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Threshold for entry-level PB homes trending upward, latest Evans Report shows.

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

By Darrell Hofheinz/Daily News Real Estate Writer

The island’s turbulent years of boom, bust and recovery have largely become but a memory, a new real estate sales analysis shows.

The number of sales of single-family properties and condominiums during the first nine months of this year are about on an even keel with the same period a year ago, according to the latest Evans Report, released last week by Palm Beach real estate lawyer and property owner Leslie R. Evans.

But sales prices are up, reflecting a sellers’ market where the inventory of available properties remains tight and where buyers have often found themselves in bidding wars.

Axel Ulrich’s renovated three-bedroom house at 209 Tradewind Drive on the North End sold for a recorded $3.3 million in July, one of many sales during the first nine months of the year that boosted activity for homes priced between $2.5 million and $5 million, according to the latest Evans Report. Agents Toni Hollis and Gloria More of Fite Shavell & Associates were the listing agents opposite Stephanie Lefes of Royal Palm International Real Estate, representing buyer Alexander T. Harvey. Photo by

In fact, the lowest-price categories for both single-family homes and condos are simply evaporating as prices outstrip them. The report shows, for example, that 76 single-family properties changed hands at prices below $2.5 million during the first nine months of 2013. For the same period this year, there were just 56 sales in that price category.

“What you’re seeing is that prices for entry-level homes are moving up,” Evans said in an interview last week. “Entry-level prices used to be (well) below $2.5 million. Now, they’re (often) in the $2.5 million to $5 million range. It’s become harder to find anything below $2.5 million.”

In turn, the single-family price category between $2.5 million and $5 million saw sales rise 11 percent, the greatest percentage jump of any segment in the report.

“You’ve heard of that phrase, ‘A rising tide raises all boats?’ That’s what’s happening,” Evans said. “It’s supply and demand.”

More big sales

During the first three quarters of this year, 149 single-family houses, townhouses and vacant lots changed hands town-wide for a grand total of about $803 million. During the same period last year, several more property properties sold — 156 — but the overall amount of dollars changing hands totaled just $693 million.

The report’s cumulative single-family pricing data reflects the fact that more properties sold for $10 million or more between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 this year than during the same period of 2013. Twenty-one sales in that price category occurred this year compared to 11 last year during the months analyzed.

At the top of the price scale, the numbers in the first three quarters were especially notable: Eight homes sold for $20 million this year versus only three in 2013.

On the condominium scene, the trends are similar — 284 condos and cooperatives changed hands in the first nine months of this year, compared to 289 in the same period of 2013. But this year, more condos sold at higher prices, with 30 sales recorded at $2 million or more, according to the report. That category saw just 21 transactions last year.

At the lowest end of the condo price scale, the numbers reveal that buyers were finding far fewer bargains. For the nine-month periods covered in the report, the number of condos that sold for $250,000 or less dropped from 83 last year to 67 this year.

New homes fetch higher prices

The median price of single-family properties that sold during the first three quarters of this year was $3 million, up about $463,000 over the figure for the same period of 2013. The median price is the price at which half of the properties sold for more and half for less.

The report also spotlights how rising prices in the middle and lower ranges have affected sales. In the first three quarters of last year, 33 single-family properties changed hands for between $5 million and $10 million. This year, that number fell to 25.

Clive Stuart-Findlay of Fite Shavell & Associates

At least part of the reason for that drop is linked to the limited number of new homes available for sale on the North End and in Midtown. Developers — hit hard by the recession years — are today scrambling to get new houses built on speculation into the pipeline, only to be stymied, in some cases, by rising land prices that might affect their profit margins.

In any case, the new homes that are being built are selling for far more than they did at the start of 2013, said Clive Stuart-Findlay, who will be inaugurated Wednesday as president of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors.

“The entry level of a newly built four-bedroom home on the North End starts at about $6 million, which is much higher than it was just 18 months ago,” Stuart-Findlay said.

Third-quarter numbers

The report also compared third-quarter sales figures for this year and 2013. In the single-family segment, 41 houses sold during the first nine months of this year at a median price of $3.78 million. That compares to 39 sold during the same time frame last year, when the median price was $3.2 million.

In a similar comparison of third-quarter condo sales, the number of deals dropped from 77 last year to 62 this year. But median prices were up nearly 30 percent, from $405,500 in 2013 to $523,000 this year.

Evans and his son, attorney Jason Evans, compile the report using data from public records, media reports and multiple listing services. The analysis differs from others prepared or commissioned by real estate agencies, which solely analyze MLS data. As a result, the latter typically don’t include off-the-market sales recorded by the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office, Evans said.

The report can be viewed at

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

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

If Palm Beach real estate were a melody, the season that just ended wasn’t exactly the same song as last season. But it wasn’t an entirely new tune, either.

And the tempo has certainly picked up over the past few months.

“This market is robust. I’ve been going nonstop, as I’m sure other brokers have on the island,” said Cappy Abraham, president of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors and the broker at Palm Beach Residential Properties. “There’s been an explosion.”

Since mid-October, inventory of better-quality single-family homes and condominiums for sale has remained tight. And those properties that have arrived on the market have often been snapped up within weeks — sometimes, even a few days — of being listed, often sparking bidding wars in the process.

4 El Bravo Way, Palm Beach. Listed by Jack Elkins & Bunny Hiatt of Fite Shavell & Associates.

Faced with a market in which many homeowners are still reluctant to part with their homes, house-hunters have heeded the advice of their real estate agents: If you see it and like it, make an offer — today, if possible. It might not be there tomorrow.

The big change that occurred late in the season was directly related to a competitive market, driven by limited supply and high demand: Properties that sold did so at higher prices, according to sales figures from the Palm Beach Multiple Listing Service and the Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller’s Office.

The median price of all single-family homes that changed hands during the first three months of this year, for example, was $3.1 million, compared to $2.8 million for the same period a year ago. That’s according to MLS data parsed by the Douglas Elliman agency.

In the condominium market for the same period, the median price this year was $547,500 compared to $397,500 last year.

In any event, no deal during the past seven months came close to matching the largest of last season, in which limited liability companies associated with Chicago hedge-funder Kenneth Griffin paid nearly $130 million for four South End properties on Blossom Way. Those private transactions, in December 2012, were brokered by Lawrence A. Moens Associates.

In fact, the total number of sales in the upper price ranges this season has lagged behind last season’s. In large part, that’s because, in late 2012, sellers were scrambling to close deals to avoid pending tax-rate changes that could have gone into effect Jan. 1, 2013, although their impact turned out to be far less dire than feared.

Number of sales drops

Last season, from Oct. 1 to May 1, some 30 deals closed at $6 million or more, according to the prices recorded by the county clerk’s office. This season, during the same period, just 20 sales were recorded in that price category. Those comparisons are for properties that were listed in the Multiple Listing Service, as well as others that changed hands privately.

Jack Elkins & Bunny Hiatt of Fite Shavell & Associates

But the current sales picture is not as bleak as the figures might suggest. An MLS search Friday of single-family listings priced at $6 million or more with sales contracts “pending” showed 10 properties ready to transfer to new owners. Among those were four properties priced above $18 million, including a 2.68-acre oceanfront estate at 540 S. Ocean Blvd. listed at nearly $48 million by the Corcoran Group.

It’s no wonder that so many brokers and their agents are consistently reporting that they are as busy as they were last season, if not busier.

And they can take heart that the inventory crunch — while still significant — is not quite as dire as it was just six months ago. In mid-October, the MLS showed just 120 single-family houses and townhomes in Palm Beach available for sale. As of early last week, that number had climbed to 134.

Of those, 25 properties are priced between $4 million and $7 million, the price category where many house-hunters end up, having found little to their liking in the lower ranges.

Most popular? Newer, renovated homes

A few other items worth noting as the season wraps up:

* After the Great Recession ground new development on the island to a virtual halt, builders and developers began returning this season, especially on the North End. Requests for building permits soared, as developers bought land, made plans and broke ground for new speculative homes — although many of the projects will likely take a year, at least, before they are ready for occupancy.

Meanwhile, buyers who purchased outdated houses during the tail end of the recession are beginning to replace them with new custom homes.

* Two notable high-end “spec” homes sold this season. An oceanfront home at 101 El Bravo Way, which had been on the market for a couple of years, changed hands in March for $30 million; and lakefront 445 Antigua Lane sold for $28.86 million in February, only a few months after it entered the MLS.

* Newer homes, or those recently renovated, remain a powerful draw for many buyers, who have expressed little interest in waiting while they build something new or renovate something older.

* With sales harder to come by, the house-rental market continues to be hot, with heftier prices and rapid turnaround.

* During the worst years of the recession, real estate agents dreamed of the day when better-quality homes would again sell for $1,000 per square foot. That threshold appears to have been reached this season; expect $1,200 per square foot to become the new standard. New homes will likely sell for even more. And although prices for lakefront, oceanfront and newly constructed residences have yet to consistently hit pre-recession levels, the gap continues to narrow.

* The long-troubled South End condo market saw prices rise this season — although there’s still plenty of room for appreciation. However, in Midtown, the price picture wasn’t quite as rosy as it was last season. And like the single-family market, things improved as the season progressed. Outdated units continue to offer an opportunity for investors who want to renovate for resale.

All of which has many real estate agents banking on a summer filled with sales that will ring as music to their ears.


Here’s a snapshot, in descending order, of the deals recorded at $10 million or more from Oct. 1 to May 1. Prices listed are those recorded by the Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller’s Office.


$30 million101 El Bravo Way

In March, a company controlled by island real estate investor and businessman James A. Patterson — no relation to the best-selling novelist — sold an oceanfront “spec” mansion, built by Dan Swanson at 101 El Bravo Way, to oilman Thomas D. O’Malley and his wife, Mary Alice. Jim McCann of the Corcoran Group was the listing agent, opposite broker Linda Olsson of Linda R. Olsson Inc. The sale marked Palm Beach’s largest residential transaction since June 2013.


$28.86 million445 Antigua Lane

In February, members of the Frisbie family sold the lakefront “spec” house they had developed to Colonial LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. Listing agent Suzanne Frisbie of the Corcoran Group acted opposite Corcoran agent Jim McCann.


$28.5 million1275 S. Ocean Blvd.

In December, Bruce L. and Sandra Hammonds sold their lakefront estate to a Delaware entity likely linked to Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. The deed showed that the house was bought by a limited liability company named after the property’s address. Sotheby’s International Realty agent Cristina Condon handled both sides.


$25.46 million120 Jungle Road

In March, Silver Lady Palm Beach LLC — controlled by Mark Brentlinger — sold historic Villa Invernale at 120 Jungle Road to Jungle Road LLC. Representing the buyer, Lawrence A. Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates — and listing agents Paulette Koch and Dana Koch of the Corcoran Group — said the extensively renovated house fetched the highest price ever paid for a non-waterfront property in Palm Beach.


$19.8 million4 El Bravo Way

In February, Jan Holdings LLC of Delaware bought El Castillo, James “Jim” Held and Kenn Karakul’s landmarked house at 4 El Bravo Way. The buyer was linked to the investment firm co-founded by Palm Beacher Henry Kravis, according to the deed. Jack Elkins and Bunny Hiatt of Fite Shavell & Associates were the listing agents, and Cristina Condon of Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer.


$14 millionIl Lugano Unit 5A and Guest Suite 2, 300 Seminole Ave.

At the end of April, Raymond L. and Linda Golden sold their fifth-floor condominium and a separate guest suite to TPTS LLC, a Florida limited liability company, in an off-the-market deal put together by broker Lawrence A. Moens of Lawrence Moens Associates. It was the second-priciest condo deal ever on the island, according to property records.


$13.4 million10 S. Lake Trail

A limited liability company named after mutual-fund manager Charles “Chuck” M. Royce and his wife, Deborah, in January bought The Lido, a landmarked 1920 lakefront house, in a private deal. Ralph and Calla Guild were the sellers, represented by agent Betsey Hall of Hall Real Estate. She acted opposite agent Suzanne Frisbie of the Corcoran Group.


$12.075 million5 and 6 Ocean Lane

Montreal residents H. Greg and Chantal Chamandy sold their North End oceanfront vacant lot and an adjacent empty parcel in December 2013. The buyer was 6 Ocean Lane LLC, a limited liability company associated with luxury custom-home builder Mark Pulte. The company paid $7.475 million for the oceanfront half-acre lot and $4.6 million for the attached smaller lot. Lawrence A. Moens of Lawrence A Moens Associates Inc. handled both sides.


$11.5 million1230 N. Ocean Blvd. and 1233 N. Ocean Way

In April, Deaj Properties Ltd. of Canada sold two adjacent properties on the North End to Palm Beacher Gene Reed Jr. Broker Christian J. Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate handled both sides of the off-the-market deal, which included an oceanfront house at 1230 N. Ocean Blvd. and a house immediately to the west at 1233 N. Ocean Way. Deaj Properties Ltd. is controlled by Toronto businessman David Feldberg.



Worth Avenue saw a notable commercial sale in January, when the 150 Worth shopping center and the Neiman Marcus building, across the street at 151 Worth Ave., changed hands in separate sales totaling $146 million. New York-based O’Connor Capital Partners bought the properties on behalf of an institutional client.

Two entities associated with the Goodman Co. sold both buildings to a pair of Delaware limited liability companies with similar names, according to the deeds. Wilson 150 Worth LLC bought 150 Worth, for a recorded $106 million. Wilson 151 Worth LLC acquired the Neiman Marcus building and a vacant lot, at 157 Peruvian Ave., for $40 million.

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

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

This vintage home at 322 Clark Ave. with a beamed ceiling in the living room is listed for sale at $10.895 million by Fite Shavell & Associates.Photo by Robert Stevens, courtesy of Fite Shavell & Associates.

A Mediterranean-style home built around 1920 at 322 Clarke Ave. has a colorful history. Named Villa Filipponi, it was constructed for Count Carlo Filipponi and Countess Laurietta Ford von Stresenreuter Filipponi, the grandmother of Palm Beacher Frank Butler.

A Landmarks Preservation Commission report says the original architect of the house is unknown, but whoever it was had a highly developed artistic sense. The handsome architectural details include a clay barrel-tile roof, applied ornamentation, asymmetrical windows, wrought iron-railed balconies, decorative tiles and Corinthian columns. The Midtown home entered the town’s list of protected landmarks in 2001.

The home’s colorful past also includes an artist’s palette or two. Marilyn and Emmet Tracy bought the home in 1997 from artist Thomas McKnight and his wife, Renate.

“They lived here for a number of years before they moved to Litchfield, Conn., because he wanted a studio that would give him the room to paint large works,” Emmet Tracy said. “They made changes to the house, as did Patricia Morris and George Gillett when they lived here.”

The grounds surrounding the house on Clarke Avenue are lushly landscaped.

Architect Jeffery Smith of the Smith Architectural Group completed extensive work in 1990 for the McKnights, projects detailed in the landmarks designation report. The changes included the addition of a loggia and pool pavilion, and a 1,200-square-foot addition to the southwest corner of the house.

“The McKnights knocked down the house next door, which gave them the space for the gardens,” Tracy said.

When she established the gardens, Renate McKnight worked closely with landscaping designer Victoria Barton.

“Renate was so resistant to selling,” Tracy said. “She flies down here occasionally and comes over to see the gardens.”

Once the Tracys bought the home, they worked their own magic on it. In 2004, they expanded a sitting room, built an adjacent outdoor pergola, expanded the guest apartment and garage, and commissioned landscape designer Mario Nievera to create brick curved walkways throughout the garden.

Marilyn and Emmet Tracy

Marilyn Tracy decorated the interiors with the help of New York designer Charlie Moon, and she made design changes and additions to the garden “to the point where it was named to the Smithsonian honor roll of gardens in spring 2013,” Emmet Tracy said. “It’s a real attraction, and it’s been a very satisfying effort for my wife, to bring the transition from what it was when Renate had it.”

His wife mentions her own favorite spots in the gardens.

“I really love the potting shed and the orchid house,” Marilyn Tracy said. “I enjoy orchids, and the way that Mario designed the (winding) paths, there are five places that open up to the center of the garden. I think it’s a wonderful garden.”

The Tracys, however, are making plans to downsize. They’ve listed their seven-bedroom house – with seven bathrooms and two half-baths — through agent Thor M. Brown of Fite Shavell & Associates. Priced at $10.895 million, the house has 7,682 square feet of living space, inside and out.

Floors throughout most of the downstairs area are covered in Cuban tile. The covered entry, an addition designed by Smith, leads to a stately foyer and stair hall. To the east are the pergola and sitting room, the latter with a pecky-cypress ceiling and windows as well as French doors topped by fanlights. The room offers views of the garden.

Thor M. Brown of Fite Shavell & Associates

To the west, the two-story living room has a first-floor hallway and a second-floor arcade running along the south side. Archways lead into the hallway, where French doors open to a covered loggia with views of the patio and pool.

Features in the living room include a fireplace with a stone mantel; the room is crowned by a slanted cypress ceiling decorated with stenciling. West of the hallway are the dining room, a butler’s pantry, and the island-style kitchen equipped with stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops and a tile backsplash. The breakfast area has banquette seating.

Terra-cotta walls and a yellow ceiling lend drama to the dining room, which has a niche to display art, a small fireplace, antiqued-gold woodwork around the casement windows and French doors that lead onto a dining patio.

The main foyer opens to a stair hall detailed with arched-glass windows and a stone stairway with wrought-iron balustrades.

Upstairs and north of the landing is a guest-bedroom suite in which French doors open onto balconies. Two home offices to the south were used by the McKnights as an office and studio. Details in this area include high-gloss white floors, built-in stucco-clad shelving, a skylight, a Juliet-style balcony, a stairway to the rooftop, a window seat and touches of pecky cypress.

The second-floor arcade – with a wall lined in bookshelves beneath the windows — takes one to a master suite comprising a bedroom, sitting room and bath. The bath has a soaking tub, a walk-in shower, marble appointments and a floor of coral key stone.

Off of the pool courtyard, meanwhile, is a dining pavilion as well as a garage with a guest apartment above.

To the east of the house are gardens with specimen trees and, among the outbuildings, a little hut with a thatched roof, that has been enjoyed over the years by the Tracys’ grandchildren. Among the trees are a collection of Washingtonia palms.

“Some of them have grown many feet since we’ve lived here,” Marilyn Tracy said.

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Buyers snap up homes, condos as supply dwindles and agents search for sellers.  Homes for Sale in Palm Beach 

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

By Darrell Hofheinz/Daily News Real Estate Writer

With demand way up and housing inventory sharply down, Palm Beach this season promises to be a town where the art of the deal may require even more artfulness than usual, according to island real estate professionals.

So don’t be surprised if many of the properties that change hands over the next several months do so privately — without ever entering the two multiple listing services that serve the island.

“I think the market is very strong, although we have such limited inventory right now,” said broker Linda Olsson of Linda R. Olsson Inc. Realtor. “But there are plenty of privately listed properties. Properties are moving so quickly, people are not even listing them anymore. Frankly, they’re not even making it into MLS.”

Buoyed by the economic recovery and pent-up demand, post-recession buyers have returned to the island in droves. Although brokers encountered a busy sales season last winter and spring, the warmer months proved just as active, said Palm Beach-based Bill Yahn, the Corcoran Group’s senior regional vice president for Florida operations.

“It’s really bizarre. The phrase ‘the season’ is kind of a misnomer for us now. We were as busy during the past summer as we were during the previous season,” he said.

Although they don’t reflect off-the-market sales, figures in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors MLS show that recent closings for houses, vacant land and condominiums beat last year’s summer transactions. From June 1 to Oct. 9 of this year, 59 single-family properties changed hands, compared to 38 during the same period in 2012.

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s International Realty’s latest “Market Update” report compares MLS single-family sales data from the first three quarters of this year to last year’s figures. In the first nine months of 2012, 80 properties changed hands. This year, that number climbed to 128.

‘More demand’

Condo sales during the summer also were better, although the numbers weren’t quite as dramatic — 107 this year versus 97 last year, according to the MLS. In fact, the condo market, which had lagged far behind the single-family recovery, finally appears to be back on track, said Scott Gordon, whose Scott Gordon Realty in Manalapan specializes in sales of condos and cooperative units.

“This was the first summer in maybe five years that we conducted a lot of business, and that’s great. We’re back to a year-round market,” he said. “There’s a level of confidence among buyers and sellers we haven’t seen before.”

The island’s overall property values are up as well, scraping levels last seen at the height of the real estate boom, according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s office. For this year’s tax rolls, the overall “total market values” of property in town is $9.9 billion, based on 2012 sales, said county Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits. In 2007, that number was $10 billion.

Echoing other real estate observers, broker Christian Angle of Christian J. Angle Real Estate credits a variety of forces for sparking demand — historically low interest rates, escalating numbers of retiring baby boomers and more young families eyeing Palm Beach as their primary home.

“There’s more demand in general on our market, which has become a year-round market. It’s no longer just seasonal,” he said.

Angle and others also have seen more people seeking a residential haven from states that impose their own income taxes and estate taxes, neither of which is levied in Florida. Transplanted New Englanders have always been on that list, but brokers also have noticed a strong influx of house-hunters from California — an unusual demographic for Palm Beach.

David Fite of Fite Shavell & Associates

“We’re seeing a lot of people from California, Illinois and New York,” said David Fite, who owns Fite Shavell & Associates. “People are just fed up with taxing — and over-taxing.”

Limited inventory

In any event, the resulting uptick in sales has kept real estate agents busy, even if house-hunters this season will be frustrated to find that the available housing stock has simply failed to keep up with the continuing demand.

As of early last week, just 112 single-family houses and eight townhomes in Palm Beach were available for sale in the island’s MLS, the lowest number in recent memory, brokers say. Of the houses, seven also were being marketed as buildable lots, complementing an additional 14 land listings.

And according to the MLS figures cited in the Sotheby’s report, in the third quarter of this year, there were 157 single-family properties “active listings,” compared to 214 the year before.

It’s a similar story in the condominium market, Gordon said.

“Right now on the South End, there are 260 apartments on the market. And last year, we were probably at around 350,” he said. “Inventory is being absorbed, which is a great thing, and there’s just not a lot of inventory coming back onto the market. Anything that is nicely outfitted and finished with an exceptional view doesn’t last more than a week.”

When it comes to single-family homes, you can blame the tight inventory on lingering effects of the downturn, real estate professionals agree. Except for a few exceptions, never-lived-in houses just aren’t available because developers and builders only began returning to the island late last year. Once again enjoying ample credit lines, they have been buying land and readying plans for projects, none of which will be finished for at least a year.

Likewise, during the first sputtering years of the recovery, home buyers bought dozens of outdated homes, especially on the more affordable North End. They either have started planning custom replacements or remodeling the existing houses, with no intention of selling anytime soon.

“The builders are back. You can’t drive up a street in Palm Beach without seeing significant construction,” Yahn said. “But we’re short on potential tear-downs. In the Estate Section, for instance, there are only 10 or 12 properties that have not been landmarked or maintained. Most properties are landmarked, renovated or fairly new.”

The tight inventory has sent developers searching fervently for vacant land or outdated houses that they can demolish to build homes without specific buyers in mind.

“Builders have been reaching out to us,” Fite said. “Many builders have called us, and they’re looking for land — everything from interior lots to oceanfront to the Intracoastal (Waterway).”

126 Casa Bendita, Palm Beach. Listed by Kerry Warwick & Roger Warwick of Fite Shavell & Associates.

Likewise, private investors have returned to the market. This summer, for instance, entities linked to Palm Beachers Barbara Stovall Smith and her husband, hedge-funder Randall “Randy” Smith, bought at least seven Palm Beach houses at prices ranging from just under $2 million to more than $6 million, spending more than $23 million on the North End and in Midtown. Some of those properties already were leased when purchased, while others were immediately advertised for rent by agent Tina Roberts of Sotheby’s. And one house — 126 Casa Bendita — was re-sold privately at more than a $2 million profit within just a few weeks.

Reluctant to sell?

In the wake of so much activity, home buyers are competing for what’s left on the market. They have snapped up better-quality homes quickly — sometimes within weeks or even days of the properties entering the market, Fite said.

“We have seen bidding wars going on — and people getting their asking prices. We hadn’t seen that in a while,” he said. “Sellers are in a much stronger position than they were a year ago.”

The most active price segment for single-family homes in Palm Beach is in the lower to lower-mid price ranges — and those properties are typically on the North End or on certain streets in Midtown, Yahn said.

“The sweet spot of the market seems to be between $2.5 million and $6 million,” he said.

Still, many homeowners have yet to make the leap into the market, brokers agree, either because they don’t feel any real pressure to sell, they aren’t satisfied with the pricing picture, or they don’t want the hassle of showing their homes to buyers during the season.

And some would-be sellers aren’t sure where they would move, given the lack of properties on the market, said Ava Van de Water, broker of Brown Harris Stevens in Palm Beach and president of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors.

“Many sellers are saying, ‘Gee, I better look where I can go before I actually sign the papers to list my home to sell.’ They are very aware that there’s low inventory, so they go out first and look at what’s on the market that they might want to buy,” she said.

Deals on the down low

Brokers say they expect more listings to appear within the next few weeks, a typical occurrence accompanying the advent of the season. But they still expect inventory to remain tight.

And that means agents will likely be involved in more private deals this season. In some cases, a seller who doesn’t want his or her property to be listed in MLS will forgo the more widespread exposure in favor of working with an agent to privately market it in a so-called “pocket listing.” And that means relying on the agent’s network of contacts in the real estate community to get the word out.

In other deals, an agent working with a would-be buyer may be aware of a property that would fit the client’s needs but isn’t on the market. And that means a phone call to the owner — often with an offer — is in order.

“Everything is available at the right price, whether it’s listed or not,” said Fite, adding that house-hunters who solely rely on the Internet to identify properties for sale may miss out on a potential buy.

In fact, the summer’s largest sales in three categories — for single-family homes, vacant land and condos — involved private sales :

* The highest-dollar single-family sale so far this year, one that made national headlines: In May, radio shock-talk personality Howard Stern paid a recorded $52 million through a limited liability company for Martin and Diane Trust’s oceanfront estate at 601 N. County Road. The deal and several related ones, all totaling more than $71 million, were orchestrated by Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates. Moens, who is known for putting together complex off-the-market sales, never confirmed the identity of the buyer in this one.

* Moens also put together the year’s biggest land deal, involving nearly 2 vacant acres on Maddock Way. The June deal included two lakefront parcels that were not on the market when they sold to three Delaware entities for a combined $18.42 million. A third dry lot in the same deal sold for $5.7 million, but it had been listed in the MLS by agent Jim McCann of the Corcoran Group.

* The most expensive condominium ever sold in Palm Beach changed hands privately in May. Lee and Laura Munder sold their lakefront penthouse — No. 6A in Il Lugano, 300 Seminole Ave. — for a recorded $17.45 million to a company associated with the Tisch family of Loews Corp. McCann confirmed he was involved in the deal but wouldn’t comment further.

‘Patience’ a watchword

Overall, the volatile housing market is writing its own rules, said broker Linda Gary of Linda A. Gary Real Estate, who is urging would-be sellers to take advantage of the strong market.

“This is what I tell sellers: Now is the best time for you to sell; the market is changing all the time. We don’t know what’s going to happen in three years,” Gary said.

Olsson agreed: “It might be the last hurrah for low interest rates and lower prices, which are only going to go higher. The time to get in is now.”

Fite, meanwhile, advises would-be buyers to have some patience.

“With the tight inventory, it’s almost impossible to find people the exact house they want,” he said. “I think buyers are becoming more flexible because there’s a lot more competition for each property.”

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

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Sometimes, what seems like a package deal turns out not to be a package deal after all.

Earl Hollis Real Estate had originally set a combined price of $10.7 million for two North End lots, outlined here in white and bordering La Puerta Way. After the westernmost lot sold separately for a recorded $2 million, Hollis set a price of $9.6 million for the larger oceanfront parcel and its 1956 house. Photo by Robert Stevens, courtesy of Earl Hollis Real Estate.

Just ask broker Earl Hollis of Earl Hollis Real Estate, who had intended to find a single buyer for a pair of adjacent North End lots properties. Together, they would have comprised an unusually deep parcel facing 126 feet of oceanfront across North Ocean Boulevard.

Hollis had set a combined price of $10.7 million for the oceanfront house at 1178 N. Ocean Blvd. and a vacant lot immediately to its west on the corner of North Ocean Way and La Puerta Way.

But things change in Palm Beach real estate, as they are wont to do. The landlocked lot to the west has changed hands for a recorded $2 million in a deal that saw agent Paula Wittmann of Fite Shavell & Associates acting for the buyers. The deed recorded Aug. 30 lists them as Patrick and Kelly Lynch, who also have an address in London. The Lynches do not own any other property in Palm Beach County in their names, property records show.

The lot that sold measures about a third of an acre. The seller was the estate of the late Standard Oil heiress Anne Terry Pierce McBride, for which her husband, Wolf Von Falkenberg, and West Palm Beach attorney Michael D. Tennenbaum served as personal representatives.

Paula Wittmann of Fite Shavell & Associates

The estate still owns the oceanfront house and land, which Hollis has re-listed for $9.6 million. The house was built in 1956 and stands on a lot measuring nearly a sixth of an acre with a separate beachfront parcel and cabana.

The oceanfront property’s elevation sets it apart from others nearby, Hollis explains.

“It’s 5 feet above the road, so you can see the ocean from the first floor. That’s unusual,” he says.

In 2011 and 2012, two circuit-court judges ruled against McBride’s brother and three of her friends who had filed separate lawsuits seeking to invalidate Von Falkenberg’s claims to McBride’s estate. The court granted Von Falkenberg’s motion for “summary judgment” in each case.

In May 2012, another suit was filed against Von Falkenberg in circuit court on behalf of several nonprofit organizations disputing the disposition of McBride’s will under a trust agreement. But Von Falkenberg was never formally served with the complaint, said Tannenbaum.

“The suit was filed but never pursued, and (the organizations’) rights to the estate were never established,” he said. “The suit doesn’t have any substance.”

Attorneys with the law firm of Casey Ciklin Lubitz Martens & O’Connell, representing the plaintiffs, couldn’t be reached for comment.

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By Augustus Mayhew/New York Social Diary Homes for Sale in Palm Beach 

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Across the street from Villa Loual, a Marion Sims Wyeth-designed estate has found its way on to the market after fifteen years with the same owner. Stepping into the courtyard at 322 Clarke Avenue was like traveling back to the 1920s when so many places offered the signature Palm Beach formula for timeless pleasure, both a private sublime hideaway and a perfect party setting. It reminded me of an interview with Paris Singer I recently read. When Singer returned to Palm Beach following a weekend in late March 1918 as a guest at Charles Deering’s and his brother James Deering’s estates in South Miami, he announced plans that his lakeside clubhouse on Worth Avenue would be built in the Old World style, as if it had always been there for centuries.

Thor M. Brown of Fite Shavell & Associates

Thus, Singer instructed his architect Addison Mizner, who accompanied him to the Deerings’ estates, to create the ambience that today composes the legendary Everglades Club. Much like Wyeth’s bijou house along Golfview Road or Middle Road that he designed for Singer’s development company, the architect’s Clarke Avenue has lost none of the magic that put Palm Beach on the map.

For further information about 322 Clarke Avenue, contact: Thor Brown, Fite Shavell & Associates,

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Allan and Zelda Mason bought their North End house as newlyweds 25 years ago. 

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

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Homeowners Allan and Zelda Mason expanded the square footage of the house by adding several bays with French doors, including the ones facing the pool.

Allan and Zelda Mason were newlyweds when they bought their home at 1485 Via Manana 25 years ago.

“I had been living at my Everglades Avenue townhouse, but my husband wanted something fresh and new,” explains Zelda. “So we bought a spec house built by (Palm Beach architect) Pat Segraves. We were the first owners.”

Today, though, the Masons are planning to move across the bridge to Trump Towers on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. Their three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home — with 3,694 square feet of living space, inside and out — is listed for sale at $2.6 million by agents Toni Hollis and Gloria More of Fite Shavell & Associates.

A beamed, pitched ceiling crowns the expansive living room of a home built in 1987 at 1485 Via Manana near the northern tip of Palm Beach.

Standing on a mid-block cul-de-sac near the northern tip of the island, the house and two neighboring properties were developed by Segraves of SKA Architect + Planner in the late 1980s.

The architecture combines contemporary influences with Mediterranean elements that include a barrel-tile roof. Among the features that attracted the Masons all those years ago was the voluminous living room, with its pitched beam ceiling, fireplace and bleached-oak floor.

One steps down into the living room from a hallway to the east, paved in Mexican tiles and defined by wide arches supported by columns. On the other side of the hallway are the kitchen, dining room and two guest bedrooms, one of which the Masons use as a den.

At the front of the house, the chimney for the living room’s fireplace is a prominent feature. Pat Segraves of SKA Architect + Planner designed and developed the house.

The center-island-style kitchen features a custom-designed oak cabinetry, granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances and a breakfast area with doors that open to the landscaped side patio, which the Masons enlarged among several improvements they made to the property.

The dining room and one of the guest bedrooms also open to the patio, while the den and the living room have doors leading to a different patio facing the backyard’s salt-water pool.

Many of the rooms have French doors set into bays that were added by the Masons. “We pushed out the rooms, which enlarged the house about 10 percent,” Zelda explains.

Toni Hollis of Fite Shavell & Associates

In the master-bedroom suite, for instance, such a bay accesses the pool area. The master bathroom is set up like a dressing room with separate spaces for the Jacuzzi tub, a shower and a large walk-in closet.

Both the Masons have found the layout practical. Zelda says she enjoys relaxing in the den. Her husband appreciates the privacy afforded by the master bedroom being separated from the living area.

Gloria More of Fite Shavell & Associates

“You get to the master at the opposite end of the house, but it’s within a couple of steps,” Allan says. “It’s a cozy house, and quiet.”

He adds that the home’s proximity to the inlet is also a nice feature.

“It’s close to the point,” he explains. “I like to walk down to the pier and watch the ships go by.”

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SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

This traditional John Volk estate has been beautifully renovated and maintained to protect the architectural integrity and balance of the design. The classic four-bedroom, 3½-bathroom home is located at 327 Arabian Road in Palm Beach. It is set among large waterfront homes. Luxuriant privacy makes the property a perfect retreat and great place to decompress away from the busy parts of the island. This is a rare Palm Beach pocket hideaway in very private location. Fite Shavell & Associates lists the home at $2,895,000. The agent is Thor Brown, 561-301-7048,

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North End and Midtown properties acquired as investments and rentals.

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

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Three Delaware limited-liability companies have bought six houses totaling more than $20.3 million in several neighborhoods, according to deeds recorded early this month and in late June. The houses sold at prices ranging from a little less than $2 million to more than $6 million.

Joan Wenzel of Fite Shavell & Associates

The real estate agents involved and the sellers declined to discuss the sales, and representatives of the entities that bought the properties could not be reached for comment. But public records and multiple sources familiar with the deals have confirmed that all the sales are related.

The properties on the North End and in Midtown appear to have been purchased as investments and rental houses, and four have already been listed for lease through the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Real estate observers say Palm Beach’s residential rental market is more active than it has been in years, because the recession left in its wake a tight inventory of better-quality and newer homes for sale. As a result, many house-hunters are opting to rent a house on the island while they test the market. That scenario has created an opportunity for investors to buy properties to generate rental income.

Jonathan Duerr of Fite Shavell & Associates

Ava Van de Water, president of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors and broker at the island office of Brown Harris Stevens, acknowledged that there’s a vibrant rental market in Palm Beach.

“Rentals are very much in demand,” Van de Water said.

A search this week of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service showed 79 single-family homes and townhouses available for rent at prices ranging from $4,000 a month to $90,000 a month.

Biggest deal

Sotheby’s International Realty agent Christine Gibbons, who goes professionally by Tina Roberts, represented all of the buyers in the recent deals. She also is the leasing agent for the properties that are on the market, and her for-lease listings appeared within a day of each other earlier this month in the MLS.

The most expensive property to change hands was a 7,888-square foot Mediterranean-style house at 235 Dunbar Road, which sold for $6.175 million via a deed recorded July 2 by the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office. Roberts has it listed for rent at $35,000 a month.

2165 Ibis Isle Road, Chateau Rambouillet of Ibis Isle, Palm Beach. Listed by Joan Wenzel & Jonathan Duerr of Fite Shavell & Associates.

An entity named 235 Dunbar LLC bought the 1930s-era house from Baltimore attorney Bryson L. Cook and his wife, Cynthia. The Cooks had paid $5 million for it in 2004, records show.

Standing on a mid-block lot measuring nearly a half-acre, the four-bedroom residence has a separate two-bedroom guesthouse.

Agent Suzanne Frisbie of the Corcoran Group acted on behalf of the Cooks. They own an oceanfront house at 131 E. Inlet Drive, as well as a two-bedroom condominium in Chateau Rambouillet of Ibis Isle. The latter is co-listed for sale at $595,000 by agents Joan Wenzel and Jonathan Duerr of Fite Shavell & Associates.

Properties acquired

Four other properties were bought by the same limited liability company, L. Jakes LLC, with the deeds showing a New York City post office box as the company’s mailing address. Those transactions included the following:

* L. Jakes LLC acquired a furnished, four-bedroom house at 126 Casa Bendita, which changed hands for $5.375 million, which was the price recorded June 25. Roberts is asking $25,000 in monthly rent for the property, which has 6,000 square feet of total living space, inside and out, according to her MLS listing.

A renovated house at 126 Casa Bendita sold to L. Jakes LLC for $5.375 million, the price recorded with the deed. The property was listed by Kerry & Roger Warwick of Fite Shavell & Associates.

The sellers were retired steel manufacturer Charles E. Pompea and his wife, Tamara, of Jupiter and Old Saybrook, Conn. They completely renovated the 1967 house after paying $3.1 million for it in 2009, records show. Agents Kerry Warwick and Roger Warwick of Fite Shavell & Associates had co-listed it for $6.995 million. Their closed MLS listing said the recorded sales price reflected a “net” sale.

* A four-bedroom 1925 house and guesthouse at 206 Seaspray Ave. — with a combined 2,230 square feet of total living space — was acquired by L. Jakes LLC for $2.025 million, according to the deed recorded June 24. Offered for sale at $2.25 million by agents Paulette Koch and Dana Koch of the Corcoran Group, the house was already leased at the time it sold.

The seller was longtime Palm Beacher Liza Becker Risin, who shared the house with her husband, Dr. Michael Risin, and young children. The family also has a home in Rumson, N.J., according to property records.

Kerry Warwick of Fite Shavell & Associates

* L. Jakes LLC also bought a three-bedroom house and its three-bedroom guesthouse at 315 Seabreeze Ave. for $2.96 million via a deed recorded June 24. Roberts has listed the house for lease at $18,000 a month. Built in 1926, the house and guesthouse have 4,059 square feet of living space, inside and out, according to property records.

The Kochs at Corcoran Group had marketed the property at $3.45 million for seller Hilary Jandl, who acted as trustee of a personal residence trust in the name of R. Mark Schulhof. The trust’s address is in Brookline, N.H., according to property records. Schulholf is chief executive officer of Quadriga Art, a New York City firm that provides direct-marketing services to nonprofit groups.

* A deed recorded June 17 showed that a four-bedroom, 3,180-square-foot house at 286 Orange Grove Road sold for $2 million. Broker Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate had listed the North End property for sale at $2.275 million.

Roger Warwick of Fite Shavell & Associates

The sellers were Jamie B. and Russell M. Niemie of Albany, N.Y., who had bought the property for about $1.5 million in 2011. Russell Niemie’s career has included longtime tenure as chief investment officer for the New York State Nurses Association’s Pension Plan and Benefits Fund.

Angle also had the listing for the final house that changed hands — a 1950 four-bedroom house at 301 Brazilian Ave. that sold to 301 Brazilian Ave LLC for $1.8 million, according to the deed recorded June 24.

Roberts is marketing the furnished property on Brazilian for lease at $8,000 a month. Gloria G. Stuart sold the house, which has 2,928 square feet of living space, inside and out. She and her husband, Michael, also have homes at 129 Clarendon Ave. and in Fort Pierce.

Town rules

In remarks at a July 9 Town Council meeting, Councilman Bill Diamond mentioned that he had heard about the multiple home purchases. He asked the town staff to report back to the council about any licensing requirements and other rules governing entities that act “as a business” to rent out private homes on the island.

A town ordinance currently governs the frequency at which single-family homes in residential neighborhoods can be leased. A property owner can lease a home out to tenants no more three times during any calendar year.

Staff researcher Niels Heimeriks contributed to this story.

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First-quarter single-family-home sales were on the rebound, Evans Report confirms.

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

Homes for Sale in Palm Beach

Amazing what a real estate recovery will do.

Just consider: Far more Palm Beach single-family homes sold in the first quarter of this year than in the same period for each of the last five years, according to the latest Evans Report real estate analysis. The amount of dollars changing hands between Jan. 1 and March 30 skyrocketed in the single-family market. Meanwhile, condominium sales were up but their price picture was less rosy.

A never-lived-in ‘spec’ house sold to a trust in early March for $20.23 million, marking the first quarter’s biggest single-family home sale in Palm Beach, according to the latest Evans Report analysis. Agent Paula Wittmann of Fite Shavell & Associates handled both sides of the sale.

The total amount paid for single-family properties during the first quarter soared by more than 105 percent — from about $72.4 million last year to nearly $149 million this year. The increase at least partially reflects a real estate market where a tight supply of homes is driving demand and prompting homebuyers to reach deeper into their pockets to get the properties they want. A couple of major house sales recorded at $15 million or more didn’t hurt, either.

The report is compiled regularly by Palm Beach real estate attorney and property owner Leslie R. Evans and his son, Jason, who also is an attorney at Leslie Robert Evans & Associates. The analysis is based on deeds recorded at the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office and other sources.

The report shows 36 single-family houses and townhomes sold between Jan. 1 and March 30 this year, compared to 23 during the first three months of 2012. Looking back even further, single-family sales in the first quarters of 2011 and 2010 were just about flat — 27 and 26, respectively. Compare all those sales to 2009’s first quarter — at the advent of the recession – when just six single-family homes sold on the island.

Properties priced in the middle ranges saw the biggest jump in sales during the first quarter. In 2012, five houses sold for between $2.5 million and $5 million, while four properties changed hands at between $5 million and $10 million. This year, deals in those price categories clocked in at 10 and eight, respectively.

Among the four highest-dollar Palm Beach sales of the first quarter was a $9.04-million deal for 270 El Bravo Way. Gary L. and Terri Schottenstein said they bought the house for its lakefront lot. The property had been listed for $11 million. Agent Chris Deitz of Fite Shavell & Associates acted for the buyers.

And on the upper end of the price scale, the dollars recorded in single-family deals also are telling: Last year, the most expensive house sold during the first-quarter was a $10.4-million sale of 320 Ridgeview Drive. In the same period this year, two sales weighed in at $15 million or more — 260 Via Bellaria changed hands for $15 million and 102 Banyan Road sold for $20.2 million, the report shows.

Condo sales also rose during the first three months of this year to 64 versus 51 last year. But the total dollar amount of condo sales was up by just 6 percent — from $36.2 million to $38.6 million.

And although the number of condos sold was higher, the prices that individual units fetched were strikingly lower: The median sale price for condos fell about 38 percent, dropping from $450,000 to $278,750, the report shows. The median is the price at which half the condos sold for more and half for less.

On the South End’s Condominium Row, the first-quarter condo numbers were an especially mixed bag. Although 44 units there sold this year — compared to 30 in 2012 — median sale prices slumped about 35 percent, from $292,500 last year to $189,000 this year.

Median prices fetched townwide during the first quarter for single-family homes, however, were brighter — up $515,000 from last year to about $2.6 million for 2013.

“Brighter” is, of course, a relative adjective, as real estate agents who enjoyed the boom years in Palm Beach certainly know. Compare this year’s $2.6-million single-family sales figure to the first quarter of 2008, when the bubble was still expanding and 18 homes found new owners. The median sale price back then was — brace yourself — $4.67 million.

And that figure marked an $870,000 increase over 2007 levels, when 41 homes changed hands during the height of the land rush.

You can read the entire report at

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