Long Island’s glitzy North Shore made headlines in September with the listing of a $100 million, 8-acre estate. The Gatsby-style 60,000-square-foot property was built by Tamir Sapir, a Russian émigré who made a fortune in New York real estate. He sold it for $15.85 million in 2013 to a mystery buyer who never moved in and is now trying to flip it for roughly six times the original price.
Actual sales in that region, however, brought in much less. Out of the top 10 priciest residential sales in 2015 on Long Island’s North Shore, only one went for asking price. In fact, the median price for Long Island’s luxury market, which is predominantly on the North Shore, fell 5.5 percent to $999,000 in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2014, according to the Manhattan-based appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
“There is an assumption that the high end is performing better than the overall markets because of the press releases for $100 million listings,” said Miller Samuel’s president and chief executive officer, Jonathan Miller. “But that stuff doesn’t get sold for the most part. The luxury market has been more volatile.”
Still, the most expensive sale last year — an eight-bedroom Kings Point estate at 34 Shore Drive in Great Neck — went for the asking price of $19.89 million in an all-cash deal. Even more impressive was its short time on the market. The property was listed and sold within seven weeks. Listing agent Lainie Charmatz, of Coldwell Banker Residential, said the home closed in record time. The buyers and sellers, who remain anonymous, are prominent business people who live in the area already, Charmatz said.
The second most expensive property, which has a historic pedigree and received heavy media coverage, went quickly as well. A nine-bedroom home on an estate that once belonged to Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the former first lady of the Republic of China, went into contract after just 18 days on the market. The 12.8-acre property, at 1 Fieldstone Manor Lane in Lattingtown, sold for $9.9 million in an all-cash deal to buyers from China who wanted the home as a collector’s item. The property sits on the part of the estate where Madame Chiang’s carriage house and bamboo garden remain, in addition to a par-3 golf hole and a heated pool. Jason Friedman, the listing agent, said he received a number of offers but that the seller wanted a quick, “hassle-free” deal and was willing to take far less than the $11.8 million asking price.
The fifth most expensive sale, 14 Chestnut Hill Drive in the Village of Upper Brookville, was on the market for just a few weeks, according to its listing agent, Maria Babaev at Douglas Elliman. It sold for $6.93 million, under the asking price of $7.59 million, to a local family that was looking to upgrade. Babaev also sold an estate at 18 Elmhirst Drive in Old Westbury for $7.1 million to a local family.
“Everyone is talking about the international money coming in to the market, but some of the notable sales last year were actually local buyers upgrading to better neighborhoods and bigger homes,” Babaev said. “We think this trend will continue and that there will be more families moving from Manhattan to Long Island for the school districts.”
Indeed, the overall housing market on Long Island — excluding the Hamptons and the North Fork — is moving at its fastest pace in more than 12 years. The absorption rate in the fourth quarter of 2015 (meaning how long it would take to sell all of the houses on the market) was 5.8 months, down from 7 months the previous year.
“Long Island is a key beneficiary of the affordability crunch that’s going on in the city,” Miller said. “We are seeing an unusually heavy volume of sales activity.”