Snowbirds have migrated to Southern Florida for the winter for years, but now they may just decide to stay. In the Tri-State area, the new limit on state and local property tax deductions is causing some Northerners to rethink a permanent home in Florida with its favorable tax consequences and warm weather nests. According to the Miller Samuel Inc. Elliman Report for Palm Beach, the first quarter of 2019 saw single family home sales up 46.2% over fourth quarter 2018. Demand increased as the average number of days of a listing on the market went down 57.8% from 116 to 49 in first quarter 2019 from fourth quarter 2018. The luxury market also got a little more luxe with the median sales price of $7.1 million, a 20.3% rise from first quarter 2019 over fourth quarter 2018. Miami Beach also saw their single-family home median price jump 60% first quarter 2019 from a year previous to $7.25 million. That translates to other increases such as a high demand for enrollment in private schools as young families and not just retirees head south.
Palm Beach Island hit its own high-water mark for the sale of Terry Allen Kramer’s stunning Italianate La Follia, a 37,516 square foot estate with over 200 oceanfront feet. The $110 million reported purchase price made it the highest single buyer/single seller transaction. Kramer, a successful Broadway producer, passed away in May. A sale at the North End of Palm Beach also set a reported spec sale record of $49 million for an oceanfront 28,500 square foot new construction residence. The entry level is now even higher, literally, on Palm Beach Island where a $3 million dollar home is usually a tear down and has to be constructed on higher ground to meet new local and FEMA requirements.
Cristina Condon of Sotheby’s International Realty who has done over a billion dollars in sales and represents some of the most coveted Palm Beach properties comments, “We have always had buyers from the Tri-State area but now for the first time we are getting people from California or even Illinois buying here as their main residence. Many want a finished product where you just bring your toothbrush. The amount of time of listings on the market has also gone down considerably. If you don’t buy it today it will be gone tomorrow.” Condon also points out the benefits of homesteading a primary residence in Florida for both legal protection and to keep a percentage cap on property tax increases (A reason why people are using their own names more often on the deeds and not LLC’s). Kevin Condon also notes, “With technology you can work from anywhere, and it gives residents a lot more freedom. It makes Florida a good option for people who are looking to save money on taxes and spend more time outdoors with tennis, golf, and boating.”
Cristina Condon points out that waterfront and views are key factors in prime properties. She represents an estate on South Ocean Boulevard, an ocean-to-lake, resort-like estate in Manalapan listed for $25,995,000. Built in 2014 the private compound has an Asian flare with 21,226 square feet of living space, a rooftop pool, waterfall, Zen gardens, tennis court, oceanfront guest house with pool, and dock. She also has the listing for Gemini, a 15-acre oceanfront estate in Manalapan listed at $137,500,000. With a 62,200 square foot main residence and beachside guest cottages, there are 30 bedrooms and 1,200 oceanfront feet extending across to Lake Worth. Award-winning Villa Il Cortile is listed with Condon for $20,995,000. The classic 7,500 square foot Mediterranean estate has a private dock on Lake Worth fashioned around a central fountain courtyard. World-renowned designer Juan Pablo Molyneux fashioned the interiors on an ocean-to-lake 2.25 acre gated estate on South Ocean Boulevard with a 24,600 square foot residence listed for $56 million.
Christian Angle, the top-ranked broker in Palm Beach with over $570 million in sales in 2018 is having a busy summer. “We have seen a significant uptick in activity with inventory being absorbed,” reports Angle, “We’ve seen a recovery in the stock market and confidence is building. The consistency of activity through July speaks volumes to the strength of the market and desirability to be in Palm Beach right now.” Angle is also reporting a large influx of families attracted to the quality of life that Palm Beach offers with great schools, community and tax advantages such as no state income tax and the previously mentioned SALT tax changes. Angle sees buyers who are keen on new construction as well as those drawn to the history and architecture of landmarked estate homes. He mentions his oceanfront listing at 530 South Ocean Boulevard from Smith & Moore Architects with interior design by Marc-Michaels listed at $43 million. The brand-new construction features a 14,000 square foot main residence with courtyard, pool, staff quarters, and 3-car garage and is fully furnished and move-in condition. “People like to know they have an opportunity to walk into something fully finished in a current and fresh manner,” says Angle, “It’s a great convenience. As they get acclimated over time, they can bring in their own style.” Another listing is a pristine beach estate with five bedrooms and six and a half baths at 113 Clark Avenue listed at $10,995,000 with an oversized 45’ swimming pool and guest house, perfect for entertaining with the benefit of being In-Town with proximity to shops and dining. Also desirable for the equestrian community in Wellington looking for a Palm Beach get away when not riding. Angle also represents a Tudor style estate at 130 Banyan listed for $15,950,000, with a 7 bedroom, 6.2 bath main residence, guest house, staff quarters, 8-car garage, pool, tennis, cabana and covered loggia. At 235 Banyan, Angle represents a landmarked Mediterranean designed by Howard Major in 1925 listed for $16,900,000 with 5 bedrooms and 6.1 baths, a guest house, gardens, pool and loggia with views of the Intracoastal.
Billionaire’s Row however is seeing competition from across the Intracoastal with The Bristol, a newly constructed 25-story luxury waterfront high-rise. The contemporary new building by the Royal Park Bridge with views across Palm Beach to the Atlantic Ocean and top of the line amenities is a game changer and attracted Matrix Essential Hair Products mogul and philanthropist Sydell Miller who reportedly bought a whole floor for $42.56 million. The 69 units priced from around $5 million and up are virtually all in contract with construction nearing completion. Flagler Investors LLC, the developer, tapped into the demand for new construction and state of the art design with exclusive sales and marketing from Douglas Elliman. With panoramic views, a spa, and even Bentley service to drive residents around Palm Beach, it set a new standard.
West Palm Beach has come a long way with transitional neighborhoods attracting chic restaurants, galleries and boutiques. City Place which was a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment is also morphing from a mall to a green urban neighborhood. Renamed Rosemary Square with a five year and $550 million renovation from Related Companies, the development includes making the interior boulevards more of a walking public space with lush landscaping, a 300,000 square foot office building, a hotel and a luxury 21-story apartment tower. Public spaces will also feature art installations as well as cultural programs alongside new retail and dining venues. For public transportation, the adjacent Virgin Trains USA Service formerly known as Brightline is also connecting downtown to Miami.
“Our vision for Downtown West Palm Beach is to create a sense of place with energy and culture that extends well beyond the boundaries of Rosemary Square. It will be a model for sustainable urban cities, putting pedestrians and alternative transportation at the forefront, and a continued economic engine, welcoming new businesses, but most importantly, it will be a community that seamlessly connects the fabric of the area for residents and families across Florida,” said Stephen M. Ross, Chairman of Related Companies.
Louise Sunshine, a real estate sales, marketing and development expert who now is a strategic adviser for Miami-based real estate investors Fort Partners is working on the Four Seasons-branded properties in South Florida. She recognizes the power of a luxury name brand to entice discerning condominium buyers who also like the amenities of a hotel. Sunshine comments, “The market for Four Seasons properties is very strong because it has its own market and its own followers. At the Four Seasons Surf Club in Miami we’ve had $80 million in sales in the past few months, and in Ft. Lauderdale we are more than 50% sold out, and we haven’t even started construction. Clients like the 24-hour services of a hotel. The oceanfront properties have everything from kids’ activities to pet menus to spas, gyms, ocean cabanas and in-room dining.” Sunshine has also seen a lot of New York buyers incentivized by tax advantages as well as an influx of foreign buyers who are devotees of the brand. Prices for condominium units in Ft. Lauderdale range from $3 million to $32 million, a roof top 10,000 square foot penthouse with a sky park including full running track, two pools, putting green, and gym. The Richard Meier designed Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at The Surf Club also has a few select units to sell. The Palm Beach Four Seasons hotel just underwent a renovation last year and is ready for its close up.
Another high-profile resort in the news is the Boca Raton Resort & Club, reportedly sold for $461.6 million, one of the largest commercial sales in South Florida. The Addison Mizner designed oceanfront resort with over 1,000 rooms has two 18-hole golf courses, a spa, seven swimming pools, 30 tennis courts, a full marina and numerous restaurants and bars. The Blackstone Group had completed a $300 million upgrade and attracted billionaire computer mogul Michael Dell’s MSD Partners as buyers.
For those ready to head South, know that the real estate temperature is rising.