Mansion sales in Palm Beach Gardens lead the U.S.

5435 Sea Biscuit Road $30M
5435 Sea Biscuit Road in Steeplechase in Palm Beach Gardens, is on the market for $30 million.

The mansion market in Palm Beach Gardens is white hot, with prices for homes valued at $1 million or more soaring 42 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the fastest rate in the country, according to real estate data firm Redfin.

The average sale price for mansions in the city of 52,000 was $2.58 million in the second quarter. So what accounts for all that strength?

“First, the area between the Jupiter inlet and the Palm Beach inlet is a great location,” Rob Thomson, owner of Waterfront Properties in Jupiter, told The Real Deal. “That makes it very accessible for boats. There’s a lot of property on the water.”

Thomson said housing communities such as BallenIsles, where the tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams have a home; Frenchman’s Creek; Frenchman’s Reserve; and Mirasol also contribute to the market’s strength.

“It’s two minutes from shopping and restaurants, including the Gardens Mall and Legacy Place, and it has great schools, such as [the] Benjamin [School],” he said. “It’s also only 20 minutes to the Palm Beach Airport. It’s just a prime location.”

Low inventory is pushing up prices, Dianne West, a broker associate with Corcoran Group, told TRD. She has sold 15 to 20 homes in Palm Beach Gardens this year at prices ranging from $1.5 million to $8 million, up from 10 to 15 homes last year. That includes a home in Old Palm and new construction near U.S. 1.

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Thomson said sales prices range from $1 million to $15 million, with the hottest spot between $1 million and $7 million. “The homes are getting bigger all the time, and prices in North County have definitely exceeded their 2005 to 2006 highs,” Thomson said.

Many of the purchasers are retiring baby boomers moving south. West said that all her buyers this year are from the Northeast. Thomson said a significant number of foreigners are snapping up homes too, particularly Europeans, including French and German buyers. South Americans stick mostly to the Miami area, with its cultural affinity to Latin America, he said.

Acquirers from Asia will be the next wave, Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research & Consulting in Deerfield Beach, told TRD. Most of the mansion buyers in Palm Beach Gardens are “owner-occupiers looking for a primary or wintertime residence,” he said.

McCabe pointed out that the northern county also has a huge golf community, including players, such as Tiger Woods in Jupiter Island; coaches; and companies, such as the Nicklaus Cos. in North Palm Beach.

McCabe warns against getting too excited over the second quarter numbers for mansion sales, as they could have been inflated by a few big transactions.

But some experts see the strength continuing. “It’s a self-reinforcing cycle,” Thomson said.