Area vacancies still down, Rents up

Same good news as this time last year (here’s the story), some real estate statistics, where “falling” and “low” are good news – Jupiter, Tequesta, Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach apartment vacancy rates are at 3.7 percent (5 percent this time last year), with 128 vacancies out of 3,485 units, according to a November 2011 through February 2012 survey compiled by L. Keith White, president of Reinhold P. Wolff Economic Research, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale. The survey covered multi-unit apartment complexes.

Palm Beach County overall has improved,” White said. “Rents went up 4.6 percent over last year.” And according to his report, vacancy rates are now at 5 percent – they were at 6 percent this time last year, and generally 5 percent is considered normal.

Last year’s numbers were more dramatic, he notes, because competition from low-priced condos and single-family homes coming onto the market due to foreclosure has settled down. “That’s been an important factor,” he said, “but the biggest factor that has caused vacancy rates to decline and rental rates to increase is the lack of new construction and we will be seeing new construction in the next year or so.”

White  also forecasts that over the next two or three years, rental rates increases will be back to normal 4 percent or 4 percent.

According to White’s survey, average monthly rental rates for apartments in Jupiter/Tequesta/Palm Beach Gardens/North Palm Beach have increased 1.9 percent. This year, rates are at  $1,032 for a one-bedroom units, $1,257 for a two-bedroom units, and $1,467 for three-bedroom units. Last year, rates were $1,035 for a one-bedroom units, $1,235 for a two-bedroom units, and $1,457 for three-bedroom units.

tequesta rental
This home, listed by Virginia Gallopo and located in Tequesta Cay, has three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and 1,954 square feet.
tequesta 2
The kitchen has been updated and has granite countertops.
This home, in the Hamptons, Jupiter, listed by Shir-Lee Rosenberg, has three bedrooms and more than 2,000 square feet. The price is $2,000 per month.

Two recent studies note that Florida places second with nine markets on the top 33 list for Best 100 U.S. Markets to Invest in Rental Property authored by Local Market Monitor, Inc. This is based on the expected investment return in each market as compared with the national average expected investment return of 5.2 percent.

Also, a new Zillow report released in March, the January Zillow Rent Index (ZRI), showed year-over-year rent gains in 69.2 percent of metropolitan areas, compared to home price gains in only 7.3 percent of the metro areas.

Nationwide, median rents rose an average 3 percent January 2011 to January 2012, but home values continued to fall, declining 4.6 percent during that period.

Turning the focus to single-family home rentals, they are in demand and prices are increasing, noted Virginia Gallopo of Exit Realty Oceanside. “I have clients who buy properties and turn them back over to me to rent,” she said. “They are taking advantage of the low prices of the real estate market and low interest rates. In my 27 years in real estate, this is the first time I’ve seen both so low.

“I just sold a unit for $68,000, and considering that mortgage payments are low, you can see a major return on your investment. And then, eventually home values will go up,” she said.

In Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, rents depend on the area.

“I just sold a client’s house and she’s looking for a one-bedroom in Palm Beach Gardens, and I’m seeing them at $950 to $1,000, but it depends on where you are looking. On the beach in Jupiter, rents could go $3,000 to $4,000.” (Gallopo’s phone number is 561-346-8423.)

Shir-Lee Rosenberg, a realtor with, said she also sees rental rates going up, with a big demand for single-family homes. In Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, prices for three bedrooms plus rental homes range from $1,500 to $2,500 a month, but she sees that there’s also a big demand for homes less that $1,500 a month, and “We don’t have them,” she said.

She attributes the demand for rental properties to the foreclosures and short sales. “People who’ve lost their homes can’t buy  for a few years, and people who rented homes that went into foreclosure also needed to find a new place to live.”

She, too, see investors recognizing this demand and buying rental properties. (Her phone number is 561-543-1181.)

A home for a song

It can’t be helped. When you own an historic house, it comes with history. This Palm Beach oceanfront home, Il Sogno, a 10-bedroom, 10-bath and three-half-bath Mediterranean-style home with 11,627 square feet inside and out that sits on 1.4 acres, is owned by Catherine and Fred Adler. Franklyn Smith commissioned Marion Sims Wyeth to build the home in 1924. “He put in the iron doors in the living room, sun room and elevator door,” Adler says.

“He owned an ironworks company in Chicago.”

Il Sogno//

Then Heart Mitchell and her daughter Ann Anderson owned it. “They brought over the sculpture of the Greek gods that’s at the north end of the pool. It had been at their home on Via Bellaria, which was later sold to Enid Haupt. Ann and her mother also owned a home in Greenwich, the Castle, which was directly across from Eagle Hill – quite a magnificent place – and they had a home in the south of France. They were well traveled,” Adler says.

After Heart died, Ann and her husband Gordon inherited the house, and then they sold it to the Monks family.

Adler knows all this because Ann was a close friend. “She visited quite frequently until she died a few years ago,” Alder says. “I’ve a photo of her on the piano.”

Following the Monks family, Ralph Levitz bought the house, and, shortly after, he married his decorator, Jackie, Adler recalls. “He had a couple of strokes and didn’t fare well at all and then they sold to us in 1991.

“Jackie vanished after Ralph died. She moved to Mississippi, where they found her red nails and strands of her hair. Thus her disappearance took on deeper meaning. We had a helicopter flying overhead when the news broke. They never found her.”

However colorful the home’s previous history, the time the Alder family has lived there has been happy with many fond memories. “It’s been a wonderful family home,” Adler says.

“The minute I stepped onto the west loggia and saw the levels of gardens, my heart went boom, boom, boom. I was thrilled.

“You could see the ocean and the lake from the living room. I marvel at that.

“It’s a true mar a lago, with sunrises and sunsets and so much light.”

The Adlers’ sons Freddy and Christopher were babies when she and Fred bought the house.

“There’s a service path south of the property, and the kids had a fire truck they could sit in, and they’d roar down the alley way. It was so much fun.

“We had a train set for the boys in the secret garden. You can get lost on this property. There’s a little area outside the sunrooms that has had many incarnations.”

Actually, the Adlers have made lots of changes. They put in three bedrooms, built a back staircase and connected the two wings of the house.

“We gutted the living room and put in a special steel beam to support the new construction upstairs, and we brought over the ceiling from Italy.”

Small rooms to the south of the living room were made into a large library, she says. “We raised the ceiling, bowed the room and put French doors and a terrace out there, where we eat lunch when it’s windy out back.

“We redid everything – the powder rooms, kitchen, laundry and the bowing of the library allowed us to put a terrace above it. We put French doors everywhere. When the doors are open, you feel like you are outside.”

They made lots of changes outside, too. “Prior to us, people didn’t use the yard. We put in the dining terrace, tennis court and a new seawall.”

Its exterior is stucco with a tower and barrel-tile roof. Two sets of stairs lead to the front terrace and the front door, which opens to the foyer and dramatic stairway. Here the floor is marble and the ceiling is vaulted. On the south side of the stair hall is a step down to the sitting room, which has a domed ceiling, built-in display cabinets and French doors with wrought iron grill work.

Off the foyer are an elevator and powder room.

Architectural features in the living room include French doors with wrought iron grills to the east and west, a marble mantel and a decorative ceiling. Off of the living room, a bar connects to the kitchen, breakfast room and the wine cellar. The dining room has decorative crown molding, wainscot, marble floors and French doors to the west and the south that open to the terraces.

Off of the living room, going south is the library and a bedrooms suite.

On the second floor, the master suite features a tray ceiling and the French doors open to balconies that overlook the garden and the ocean.  The walls are covered in a silk moray and the floor is hardwood. The master suite includes closets, marble bathrooms, a library and office.

In the north wing are two bedroom suites and a guest apartment with a sun deck. On the south wing are three bedroom suites with terraces.

Outside, behind the dining terrace are the four-car garage, laundry and gym.

On the grounds are a pool, an orchid house, hidden gardens, formal gardens, fountains, a tennis court and putting green.

The tower can be accessed only by way of the elevator. “When my sons were little boys they didn’t know we had an elevator because I kept it locked. They thought that you got to the tower by ‘helivator.’”

This home is offered for sale through the Corcoran Group for $27 million.





Discover Local Artists: Endangered Florida Species

The exhibit, “Endangered Florida Species,” held on March 16 from 6 to 10 p.m., is hosted by Anthony and Trina Burks and Paul Fisher. The showcase highlights environmental sanctuaries and aims to bring awareness to the state’s endangered species.

Viewers will have two more opportunities to see this exhibit while it’s up at Fisher Gallery when the space is open to the public without an appointment. The first is Wednesday, March 28 when they may see the show and hear a lecture on the severely endangered scrub jay at 6 p.m.. The other time the gallery is open to the public without calling first is 6 p.m. on Friday, March 30 when there will be a lecture on recent threats to the already endangered Florida state animal, the Florida panther.

Part of the proceeds of Anthony Burks’ renderings of wildlife will go to three charities that focus on Florida’s environment. Part of the sales of the works by Greg Matthews, Durga Garcia and Ursula Fernandez will be split between Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, Arthur R. Marshall Foundation and Loggerhead Marina.

The Paul Fisher Gallery is at The Flamingo Building, 433 Flamingo Drive, West Palm Beach. For information, call Trina Slade-Burks at (561) 842-5724.

Ursula pic
Ursula Fernandez 2  image
Florida Endangered FLYER
“Crested Caracara,” by Burks.  30 by 40 inches, mixed media,$3800.
“Wood Stork,” by Matthews, 20 by 30 inches,  photography,$675.