 30, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Florida properties posted a 10.7 percent gain over the past year, topping Oregon’s 10.5 percent and Washington’s 10.4 percent. The District of Columbia finished last, with a 2.7 percent decline.

By another measure, the median price of a house sold by Realtors in Palm Beach County last month was $310,000. That’s up 9 percent from a year ago but down from recent months — and still well below the November 2005 peak of $421,500.

Palm Beach County’s median condo price was $152,750, up 8 percent from a year ago but also down compared to recent months.

Statewide, median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for the 59th month in a row in October, according to Florida Realtors, the Orlando-based trade group.

Prices have risen in part because foreclosures and short sales have all but disappeared from the market. What’s more, the statewide inventory of houses for sale dipped to just a 4.2-month supply in October.

Source: Palm Beach Post

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1545 Lands End Road – Manalapan, FL

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