Palm Beach is hot, antiques are in again: DCOTA WinterMarket panel

Chris Leavitt and Linherr Hollingsworth
Chris Leavitt and Linherr Hollingsworth

Chris Leavitt, Douglas Elliman’s director of luxury sales, has been a top broker in South Florida for the past several sales cycles. But you won’t see him in Miami as much – he has moved to Palm Beach where he says sales are strong at the Bristol a new 25-story luxury condominium in West Palm Beach with 69 units selling between $5 million to $30 million each.

Leavitt, the Bristol’s “brand ambassador,” said he made the move to Palm Beach after he “saw a change in sales volume,” in Miami, where the luxury condo market has been affected by a global drop in currencies against the dollar and new luxury condo inventory is ballooning.

Leavitt told The Real Deal that unlike Miami-Dade, foreign buyers are a negligible presence in Palm Beach. Most of his clients he said are either New Yorkers or people downsizing from large homes on Palm Beach Island. His buyers, he said, “are very Palm Beach centric, who wouldn’t consider Miami or Broward, but are determined to live in Palm Beach.”

And unlike Miami, where ultra-modern architecture has become the rage, Palm Beach city officials have only allowed barely more than a handful of contemporary homes to be built, in an effort to maintain the Palm Beach aesthetic.

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Leavitt spoke Wednesday at DCOTA’s WinterMarket 2017 symposium in Dania Beach. He was joined by Linherr Hollingsworth, who leads her own design firm and has launched her first lifestyle collection for Kravat. The conversation was moderated by Ina Cordle, managing editor of The Real Deal South Florida.

Hollingsworth said many luxury buyers are now including designers in the buying process. Interior designers can even map out the interiors of multiple properties so buyers can imagine the spaces before they select a property to purchase.

Among new design trends on the horizon, she said antiques are making a comeback, even in modern spaces. The antiques selected are unique, “bespoke” pieces. And layering, à la famed fashion designer Christian Lacroix, is also coming into style.

A report from EWM Realty International on Wednesday said that at the end of 2016, condo sale prices dropped 21 percent year-over-year and Miami-Dade is facing a 47-month supply when it comes to condos priced between $2 million and $4.9 million. At $5 million and above, Miami-Dade has a 108-month (or nine-year) supply of condos.

But Leavitt says he’s had no trouble selling at the Bristol. He says the building is now 60 percent sold.  Flagler Investors LLC, made up of Golub & Company LLC, Commercial Financial Management and Elion Partners, is developing the project. Leavitt says one of the attractions of the Bristol is that it is the first luxury building to built since 2006, and it is being built on the last undeveloped piece of land on the Intracoastal Waterway overlooking Palm Beach Island.