Apartment rents in Palm Beach County still rising

The new Loftin Place apartments in West Palm Beach. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)
The new Loftin Place apartments in West Palm Beach. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County’s average rent will rise to $1,510 this year, a 5 percent increase, commercial real estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap says.

Rents jumped 9 percent last year, the company says. The Boynton Beach-Delray Beach area posted rent growth of 8 percent, while West Palm Beach rents increased 6 percent.

Mansion sales: Kevin James sells house in Delray, new house trades in Manalapan

kevin jamesThe market for oceanfront mansions keeps going strong. Actor Kevin James sold his spread at 502 N. Ocean Blvd. in Delray Beach for $26.38 million, according to property records.

James, star of TV series “King of Queens” and the movie “Mall Cop,” paid $18.5 million for the house in 2012. The buyer is listed as a trust from New Jersey.

Up A1A in Manalapan, the newly built mansion at 1400 S. Ocean Blvd. fetched $25.2 million, according to property records. However, the multiple listing service says the mansion sold for $28.2 million.

The buyer is Pennsylvania businessman Francis Mennella.

Seacoast Bank raises minimum wage to $14

Dennis Hudson in 2002.
Dennis Hudson in 2002.

All full-time employees at Stuart-based Seacoast Banking Corp. now make at least $14 an hour, the company said Thursday.

The venerable bank — which has operated in Florida since the Great Depression — announced the pay hike during a quarterly earnings call. A sixth of Seacoast’s employees were affected by the raise, said Seacoast CEO Denny Hudson.

Other comments from Hudson:

“The financial impact to Seacoast is minimal, only $250,000. But the impact on our brand and commitment to our communities and to our associates is enormous. As the result of this strong affirmative step, we will be better able to attract and retain qualified associates who are committed to building a career in financial services, and who can deliver the highly customized service that our business model will increasingly require. It is with some pride that I note that Seacoast implemented this program on April 15, two months before J. P. Morgan’s well-publicized similar initiative.”

See where Ocwen ranks in JDPower mortgage survey (Hint: Not at the top)

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Ocwen ranked dead last in the latest J.D. Power survey of mortgage servicers, slipping from last year’s next-to-last finish.

Ocwen scored 650 on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale, trailing 28 other mortgage servicers, J.D. Power said Thursday.

West Palm Beach-based Ocwen (NYSE: OCN) has a long record of consumer complaints and regulatory actions.


U.S. homeownership rate plunges to 51-year low


The last time the U.S. homeownership rate was this low, LBJ was president and The Beatles’ “Help!” was the nation’s No. 1 song.

Just 62.9 percent of Americans owned homes in the second quarter of 2016, matching a nadir last seen in 1965, the Department of Commerce said Thursday. The declining homeownership rate is a cloudy spot in an otherwise sunny housing picture: U.S. home prices hit another all-time high in June, and mortgage rates are near record lows.

Some were sanguine about the drop. Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, says the homeownership rate dropped mainly because millennials are finally moving out of their parents’ homes and forming households.

“If the decline is real, it is more likely due to a large increase in the number of renter households than any real decline in the number of homeowner households,” he said.

The homeownership rate for 18- to 34-year-olds fell to 34.1 percent in the second quarter.


Palm Beach County added to list of regions scrutinized for money laundering


Back in January, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, said it would scrutinize all-cash real estate purchases by secretive entities in two areas: Miami-Dade County and Manhattan.

On Wednesday, the feds said the scrutiny yielded a number of leads — and they extended the oversight to Broward and Palm Beach counties, along with all five boroughs of New York, five counties in California and one in Texas.

FinCEN will require U.S. title insurance companies to reveal the individual behind all-cash, high-end real estate transactions. For South Florida, that means any deal of $1 million or more.

All-cash shell-company deals are “highly vulnerable to abuse for money laundering,” the feds said.

See how much Esperante building sold for

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The Esperante tower in West Palm Beach has sold for $125.75 million, according to a deed made public Tuesday.

The buyer is RedSky Capital of Brooklyn. The trophy tower fetched a sum well above its 2013 price of $71 million.

West Palm Beach office rents have hit record levels, and Esperante is 97.6 percent leased, according to a recent study. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch moved in last year.

We’re No. 1: Palm Beach County ranks as nation’s hottest housing market

Florida Yard Sign

This item originally appeared in July 2016.

Forget fast-appreciating Denver and stratospheric San Francisco. Palm Beach County has elbowed its way into the top spot on real estate firm Ten-X‘s list of the nation’s hottest housing markets.

Ten-X’s analysis:

“Palm Beach County’s housing market is scorching. Seasonally adjusted home prices are up 16.8 percent year-over-year, the highest pace in the country, while quarterly gains have exceeded 3 percent in each of the past seven quarters. Prices are at a cyclical high after eclipsing $260,000 this quarter but still 14 percent below their pre-recession peak, suggesting additional room to run. Employment is also at an all-time high, with jobs up 2.4 percent from a year ago thanks to strong performances in key sectors like financial services, education, healthcare, and leisure & hospitality. As rents continue to rise for local apartments amid accelerating population growth (1.7 percent in 2015), the affordability of single-family homes should continue to fuel demand and the local housing market will continue to prosper.”

Florida markets swept the top four spots in Ten-X’s ranking of 50 U.S. metro areas.

Five things to know about Palm Beach County’s job market in June


Highs and lows from Florida’s unemployment report for June:

  1. Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate jumped to 4.9 percent in June from 4.2 percent in May.
  2. Construction growth remains slow. The sector added just 200 jobs over the past year.
  3. Palm Beach County lost 10,300 jobs from May to June.
  4. Palm Beach County’s annual job growth was 1.9 percent, well behind Florida’s 3.2 percent pace.
  5. The fastest-growing employment sector was education and health services, which added 3,200 jobs.

Home prices soar, and five other things to know about Palm Beach County’s housing market

Florida Yard Sign

The median price of a house sold in Palm Beach County last month rose to $320,000, up 5.6 percent from June 2015, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches said Thursday.

Five other stats that jump out from the monthly look at Palm Beach County’s housing market:

  1. Total sales volume fell a bit: House sales in June totaled $918 million, the highest monthly total since June 2015’s $941 million.
  2. Mansion sellers play the waiting game: The typical house spent 43 days on the market before going under contract. For homes priced at under $50,000, median time to contract was just 15 days. But for mansions priced at $1 million or more, the typical marketing time was 140 days.
  3. In the condo market, cash is king: Fully 58 percent of condos and townhouses sold last month went to buyers without mortgages. For houses, just 32 percent of sales were for cash.
  4. Condo prices cooled: The median condo price was $161,500 in June, down from $165,500 in May.
  5. More leverage for condo buyers: Condos sold last month for 93.0 percent of list price, the lowest level in at least a year. Houses, on the other hand, fetched 94.9 percent of the asking price.