By Memorial Day, Palm Beach’s real estate scene is typically slowing down as the warmer months loom.
But so little has been typical this year. And that means making predictions about anything — even how a holiday weekend will shape up — is more difficult than ever.
Even so, some brokers and agents are reporting that house-hunting seems to have slowed a bit over the past couple of weeks, following an uber-hectic season that saw record-setting sales volume on the island.
Any slowdown would be a sea change from a season in which properties often sold at lightning speed, with many deals inked after only a few days — and in some cases, hours — after the properties became available.
“I think we may be returning to some semblance of reality,” said broker Ava Van de Water, whose regional duties at Brown Harris Stevens include overseeing the agency’s Palm Beach offices.
“It seems sort of like normal, where we’re coasting into the summer season.”
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Broker John Hackett, Van de Water’s counterpart at the Corcoran Group, agreed.
“I think it’s natural to have a collective exhale after such a run,” Hackett said.
What definitely isn’t normal, however, is the tighter-than-ever housing inventory that will greet Palm Beach house-hunters scouring the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service this weekend.
An online search this week showed listings for just 33 single-family homes, with another four in the contingent phase, meaning the buyer has put the property under contract but with “contingencies.” Those conditions might be the outcome of an initial inspection, approval of financing or other requirements that must be met before the contract is set in stone and any deposit becomes non-refundable.
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At the lowest end of the active single-family listings is a $2.6 million house built in 1959 on a dry lot at 2263 Ibis Isle Road, marketed by agent Ashley McIntosh of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The single-family listings top out with a house completed last year at 149 E. Inlet Drive — on the “corner” of the inlet and the Atlantic — and priced at $79 million by brokerLawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates, who recently acquired the listing.
The latter property is one of just nine single-family properties facing the ocean or the lakefront — a lower-than-low-tide number, by any measure.
As far as condominiums and co-operative units go, the number of listings also reflects a market that has gone gangbusters over the past several months. Shoppers in Midtown will find 24 MLS-listed units available, although six of those listings are in the contingent phase. On the South End, the MLS shows 59 listings, with 14 of those marked contingent.
Here’s more data from the MLS, which shows that there are still sales waiting in the wings: As of Tuesday, there were nearly 30 single-family properties under contract without any contingencies. And of those, 10 properties were priced above $16 million.
The MLS never tells the whole story, however. There are, no doubt, other properties in Palm Beach, for sale. They’re just not listed. And that means savvy brokers and agents are keeping their ears to the ground, ready to jump on a private deal when the opportunity presents itself.
Which could be this weekend. Or not.
Darrell Hofheinz writes about real estate in his weekly “Beyond the Hedges” column. He welcomes news items about Palm Beach real estate for this column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 820-3831 or tweet @PBDN_Hofheinz.