Palm Beach prices climb, as buyers look to higher-end properties

102 Banyan Road, listed for sale in Palm Beach
102 Banyan Road, listed for sale in Palm Beach

The notoriously slow summer season in Palm Beach’s real estate market is starting to experience heat to match the mercury. While much of last year saw buyers snatching up low- to mid-range properties, declining inventory in that segment has led to increased activity towards the higher end.

“Last year was the year that, primarily, the low-end flew off the shelves so to speak,” said Ava Van de Water, executive vice president and broker at Brown Harris Stevens in Palm Beach. “All the leads got eaten up, and now we’re seeing more of the middle- to high-end going.”

Van de Water’s point was underscored earlier this month by the $41.5 million sale of 1473 North Ocean Boulevard, the largest sale in the town since 2008.

Overall, the median sales price in Palm Beach rose 6 percent between June 2011 to June 2012, according to the June residential market report from Palm Beach attorney Leslie Robert Evans.

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This summer has been the most active in three years, Van de Water said. “We’re still very busy,” she told The Real Deal. “It’s slower than the high season, but the whole market is still very, very strong.”

That has been driven by the town’s North End, according to David Fite, founder and principal partner of Fite Shavell & Associates. “The North End of the island’s inventory has gone down considerably versus last year,” he said. “There are a lot of investors coming in and buying teardowns, so we expect to see some more construction in [that area].”

Palm Beach could also get a boost from its sister market in the Hamptons, Fite said.

Fite Shavell has an alliance with Hamptons-based Saunders & Associates, which has been reporting strong activity, he said. “A very good portion of our buyers come from the Hamptons market, part of that Hamptons-New York-Palm Beach triangle,” he said. “It usually means people will be buying here — so we’re excited about that.”