Sales drop in Hamptons, North Fork

The number of sales in the combined market of the Hamptons and Long Island’s North Fork plunged 35 percent in the first quarter of 2008 from the previous quarter, according to a market report prepared by appraisal firm Miller Samuel and released by Prudential Douglas Elliman.

A total 400 sales were recorded, down from 613 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Sales also fell 41.4 percent from 683 sales in the first quarter of 2007.

Listing inventory increased as a result, up 5.8 percent from last quarter to 1,848 homes, and jumping 25.5 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

Despite the slowdown, the median sale price remained relatively flat throughout all three quarters compared by the market. The median price fell 1.3 percent to $790,000 in the first quarter of 2008, down 1.3 percent from the prior quarter and down 1.9 percent from the first quarter last year.

Sales fell dramatically in the Hamptons market, according to the report, which recorded a 29 percent drop from the last quarter to 312 home sales in the first quarter of 2008. Sales dropped 42.4 percent from 542 in the first quarter of 2007.

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The median sales price for a home in the Hamptons market dropped, down 7.1 percent to $882,500 in the first quarter of 2008, compared to the previous quarter. The median home price was about flat from last year, up .7 percent from $876,250 in the first quarter of 2007.

The top fifth of the Hamptons market, however, has been healthy so far this year. The average home price of the market’s most expensive quintile shot up 21 percent from the previous quarter, to $6.31 million. Meanwhile the average price slipped down at every other level of the market: down 1.4 percent in the second highest quintile, 7.8 percent in the middle quintile, 7.3 percent in the second to lowest and 3.9 percent in the lowest.

As a result of the price gain in the upper end, the average home price in the Hamptons market was up 9.4 percent to $1.95 million from the previous quarter, in spite of the decrease in median price. 

Miller Samuel CEO Jonathan Miller was unsurprised with the Hamptons’ slowdown and price stagnation, saying that the market there tends to mimic the behavior of Manhattan’s residential market, and did so reliably this quarter.

“It’s not identical, but it’s very similar,” he said. “It’s clear that we’re transitioning into a new market with a lower pace of activity … owing to the uncertainty of future employment [in Manhattan] and of tighter underwriting standards for mortgages.” 

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