As published in The Real Deal:
Palm Beach is well known around the world for its expensive homes, but Manalapan, its little known neighbor to the south, bested its big brother in one respect during the third quarter.
The average sales price of a single-family house in the tiny town of 429 was $9,918,500 last quarter, compared to $5,562,815 in Palm Beach, according to Jack Elkins, manager of Palm Beach/Manalapan.
To be sure, Manalapan’s average came from just eight sales, compared to 27 for Palm Beach. And Manalapan’s tally was bolstered by the $33 million sale of a spec house at 800 South Ocean Boulevard to an undisclosed buyer.
Still, Palm Beach normally has a higher average, Elkins says. He can remember Manalapan coming out on top in only one other quarter, about 10 years ago.
“New people are moving into Manalapan,” he told The Real Deal. “All the deals are gone. It’s starting to look like Palm Beach.”
The cheapest home available in Manalapan now is listed for $1.25 million, said Stuart Wexelman, a realtor for Waterfront Properties and Club Communities.
So what makes Manalapan so popular among the wealthy set? “It’s a quiet little secret,” Wexelman told TRD. “People go there if they don’t want to be known. From the 1920s, people have gone there to get away from it all and not be noticed like they would be in Palm Beach.”
He compared Palm Beach to a Rolls-Royce and Manalapan to a Bentley. “Palm Beach is more showy, and Manalapan is more reserved.” Lois Pope, widow of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope, motivational speaker Tony Robbins and musician Billy Joel all have homes in Manalapan.
“Manalapan has large oceanfront lots that aren’t as readily available in Palm Beach,” Wexelman said. And those lots run to the Intracoastal Waterway on the other side. “You can frolic in the ocean in the morning and take your boat out in the afternoon,” he said. “With its proximity to the Boynton Beach Inlet, true boaters can get to the ocean in minutes.”
And the third quarter data notwithstanding, home prices in general are steeper in Palm Beach than Manalapan. Elkins has put a two-acre ocean-to-Intracoastal property in Manalapan on the market for $19 million. “That would be closer to $100 million in Palm Beach,” he said.
Supply and demand also are playing a role in Manalapan, Elkins and Wexelman agree. “Supply is limited and demand is still increasing,” Elkins said. There are currently only 20 properties for sale in the town, and seven of them are listed for more than $5 million, Wexelman said. Almost all are more than 6,500 square feet and some are up to 10,000 square feet.
“Manalapan isn’t for the faint of heart,” he said. “With very little available in both Palm Beach and Manalapan, I think the market will get very heated.”