Darrell Hofheinz Palm Beach Daily News
Staggering real estate sales in Palm Beach totaled as much as $2.7 billion in the first half of the year, according to new quarterly sales reports from agencies that do business on the island.
Overall sales of single-family properties, condominiums and co-operative units during April, May and June topped $1.5 billion, setting a new quarterly sales record, according to the report prepared by the Corcoran Group.
Those second-quarter figures followed first-quarter numbers that were also extraordinary. January, February and March saw overall sales hit $1.2 billion, said The Corcoran Report, which analyzes sales reported in the multiple listing service as well as off-market deals recorded at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.
Some of the other second-quarter reports looked only at MLS data, so apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult. Story from ProvidenceSee how immunotherapy treats cancerWhile it’s difficult to receive a cancer diagnosis, the good news is that treatment options are growing. Immunotherapy is one of the latest cancer therapy innovations.See More →
But general trends hold true across the analyses, especially in year-over-year comparisons. The reports show a sellers’ market was entrenched in the second quarter, with record increases in prices and sales volume and record drops in housing inventory.
And any year-over-year comparisons come with a caveat, of sorts. Last year, the second quarter began only a few weeks after the coronavirus pandemic temporarily derailed real estate sales across the island. But the single-family market had rebounded in earnest by the middle of May, real estate observers reported, and it has since only escalated, as the new second-quarter reports show.Story from ProvidenceWhy COVID-19 shed new light on mental healthHealth providers discuss the COVID-19 pandemic’s substantial impact on mental health.See More →
“Not only has there been intense demand, Palm Beach continues to see significant gains across both median and average pricing for single-family homes compared to last year, largely due to strong activity at the very high end of the market,” said Corcoran’s John Hackett, whose duties as senior managing director for South Florida include overseeing the Palm Beach office. Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account
The single-family homes that sold during the second quarter also spent far less time on the market than in the same period last year. Brown Harris Stevens’ report shows that single-family properties spent an average of 150 days on the market before selling, compared to 274 days in the second quarter of 2020.
Broker Linda Olsson of Linda R. Olsson, Realtor, Inc., who has sold real estate in Palm Beach for more than 30 years, summed up the state of the market succinctly in a note accompanying her second-quarter report: “We are experiencing a real estate market like no other.”
More sales above $20 million
Real estate observers say several factors helped fuel the ongoing surge of buyers, not the least of which are Florida’s relatively low taxes. But the pandemic also taught many buyers they could work from home anywhere — and Palm Beach’s pleasant climate and residences with plenty of open-air spaces have become undeniable draws.
“The tether between work and home is infinitely longer now, especially for the wealthy,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., the New York-based company that prepares sales reports for the markets served by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, including Palm Beach.
The number of single-family sales in the second quarter jumped 112% in a year-over-year analysis — from 41 last year to 87 this year — to mark the highest quarterly number on record, the Corcoran Report showed. In comparison, the report said, the first quarter of this year saw 69 sales. https://2f98090c925aff8d8678aa831d218812.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
And the prices fetched by single-family properties in the second quarter rose as well, the reports agree, although median and average prices were skewed by an unusually high number of closings above $20 million, including two June sales recorded at $95 million and nearly $110 million. The median is the price at which half of the properties sold for more and half for less.
The second-quarter median price for single-family sales rose 16% in a year-over-year comparison to $8 million, according to Douglas Elliman’s report, which analyzed only sales of MLS-listed properties.
Brown Harris Stevens’ report noted, too, that the price paid per square foot for single-family homes also was up by 21%, year over year.
On the condo scene
Sales of condos and co-operative transactions also saw a significant jump, the Elliman Report noted. The number of second-quarter condo sales in the MLS vaulted nearly 270%, from 52 a year ago to 192 this year — the highest number on record, according to the Elliman Report.
Factoring in off-market sales, the Corcoran Report showed an even larger percentage jump in second-quarter condo sales at 367%, from 61 in 2020 to 285 in the quarter just ended.
And as buyers tore through the available inventory of condos and co-ops, the median price in the second quarter rose 7.6%, year over year, to just under $1 million, according to Elliman’s analysis.
Suzanne Frisbie, who heads the Frisbie Real Estate group at Corcoran, released her own analysis of second-quarter sales in Palm Beach, parsing MLS and off-market deals. https://2f98090c925aff8d8678aa831d218812.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
In Midtown, second-quarter condo sales surged 140%, year over year, generating about $176 million in dollar volume, Frisbie’s report said. And sales on the South End rose 382%, ending the quarter with a record $158 million worth of sales.
Condo buyers, the numbers show, also were inking more contracts for smaller apartments, reflected by a year-over-year decrease in the square-footage of units sold, Miller said, citing figures in the Elliman Report.
“The average size of a condo sale fell 7.9%, so we were seeing smaller (-unit) sales the second quarter,” Miller said. “It’s not as if the pricing is low — it’s just not at record levels. The median price is still (about) $1 million.”
But because there were so many more sales of less-expensive multifamily units in the second quarter, the average sales price dropped, as reported in several of the analyses. Brown Harris Stevens, for instance, saw a 12 percent year-over-year decrease in the average price paid for condos and co-op units.
The Brown Harris Stevens report also noted that the time the multifamily units spent on the market during the second quarter fell year over year, from 184 days to 136 days.
Frisbie noted that April, May and June saw 46 single-family closings recorded at $10 million or higher — more than double the number of sales in that price category a year ago.
And by the end of June, the dollar volume generated by single-family sales had already surpassed, by 8%, the end-of-year totals reported for all of last year, Frisbie’s report showed.
Median prices for single-family sales surged 22%, Frisbie’s report said, to $8.25 million, setting another second-quarter record.
A report analyzing MLS data released by Tina Fanjul Associates examined single-family sales in different parts of town: On the North End, the number of second-quarter transactions rose 82% over the same period last year, while sales in the area between Worth Avenue and Sloans Curve were up 112%.
The unprecedented sales of houses and apartments dropped inventory to levels never seen before by the end of the second quarter, several of the reports said. So the challenge for brokers and agents now is to help their clients find the houses and condos to buy — and to persuade more sellers to join the market.
“Bidding wars are still common, driven by a lack of supply,” wrote Director of Market Intelligence Garrett Derderian in Serhant’s sales report. “However, the lack of newly added listings in Palm Beach could slow activity in the second half of the year, as there are fewer homes available for purchase.”
Even so, the sales momentum during the last three months — and the accompanying price escalation — has been breathtaking.
“There’s simply no other way to say it. The Palm Beach market is booming,” said Corcoran’s Hackett.