The largest Palm Beach sale of the second quarter recorded in April at $39 million, when a 4-acre estate at 89 Middle Road changed hands with 21,500 total square feet spread among multiple buildings. Corcoran Group and Brown Harris Stevens had co-listed the property, with Brown Harris Stevens handling the buyer’s side of the deal. Photo by RobertStevens.com
The biggest first-quarter Palm Beach sale saw a recorded $43.7 million change hands for a never-lived beachfront house at 1695 N. Ocean Way. The Corcoran Group handled both sides of the sale. Photo by Sargent Architectural Photography, courtesy of the Corcoran Group
As the nation braces for this week’s Republican presidential convention in Cleveland and next week’s Democratic hoopla in Philadelphia, it might be worth remembering the adage that says all politics is local.
And the ramifications can be, well, huge.
Remember the first three months of this year? It was an unsettled period for Palm Beach real estate, with many house-hunters and sellers stepping to the sidelines amid a roller-coaster news cycle in which “uncertainty” was the watchword.
To be sure, presidential election years often breed a let’s-wait-until-after-November wariness among those eying homes here. But the first quarter proved especially topsy-turvy, as seasonal Palm Beacher Donald Trump trounced predictions and dominated among Republican contenders, while DemocratBernie Sanders dug in his heels after beating Hillary Clintonin February’s New Hampshire primary.
Meanwhile, the general global and political economic unrest of January, February and March added to the unease. And don’t forget the mild winter up north, which provided little incentive for folks there to rush to sign contracts in Palm Beach.
So it’s little wonder that the local real estate market burned no barns during the first quarter, as confirmed by the latest sales analysis prepared by Palm Beach attorney and property ownerLeslie Evans. A year-over-year comparison shows first-quarter sales dropped in both the single-family and condominium categories townwide, according to the Evans Report.
In the first three months of this year, 34 single-family homes sold, compared to 43 last year. For the same period, the number of condo sales fell from 93 last year to 78 this year.
Prices in the first quarter were largely flat, with the median single-family sales price dropping by $52,500 to $3.99 million. The median is the price at which half of the sales totaled more and half, less.
As usual, the bulk of the single-family sales took place on the North End, where the number of first-quarter sales was unchanged at 23. But first-quarter median prices there rose by $350,000, to $3.25 million, the report showed.
That wasn’t the case for condos sold town-wide, which saw year-over-year prices slide to a median of $533,750, down by $81,250.
Evans, who heads Leslie Robert Evans and Associates, compiles the report with his son, Jason Evans, a real estate attorney. They analyze prices from all sales recorded at the county courthouse. You can read the entire report at LREvansPA.com.
On the heels of the first-quarter Evans Report last week came Douglas Elliman’s second-quarter sales report, which analyzed only transactions listed in the multiple listing services that serve the island. That leaves out any off-market deals, unless they were recorded in MLS after the fact.
The report for April, May and June shows the number of year-over-year sales fell slightly for single-family properties — from 33 last year to 31. The drop was more dramatic in the condo category, where year-over-year sales fell from 119 to 84.
But the report also offered some bright spots. Second-quarter median single-family sales prices were up by almost $1 million in the year-over-year comparison, from $3.495 million in 2015 to $4.5 million this year. That’s almost a 29 percent hike. One reason for the increase was that more larger houses sold, according to the report’s author, Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Inc. in New York City.
“The rise was partially due to the 31.7 percent rise in average square feet, to 5,127 over the same period,” Miller wrote in his Friday newsletter about the report.
Median condo prices, however, dropped from about $725,000 to $687,000.
The report also spotlighted the top 10 percent of all sales, lumping together single-family and condos: In that category during the second quarter, the average sale was 7,387 square feet, a jump of 40.6 percent. And median prices in that so-called “luxury” category vaulted from about $6.98 million to $10.11 million.
Adding more than a bit of heft to those totals, no doubt, was the biggest sale of the quarter at 89 Middle Road. Recorded in April at $39 million, that deal saw 21,500 square feet changed hands, spread among multiple buildings on the 4-acre estate once owned by the late billionaire John W. Kluge.
As far as overall inventory, which has been tight for years, the report shows more properties to choose from during the second quarter. The number of single-family properties on the market jumped, year-over-year, from 105 to 129. The number of condos for sale also rose, from 241 to 253.
But the properties listed for sale with prices in the top 10 percent fell from 83 in last year’s second quarter to 61 this year. That was an anomaly compared to the other four other South Florida markets Miller analyzed, likely reflecting the fallout of post-recession luxury building booms in Miami and, to a lesser extent, Fort Lauderdale.