Barrons’ Twenty Best Places to Buy a Second Home: Palm Beach, Florida

Wes Palm Beach, Florida Real EstateFor second homes in America’s most affluent locations, the past year was ugly. No way else to describe it. Median home prices were down 50% in North Lake Tahoe, and 44% on Martha’s Vineyard, to cite two examples.

Last year was brutal for second homes in the nation’s most affluent areas. But the market is firming up again. Here’s our list, expanded to 20 sites, for those seeking top-tier refuges.

Residents joke that you never realize how young you are, or how poor, until you visit Palm Beach. Proof abounds in the Chanel and Graff Diamonds shops on Worth Avenue or while lunching at Testa, where out on the sidewalk a skin-tucked elderly woman models for a local shop. The Colony Hotel cabaret books acts like Chita Rivera, but aging rocker-residents such as Rod Stewart and Jimmy Buffett are often seen bopping around town. The restaurants Buccan and Cha Cha’s are for the slightly younger set.

The tight space of Palm Beach, a heavily developed barrier island, tends to support real estate prices. But folk near retirement eventually trade down. In 2011, Jimmy Buffett bought a $4.95 million house, paying slightly less than the $5.2 million asking price, after selling his $18.2 million oceanfront estate. Home hunters will find valuable market data at in reports prepared by local real-estate attorney Les Evans.

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