Real estate pros in the Hamptons and on the North Fork are reporting another flush quarter with sales up higher than we’ve seen in years, but with median prices dropping. This is great news for buyers and sellers alike.
“Business has increased quarter over quarter,” said Ernie Cervi, Executive Managing Director of The Corcoran Group in Bridgehampton. “There have been a lot of sales made in the lower end of the market which is why we see the median average price declining. This is good because when these people trade-up it sets up sales for the future.”
Across the board the credit crunch has kept buyers tentative but with interest rates at record lows, the average 30-year fixed rate loan in New York is an average 3.5%, down from about 6.25% five years ago, buyers are feeling the first-time homebuyer rush. On the East End, Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons reports that sales of homes under $1 million are on the rise with “sales under $1 million accounting for 51% of transactions, versus 39% a year ago.”
Aspasia G. Comnas, Executive Managing Director of Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, reflected on the trend in the under $1 million market which she said was, “the hardest hit during the downturn in the economy and had more than its share of inventory. With the uptick in the economy and people feeling better about their financial situation, many are now taking advantage of the quality of homes in the under $1 million range and the low interest rates, and are jumping in.”
In a recent report, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan remarked, “News from the housing sector is more positive, with various indicators showing continued momentum toward a sustainable, long-term recovery. Notably, home prices are inching back into positive territory on a year-over-year basis. Results from our September National Housing Survey also show consumers’ home price change expectations have remained positive for nearly a year.”
On the luxury end however sales are “flat” according to Cevri. The Corcoran Group reports “sales volume for the South Fork and the North Fork [residential luxury marked] declined 9% and 3% respectively.” Recently stories of model, author, and former “The Real Housewives of New York City” cast member Kelly Killoren Bensimon’s series of price cuts of her Further Lane home, from an original listing price of $12 million to a purported sale at a mere $5.5 million, made headlines. Yet the very high end, with so few properties over $30 million available, remains small but understandably so.
What about Wall Street? Prudential Douglas Elliman reports that “Wall Street and international buyers remain active.” Just how active is the question we may see answered in the next quarter.
Where is the hottest place to buy in the Hamptons? Hands down it’s Montauk with reports across the market showing a sharp increase in sales on the easternmost tip of Long Island. “The one and only range of the market that saw a decrease in the number of sales was the Bridgehampton area in the 3rd Quarter only,” says Comnas, “And that was because most of its activity just happened to bunch up on other quarters — it is still a highly desirable part of the Hamptons!”
Beyond reports and figures the real world of the market is reflecting a bit of days gone by explained Cervi, “There have been bidding wars. That’s something we haven’t seen in a while.” With new construction on the rise Cervi said that this “demonstrates a lot of confidence in the present and future market.”