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Palm Beach County home prices hit post-crash high

The median price of a house sold in Palm Beach County rose to $348,000 in March.

Palm Beach County home prices hit a post-crash high in March.

The median price of a single-family house sold last month was $348,000, the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale said Monday. That’s up slightly from February’s median of $345,000, and a 7 percent increase from March 2017.

Sales were down slightly, and the number of new listings is scarcely keeping pace with demand. That combination is creating a market that’s frustrating for buyers but lucrative for sellers.

For instance, a house in the Riverwalk of the Palm Beaches development along Okeechobee Boulevard recently fetched $418,000 a new record for a four-bedroom house without a pool in that neighborhood, said Douglas Rill, owner of Century 21 America’s Choice.

While sellers are seeking ever-more ambitious prices, buyers are struggling with the combination of tight inventories and home values that are increasing more quickly than their paychecks.

"Buyers are still anxious to get on the boat before it leaves the station," Rill said. "I think they see we’re in a slow, steady crawl up, and they want to get on before things get any less affordable."

Meanwhile, mortgage rates are rising, creating what Rill calls “a double whammy” for buyers. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage rose to 4.47 percent last week, the highest level since January 2014, lending giant Freddie Mac said Thursday.

“It is very much still a seller’s market in Palm Beach County as the median sales price continues to increase and inventory tightens,” said Jeffrey Levine, a West Palm Beach broker and president-elect of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Houses priced at $250,000 to $300,000 occupy the hottest spot in Palm Beach County housing market. Properties in that price range found a buyer in a median of just 34 days. By contrast, mansions priced at $1 million or more needed 185 days to go to contract.

Trends were similar in the condo and townhouse market. The typical Palm Beach County condo that sold in March fetched $177,000, up 9 percent from a year ago. But the number of sales fell 2 percent from a year ago.

Nationally, the median price for all types of homes sold in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

In Florida, the median price rose to $250,800, also marking a post-crash high, the Florida Realtors said. March’s price increase marks the 75th straight month of year-over-year gains in Florida’s housing market.

Home prices still remain well below record levels. During the housing bubble, the county’s median resale price peaked at $421,500 in November 2005 (a sum, that if adjusted for inflation, equates to $532,323 in today’s dollars). Within a few years, the median price had crashed to less than $200,000.

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Pulte to build 36 affordable townhouses in West Palm Beach

A townhouse at Pulte’s Parkview at Hillcrest development in Hollywood

Pulte Homes will build 36 affordable townhouses in partnership with the West Palm Beach Housing Authority.

Prices will range from $140,000 to $180,000 for the townhouses, which would have an average of 1,300 square feet of interior space plus a garage.

Pulte will build the townhouses on land owned by the West Palm Beach Housing Authority at 1906 Merry Place in West Palm Beach. The location is just west of U.S. Highway 1 and approximately seven blocks north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.

As a developer of a large-scale residential community in Palm Beach County, Pulte is required to build affordable homes or contribute to the county’s affordable housing fund.

Patrick Gonzalez, vice president of land development in the Southeast Florida division of Pulte, said the 36 townhouses will meet Pulte’s affordable housing requirement for building the Fields at Gulfstream, a 916-home development near Lake Worth.

Gonzalez also said the affordable townhouses will have the same quality as the market-rate townhouses that Pulte builds. [South Florida Business Journal] – Mike Seemuth

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Palm Beach couple doesn’t want to give up oceanfront living at Bellaria

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The condominium at Bellaria has 3,219 square feet of living space, inside and on its balconies. It is listed for $4.39 million. Photo by Tom Tracy, courtesy Linda R. Olsson Inc.

Peter Lukes and Silvia Kusnirova’s oceanfront condominium in Bellaria on the South End turned out to be the perfect fit for them. Because of their work, they live in Bratislava, Slovenia, and have spent only a couple months a year in Palm Beach.

Lukes bought the condo 10 years ago as a second home, a year before the two married, explains Kusnirova. And she has enjoyed the unit — No. 308S at 3000 S. Ocean Blvd. — as much as her husband, she says.

“Bellaria is the right place for us. Since we don’t live in a seaside country, it was necessary for us to have an oceanfront apartment here. … And when we head back to Europe, we just close our door, and management takes care of our home for us.”

PHOTOS: Oceanfront condominium in Bellaria, 3000 S. Ocean Blvd.

These days, however, their work schedule allows them more flexibility, and they plan to spend more time in Florida. For that reason, they have purchased a bigger condo. And although they are moving, they are also staying put.

“Bellaria doesn’t compare to other places,” she says. “We were really lucky. Our neighbors were selling an apartment, and we love Bellaria so much that we bought it, staying in the same building but on another floor.”

As such, their third-floor, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath unit has been offered for sale furnished with Linda Olsson, broker of Linda R. Olsson Inc. She has set a price of $4.39 million for the apartment, which has 3,219 square feet of living space, inside and on its balconies.

The apartment is in the southernmost of Bellaria’s two buildings, and its front door is on the north side. A hallway leads to the living room, where an oceanfront terrace faces east. The dining room, kitchen and oceanfront breakfast room are south of the living room. At the west end of the unit are the guest bedroom suite and the master suite.

Lukes bought the condominium from its developer.

“It was new, very nice and ready to decorate — and we have wonderful marble floors and marble bathrooms,” his wife explains.

+ In the living room of No. 308S at 3000 S. Ocean Blvd., an oceanfront terrace faces east. Photo by Tom Tracy,

Other features include walls of glass offering sea views from the living room and breakfast room, a gas fireplace with a marble mantelpiece in the living room, carpeted floors in the bedrooms and plantation shutters on south-facing windows throughout. A terrace off the master bedroom provides views of the Intracoastal Waterway to the west.

Details in the island kitchen include walnut cabinetry, granite countertops, professional-grade appliances and a wine cooler.

“It’s an open-floor-plan kitchen connecting to a nice eating area,” Kusnirova says. “It’s oceanfront and makes a fabulous breakfast place. I love cooking and when I’m working in the kitchen, I have the brightest (workspace) and most picturesque view.”

+ “It’s oceanfront and makes a fabulous breakfast place,” Silvia Kusnirova says of the breakfast area with the view. Photo by Tom

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With a Palm Beach address, Bellaria was completed in 2008 immediately south of the Lake Worth public beach, pier and casino complex. Both buildings have five residential floors and 18 units. The development was designed by the late Palm Beach architect Gene Lawrence for Gordon Deckelbaum and Mike Kempner of Premier Developers.

Bellaria’s amenities include direct beach access, a gym, a billiards room, a media room and a party space.

“Living here is like having a modern home proximate to the beach, with great amenities and an Olympic-size pool,” Kusnirova says. “With this unit on the third floor, there’s an immediate connection to the ocean. It feels almost like you are stepping into the water.

“When the sun reflects off the ocean’s surface, it makes an amazing ever-changing canvas. Our second-floor apartment does not have the (same feeling), and I’ll really miss that,” she says.

“We are passionate art collectors and we needed more walls. Otherwise, we would never have given up our apartment.”

+ The open-floor plan kitchen connects to an eating area. It “makes a fabulous breakfast place,” says Silvia Kusnirova. Photo by Tom

… read more

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West Palm Beach, FL Real Estate: Newly Listed Homes for Sale

The houses for sale in and around West Palm Beach are just a small portion of more than 4 million homes sold in Florida. and across the United States every year. We’re not just talking listed homes for sale, either. We’re talking about homes for sale — that sell.

Looking for a home to buy? Or do you just like looking at what homes are on the market? Either way, here are the latest homes for sale in and around West Palm Beach listed by our partners at realtor.com.

The houses for sale in and around West Palm Beach are just a small portion of more than 4 million homes sold in Florida. and across the United States every year. We’re not just talking listed homes for sale, either. We’re talking about homes for sale — that sell. Continue reading “West Palm Beach, FL Real Estate: Newly Listed Homes for Sale”