In the frenetic Palm Beach home market, buyers are bidding fast

Just weeks after lawyer Amy Bahl and her husband sold their Palm Beach home for $ 7.3 million, the Florida home was back on the market in December for $ 8.2 million.

Meanwhile, the Bahls and their three children have moved into a home they bought across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach, where they will stay while they build a new home on land in waterfront in North Palm Beach.

“We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years, but this market has encouraged us to go ahead and list it,” Bahl said.

So goes the Palm Beach real estate market, the pandemic and everything.

Although the past year has boosted sales and home prices in major suburbs and resort areas internationally, activity in Palm Beach County, Florida, from Boca Raton to Jupiter, has maintained a particularly frantic pace.

The exclusive town of Palm Beach, a fragment of an island that is home to billionaires and former President Trump’s future Mar-a-Lago club, has been the starting point for some of the most frenzied buys.

“Anyone who has money runs away from New York and comes here,” said Guy Clark, an agent for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “It’s a seller’s market unlike anything I’ve ever known.

Some buyers have entered the market due to job outsourcing as Wall Street companies and hedge funds have established bases in the Sunshine State. Others are pandemic refugees looking to flee COVID-19 hotspots or take advantage of Florida’s lack of state income tax.

And some are billionaires growing their footprint, like former casino mogul Steve Wynn’s purchase of an additional Palm Beach home for $ 18.4 million in December, or the $ 48.2 million acquisition. in dollars by Robert F. Smith from two properties in North Palm Beach.

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

The Palm Beach County Clerk’s Office recorded more than 20 home sales last year exceeding $ 20 million, up from 10 in 2019, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. A house on North Ocean Boulevard is slated to go on the market in early February for $ 75 million, fully furnished by designer Sara McCann with everything from lounge chairs to frying pans.

Unlike the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which resulted in an overabundance of supply and sharp price declines, there are now very few offers to show potential buyers.

“We’ve gone from anxious buying to no inventory and what am I going to do? Said Liza Pulitzer, senior partner at Brown Harris Stevens. “We even saw people buying a temporary house when they couldn’t find a rental.

A couple learned that a home was under contract just as they arrived at the property for a viewing, said John Cregan, agent at Sotheby’s International Realty. Artist Camilla Webster received several notes on her front door asking her to sell her first floor condominium with outdoor space.

Many homes are now rented and sold under private, off-market arrangements. Old houses are demolished and many one-story cottages in the island’s North End are being replaced by a construction boom that is “probably the biggest annoyance” on the island, Pulitzer said. Speculators, pinball machines, and owners are getting huge returns.

In July, New Yorkers Marilyn Rosee and Sandra Siegal turned down an offer of $ 530,000 for the South End condominium they paid $ 326,000 less than three years ago. Then a broker called just before Christmas with a buyer who hadn’t seen the unit but was willing to pay $ 650,000.

“It’s a very COVID-y story,” said Rosee, who along with Siegal also has an apartment in New York and a house in East Hampton, NY.

For their next home in Palm Beach, which they found thanks to a tip from a friend, the couple expanded so that they could both have offices to do their jobs in New York remotely. Their $ 1.16 million apartment has a panoramic terrace.

To welcome pandemic migrants, Jack Coppola, concierge for high-end clients, has equipped houses and boats with towels, sound systems and board games. At McCann’s Hive Home, Gift & Garden in West Palm Beach, decorators and owners have emptied their inventory.

Clark, the real estate agent who is also an interior designer, goes out of his way to make sure clients can just come in with a toothbrush and hang up their clothes. To help a broker close a six-month lease for $ 1 million, he hired citywide services to find 30 outdoor furniture, gym equipment, two refrigerators and 13 new TVs.

“It’s the runoff theory; they come, everyone wins, ”said Clark. “The paper holder wins, the painter wins, the guy who takes care of the upholstery. I had to pay double to the upholsterer to do it quickly.