Over the summer, both Bruce Springsteen and Rep. Mark Foley bought homes in Palm Beach County.
The Boss purchased a 5 bedroom, 6 bath, 7,800 square foot home in Equestrian Club Estates in Wellington for a purchase price of $3.1 million. According to reports, Springsteen’s daughter Jessica is interested in equestrian activities – all the better since their next door neighbor is Mark Bellissimo, owner of a show jumping stadium.
Rep. Foley, on the other hand, purchased a 1,000 square foot condo at One City Plaza in downtown West Palm Beach. Foley paid $160,000 for the condo, which has been assessed at $214,000 and previously sold for $279,000 in 2006.
According to a report by the Florida Association of Realtors, newly lowered prices of existing single family homes is the main reason for the Treasure Coastâ€™s 43% rise in sales, the largest annual percentage gain in the state.
After months of sales dropping in the double digits, Palm Beach Countyâ€™s sales dropped only 3% last month from last yearâ€™s levels, another positive sign that the market is stabilizing.
Sources at the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches agree, saying that buyers have been waiting to see how much prices will drop. And they did -- median prices of existing homes in Palm Beach County fell 12% to $334,300 since June 2007, and in Martin and St. Lucie Counties, median prices fell 32% to $160,800.
Also according to the report, existing condominium sale prices fell 24% since June 2007 to a median price of $153,200, making them more affordable to first-time buyers. Martin and St. Lucie countiesâ€™ media price fell to $165,000 â€“ a drop of 28%.
This reflects two things, according to analysts. One â€“ sellers are becoming more realistic about pricing their properties, and two â€“ the amount of foreclosures in the upcoming months will drive down prices in the next 24 months.
Across the state, existing home sales fell 5% compared to last yearâ€™s figures. Nationally, sales fell by 15%. These low sales levels also mean lower prices â€“ the median price dropped by 7% compared to figures from last year.
Economists warn that there is still a way to go, but are hopeful that this is at least the beginning of the end.
Once again, amid news that Palm Beach Countyâ€™s property values are plummeting, the towns of Palm Beach and Manalapan continue to see their property values rise.
According to the Property Appraiserâ€™s office, overall property values in Palm Beach County fell by 7% within the past year â€“ except for 5 towns which saw their numbers rise.
Out of the Countyâ€™s 38 municipalities, Palm Beach, Manalapan, Mangonia Park, Gulf Stream and Jupiter Inlet Colony were the only ones to see an upswing in their estimated taxable value from 2007 to 2008.
The largest rise is in Manalapan, with a 7.23% increase, next is Palm Beach with a 6.18% rise, Jupiter Inlet Colonyâ€™ value rose 3.09%, Mangonia Park and Gulf Stream round out the last of the rising property values with 1.77% and 1.71%, respectively.
From January to February 2008, home prices in Palm Beach County rose slightly from a median price of $343,200 to $344,600, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
Prices of condominiums in Palm Beach County tell the same story, rising slightly from January 2008 to February 2008, but down 24 percent from February 2007.
Although there is still a way to go â€“ actual sales were down 28 percent from one year ago â€“ many Realtors see the increase as a positive sign that change is upon us, or at least some stabilization within the market.
Others warn against being too optimistic so soon for fear that a â€śfalse bottomâ€ť will cause complacency and eventually result in further decreases in home values.
Messages are mixed â€“ for every positive sign there seems to be a negative one to cancel it out, but the industry remains hopeful that a change for the better is on the horizon.
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