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Analysis: PB home sales soared last year

Posted On: 03-18-2013

By Darrell Hofheinz

Daily News Staff Writer

The recovering economy is reflected in a new analysis of last year’s residential real estate sales in Palm Beach, where the total number of transactions for houses, townhomes, vacant lots and condominiums reached levels not seen since 2005.

The latest Evans Report shows that 146 single-family properties sold in Palm Beach last year, compared to 130 the year before. Last year, 330 condos and cooperative apartments sold versus 236 in 2011.

You have to go back seven years to find transaction totals that beat those figures, said real estate attorney and property owner Leslie R. Evans, who has compiled his Evans Reports for more than 10 years. In 2005, there were 168 single-family home sales and 369 condo sales — and those numbers haven’t been seen since.

“We’ve slogged through the recession,” Evans said. “I think we’ve turned the corner here.”

His latest report features year-over-year comparisons but also focuses on fourth-quarter sales figures. The report relies on prices recorded with deeds by the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office. Vacant lots and townhouses are included in its figures for single-family-home sales.

Town-wide, the median price for houses sold in 2012 was $2.6 million, up slightly from about $2.5 million the year before. The median is the price at which half of the homes sold for more and half for less.

The median price of condominiums sold fell slightly, from $472,500 in 2011 to $470,000 last year.

The report is compiled from data in public records, newspapers and multiple-listing services, Evans said.

SUBHEAD — Big deals

Most of the single-family transactions in 2012 involved properties that sold for less than $10 million.

Last year, for example, 71 houses changed hands at prices below $2.5 million, compared to 66 the previous year. Meanwhile, 36 homes sold last year for between $2.5 million and $5 million, versus 31 the year before.

And 26 homes sold for between $5 million and $10 million in 2012 — seven more than in 2011.

In the upper-price ranges, 13 homes sold for $10 million or more last year, compared to 14 the year before.

Last year, however, ended with a bang, with 24 single-family sales recorded in December, compared to 11 in the same month of 2011, when the highest sale recorded was $6.2 million. In all, $217.5 million in sales were recorded in December versus $24.7 million in the same month of 2011, according to the Evans Report.

Among the eye-popping deals recorded in December 2012 were three adjacent homes and a vacant lot on Blossom Way that sold privately for a total of about $130 million. Another sale that month for 226 El Bravo Way recorded at $14 million, while 1520 S. Ocean Blvd. sold for $18 million.

Such high-dollar sales gave a boost to the grand total of real-estate dollars that changed hands town-wide in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period in 2011 — $296.8 million versus $56 million.

Overall, the report shows, the total dollar amount of single-family sales last year in Palm Beach skyrocketed, from about $589 million in 2011 to about $727 million by the end of 2012.

“The home sales figures were skewed by several big sales in December,” Evans acknowledged. “I’d say those were an anomaly, but overall, the sales trend has been up.”

Evans attributed the increase in sales, in part, to sellers motivated by worries that the federal estate tax would soar in 2013. But the increase turned out to be less drastic than many had feared.

“The other factor that concerned people on the high end was the fact that the capital-gains tax went from 15 percent to as much as 24.7 percent (in 2013). So people were motivated to sell before the end of the year,” he said. “Say you were making a $2 million profit on the sale of your house. With a 9.7 percent rise in the capital gains tax, you would pay $194,000 more the next year in taxes unless you sold it before the end of 2012.”

Those concerns, he added, “motivated sellers, and buyers perceived value and bought.”

Many buyers found Florida’s tax picture more favorable than that of their home states, he added.

“We’re getting the benefit of the fact that Florida has no state income tax, there’s no state inheritance tax and we have certain tax benefits for homesteaded property.”

SUBHEAD — Condo prices up

On the condo scene, the total dollars that changed hands across Palm Beach also rose dramatically, from about $165.5 million in 2011 to about $249 million last year.

And every condo price category saw a jump in sales last year, the report shows. In 2011, just 192 condos sold at $1 million or less; last year, there were 267 transactions in that category.

The rise in higher-dollar condo sales was even more dramatic, with 40 units changing hands in 2011 at prices between $1 million and $3 million; that number jumped to 52 last year. The number of units selling at $3 million or more, meanwhile, rose from four in 2011 to 10 last year.

Evans said the report overall indicates that plenty of people see Palm Beach real estate as a prime investment opportunity, especially those who have benefited from Wall Street’s rallies over the past year.

“As the stock market went up, a lot of people had made a lot of money and were looking for a place to put it. If you put the money in the bank, you get almost nothing on it. Here in Palm Beach, real estate has always been an investment. People here see real estate as a commodity, because of the limit of supply and demand,” Evans said. “They’re not making any more Palm Beach.”

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, March 18, 2013, Palm Beach Daily News

http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/news/national/analysis-pb-home-sales-soared-last-year/nWt2R/

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