Where the Sun Always Shines
It’s no surprise that Palm Beach has held its own in the down market. Experts expect an even better 2010.
By Sarah Binder
It may be only 16 miles in length, but the Sunshine State’s most popular Atlantic coast barrier island, also known as Palm Beach, offers buyers nearly every type of luxury real estate under the sun. From
condo living near bustling Worth Avenue shops and restaurants, to grand and private estate living mid-island, the city stays true to its motto—“the best of everything.”
From the north to the south end of the island, several premier sales in 2009, as well as a median single-family home price of $3 million that has increased throughout the year, are proof that Palm Beach is weathering the storm and buyers are recognizing that the extreme bottom of the market may even be a thing of the past.
“Prices are great in town and arguably within the estates section,” but the majority of the activity is on the north end of the island, says Christian Angle, president/broker of Christian J. Angle & Associates Inc. “Families tend to gravitate toward the north end of the island; [there is] a greater density of product. The estates section and in town seems to be holding its value far greater.”
On the north end of Palm Beach Island, a $9.85 million sum will fetch a discerning buyer a British West Indies-style oceanfront estate on one of the island’s broadest
beaches. Elevated 16.6 feet above sea level, the home provides tranquil dune, beach and ocean views from every principal room.
While the north end of the island is drawing practical, family-oriented buyers, Palm Beach’s unparalleled oceanfront estates still are being snatched up by an elite clientele that historically has included such star power as Donald Trump, singers Rod Stewart and Jimmy Buffet, and numerous heirs and heiresses including Marjorie Merriweather Post. “One of our top agents, Betsey Hall, sold 710 South Ocean Boulevard, a massive oceanfront home that is mid-renovation, for $17.4 million to the renowned author James Patterson,” says David Fite, principal of Fite Shavelle & Associates. Next door to the former John Lennon home, the landmark Mediterranean Revival residence boasts 21,353 square feet on 1.95 acres overlooking the ocean.
Condos also have been holding their own in Palm Beach, with condo sales occurring at a surprising rate even when the single-family home market wasn’t moving, says Angle. The sales pace is now nearly even between single-family residences and condominiums, though at least one record-breaking condo sale took place in 2009. “We sold a penthouse condo at the Lake Towers for approximately $2 million,” says Marianne Chopp of Pappas Properties Palm Beach. “The sale included two parking spots, furnishings and a dock. The unit was totally renovated about 4 years ago.”
After a high level of interest and transactions during September and October across every facet of the Palm Beach luxury market, according to Fite, the outlook is good for Henry Morrison Flagler’s resort town to begin its return to its former splendor in the new year.
“Prices have settled at price points that the only place they can go from here is up,” concludes Angle. “The sun is shining. Bernie Madoff is in jail. What else can you ask for?”