If the frosty start to the season is any indication, predictions are on target for a colder- and snowier-than-normal New York winter.
Gothamites unable to endure slogging through another slush puddle soon will be taking off for sunnier skies or jetting to the slopes to enjoy the flurries in style.So, in which cities and towns do New Yorkers buy coveted second (or third) homes? From Wyoming to the West Indies, The Real Deal unveils some of the most popular winter destinations for New Yorkers.
Palm Beach, Florida
The same luxuries that New Yorkers surround themselves with in Manhattan are found on the 14-mile long island of Palm Beach. Worth Avenue boasts Fifth Avenue retailers like Saks, Tiffany, Armani and Cartier along with spas, upscale resorts and hotels like The Breakers Hotel and the Four Seasons, and the four-star Café Boulud restaurant (also in New York) and the long-time celebrity casual hangout Ta-boo. The little island also has culture: the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, the Flagler Museum, the Society of the Four Arts and the Norton Museum of Art.
But it’s the outdoor, leisure activities that provide the real refuge from the winter blues: golfing at country clubs like the exclusive Palm Beach Country Club, where former member Bernie Madoff did golf-course deals, sailing from yacht clubs like the Palm Beach Boat Club and a season of world-class polo from January through April, culminating in the U.S. Open Polo Championship. It’s all just a three-hour flight from New York into Palm Beach’s international airport.
“The key [draw] is obviously the weather,” said Don Langdon, managing broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Palm Beach. Temperatures average in the mid- to high-70s during the winter months. The ease of travel between New York and Palm Beach also boosts its popularity, he said. “The simplicity of going door to door, that is a big plus for us.”
Langdon said the market has stabilized as the supply dwindled over the past three years. Palm Beach County median prices were down year-over-year in August and September, but the number of sales jumped 24 percent. The area offers properties in all different price ranges, from $200,000 up to $100 million, with many oceanfront and lakefront homes overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
Among Elliman’s recent listings on the island were: 748 Hi Mount Road in Palm Beach for $17.99 million. The six-bedroom gated estate is located on the highest point of Palm Beach and features a wine cellar, gym, theater, Cabana, deep-water dock and full-house generator.
Langdon said many buyers are renting out their properties as well, hoping to capitalize on the appreciation and usage. For example, Elliman is currently listing 500 Regent Park, a four-bedroom waterfront mansion on the Intracoastal on Palm Beach Island for $24,000 per month.
“We get inquiries daily from New Yorkers looking for a second home,” said Langdon. “They are looking at every end of the broad spectrum that we represent.”
Miami emerged in recent years as a top global destination, but at its core, it’s still a sanctuary for the Big Apple. New Yorkers were the top spenders on luxury real estate in the city last year and continue to be a force.
“I think there is a domino effect, too,” said Oren Alexander, an Elliman broker who does business in New York, The Hamptons, and South Florida. “New Yorkers draw more New Yorkers here.”
Argentine developer Alan Faena’s Faena House condos sold out before the building was completed (which is expected to be next summer), with 90 percent of the buyers coming from the Northeast, mostly from New York City, said Alexander, who represented the project. Don Peebles’ Bath Club Estates will likely attract more New Yorkers, Alexander said, with its large-unit design. Buyers also have the option to select one of four designers for layout and finishes, including Canadian-born Alexandra Champalimaud, who designed the interiors at New York icons like the Waldorf Astoria, the New York Palace and the Carlyle.
“Miami as a city does a good job catering to New Yorkers,” Alexander said, noting the influx of New York restaurateurs and chefs, high-end retail and cultural offerings including the New World Symphony, Miami City Ballet and Pérez Art Museum. “It’s no longer just a party town.”
Of course, the weather, low taxes and ease of getting to Miami — only two and a half hours by private plane — also draw New Yorkers.
“People have told me that instead of commuting from Long Island 10 hours a week, they will work in the city for the week and fly back to Miami for the weekend for half the commute time,” Alexander said.
Charleston, South Carolina
Dotted with historic homes with classic architectural styles, Charleston, South Carolina, offers a comprehensive arts scene, top-chef restaurants like Husk and The Ordinary, and high-end shopping and antiquing on King Street, an open-air, walkable market. Not far is Kiawah, a 10-mile island that features five world-class golf courses, including The Ocean Course, which hosted the PGA Championship in 2012.
“New York is one of our major feeder markets,” said Ruthie Ravenel, an agent with Sotheby’s International Real Estate in Charleston. “We get a lot of people looking for second and third homes, a mix of empty-nesters or weekenders who purchase something small.”
The luxury market in Charleston has been outperforming the overall market recently. In October, pending sales for homes worth $300,000 or more rose 19 percent year-over-year, compared with a 9.4-percent increase for the entire market, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. Days on the market for the higher-end homes also fell by 22 percent, versus only 9.8 percent for all homes.
Ravenel said many New Yorkers gravitate toward 1,000- to 2,000-square-foot condos or pieds-à-terre in the historic downtown, such as the $1.16-million, top-floor condo in the Fort Sumter House. The two-bedroom unit offers views of the Ashley River, Cooper River and Old Charleston, while the building provides a pool, fitness center and around-the-clock security. Others look for something larger, such as a carriage house in the Ansonborough neighborhood, “the Greenwich Village of Charleston.” A three-bedroom historic home with a separate “Mother-in-Law suite” in that neighborhood at 38 Wentworth Street is listed for $1.1 million.
“The dollar goes far there and the climate is great,” said Anne Prosser, a New York real estate agent with Halstead, who recently had a client buy in Charleston. “It’s not as touristy as Florida and one can fix up those great old houses.”
A stone’s throw from Miami, the Bahamas offers an easy way to get out of the country without going too far. Many gravitate toward the country’s capital in Nassau in the Lyford Cay or Old Fort Bay area, while others yearn for an estate or even a private island.
“Some are there because Swiss banks send them there or have expat status,” said Halstead agent Leslie Bettison. “But I have met New Yorkers with second homes who end up spending most of their time there and end up retiring there.”
The area is becoming so popular that many residential developers are making bets on the islands. The latest example is The Albany, a luxury resort with beachfront villas outside the capital, backed by star-studded investors Tiger Woods and his fellow golf champion Ernie Els. The resort, located on a marina that accommodates extra-large yachts, will also feature numerous restaurants, a gym fit for a pro athlete, a championship golf course designed by Els and an equestrian center.
Last January, the investor group teamed up with investment firm New Valley, led by Douglas Elliman Chairman Howard Lorber, to develop the Honeycomb on the resort property to attract New Yorkers and other wealthy Americans. The proposed condo offers 34 residences ranging from 3,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet, each with their own private terrace and pool for $3 million to $12.5 million.
For exclusivity, privacy and world-class skiing, Aspen is the spot.
“You don’t have large-scale hotels. It’s not easy to fly in commercially, so most people come in by private plane. It’s a high barrier to entry,” said Alexander, whose firm, Douglas Elliman, is opening an office in Aspen. “The high society of New York feels comfortable here. On President’s Day weekend, literally everyone is from New York City.”
Alexander said real estate prices are comparable to New York: over $2,000 per square foot for “any good condo.” The town ranked No. 15 on Forbes’ 2014 “America’s Most Expensive Zip Codes” list, with a median home price of nearly $4.02 million. The swank Woody Creek suburb nearby came in No. 7, with a $4.95 million price tag.
As for amenities, Aspen’s skiing mountains — Aspen Mountain, Smuggler Mountain and Red Mountain — are dotted with high-end resorts, and the city’s downtown features global fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Fendi, Burberry and Kate Spade. There’s also fine dining like the Little Nell Living Room, known for its rare French wines, and Ajax Tavern, a common celebrity hangout. The $72 million Aspen Art Museum, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, opened this year and many of the museum board members are native New Yorkers, said Alexander. Aspen is even popular in the warmer months, offering outdoor activities, several types of festivals, concerts and sporting events such as a marathon and cycling race.
“The real draw to Aspen is that when people are looking for another home, they need a place for warm weather and one for cold weather,” Alexander said. “Aspen is both.”
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The site of closely watched global monetary conferences, Jackson Hole is also a favorite destination for Wall Street bankers and other New Yorkers. They come for the wide-open spaces, dramatic scenery and outdoor recreation, from skiing to mountain biking to golf, said Rob DesLauriers, founding agent of the Realty Group of Jackson Hole, a Sotheby’s Real Estate firm.
“We have a very laid-back culture, an authentic Western environment with amazingly civilized and elegant offerings,” he said. “There is a certain escapism that Jackson offers in its anonymity for high-profile folks.”
DesLauriers said New York buyers are looking for one of two types of residences: either a large home with great views, or (for the focused skiers) low-maintenance condominiums. For the latter, there are several condo-hotels, such as the Four Seasons, Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge, all located at the base of the slopes. They offer full-service resort environments with restaurants, spas, pools and in-house management.
“Owning is luxurious, convenient and absolutely hassle-free,” he said.
In the third quarter, the median price of a condominium/townhome in Jackson Hole was $452,000, while the median price of a single-family home rose to a range of $300,000 to $1.1 million, according to Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates. The luxury market fared the best, with sales up 18 percent. The average sales price above $3 million was $5.71 million.
Among the Realty Group of Jackson Hole’s most prestigious listings include the penthouse at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole for $4.95 million. The four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom residence comes with a gourmet kitchen, fireplace, private underground parking and unparalleled views of Jackson Hole Mountain. Further out, the firm represents many ranch estates like the Bar B Bar ranch in North Jackson Hole for $24.75 million featuring a 7,600-square-foot rustic (but luxurious) main house, a 4,624-square-foot bunkhouse and a 2,070-square-foot recreation house with an observatory, squash court, climbing wall and gym. The 72-acre property is on the Snake River and has two creeks and several ponds along with views of the Cathedral Group of the Teton Range.
“So many circles of very active and influential people seem to gravitate to Jackson,” DesLauriers said. “I often see new arrivals surprised by the network of friends that they share here.”
For New York ski buffs who prefer East Coast snow, the mountains of Vermont remain a popular choice. Annie Bessette, a principal broker with TPW Real Estate in Bondville, Vermont, is seeing everyone from young families to active retirees venturing from the Big Apple to enjoy the Green Mountain State’s quality of life.
At Stratton Mountain, those getting away can enjoy skiing, both downhill and cross-country, along with snowshoeing and ice skating. In the warmer months, there’s kayaking, fishing, golf and hiking at the birthplace of the Appalachian Trail, Bessette said, along with great restaurants and cultural events in the towns of Manchester and Dorset.
The area offers ski-in-ski-out condos, condos in the middle of town, and single-family homes of various sizes, from one- to six-bedroom properties. In Stratton, prices range from $200,000 to $1.5 million. In Manchester and Dorset, prices can go as high as $3 million for a single-family home. So far this season, buyers have been active, Bessette said, but she would love more.
Among the priciest listings in the area include a six-bedroom, seven-bathroom winter ski lodge home in Stratton for $4.9 million. Situated on 140 acres, the home has horizon views of Mount Snow, Stratton Sun Bowl and Bromley Mountain. In Dorset, an eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom country estate is listed for $5.95 million. On 47 acres, the property includes a guest house, pool and pool house, two-story barn and a four-car garage with a caretaker’s apartment.
“We’re looking forward to a busy winter, when it really gets to be a bustling community,” Bessette said. “It’s snowing as we speak.”