Third-Quarter Reports Show Home Sales On The Rise

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For the second year in a row, the Hamptons real estate market is making up for lost time. Local and national agencies released their third-quarter sales statistics in mid-October, highlighting some of the highest price tags and highest volume of inventory this area has seen since before the recession.

Douglas Elliman reported that on the East End the average sale price for a single-family home jumped from approximately $1.54 million in the second quarter to $1.765 million in the third quarter, which came to a close in mid-October—a 14.7 percent increase. The third quarter’s average sale price was also up significantly over that in the third quarter of 2013, which was $1.47 million.

“The market as a whole has been continually active since last year,” said Cynthia Barrett, a Bridgehampton-based broker for Douglas Elliman, by phone. “There was a big push in the fourth quarter last year to close before year end, and over all, it hasn’t stopped since then.”

Ms. Barrett described the market as a “slow, upward slope” since the recession. She said that sale prices, frequency of sales and inventory have finally reached a similar level to those in 2008, before the economy went south.

“For all intents and purposes, the number of sales that close was basically the same as last quarter,” she said, however, comparing this year’s 701 third-quarter sales to this year’s 700 second-quarter sales.

Similarly, Town & Country CEO Judi Desiderio said she, too, has seen a substantial increase in comparison to years prior in the number of sales both in the third quarter and also in the past year, “I think it was a matter of readiness,” she said by phone from her East Hampton office. “Last year the stock market had an incredible year and whenever that happens, people want to take their money and put it in a hard asset.”

She described her agency’s sales as ones primarily in the “luxury market,” with a 567-percent increase in homes priced between $3.5 million and $4.99 million. “In the third quarter in 2013, there were three sales in that bracket,” she said. “This quarter, there were 20.”

Similarly, sales for homes priced over $10 million jumped 450 percent, from two in the third quarter of 2013, to 11 in this year’s third quarter.

“One word,” she said: “Sagaponack.”

That village, Ms. Desiderio said, is responsible for almost all of those $10 million-plus sales, and it has a reputation for homes where “bigger is better.”

“We’ve seen Sagaponack sink like a stone and bounce back like a super-ball,” she said. “The builders started building to the market, and they really listen to the market. Originally people were buying homes and making them bigger, so builders thought, ‘We’ll just build bigger homes.’ And it worked.”

Ms. Desiderio said Amagansett saw a drastic increase in total home sale volumes this quarter, up 367 percent, from $11.5 million in 2013’s third quarter to $53.6 million in this year’s third quarter. Southampton Village sales were also extremely lucrative, she said, bringing in $131 million.

East Hampton Village, however, did not fare as well as Ms. Desiderio expected.

Total home sales volume in the village was down 13.6 percent, she said, adding, however, that the decline has a simple explanation.

“Last year, a home was sold in East Hampton Village for over $10 million,” she said. “This year, that didn’t happen.”

Corcoran released similar numbers for East Hampton Village in its third-quarter report, showing that the number of sales in the village dropped from 16 in 2013’s third quarter, to 10 this quarter. The agency reported that the average home price increased by 123 percent, from $1.55 million in 2013 to $3.45 million in 2014. Corcoran reported a drop in sales in Montauk, from 37 during last year’s third quarter, to 25 this year.

Despite those minor dips, Ms. Barrett said the overall confidence in the market is consistently improving, resulting in more land purchases and more speculative building.

“People feel comfortable buying land in this market either to build a new home, or builders to buy land and build a spec home,” she said. “Its been happening all year, but it’s continuing in the third quarter. And I expect it to keep going.”

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