Real Estate - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Real Estate

Living in South Florida is getting more and more expensive. Palm Beach County is adding an average of 11,000 new single family homes each year, but did you know there are are neighborhoods in our area where people will pay just about anything to get in--neighborhoods where prices are growing even faster than local averages?

The Palm Beach Post has analyzed every home sale in our area for the past decade. Tonight, using those numbers, Fox 29's Tara Cardoso shows you some of the area's Real Estate Hot Spots.

For Sale signs everywhere, the problem is as fast as they go up, they come down.

Mark Hammack: "The minute the homes go on the market they get a contract, usually a full contract price."

Not enough supply to feed the ever increasing demand. Palm Beach Post Reporter William Hartnett did some serious number crunching with home sales in what you think of as common neighborhoods all over Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast--and came across a little secret. You already know prices are sky-rocketing but did you know there were certain areas that were especially hot? Take this home on Linda Lane in south eastern West Palm Beach.

"It's in great condition."

It sold for a modest $165,000 in April 2000, right about the start of the boom. But then it sold again in December of 2002 for $382,000, and yet again for $495,000 in May of 2004. HUGE Increases over a four year span! Still, Dana and Jessica Koch thought they were getting a great deal.

Dana Koch: "It's an asset, regardless of how you look at it, the house is an asset, you can't get too attached to it."

Would you sell it?

Jessica Koch: "I would sell it today."

That's because Dana's a real estate agent and feels he could sell his home now for hundreds of thousands more than he paid for it.

Dana Koch: "People realize it's a great place to live."

So, what's so special about this neighborhood that residents call "Soso," that is, short for 'south of Southern'?

Jessica Koch: "When you think of living in Florida you would like to live near water."

Since both Dana and Jessica work in downtown West Palm Beach they knew they wanted to live east. One block from Flagler Drive and half a million dollars later. Not bad, they thought, it is Florida after all.

Jessica Koch: "I never thought it could get this high, coming from New York. You always thought living in Florida was cheaper."

But it's not always, especially if you want a piece of our most precious commodity.

William Hartnett: "We're not making any more waterfront."

But East isn't the only direction that's seeing triple digit gains. Check out the western communities of Royal Palm Beach, the Acreage, Loxahatchee and Wellington.

William Hartnett: "These are areas where you will see doubling or even tripling of median sale prices."

876 Foresteria Ave. It sold four times in just ONE year. $245,000 in October of 2003, then $280,000 in April of 2004, then $290,000 in August of 2004 and $311,000 just last October. But how much more would the owner, a property appraiser, ask for his home now... just seven months later?

Mark Hammack: "Easily 80 thousand or so."

Mark Hammack knew he ONLY wanted to buy in Wellington for two big reasons.

Mark Hammack: "The schools are A plus."

And he needed room for three kids and, of course, the hamster.

Mark Hammack: "The reason we chose this house was because of the size of the property."

And that has many other parents paying top dollar for a young family lifestyle they say you can't get on the east side -- for the same price: bigger back yards, good schools, lots of kids activities and parks.

Mark Hammack: "If you want to be in that neighborhood you'll do anything to get the home you want, if it means more money out of pocket, you'll do that."

And that's why the man who previously owned Mark's house bought it, sold it, bought it back again, and sold it again. You see, James Johnson makes his living buying and selling homes FOR CASH -- and has made a fortune. How long do you wait to put the home back on the market?

James Johnson: "The day I close."

But Johnson flips homes ONLY in Wellington. He lives here himself, but says the good deals are getting harder to find. Do you ever think, well if I had held onto that home just a little longer?

James Johnson: "You can't look at it like that, you have to think the money I made off that house, I purchased other homes."

But if you think there are still no affordable homes under $200,000--think again. We found some, like this home in Lake Worth and this one.

William Hartnett: "They are not perhaps in the hottest areas, like your Wellingtons or your historic neighborhoods, but they are out there."

Experts tell us low interest rates, great weather, disappearing land and the American dream of homeownership are not alone when it comes to fueling the boom. Everyone may have their own ideas of what makes home sweet home, but when buyers agree you're looking at a real estate hot spot. Here are some other hotspots. In Palm Beach County: College Park in Lake Worth, Singer Island, South Greenacres and Central Delray Beach. On the Treasure Coast: Palm City, Hobe Sound, Hutchinson Island and the Indian River Drive Area.

To learn more about which neighborhoods are the hottest and to find out how your neighborhood stacks up. You can head to the Palm Beach Post website at

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