The latest Evans Report sales analysis shows plenty of shoe leather hit the pavement during the first half of this year, when the number of house sales rose substantially over the same period last year.
The increase both reflects lower home prices and more confidence in the island’s real estate market, said Leslie Evans, the Palm Beach real estate attorney and property owner who prepares the reports.
“I’m optimistic. We’re seeing a big increase in sales,” said Evans, whose firm provides legal services to real estate agencies and their clients. “If people didn’t think (prices) had bottomed out, they wouldn’t be buying here.”
His analysis shows that 81 single-family homes sold during the first and second quarters of this year, compared to 60 in the first six months of 2010. In the first half of 2009, when the real estate slump tightened its grip on the island, just 38 single-family homes changed hands.
Condo sales picture mixed
On the condominium scene, the report reveals a fairly stagnant market overall, with 157 Palm Beach condominiums sold during the first half of this year — just five more than sold during the first half of 2010.
Still, condo sales were up substantially north of Sloan’s Curve, with the number of transactions rising from 51 in the first half of 2010 to 67 for the same period this year. But the median condo sales price in the same area, which includes the many Midtown buildings, was down — from $869,000 last year to $625,000. The median is the price at which half the properties sold for more and half for less.
In the northern area, the highest-priced condominium during the period covered in the report was March’s $4.5 million sale in the Leverett House at 110 Sunset Ave., followed the same month by a $3.77 million sale in the Palm Beach Biltmore. Another three condos sold in the area for more than $2 million.
In the less-expensive Condominium Row area south of Sloan’s Curve, however, fewer condos sold during the first half of this year than in the same period of 2010. The number of transactions dropped this year to 90 from last year’s 101. But the median sales price there increased from $300,000 to $327,000, as buyers returned to the market and snapped up better-quality and pricier properties. That has left the market glutted with older, outdated units in lower price ranges, according to real estate brokers and agents.
Single-family action heats up
Although more single-family homes found new owners during the first six months of 2011, the report’s sales-price profile for them isn’t clear-cut. The median price of the homes sold in the first half of 2011 clocked in at $2.4 million, compared to $2.9 million for the same period last year. But when the sales prices of all of the homes sold are averaged, the number comes out to $5.1 million, higher than the $4.7 million average recorded for the first half of 2010.
Following longtime trends, there were more house sales in the second quarter of this year — 54 — than in the first quarter, when 27 changed hands.
Several price categories were substantially more active during the first half of this year than they were last year. For instance, five homes sold for more than $20 million between Jan.1 through June 30 of this year, compared to the sole house sold during the same period last year.
Also seeing more activity were homes sold in the middle range — between $5 million and $10 million. Last year nine sold in that category during the first six months, while 14 sales were recorded in the latest report.
But the price category that saw the largest increase in the number of transactions involved houses that sold for less than $2.5 million. That bread-and-butter category likely reflected changing attitudes among sellers, who finally agreed to take less for their houses than they would have the year before. The report showed that 41 houses changed hands this year versus 25 last year.
As for a geographic breakdown of the single-family home sales, the report showed that the most activity occurred in the North End, where the number of sales in the first six months rose from 43 last year to 48 this year. The median price in that area this year was $2.06 million, versus $2.35 million last year. The highest-dollar home sale in the area was 102 Canterbury Lane, which sold in March for $26.4 million. In the Midtown area, 15 single-family homes sold in the first six months of this year, compared to 10 in the first half of 2010. The median price there fell from about $3.21 million last year to about $2.21 million this year.
The South End and Estate Section saw the greatest number of sales of higher-end homes, the report confirmed. Eighteen houses changed hands there in the first half of this year, versus seven in the same period last year. And six of the 2011 sales were priced at more than $11 million.
The report showed the median sales price in the South End and Estate Section was down to about $8.6 million in 2011, compared from $11.6 million in 2010. The least expensive home changing hands there was 221 El Vedado Way, which sold in March for $3.8 million, while the most expensive was 40 Blossom Way, which brought $29.15 million in May. The latter remains the highest-dollar sale so far this year.
In all, $405 million worth of single-family homes and $106 million worth of condominiums changed hands during the first half of this year throughout Palm Beach.
“That’s over a half-billion (dollars in sales),” Evans said. “We’re on track for a billion dollars (by the end of) 2011.”
The report also showed that like last year, there were no single-family homes sold in foreclosure during the first half of this year. But the report recorded five such units among the condos and cooperatives that changed hands. For the same period last year, nine apartments sold in foreclosure.
Evans said he and his staff compile sales and price figures from a variety of sources, including public records, newspaper articles and multiple listing services.