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Hamptons market sees growth at high, low ends

The Hamptons market, the busiest in six years, is leaving behind only the mid-market, second quarter sales numbers from Prudential Douglas Elliman show.

“We’re seeing a two-pronged market, where there is strength in the sub-million area, due to record low mortgage rates, and strength at the upper end,” said Jonathan Miller, president of real estate analytics firm Miller Samuel, and author of the report. “There’s not much in between.”

With 63 percent of sales in the sub million-dollar range, up year-over-year from 61 percent, the market share in the Hamptons of lower-end properties is growing, Miller said. And on the other end of the spectrum, the second quarter of 2012 saw 38 properties trade for more than $5 million — the most since Miller Samuel began tracking Hamptons sales, in 2007. The only quarter to come close to that number of $5 million-plus sales was the fourth quarter of 2010, when a rush of properties hit the market in anticipation of changes in capital gains taxes (which were not enacted, in the end).

Brown Harris Stevens’ Hamptons market report for the second quarter showed similar findings, with the number of East End (Hamptons and the North Fork) sales up 23 percent from the second quarter of last year, and the number of sales under $1 million up 42 in the same period.

“The ultra, ultra-high-end is pretty stable,” in the Hamptons, said Dottie Herman, president and CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman. But the summer haven is still no Manhattan. “The city has really come back in its prices, while the Hamptons is flat,” she said.

The Corcoran report for the same timeframe pinpoints the hottest Hamptons neighborhoods —Wainscott and the village of East Hampton. The number of sales in Wainscott was up 222 percent, year-over-year, while East Hampton reported a 150 percent increase in sales volume, per Corcoran’s numbers. Median prices in Wainscott and East Hampton were $2.05 million and $770,000 respectively, the report said.

The average East End sales price overall was $1.05 million, up 4.8 percent year-over-year, the Elliman report shows. The median price was $735,000, up 16 percent year-over-year. In the Hamptons submarket, median price was flat, at a steady average sales price of $1.7 million, and a median of $850,000 — up 9 percent from the same time last year.

Inventory in the Hamptons has increased however, by 5.3 percent year-over-year, which Herman warned could foretell a rougher market. “You want to make sure inventory doesn’t rise too high,” she said. But Herman noted that higher inventory and low interest rates make it a great time to buy. Most other markets have not seen rising inventory, analysts noted.

Miller was less concerned about rising inventory, explaining that “in markets where average property values are higher, and there is a bigger spread between value and mortgage, that market is going to see more inventory growth because people have more flexibility,” and can wait until pricing is where they want it before selling.

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