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Hamptons home sales surge to near records

The volume of home sales in the Hamptons has nearly returned to the highs set in 2007, well before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, according to a report released Thursday morning. Meanwhile, luxury home sales numbers hit a record.

In the second quarter, there were 539 sales in the second-home market, up 9.6% from the same period a year ago, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Inc. The number of sales was the second highest in more than five years, just missing the all-time high reached in the first quarter of 2007 by three transactions. Unlike the Manhattan home sales market, where inventory dipped in the period, the supply of houses on the market in the Hamptons increased right along with sales. Inventory rose 10.8% to 1,798 in the second quarter.

“There were a large amount of sub-million-dollar and high-end transactions,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel. “There is robust sales activity, and prices are stable.”

Sales of homes under $1 million, represented 63.2% of the total in the quarter, according to the report. Meanwhile, the sale homes at the high-end—upwards of $5 million—hit record levels. There were 38 such sales in the quarter, the most since Elliman/Miller Samuel started tracking the high-end market in the fourth quarter of 2010. Back then, sales of $5 million-plus homes were spurred by erroneous, as it turned out, fears that the Bush tax cuts would be allowed to expire, Mr. Miller said. He added that in this year’s second quarter, there was nothing artificially inflating luxury home sales.

“The Hamptons is hot; people want to be there, and with everything that is going on in the world, people see it as a good investment,” said Dottie Herman, CEO of Elliman.

But don’t expect homes prices to go up any time soon, Ms. Herman added. According to the report, the average sales price remained unchanged at $1.7 million, down 0.7% from the second quarter of last year. Similarly, a separate quarterly report by The Corcoran Group said the average sale price for the second quarter was $1.8 million, up 3% from the same period a year ago.

“We are seeing bidding wars, which tells us that people are pricing their properties well,” said Ernie Cervi, executive managing director for Bridgehampton for Corcoran.

In another positive sign for the playground for the rich and famous, land sales increased for the fifth consecutive quarter, according to Corcoran. Some 62 land parcels sold for a total of $76 million in the Hamptons, including Shelter Island, during the quarter. The number of sales rose 11% from the same time last year.

“This is significant because it sends a message about future home sales,” Mr. Cervi said.

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