By E.B. Solomont
(Dow Jones) — Six years ago, Michael and Roberta Joseph spent about $8.5 million to build a modern house on the water in Palm Beach, Fla. But Mr. Joseph, 62, was intrigued by the homes he saw across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach. There, he noticed, older homes sat untouched for decades and coastal lots could be had for a fraction of Palm Beach prices.
“I’d say to my wife, ‘Someday people will wake up and say, ‘Frankly, the view is better from West Palm,'” said Mr. Joseph, who is president of the real-estate development company Clover Group. “It’s on the water, and it’s way more convenient.”
Last year, the couple acted on Mr. Joseph’s instincts. They sold their home in Palm Beach for around $10.5 million and bought a newly constructed house in West Palm Beach, across the water from Mar-a-Lago. They paid $15.9 million, far more than the property’s last sale price of $3 million in 2016. Still, the couple turned down a lucrative offer to flip the contract about a week before they closed. “We wanted the house, ” Mr. Joseph said.
Long dismissed as Palm Beach’s less-fashionable neighbor, West Palm Beach is one of many areas of the country to see its luxury market skyrocket with the onset of Covid. An influx of buyers — some out-of-state transplants and others from Palm Beach — are flocking to now-popular West Palm Beach neighborhoods like El Cid, Prospect Park and SoSo, or South of Southern. Over the past year, single-family homes on the water have traded for multiples of their prior sale prices. Buyers are flipping contracts for a profit, investors are moving in and the skyline is dotted with cranes as developers forge ahead with luxury condominiums to meet demand.,,,
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