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Why Hamptons-Lovers Are Looking South to Palm Beach

By Marcelle Sussman Fischler | March 28, 2017 | Home & Real Estate

With the value of properties rapidly appreciating in Florida, real estate-savvy Hamptonites are getting in on the action.

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89 Middle Road, once the estate of the late media magnate John Kluge, is listed for $59 million with The Corcoran Group.

Except for the palm trees punctuating the landscape, the hedgerows lining South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach, Florida, resemble those along Meadow Lane in Southampton; both obscure palatial homes with ocean vistas from prying eyes.

The Hamptons and Palm Beach, after all, are flip sides of the same gold coin: two of the nation’s most exclusive resort communities. Offering pristine beaches, a lifestyle rich in cultural and social activities, and a pleasant climate at different times of the year, both places are stomping grounds of the rich and famous. “Both the Hamptons and Palm Beach are known for their physical beauty,” says Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of The Corcoran Group, which serves the residential real estate markets of New York, Long Island’s East End, and South Florida, including Palm Beach.

While the Hamptons is the ultimate A-list summer getaway destination, Palm Beach is the quintessential winter haven. Many of the megawealthy have mansions in both places. Smaller than the 32-mile long South Fork that encompasses the Hamptons, Palm Beach, a barrier island off the east coast of South Florida, is 15 miles long and four blocks across at its widest point. It sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Worth Lagoon on the Intracoastal Waterway, connected by three bridges to West Palm Beach.

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1095 N. Ocean Boulevard, the former Kennedy compound.

“Both communities have populations that swell during their respective seasons, with the Hamptons summer population dwarfing the Palm Beach winter season population,” Liebman adds.

In the area of real estate, both markets are strong. “The high end is selling off the charts,” says Carole Koeppel of Sotheby’s International Realty Palm Beach Real Estate. “Prices are going up, and we don’t have a lot of inventory,” particularly in the coveted Estates section and North End.

“There has always been steady appreciation in Palm Beach real estate,” says go-to broker Lawrence A. Moens. Roaming the island in his Bentley, Moens points out John F. Kennedy’s old winter White House, a Mediterranean stucco that sold for $31 million in May and is being renovated.

Close by is the 18,000-square-foot beachfront crib that shock jock Howard Stern, a longtime Southampton resident, purchased in 2013 for $52 million, plus renovations. Along South Ocean Boulevard, the former John Lennon estate is expected to be listed this season in the $70-million-plus range.

Palm Beach prices “have always been Monopoly money,” Moens says, adding that when he started in real estate 38 years ago, “a million dollars was a lot of money; the same home now is $10 million.” Topping the listing charts is a sprawling $84 million, red tile–roofed spec house.

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530 S. Ocean Boulevard, part of one of the ritziest neighborhoods in the nation, is listed for $21 million by go-to Palm Beach broker Lawrence A. Moens.

In the Hamptons, says Corcoran broker Gary DePersia, “people have certainly paid more than $100 million,” with $20 million to $50 million no longer a brow raiser, even for a teardown. Upscale starter homes begin at $1.5 million to $2 million in the Hamptons and for Bermuda-style cottages in Palm Beach.

Buyers want “all the bells and whistles that they can get for their price level,” DePersia says, although typically smaller Palm Beach lots lack room for tennis courts.

In Palm Beach, landmarked Spanish-style homes with loggias, colonnades, barrel-tile roofs and decorative ironwork exude grandeur. With vacant land scarce, teardowns are omnipresent. “We are now seeing some of the medium-tolarge houses going down and very large houses going up,” says Ava Van de Water, a broker and executive vice president with Brown Harris Stevens of Palm Beach.

Beyond the hedgerows, the resort communities have distinct architectural styles. “The traditional shingle-style home dominates the landscape in the Hamptons versus the Mediterranean and West Indies styles popular in Palm Beach,” Liebman says. Modern design is more prevalent in the Hamptons.

Manhattan-based interior designer Bruce Bierman, who works extensively in the Hamptons and Palm Beach, describes Hamptons interiors as “more beachy, more informal” and “more rustic, more user-friendly” compared with the “more manicured, more couture-like craftsmanship” and “higher-quality art” in Palm Beach.

In the Hamptons, new gated communities and condominiums, like Southampton’s Bishops Pond and Sag Harbor’s Watchcase Factory, are trending, the result of the desire for maintenance-free lifestyles. Steven Dubb, CEO of the Beechwood Organization, developer of Bishops Pond, says 76 of 79 units sold in the past two years, “far faster” and “for higher prices” than anticipated, “starting at $740,000, and now as high as $2.6 million.”

In Palm Beach, condominiums in the former Biltmore Hotel fetch $1.5 million to $10 million for a penthouse, Moens says.

The Bristol, a 25-story, amenityladen luxury tower is scheduled to break ground early next year in West Palm Beach. The 69 condominium units, priced from $5 million to $22 million, will have intracoastal and ocean views, says John Harper, the project’s director.

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720 S. Ocean Boulevard, site of the old John Lennon estate.

Equestrians favor gated communities, farms, and estates in Wellington, 15 miles west of Palm Beach. With 50,00 residents, “Wellington is the equestrian capital of the world in winter,” says Martha W. Jolicoeur, owner-broker of Martha W. Jolicoeur Farms & Estates, a Douglas Elliman affiliate. Prices range from about $2 million to $24 million for a farm with a house and barn. Homes in the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club start in the $200,000s for a condominium to $15 million for an estate home.

Tom Baldwin, broker-owner of Equestrian Sotheby’s International Realty, says the most coveted properties for sale and rental are in hacking distance of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Horse barns with 16 to 26 stalls lease for more than $400,000 from January to April.

Baldwin says, “It goes horses first, and then they worry about the people,” with snowbirds spending $10,000 monthly for a condominium to $50,000 monthly for a six-bedroom, 6.5-bath home with a pool overlooking the golf course at Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.

Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg both have horse-loving daughters and homes in Mallet Hill, Wellington’s highest-end community. Palm Beach and Wellington are increasingly attracting families from California, the Midwest, New York, and Connecticut, drawn by the lifestyle and the lack of state income tax and inheritance tax. Says Koeppel, “You get more for your money here.”



Photography by: photography by brantley photography