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Price of high-end Hamptons pads soars 35% in 1Q

Home prices in the Hamptons ended the first quarter up from year-earlier levels, according to two out of three market reports released Thursday. However, a third report showed prices heading south.

The median sales price hit $780,000 in the first quarter, up 11.6%, while the average rose 9.1% to $1.72 million, according to a report by Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Inc. Similarly, a Brown Harris Stevens report found that the median price rose 5% to $815,000, while the average rose 7% to $1.4 million.

“The Hamptons market has sustained itself well,” said Paul Brennan, Hamptons regional manager for Elliman. “The upper end held its own, and lower end of the market picked up considerably.”

The price increases reflect a stable, but hardly a booming market, said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel, adding that last year this time prices were lower than usual because fears that the Bush tax cuts would expire drove many to sell before the end of 2010, that depressed prices into early 2011. Additionally, Mr. Miller noted that average sales price during the first quarter of this year was boosted by high-end sales.

“We had a pretty robust luxury market,” said Mr. Miller, adding that the average sales price for the top 10% of all transactions in the quarter was $7.2 million, up 35.3% from the same time last year. There were a total of 38 deals at the top.

In fact, one $20 million home sale that closed in the Village of East Hampton boosted average sale prices in that town by 35%, said Ernest Cervi, executive managing director in Bridgehampton for The Corcoran Group.

Overall, however, a report from The Corcoran Group concluded that prices slipped substantially in the first quarter. Median sales price dropped 19% to $1.45 million and median prices dipped 5% to $821,000. “Sellers adjusted their prices to the current market,” said Mr. Cervi, referring to the declines.

In an encouraging sign about future growth in the market, there were 59 sales of raw land sales in the Hamptons during the first three months of the year. That was up 16% from the same time a year ago, according to Corcoran. “Investors and users are willing to make an investment in the future,” said Mr. Cervi. “People are confident and comfortable.”

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