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In struggle to meet buyer demand, luxury ‘spec’ home developers have been stymied by limited inventory, rising land prices. Home for Sale in Palm Beach

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

By Darrell Hofheinz/Daily News Staff Writer

Take a drive on a fall morning through Palm Beach and you’ll likely find yourself sharing the road with about as many concrete mixers and construction trucks as Mercedes-Benzes and Land Rovers.

And what are those work trucks doing? They’re making up for lost time.

Or rather, they’re trying to help developers keep up with the demand for new houses, a demand sparked by buyers who have returned to the island with cash and a desire for a house that is move-in ready.

New Construction on Palm Beach: 225 West Indies Drive, Palm Beach. Listed by Hazel Rubin of Fite Shavell & Associates for $6.250M.

What house-hunters are finding is a lack of new homes, a direct consequence of the recession years, when building on the island all but ground to a halt. That means never-lived-in luxury homes, funded by developers on speculation, are rare finds indeed. Only a handful were built during the slowest years of the recession, and those have since sold, including several major waterfront spec mansions that changed hands for between $20 million and $42 million within the past two years.

Likewise, far fewer custom homes were built during the recession, sharply limiting the number of newer homes available for turn-around sales. Even good-quality renovated houses are in short supply.

New Construction on Palm Beach: Palazzo Villas, 215 Brazilian Avenue. Listed by Chris Deitz of Fite Shavell & Associates. Two townhomes priced at $6.25M & two townhomes at $6.75M.

New Construction on Palm Beach: Palazzo Villas at 215 Brazilian Avenue. Listed by Chris Deitz of Fite Shavell & Associates. Pre-Construction Pricing from $6.25M.

“What’s happening right now is that a lot of people are coming down, and they’re scrambling to find something to move into for the season,” said longtime Palm Beach builder Paul Wittmann of Wittmann Building Corp. “There is definitely a lack of newer houses.”

Over the past year, Wittmann and other builders and developers have been working feverishly to fill those gaps, especially on the house-dense North End, where houses built during the 1950s and 1960s have been ripe targets for replacement.

New home permits up

With the economic recovery, the number of demolition permits and new-home building permits issued by the town has soared over the past couple of years — and most of those are for projects on the North End. Over the past 12 months, town records show, as many as 23 permits have been issued town-wide for the construction of new houses, and many of those are custom homes. For the same period three years ago during the recession, there were just 13 new-home permits.

New Construction on Palm Beach: Cambridge House & Windsor House at 176 Sunset Avenue. Listed by Toni Hollis & Gloria More of Fite Shavell & Associates. Each Townhome Pre-Construction Priced for $6 Million.

A new analysis prepared by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach also demonstrates the breadth of recent change on the North End. The report examined house demolitions between October 2008 — the start of the recession — and July of this year. Nearly 50 percent of the demolitions occurred during the past two years.

The frenzy has left many would-be home buyers and spec developers struggling to find suitable properties on a built-out island where prices have soared, thanks to the laws of supply and demand. Compounding the problem is a tighter-than-tight inventory of houses listed for sale.

The reason for the inventory crunch? Some would-be sellers are holding onto properties while prices rise, and others don’t want to part with their homes until they’re sure they can find something to move into that’s comparable. And some simply are content to remain where they are for the time being, having emerged from the real estate bust a little more cautious about trading up.

Intense competition

The numbers tell the story: As of early last week in Palm Beach, 101 single-family homes, including townhouses, were available in Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service – the lowest number in recent memory, brokers agree. Last year’s number was 120, at the time representing a new low.

Meanwhile, available MLS-listed properties last week in the “land” category, totaled just nine, of which three were houses advertised for replacement.

No wonder that Palm Beach’s housing picture has become more competitive than ever for home buyers and their real estate agents — and developers, too.

Paula Wittmann of Fite Shavell & Associates

Take Wittmann, for example. Later this month, he will debut a Bermuda-style spec house he built in partnership with investor Peter Callahan at 235 Eden Road on a prime street in the North End. Wittmann’s wife, real estate agent Paula Wittmann of Fite Shavell & Associates, will list the four-bedroom Bermuda-style house with 6,221 square feet, inside and out, at a price of just under $7.5 million.

Paula already has gotten calls from six brokers who want to see it as soon as it’s available,” her husband said.

That’s the sort of buyer interest that has been good news for builder-developer Donald Malasky, a Palm Beacher who heads his family business, Malasky Homes. Last season, Malasky sold two North End spec houses in the British Colonial style before they were finished. A 4,916-square-foot house at 226 Jamaica Lane brought $4 million, while a 5,400-square foot home at 226 Kenlyn Road sold for $4.13 million.

Palm Beach has come back big,” said Malasky, who has broken ground on another house, intended as a spec home, of about 4,550 square feet. That four-bedroom, Mediterranean-style home in Midtown is at 310 Australian Ave. — but buyers shouldn’t get their hopes up.

“It’s pre-sold,” Malaksy said, declining to discuss the contract price. “It sold before we poured the slab.”

All about the ‘dirt’

Many of the spec projects under way are on choice North End streets within a few blocks of the Palm Beach Country Club, where some lots are 100 feet by 140 feet, far bigger than usual, said the Corcoran Group’s Bill Yahn, senior regional vice president and head of the agency’s Palm Beach office.

The size allows the lots to accommodate larger spec homes with fine interior finishes and layouts designed for indoor-outdoor living. They will carry prices big enough to justify the cost of the “dirt,” as developers and brokers call it.

“I note that (tear-down houses in) the current spec inventory — few that there are — are priced at or above $1,200 per square foot. Some of the new ones already announced by other brokers are well above $ 1,300 per square foot,” Yahn said.

Town Councilman Bill Diamond, builder Josh McAlees and developer Brian Mylett take part in a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for Palazzo Villas, a complex of four townhomes to be built on speculation at 215 Brazilian Ave. just west of South County Road. The project could be completed in 14 months, according to the development team. Pre-construction prices are $6.25 million and $6.75 million. Photo by Meghan McCarthy.

“This is consistent with the increase in prices up and down the coast of southeast Florida – and a function of the appreciation of tear-down properties being acquired by developers. It’s very difficult now to find a decent, buildable lot — large enough to accommodate a 4,000-square-foot or larger finished home — for under $2.3 million on the island.”

In today’s market, the expected price for such properties might easily exceed $3 million – especially if the property comes with amenities such as deeded beach access and the use of a neighborhood cabana, he added.

“To reward the developer for his effort and risk, a finished home on a $3 million site would likely be priced approaching $7 million. New homes priced in the $6 millions may become a thing of the past after 2015,” Yahn said.

In the Estate Section, about the closest thing to a high-end spec house on the market right now is landmarked Villa Tranquilla at 640 S. Ocean Blvd., with a price tag of $42.9 million. Thanks to a top-to-bottom, multi-year renovation and expansion that left nothing untouched, the 1923 house on the ocean — equipped with smart-home technology — is being marketed as new construction by broker Linda Gary of Linda A. Gary Real Estate. The project is just finishing up, and the house hasn’t been lived in since work began, she said.

On the higher end

Malasky is equally aware of the numbers. He said he hopes to add to his portfolio of spec projects a property in the Estate Section his company has under contract. He provided few details about the project.

“If this deal goes, we’re projecting a house (with a price tag) of a least $17 million,” he said. “It’s very difficult to buy a piece of ground right now. We’re cautious. But we know how to evaluate the market.”

Longtime Palm Beach builder and developer Dan Swanson of Addison Development, likewise, said he has already “secured” one property — although the sale hasn’t yet closed — for a new higher-end spec development. It could break ground this season, he added. And he’s working on one other potential purchase, he said, although he would not provide details about either deal.

Last season, Swanson sold the last of his two recession-era spec mansions — an oceanfront house at 101 El Bravo Way — for a recorded $30 million. He said he’d like his next project to be on a smaller-scale.

“We’ve done so many high-end projects, But there’s a big, big hole right now for (spec) houses in the $15 million to $30 million range,” he said. “And it’s hard to find the land.”

Ready to renovate?

So where does all that leave house-hunters this season? Until more would-be sellers decide to take the plunge, many shoppers just won’t have the option of buying something brand new, at least for the short term.

In the higher end, that probably means commissioning a new custom home or embarking on the renovation of an older one.

And in the lower end, brokers say, the most cost-effective option is likely to renovate — and possibly add on to — an older house on a standard-size lot. On the North End, at least, those can still be had for prices hovering at or just below the $2 million mark.

And, as builders like to say, there’s always next season.

View entire article on the Palm Beach Daily News website.

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Condo-and-commercial picture not quite as rosy, official tells Realtors.

By Darrell Hofheinz/Daily News Staff Writer Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Members of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors got some good news during their annual business meeting this month to elect their leaders for 2015.

The headline came courtesy of guest speaker Dorothy Jacks, chief deputy property appraiser at the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s office. By and large, her office’s latest estimated “market values” for single-family properties in Palm Beach have returned to pre-recession levels, Jacks said.

Cue the applause.

According to numbers prepared for the new tax rolls, the assigned values for houses and single-family residential properties on the island are estimated to total $11.1 billion. That number contrasts to the $11.3 billion recorded Jan. 1, 2008 — 11 months before the recession arrived in Palm Beach.

The picture isn’t quite as rosy for all properties on the island, however. Taken together, the value of all houses, land, condominiums, commercial buildings and other properties as of Jan. 1 of this year is estimated at $16.9 billion, compared to $17.9 billion in 2008.

Clive Stuart-Findlay of Fite Shavell & Associates

Property values will be finalized Nov. 1, although estimated bills have already been mailed to Palm Beach County property owners. Some properties’ appraised values may be adjusted later, pending appeals by their owners.

In addition to getting a little confirmation of the real estate recovery, the group also finalized its slate of new officers and directors. They’ll be installed at the annual holiday luncheon in December.

Clive Stuart-Findlay of Fite Shavell & Associates will replace outgoing president Cappy Abraham of Palm Beach Residential Properties. Tricia Ward Holloway of Ward Real Estate Services is president-elect.

Also poised to take seats at the officers’ table are Jeffrey A. Cloninger of Sotheby’s International Realty (vice president), Christine A. Franks of Wilshire International Realty (secretary) and John O. Pickett III of Barrett Welles Property Group (treasurer).

The roster of directors includes Ashley Deflin-McIntosh of Douglas Elliman, John D. Pinson of John D. Pinson Inc., Gary B. Pohrer of K2 Realty, Eric Sain of the Corcoran Group and Ava Van de Water of Brown Harris Stevens.

View entire article on the Palm Beach Daily News website.

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By Christine Davis/Special to the Daily News Townhomes for Sale in Palm Beach

Townhomes for Sale in Palm Beach

Completed in 2002, the Mediterranean-style townhouse has the look of a single-family house. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

Changes over time. That’s something homeowner Irwin Saltzman knows well.

Saltzman bought his three-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath townhome at 431 Chilean Ave. in 2004. Its size was just right — at the time — with 4,868 square feet of living space, inside and out.

Completed in 2002, the townhouse was developed by Howard and Stuart Wexelman of Redpath Investment Corp. in Boca Raton. Irvin had recently remarried, and his new wife, Barbara, wanted a home they would choose together, Irvin explains.

“I was out looking at properties, and Barbara called me saying she thought I should look at this (property). And I walked in the front door and said I’d take it. She said, ‘You are not negotiating?’ And I said, ‘Do you want the house or not?’ And she said she loved the house, so I bought it.”

In the living room of a townhouse at 431 Chilean Ave., a recessed ceiling has decorative details in the same wood finish used for the French doors and the plantation shutters. The townhouse has been priced $4.595 million by Fite Shavell & Associates. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

And he loved it, too. But after Barbara’s death in 2012, he found he needed more room to accommodate visits by his extended family, which includes five children, two stepchildren, 13 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

“I didn’t have enough room, not enough bedrooms or parking spaces. And the family visits often,” Saltzman said.

So he’s already moved to a home a few blocks away with almost double the square footage, and has, in turn, offered his townhome for sale through agent Trina Lane of Fite Shavell & Associates for $4.595 million.

A curved balustrade echoes the shape of the raised whirlpool spa behind the townhouse s private pool. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

The two-story building has the exterior trimmings typical of the Mediterranean style, including a barrel-tile roof and arched windows. The front door, too, is arched and distinguished by a frontispiece.

One approaches the house via a brick driveway through gates and a line of hedges.

“The interior of the house is just perfect,” Saltzman said. “The house was not furnished, and the interior decorator was my wife.”

Hardwood floors area used in the master suite, including this sitting room. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

The architectural details gave her a good start, with mahogany trim around the windows, and French doors and decorative moldings and ceilings throughout. There are travertine floors in the main areas, hardwood in the master bedroom and wall-to-wall carpeting in the guest bedrooms.

In the living room, details include an elaborate curvilinear tray ceiling and a stone mantel at the fireplace. Windows have mahogany plantation shutters, and French doors access the pool set amid landscaping that the Saltzmans had redesigned.

As in other public rooms, the formal dining room has a floor covered in travertine. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

The dining room features a coffered ceiling offset with dentil molding, and the island-style kitchen and breakfast room have beamed ceilings. The kitchen has granite countertops, white custom cabinetry and professional grade appliances.

Off of the breakfast room through a large archway is a family room. Both rooms, offer views of the pool area.

Near the stairs and elevator, a sculpture is displayed in an open-arched partition. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

The center hallway just off of the foyer features a wrought-iron balcony and an open-arched partition doubles as a sculpture niche. Nearby are the home’s elevator, laundry area and entry into the two-car garage.

Upstairs, both guest bedrooms have marble-appointed bathrooms. The master suite has an adjoining sitting room and two bathrooms, also with marble detailing. French doors in the master bedroom open to a Juliet-style balcony that overlooks the pool.

While Saltzman did not make structural changes, he added a full-house generator and a tankless hot-water system. He also replaced the pool heater and installed an energy-efficient air-conditioning system.

An archway separates the breakfast area and island-style kitchen from the family room. Photo by Daniel Millay, VHT Studios, courtesy of Fite Shavell.

“The location is great,” he said. “It’s close to everything and has been a delightful house to live in.”

Not that he spends all that much time at home. His extended family lives in wide-ranging locations, as far flung as England, Arizona and the state of Washington.

“I’m blessed with a family where everyone gets along,” he said. “It’s kind of fun. When my son who lives in England remarried, we all just jumped on planes and went over.”

Still, it’s always nice to return home. Originally from Pennsylvania, Saltzman has lived in town since 2000.

“I love Palm Beach,” he said. “It’s a great community.”

View entire article on the Palm Beach Daily News website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Homes for Sale in Old Palm Golf Club

Homes for Sale in Old Palm Golf Club

Offered is an exquisite Montsorrel model on half an acre in exclusive Old Palm Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens. The home at 11733 Valeros Court features five bedrooms, 6½ bathrooms, an office, two lofts and 6,480 square feet of living space. This spectacular custom estate home offers spectacular views of lush private landscaping.

The well-designed floor plan offers every imaginable luxurious upgrade, including a gourmet kitchen with the finest appliances and an oversized kitchen island with dining area, plus walk-in pantry. Beautiful marble, stone and wood flooring is featured throughout, as well as fine moldings and coffered ceilings.

The large master suite features sitting area, with dual walk-in closets and luxurious master bathrooms. The spacious outdoor living area features a heated custom pool and spa, summer kitchen and tropical landscaping. The custom audio/video system, tinted impact glass, 40-kilowatt generator, custom mahogany front doors, 18’’ saturnia floors, arched doorways and French doors are just a few of the upgrades this home offers. The light-filled formal living room with floor to ceiling windows is accented by arched entryways and soaring ceilings. The gourmet kitchen is a chef’s dream with custom cabinetry, granite counters/backsplash, large center island, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Dacor 6 burner range, Sub-Zero freezer and refrigerated drawers, Dacor doublewall oven, double drawer dishwasher, desk, and granite butler pantry with wine cooler.

Old Palm Golf Club offers privacy with luxury and superior services. The 18-hole championship golf course was designed by Raymond Floyd and features a 19th hole and private golf studio that offers three practice holes. The clubhouse features private dining, board room, wine room, concierge services, fitness center, pool and spa, and overnight guest accommodations.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the home at $2,775,000. The agent is Linda Bright, 561- 629- 4995, lbright@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Homes for Sale in Ocean Ridge

Homes for Sale in Ocean Ridge

Deeded beach access and wide ocean views are just part of what makes this Key West style coastal property a dream house. Designed for ease and comfort, this 3-bedroom 2.5-bathroom and one car garage pool home is warm and inviting and ready to move in.

East of A1A and 190 feet to the Atlantic, the home at 38 Hersey Drive in Ocean Ridge features a stunning, recently updated kitchen, porcelain tile floors, fireplace, new laundry room and architectural details at every turn.

Outside, a saline pool with new tile and premium surface finish, marble patio, custom exterior lighting and professional landscaping are just a few of the items that make this home a show stopper and a must-see for any beach lover.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the home at $1,150,000. The agent is Val Coz, 561-386-8011, vcoz@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Homes for Sale in West Palm Beach

Homes for Sale in West Palm Beach

This spectacular Intracoastal waterfront property is one of only eight in West Palm Beach with its own private beach and private deep-water boat dock.

The large ranch style home at 2914 Washington Road currently offers three bedrooms and 4.5 baths — but could easily become a five-bedroom home — a large oversized two-car garage, a covered patio overlooking the pool and an awesome backyard. The water views from every room are incredible and the view from the dock is all the way to Singer Island. The property is walled and electronically gated, offering extreme privacy, yet located in the middle of everything you would want from Palm Beach County.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the home at $2,950,000. The agent is Steve Simpson, 561-262-6263, ssimpson@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Homes for Sale in Delray Beach

Homes for Sale in Delray Beach

The Grove at Lake Ida is an enclave of exquisitely designed single-family residences in Delray Beach’s popular Lake Ida community.

In this prime residential neighborhood, Seaside Builders brings an unparalleled level of finish and quality matched with sound financial stability. Seaside Builders’ proven success, deep resources and forward-thinking design enable them to bring The Grove at Lake Ida to the marketplace.

Linda Lake of Fite Shavell & Associates

Presenting timeless Florida vernacular architecture, outdoor living spaces, sidewalks and front porches, The Grove is located just a short walk to the beautiful shores of Lake Ida and Lake Eden, and just minutes to the pristine beaches of the Atlantic and vibrant downtown Delray Beach’s shops, galleries and restaurants.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the residences at $1,450,000 to $1,550,000. The agent is Linda Lake, 561-702- 4898, llake@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY New Townhomes for Sale on Palm Beach

New Townhomes for Sale on Palm Beach

Palazzo Villas are the first luxury exclusive villa residences to be built on the Island in 15 years. Located at 215 Brazilian Avenue in the heart of Palm Beach, amidst the renowned shops of Worth Avenue, the best restaurants and white sandy beaches, Palazzo Villas offers the ultimate lifestyle.

This exclusive gated complex features four exquisitely designed residences, each in excess of 6,000 square feet. The individually designed villas offer four bedrooms plus a den, oversized family rooms, deluxe master suites, summer kitchens, heated pools and spas. Palazzo Villas implements the latest construction, featuring impact glass, cast stone driveways, custom two car garages, stone staircases, elevators, high ceilings and generators. State-of-the-art custom cabinetry, fixtures and Lutron lighting as well as a private key pad entry and digital security system offer the perfect Palm Beach home for the most discerning buyers.

Please visit www.PalazzoVillas.com for more information.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the villas at $6,250,000 to $6,750,000. The agent is Chris Deitz, 561- 373-4544, cdeitz@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

This 1925 Mediterranean four-bedroom, four-bathroom home features a one-bedroom, one-bath detached cottage.

Located at 339 Cocoanut Row, the home is in the center of Palm Beach, located near shops, restaurants and the beach. The property is currently divided into three rental units. There is an opportunity to convert the property back into a single family home.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the home at $2,350,000. The agent is Martin Conroy, 561-523-6148, mconroy@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Home for Sale in El Cid

Homes for Sale in El Cid

This beautiful 1925 Mediterranean house is on the lake block of Barcelona Road in West Palm Beach. It is one of the most sought-after streets in historic El Cid. The home at 259 Barcelona Road offers views of the Intracoastal from the second floor.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home features a gourmet kitchen, butler’s pantry featuring a wet bar, wine cooler and beverage center. Offered are large rooms, high ceilings, custom built-ins and crown molding throughout. The home was updated in 2006. It features a detached garage with a one-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage.

Fite Shavell & Associates lists the home at $1,595,000. The agent is Martin Conroy, 561-523-6148, mconroy@fiteshavell.com.

View entire article on the Florida Weekly website.

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