Palm Beach prices bend, don’t break

By Sally Apgar | May 08, 2009 11:09AM

From the South Florida Web site: The transformation of the Palm Beach home of Bernie Madoff is complete, from trophy mansion to a target of picture-snapping tourists and troops of teenagers toilet-papering his house in retribution for the loss of their trust funds. The biggest public slam to Madoff just came from a court-hired appraiser who reported the house had dropped in value from $9.4 million in 2008 to $7.45 million in 2009. Palm Beach County, known for its lowball values, had appraised the home at $7.45 million in 2007, according to property records. Some real estate experts have pointed to the Madoff house as an indicator of the posh playground’s overall drop in residential values. Since the height of the market during the summer of 2006, values have dropped 20 percent. But across the bridge in West Palm Beach, the city on the intracoastal waterway, once designed as servants’ quarters to the winter retreat for the wealthy, values have dropped 50 percent or more. In Palm Beach island, where the ugly or uncivilized is often hidden, The Real Deal was able to uncover only one foreclosure, a $10 million manse owned by Tom Petters, a Minnesota businessman who was indicted in December on 20 counts arising from a $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme. Most homes on the island have no mortgages, according to area bankers and real estate experts, making foreclosures rare.